As readers of Life on the Balcony know, I am very excited about discovering a new (to me) website dedicated to modern home and garden accessories, all inspired by the garden and the great outdoors. The site is called aHa Modern Living. If unique, modern, and eco-friendly are your cup of tea, you definitely need to check it out!
Owner Jayme Jenkins has graciously made time in her busy schedule to be interviewed for Life on the Balcony. Oh, and there’s still time to order something special for your Mom. Check out Jayme’s ideas for thoughtful Mother’s Day gifts.
If we were chatting over a cup of coffee at a cafe instead of through the magic of the internet, what would you be drinking?
Grande Americano with room for cream.
Were you a cheerleader, athlete, nerd, or…in high school?
What was your motivation/inspiration for aHa Modern Living?
I couldn’t find anything in my local area that I was dying to buy for my house or my garden. Well, other than the same ole, same ole at Target, Pier One, etc. I love the local garden store Down To Earth for garden supplies, but their decor is too earthy for my taste. Living outside of a metro area can make for very frustrating shopping adventures. Then I turned to the internet. I quickly became frustrated by keeping track of all my favorite online stores in my bookmarks folder, and many Modern stores only have a small garden line. Like the motivations of many other small business owners, I wanted to create a store full of stuff that I liked, that was otherwise too hard to find.
If you had to pick just one product from your site, what is your absolute favorite?
I love all the bird feeders, they achieve dual purpose: attract wildlife and serve as decoration in the garden. My fav has to be the Perch! Bird Feeder. I love the modern, Jetson look of the white ceramic. BTW, decorative bird feeders provide great winter interest when everything else is covered with snow!
You obviously have an amazing sense of style and a knack for finding unique home and garden accessories, but we all screw up from time to time. Do you have any gardening mistakes you’d like to confess?
Why thank you for the nice comments! I have made many mistakes which is hard on my perfectionist personality. But I would have to say my biggest lesson learned is: planting plants without amending my soil. Haste makes waste…literally. Many of my plants struggled in the beginning and I made things worse by over fertilizing them. Now I feed my soil, not my plants.
What plant must–absolutely must–you have in your garden?
I’m not really a plant snob. I tend to like groups of plants, like grasses and euphorbias. I’m totally diggin’ my two year old fig trees right now. I’m not great with plant names either, but many of my hort-head friends are trying to convert me to Latin. I do see the benefits of accurately identifying plants but I’m just not good at memorizing their names.
What is the best and worst part of gardening in the Pacific Northwest?
The BEST? How can I only choose one? I would have to say our very, very long growing season. We are so spoiled here with our mild temperatures, although this year was wacky with bouts of freezing temperatures. One of my Flickr pals from New York mentioned she only has a 15 minute growing season, and all other seasons are just different stages of winter. I don’t know what I would do. I would probably pick a favorite plant and nurture the heck out of it.
The WORST? More rain than my crappy clay soil can handle. You can either have terrible run-off or huge puddles in the middle of your garden during the winter months (which can last up to 6 months at a time). The first year I moved into my house, a family of mosquitoes lived in the lake in my backyard, and by July, they had multiplied into a small army. Many of my plants couldn’t take the wet feet for so long either. However, I’ve spent the last few years implementing different drainage systems and amending the soil to improve porosity. My plants will thank me, but my back hates me for it.
I saw that you recently completed your first professional gardening gig. How did you get started in the landscaping business?
This will be my first and only gardening gig. Landscape design is not my deal. My friend offered to pay me to improve the landscape of their business when she found out I wasn’t able to get my Master Gardener Badge. The program is set up to only get your volunteer hours during the work week. How is that fair to us youngins who work during the day? I was only able to get as far as Oregon State University’s online Home Horticulture program. It’s a win-win for both of us, she gets a better looking landscape and I get the experience creating and installing a design.
What are one or two things that Life on the Balcony readers can do to increase their enjoyment of their outdoor space?
Surround yourself with stuff you enjoy looking at, whether it be a container garden, pretty flowers that smell, patio fountains, artwork, sculptures or all the above. Try to create a space that allows you to relax or entertain family and friends, rather than a space that reminds you of all the chores you need to get done. I say “try” because I am still working on accomplishing those goals myself. I constantly think, “this could look better or that would look better over there,” but that’s just my perfectionist self.
If you could snap your fingers right now and have one wish granted, what would it be?
Have a thriving modern, garden-lifestyle online store and more time to play in my own garden.
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