Southern Living Plants Garden Party!

Last weekend in Asheville was such a treat.  I got invited by Carmen, who is a Lifestyle and Garden expert with Southern Living plants to attend a garden party she was hosting up at The Grove Park Inn. That was another treat that I can’t wait to tell you about, but today, I’m going to share the plant party we attended.  I took one of my besties with me, Vicki, who has been my friend since high school.  We had such a good time, getting away to Asheville for the weekend and experiencing Spring with container gardening.

In case you didn’t know, Southern Living has a whole collection of plants that are available at Home Depot and Lowes.  They also have these Ready to Impress collections that you can find at your local Home Depot stores.  Check out the website for those participating stores.  Carmen also has a few demos she will be doing at several stores this spring, so you can check her schedule to see if she will  be near you.

rhoda and carmen

Carmen and her Ready to Impress container gardening class was such fun. She had all her helpers there and they put together a beautiful plant display, getting us all excited for spring planting. Carmen and I had such fun planting winter containers in my yard last year.

Carmen and I first met at the Southern Living Ideahouse last year and really had a great connection.  She has since become a friend and I’m so excited to be working with her and Southern Living Plants for my own home too.  Southern Living Plants will also be at Haven this year as a sponsor and we are super excited about that.

southern living ready to impress

Ready to Impress, I love that!  Don’t we all want to use plants and containers to welcome guests to our home. I’ve always loved doing that at my house and look forward to more of it in the future.


Lanterns and greenery, a perfect combination.   All these plants were given away at the potting workshop and there were smiles on all the faces who were there.  You should have seen us all carting out our container plants on the carts from the hotel.

rebecca and carmen

Rebecca Bull Reed was also there and she has been a Southern Living Garden editor for many years. She and Carmen are quite the team.  Rebecca and her family live in Asheville.

southen living plants

We had our stations all set up ready to plant.  That’s my friend, Vicki there on the front row.

waiting for class

There were about 50 ladies who came to the plant workshop, all bringing containers to plant.  Carmen and her group gave away all the plants that you see above. It was quite the day of plants flying around.

class starting

We all had our containers ready and Carmen gave instructions on how to place each plant in the containers.

tracy and carmen

Carmen was introduced by the Director of Public Relations at the Grove Park Inn, Tracey Johnston-Crum and we were off and running. Tracey was so fun and informative about the hotel and we really enjoyed hanging out with her too.


Carmen has such a fun personality and her enthusiasm about plants is truly contagious.

pot ready for planting

We all enjoyed seeing our empty pots come to life with plants.

container planted

Tall plants to the back, medium plants to each side, and spilling plants to the front.  Carmen’s rules of 3 T’s are:  Tall, Thick, and Trailing, so keep that in mind and you’ll have a beautiful container.

carmen sharing

Carmen worked her magic and showed us lots of great ideas on container gardening.

succulent sheet

And shared this succulent mat which was a happy accident she discovered at the plant growers recently.  She had all sorts of ideas for this cute succulent mat, using it as a runner or centerpiece on a table.  It wasn’t meant to be grown like that, but Carmen told them she loved it.


We planted up a couple of fun containers and she also gave us some tips on creating cut flowers and displaying them.

table settings

Beautiful table settings come alive with fresh flowers and don’t we all love using flowers on our tables?  Yes, please!

party ideas'

So many ways to use flowers and plants on our tables for entertaining and how it brings a table to life.

southern living container plants

I took home my shade container and sun container and also an extra Nandina plant that will go in my yard soon.  We are about to start on my landscaping next month and I can’t wait.  I’m getting ready very soon to get my house painted and that is going to be exciting to see that completed too.  The outside of my house is not going to look the same very soon!

