Q&A with Jan Bills, Author of Late Bloomer: How to Garden with Comfort, Ease and Simplicity in the Second Half of Life

By Shelley Pierce | February 26, 2017
Image by St. Lynn's Press
by Shelley Pierce
February 26, 2017

Jan Coppola Bills is a certified landscape designer, advanced master gardener, entrepreneur, and contributing writer for State-by-State Gardening magazine. She holds a Masters degree in Organizational Management. After a successful career in the corporate world, she made a major life reassessment and followed her heart: She traded in her heels for Wellies and started the Detroit-area landscape design company Two Women and a Hoe. Jan shares her gardening philosophy of comfort, ease and simplicity with her clients and her large online community on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Visit www.twowomenandahoe.com to learn more about Jan.  In her latest book, “Late Bloomer: How to Garden with Comfort, Ease and Simplicity in the Second of Life“, Jan shows us how to successfully rethink our approach to gardening as we age.  Read on for more information and enter below to win a copy of this St. Lynn’s Press book!


1. The full title of your book is “Late Bloomer: How to Garden with Comfort, Ease and Simplicity in the Second Half of Life”.

However, would it be fair to say that the advice in this book is ideal for any gardener seeking to achieve comfort, ease and simplicity? Absolutely! There is something for everyone no matter what your situation is or your level of gardening. I share many great and useful takeaways in Late Bloomer which I have performed over and over again, so I know they are effective. A big part of comfort, ease and simplicity is sustainability so I address that component, as well.

2. I read somewhere that “there are times in a gardener’s life when what we want to do and what we can do are at odds.” How does your book help a gardener in that situation achieve a balance?

In Late Bloomer, I provide practical solutions for gardeners whose challenges may be physical or time constraints or life just got too busy, many different scenarios. I mention in Late Bloomer that I never met a client who asked for a high maintenance garden. Even the most experienced and fully capable gardeners prefer their gardens to be their love, not their labor of love.

3. At the beginning of your book you offer the following Late Bloomer’s Credo:

I will plant only what I can comfortable tend.
I will not give myself tasks beyond my ability to easily achieve.
I will ask for help if necessary.
I will not concern myself with “perfection.”
I will allow my garden to deepen my connection with nature.
I will garden simply because it pleases my soul.

 

Which credo was the hardest for you to fully embrace and why is that?

I love all the credos in Late Bloomer but my favorite is: “I will not concern myself with perfection.” In the past I worked hard in my gardens to achieve perfection, whatever that is. Now, as a second-half of lifer, my gardens are more enjoyable and easy to maintain because I gave up that notion, and it’s liberating!

4. Your book offers a plethora of advice to enable gardeners make life simpler in the garden. What is your favorite piece of advice that you would like to share with our readers?

That’s a tough one because in Late Bloomer I share many useful tips for gardeners. If I had to pick one, it is definitely using cardboard in the garden! I love cardboard as a natural weed barrier or to smother sod to create a new garden bed. Anyone that knows me knows I love my cardboard. It’s a win-win in the garden and for the environment!

5. Throughout your book you mention the work that you have done for many gardening clients – some who embraced your advice and others not (to their regret). Is it ever difficult, in those instances where your advice was bucked, where you find yourself being party to developing a garden that is just totally “wrong” in every sense of the word?

That’s a great question! Clients are very open to my ideas, plant recommendations and tips. Some garden styles are not my cup of tea but that’s alright. Gardens are (or should be) a sacred place so I respect the needs and wants of my clients. My commitment is to meet their goals by applying the right plant, right place rule – which is critical to a successful garden.

6. What’s in your garden?

In my small urban garden you will find all my favorite plants, water fountains, garden art and places to relax. But the funniest and most interesting things in my garden are the birds, toads, bees, chipmunks, owls, squirrels, bunnies, butterflies, insects and more! My gardeners would be lifeless without my furry and feathered friends. I love them.

WIN A COPY OF “Late Bloomer“!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, March 5, 2017 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

See question 3 above.  Which part of the Late Bloomer’s credo applies to you the most?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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  • BONNIE ELLIS
    Comment added February 27, 2017Reply

    "I will garden simply because it pleases my soul". I need to just jump in and not worry about the end result!

  • Susan McGee
    Comment added February 27, 2017Reply

    I will ask for help if necessary. Do to recent health issues I'm not able to get down on my hands and knees to play in the dirt anymore. With the help from friends I now have two raised flower/vegetable beds that I can dig into until my hands and soul are filled.

  • Travis Meeuwsen
    Comment added February 27, 2017Reply

    I will allow my garden to deepen my connection with nature... i needcsomething to help me relax abd reconnect with nature.

  • Kim Lynch
    Comment added February 26, 2017Reply

    I will garden simply because it pleases my soul is my favorite of the credo. I look forward to reading Late Bloomer: How to Garden with Comfort, Ease and Simplicity in the Second Half of Life

  • Kathy Lane
    Comment added February 26, 2017Reply

    I will not give myself tasks beyond my ability to easily achieve.I so often try to take on more than I can do.My mind tells me that I can do it but my body says it's too much.

  • Cathy
    Comment added February 26, 2017Reply

    I will garden simply because it pleases my soul. Love this!

  • Karen Harmon
    Comment added February 26, 2017Reply

    "I will garden simply because it pleases my soul". This I inherited from my 87 year old mother who can barely walk but continues to garden. Gardening is what makes her pain disappear even for a short time. It is her respite.

  • Doris Stinn
    Comment added February 26, 2017Reply

    I only plant what I can comfortably tend, I do it for my soul,I don't give myself tasks beyond my ability,I don't concern myself with perfection,I allow my garden to deepen my affection to nature.I will ask for help when necessary.I am a renter so most of my gardening is in pots.

  • Terri Boykin
    Comment added February 26, 2017Reply

    The perfect-is-out-the-door moment for me is late summer when the veggie garden is out of control, the weeds are nearly as big as my flowers, and the place looks like a hot mess.

  • patricia skinner
    Comment added February 26, 2017Reply

    I will not give myself tasks beyond my ability to easily achieve.
    I already know my limits but I will not push those limits as the outcome is never good.

  • Jane Emery
    Comment added February 26, 2017Reply

    I will only plant what I can comfortably tend!! This what I am now doi g.. I have a 4x4 raised bed (39") and I do lots of container gardening..

  • Evelyn Rhodes
    Comment added February 26, 2017Reply

    I will not give myself tasks beyond my ability to easily achieve. Invaluable words, once started it can be so difficult to rein oneself in but I found usually I would become disappointed with further tinkering.

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