I long ago realized that the world is a bizarre place, and it simply gets weirder.  I read articles in the paper, watch reports on television and interact with people, just like any other normal fellow.  However, I confess, some things are losing me. 

I have become reasonably adept at techie things, especially those I find useful. It is the apparent usefulness of some of the innovations I am failing to grasp.  I admit to struggling with Pinterest and Instagram; I still haven’t figured out what the big deal is. And do we really need an Alexa and Echo in our kitchens - and why do I want an Internet of Things anyway? 

However, such mysteries have always been the price of progress, as they were for our parents and for their parents. But the other day when I picked up a paper and read about this new gizmo for new parents, well, I am still reeling. 

Perhaps you have heard of the newest in voice activated digital assistants, named Aristotle. This “voice-controlled smart nursery monitor” not only tells parents when baby is crying, but can also can detect when you are low on diapers and can flash different colored lights with the child trying to name the correct color. Good grief, from a baby monitor?  Ok, so the parents don’t have to mess with diaper ordering or flash cards anymore, I get it (actually I don’t), but progress is progress. 

However, when I read how excited the manufacturers were with the ability of Aristotle to read stories to the child, I threw up my hands in surrender.  Really, reading to our children? If there is anything parents remember and love about raising our kids, it is reading them stories. It is an essential part of parenting, far more important than ordering diapers. If we cede control of raising our kids to a monitor, the apocalypse is right around the corner. 

Maybe I should simply stop reading the paper. 



AuthorAllan Armitage
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From a plant guy, a title like that probably sounds a bit like blasphemy. Don’t get me wrong, I love plants simply for the sake of trying something new and different, but our neighbors (and many of you) may not want to spend your money quite so casually.  
What we all looking for are solutions that plants will take care – not necessarily the plants themselves. Using perennials as an example, here are some solutions that need taking care of.
Many of the plants mentioned here and some of the solutions are available on the Armitage App

Balcony/small spaces: So many plants fit into this niche. Nearly every major annual program has balcony-ready combinations. And now we are seeing mixed plant container-ready offerings – or we can make our own. This is one area where perennials, annuals and shrubs should be wed. 

Birds: Not just hummingbirds (although that very mention brings dreamy smiles to many faces, but plants that attract wrens, bluebirds, chickadees, vireos and many others. Sunflowers, grasses, agastache, salvia, hibiscus … 

Butterflies: For the habitat gardener and landscaper, this package has been around for years. Discussions of Monarch habitat are only becoming more prevalent, but butterflies of all likes are desirable.  Eupatorium, Asclepias, Echinacea …

Deer, rabbit resistant: One of the most sought after solutions, regardless of locale. No longer any reason why such plants are not front and foremost on anyone’s discussion list.  Hellebores, herbs, salvias, amsonias …

Drought tolerant: Waterwise is a better marketing term – but these plants are becoming more and more in demand.  Herbs (lavender, thyme), grasses, sedums, coreopsis …

Foodscaping: Offering ornamentals that double as food items is becoming all the craze. Many cultivars of herbs and vegetables provide beauty and taste. 

Fragrance: Packaging a half dozen fragrant plants together like herbs (everyone loves lavender), agastache, phlox, violas …

Groundcover: No discussion needed here. Groundcovers and low maintenance are synonymous to most gardeners. There are many programs around the garden centers (Treadwell, Stepables …), lots of choices.