- Rhoda


  1. I love your posts about Carmen and the Southern Living collections. I am NOT a gardener at all but when I read your posts, I am convinced I can do it!! My goal is to create 2 garden containers for my front porch..last year, I stuck 2 ferns in and called it a day..but this year, I am headed to Home Depot to search for the Ready to Impress!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • You can totally do this!!!! I am 41, and I grew up gardening with my parents, Grammie, and two of my great Aunts. Containers are a wonderful way to start, and ferns are pretty and easy. From what I have seen of the Ready to Impress here, they appear to be really pretty and filled with easy, no-fuss annuals like petunias, verbena, and geraniums. These are sun plants, but I am sure they have shade ones too. You might also pick up a box of Miracle-Grow fertilizer that you can just mix with water when time to feed them. It is inexpensive and easy to use.

  2. NOTHING makes me happier than to spend time working in my little suburban yard and planting flowers and herbs. I don’t care how much my back hurts afterwards. I’ve already planted a bunch of plants from the Southern Living collection this year and I’m sure there will be more to come.

  3. Carmen is so cute! I remember first seeing her in my Southern Living magazine a few years ago. I am in the process of filling pots and spaces with plants and flowers so I will definitely look for the Southern Living collection when shopping. Can’t wait to see your landscaping plans come to life!

  4. Kathy Shuck says

    What is that lovely bi-colored plant in your container? Didn’t see it online in the Ready to Impress Collection.

    • Kathy, I took out the plant names when we planted, so now I don’t remember what they all are. Maybe Carmen will chime in here too. Are you talking about the purple flowering one or the more wispy palm like plant?

    • It is a snapdragon…

  5. the orange pineapple cake was a HIT!!! wow, I had 2 pieces last night for dessert and didn’t feel the least guilty–it was worth each and every bit! thank you for sharing!

  6. Well, this is right down my gardening alley! And I am excited to see your house with new paint and landscaping.

  7. Rhoda, I want to be you when I grow up. (even though I am older than you) You get to do such great things, wish I could find a way to get into blogging.
    I enjoy your post.

  8. I’m so glad you went to the planting party/workshop. A local nursery in Wichita Ks offers classes for this exact same thing. I’ve been to one class and gained knowledge and confidence. For a small fee everything is furnished, plants included!

  9. The purple and white annual planted with the petunias is a snapdragon. Here in Oklahoma City, they are planted when pansies are planted. I have nandinas in my yard, and I loathe them. They are fixing to get ripped out and replaced with something prettier and more lush. The only redeeming quality is that their leaves turn different shades of red when it gets cold, so I won’t take all of them out of the ground. They can make for a good accent though, but whoever paid to have my house “professionally landscaped” (as mentioned in the materials when I bought the place) got taken because nandinas and burford holley are…all…they…used! My mother gave me a book called, “Know It and Grow It,” and it has really helped. It provides the common and scientific names of all the pernnial shrubs, vines, trees, etc. as well as information about where/how/when they grow and the history of the plant. It is a very good resource for foundation specimens.

  10. Wow!! What a treat to be part of such an exciting event! I love Carmen and have followed her for a while now!! She makes gardening look so easy & fun!! Please tell her how much she is admired and inspired so many!! Hope you’re having a great week! Happy hump day!! Xo, Kathy

  11. The bi-color plant is a snapdragon and they love the sun and cooler Spring temps

  12. This is so exciting! Can’t wait to see the house and yard. As a Master Gardener, don’t hestitate to call them for advice if you need it or me for that matter. You have such talent with design, I’m sure what you create will be lovely. The folks at nurseries are also very helpful. Enjoy! Kaye

  13. Trust me! Carmen can turn anyone into a confident planter!! EVEN ME (black-thumbs all around).
    Here’s another fun story. 🙂 Do the containers look familiar?

  14. Ladies, no one has a bigger brown thumb than I do! Follow Carmen’s Thriller, Filler, Spiller or Tall, Thick, Trailing guidelines and you can’t go wrong! I only use pots and enjoyed transferring my sunny plants into a whiskey barrel planter when I returned from Ashville. Remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you are planting for YOU! Thanks, Rhoda, for the inspiration and opportunity! Can’t wait to see the final presentation of your home’s exterior!

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