Welcome to the 12th issue of PITH + VIGOR, a weekly newsletter by me, Rochelle Greayer, with a focus on garden design, plants, and making this world a better place. I'm glad you're here. Was this newsletter forwarded to you? You deserve your own: Subscribe here.


Harvard, MA, April 3rd, 2023


Is your garden an arbitrary stupid goal?


The correct answer is YES.




I’m looking for a new (non-gardening) book to read.  I want something that lives up to Tamara Shopsin’s Arbitrary Stupid Goal.


Any suggestions?


I was drawn to Arbitrary Stupid Goal when Austin Kleon mentioned it was a favorite from his own reading list. He promised quirky autobiographical characters that live in my dream ‘hood. (NYC’s Greenwich Village).


The opening describes a family that once took a vacation by mapping their way to places that had ‘Wolf’ in the name. So, Wolfpoint, Wolfville, Wolf Lake, etc.


It’s all based on the fact that their last name was Wolfawitz. It became a random trip full of third rate or non-attractions that was actually amazing.




When I was dating my (now) husband we took a road trip out of Washington DC (where we lived at the time). Very much falling in love, we haphazardly took off on Labor day weekend and navigated purely by the alphabet.


The “alphabet trip” (as we affectionally still refer to it) was a directionless Wolfawitz-style holiday.


Our “A” town was Annapolis, Maryland. I can’t remember what “B”was but C was Chestertown, Maryland where had the most amazing crab soup, served with a shot of sherry to poured over the top.


As we carried on, “J” was Jersey City, and we arrived in northernmost point “N” – Newport, RI – as the whole town was being boarded up for the arrival of hurricane Edouard.


(some where I have pictures of a fancy Newport shops all boarded up with a big sloppy spray painted sign that said "Go blow Edouard")


Achieving the alphabet was our arbitrary stupid goal…and I could not help but think, as I read the book, that I don’t currently have enough arbitrary stupid goals in my life.


Lately, the only place I let them sneak in, is in my garden.


          Goal: Can I grow enough strawberries to get all my friends drunk in an epic fresh-from-the-garden daiquiri barn party? 


           (A: ✔ Yes, yes I can )


          Goal: Let’s grow every variety of horseradish we can find to see which is the hottest!


          ( ✔  this was one of my grandma’s arbitrary stupid garden goals when I was a kid).


My friend (and fellow podcast host) Matt grew a mind-boggling amount of sweet peas a few years ago – just to learn about them, write about them, photograph them and ultimately throw a pretty party with them. 


(ok, maybe that isn’t quite as arbitrary, given he’s a garden writer…but I think you get what I mean)


There are the giant pumpkin growers.


Those who pursue the blue daylily.


Or maybe someone just wants to make something delicious in the kitchen from something not bought at the grocery store.


The best gardens are a bunch of arbitrary stupid goals.




I was reminded of all this by a (non-gardening) friend who recently told me that she is planting sunflowers on her husband's abandoned family farm.  


The idea was born of an instagram-age tradition she and friend have. They go take selfies at a local sunflower farm every fall.  And they don't want to pay the nominal fee to gain entrance so why not plant their own? ** 


My friend has never grown anything - and it started as a pack of seeds and intentions for a humble and modest row for the sake of a cheaper selfie. 


But even before it is planted (happening this weekend in TN) - her husband has taken liberty to plow AN ACRE for sunflowers.  (He was just looking for a good reason to get the old farm equipment running - another ASG).  


An acre just begs to be filled with not just with many rows, but also more than one variety.  So, now there are three types of sunflowers in the plan. The project has grown in scope and sprouts aren't even out of the ground but never-mind -  friends and neighbors are already asking if they can take their annual sunflower selfies there too...


And so now this novice sunflower field is officially a completely out of control arbitrary stupid goal.***


It's going to be amazing. I can't wait to see the photos.



Sometimes is it better to drive with no final destination. Maybe chase a storm?


Create. Experiment. And then don’t be afraid to tear it all down and start again.


Find more ways to be arbitrary and stupid.  Not just in the garden but in life.


What sort of arbitrary or stupid thing will get up to this year?****


xo - Rochelle


*Yes, Matt and I are doing the podcast!  It is taking longer than we thought to launch (because we are two creative people who are happily letting ourselves get swept up in a fun new project). We have a logo now --- I'll share it on instagram this week. I can't wait for you to see and for the rest of it to play out. (coming soon)


** It is the sunflower version of The $64 Tomato. 😂


*** My Arbitrary***** Stupid goal this garden year is to design, plant and photograph at least a few (as in, no less than 3, but maybe more) - endlessly evolving, Claus Dalby/ Dutch/ European inspired,****** container gardens that span the bloom seasons (May - October), then transition them to winter and back to spring.  


****Just hit reply to email me and tell me all about them. 


***** Ok, maybe it isn't totally arbitrary - I'm doing it as part of a new class for you.  Would you like to be part of the inaugural year of  - "Creating Containers - A year of creating collected gardens in Pots?" (this name is not at all set in stone, and very much likely to change).  ALSO - there are perks to being my guinea pig...(see here for more info and to join in).


****** If you aren't sure what I mean by endlessly evolving/ Claus Dalby/ Dutch/ European inspired - check out this image collection/ guide I made on instagram.  There is no tricky thriller-filler-spiller in this container garden style. Once mastered, you'll also be the chicest, coolest, rockstar gardener on the block. 


P.S.  I'm making this goal even more arbitrary by attaching a bunch of numbers to it. 

If less than 40 people join in this first year (i.e. before April 16th, 2023) - I'll be re-thinking the whole thing (and everyone will get a full refund)

With less than 40 people interested in the course, my container creations will remain for my own wanton whimsy (shared on instagram, of course, but no class on how you can to do it yourself). 

But if there are at least 40 interested students - we are on! (Class will start on Monday April 24th).  Also - I'll be raising the price after the 16th (from $79 to $99). If all goes well, I think next year it will cost around $129 - but for now - all you faithful early adopters will get it for $79, then anyone who misses the early bird special (which ends on April 16th) - but who still want to join-in can get it for $99.

I'm excited (and nervous!) at the possibility to live-teach a new course - so I hope you all are into it too!🤞


Greayer Design Associates

PO Box 394, Harvard, MA
United States