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Random Things Happening Behind the Scenes at Bricks ‘n Blooms

What a week it was!

It was an insanely busy week with family things this week.

We spent the earlier part of the week in Vermont with the family before my middle daughter Shana heads back to Ohio State.

It was such a gorgeous weekend up there, we spent it on the boat.

Stacy Ling and daughter on lake in Vermont
My youngest daughter Tori, her boyfriend Clay and I

My Youngest Is Driving!

My youngest daughter turned 17 while I was in Atlanta at the Haven Conference and was suppose to get her drivers license while I was gone.

Without dissing the specific driving school that ghosted us all week long after calling and emailing them several times to confirm they were meeting her at the DMV to give her some practice before her road test, they ruined the day for all of us.

She was supposed to get her license on Thursday of that week, which was her birthday. We had been trying to confirm the appointment with them since the week before but they never responded.

So by Wednesday, while I was traveling, we scrambled to get another driving school to meet her at the test because we did not have a car she could take the road test in (there are requirements).

I thought the school I found last minute would let her practice before in the car, but apparently, she was only taking the road test in a car she’d never driven before.

Suffice it to say, her driving test did not go well and we had to reschedule it.

She was very upset and as a mom who was not there, I felt like a total failure because I should have been there.

When I originally scheduled the conference, I thought it was the week before and not the week of her birthday, so I really felt terrible.

Epic Mom fail.

But it gets worse.

close up of echinacea

Here in NJ, retesting can take 4 months! To get an appointment where we live, was impossible before November.

So my daughters searched every NJ DMV online and were able to reschedule the test for her in south Jersey where we were able to get a test 2 weeks later.

The DMV was 2 hours away but I was like – we will figure it out!

Luckily, my sister-in-law has a beach house closer to where the test was so we were able to stay there for the night.

And I found an AMAZING driving school with the best instructor, Eric, who spent time with Tori before the test practicing everything, and she passed.

If you live in NJ and are struggling to schedule a driving test, check out Mays Landing DMV and the Atlantic Driving School in Manahawkin.

The driving school did everything they could to squeeze Tori in for the practice before the road test. They were SO NICE and helpful to accommodate us. And they assigned her the greatest instructor that I could not have hand-picked better myself.

Even the testing person at the DMV was very kind to her – unlike her experience at the Randolph DMV.

Mays landing and the driving school are not close to where we live in north Jersey, but I’ll tell you, I’ve been through this a few times now and this driving school is top notch.

Mackenzie cutting ice cream cake

Mackenzie’s College Graduation Party

We also celebrated Mackenzie’s graduation from Bucknell University this weekend.

It took us a while to schedule, but we had some family and friends over to celebrate this huge accomplishment.

hardy hibiscus and sunflowers
Hardy hibiscus and sunflowers

In the Garden

This week in the garden, the hardy hibiscus are blooming and look incredible!

Rose mallows are beautiful summer blooming flowers that jazz up the garden while other perennials begin to fade.

The flowers are HUGE and the foliage is really pretty too.

In addition to my hardy hibiscus flowers, my sunflowers by the driveway look amazing too!

I’m grateful the bunny did not get to these.

close up of sunflowers

But by far the best part in the garden this week is discovering HOW AMAZING the bottlebrush buckeye is!

I saw this plant several years ago in a garden catalog and wanted to plant it but never ordered it and never found it at the local nursery.

Fast forward to the move and discovering new plants here and we have one!

It grows to about 8-12 feet tall and wide, blooms in the shade and is easy care.

But the best part?

It is a butterfly magnet. Seriously, this plant is covered with butterflies.

I’ve never seen this many before on one plant!

swallowtail butterfly on bottlebrush buckeye

What’s Happening at Bricks ‘n Blooms

It was a fun week on the blog!

This week, we turned our attention to fall.

It’s early August yes, but the leaves started to turn and are falling from the drought we’ve had.

I think we are going to see autumn a bit earlier this year as a result.

My daughter is heading back to college next week, so fall is coming whether we want to let go of summer or not.

pink yarrow and coneflowers
Pink yarrow and coneflowers

We chatted about the best fall garden flowers to plant this autumn. And guess what?

Garden mums do not make the list.

We also talked about how to prepare for the fall gardening season.

Follow these tips to get your garden spruced up for autumn plantings.

hardy hibsicus or rose mallow flower

I also shared 5 late summer blooming garden flowers that help the garden transition from summer to fall.

You’ll want to add these to your must-plant list when you start gardening again in fall so you can keep the color going next summer.

And I also shared some tips to help you prepare your garden for the fall gardening season.

It’s not a big list, but there are a few things you’ll want to start doing in August to prepare for autumn in the garden.

Making a hydrangea wreath using endless summer flowers -cropped-Hydrangea-wreath.jpeg

As we are moving into fall, I shared a simple DIY where you can harvest hydrangea blooms from your garden to make a beautiful fall wreath.

The flowers dry right on the wreath and look so pretty!

Learn how to make this budget-friendly and simple DIY hydrangea wreath here.

Speaking of hydrangeas, a few of you have been asking about whether they are deer resistant or not.

The answer may surprise you.

white hydrangea flowers

And finally, I shared a quick video sharing my hardy hibiscus flowers, as well as a few other fun surprises in the garden.

You can watch the video here.

hardy pink hibiscus

Amazing Inspiration from Around the Web

I love finding cool inspiration from around the web and wanted to share some of what I’m loving right now.

This New England cottage garden tour.

This lamp makeover idea.

These business travel must-have items.

This mini tri-berry trifle.

swallowtail butterfly on a butterfly bush
Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

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  1. Wow a big week.. So happy you found a great place to help with the license.

    Congratulations on the graduation party too!

  2. Stacy,
    I’m so glad Tori got her license. What a nightmare! 🤦‍♀️ Thanks so much for sharing my lamp makeover!

    1. yes I”m so glad it all finally resolved itself! That was a lot to deal with while traveling. Thanks for being such a great friend during it all! xoxoxo

  3. Stacy, congratulations on both daughter’s milestones. The driving school test sounds so stressful but happy you finally found one that accommodated your needs. Whew! Even though we are in completely different climates, it’s time for me to start prepping the garden for fall. The hot summers take such a toll on just about everything so there’s lots to do before new plants go in the ground. Love seeing your garden each week!

    1. Thanks Mary! It’s been in the 90s here for several weeks now and we’ve had minimal rain. The gardens here are struggling too – this is the first summer I’ve seen this here in a long time!

  4. Congrats to Mackenzie’s graduation from Bucknell University! And, also congrats to Tori for getting her driver’s license. I am so sorry the other driving school did not workout. I remember you trying from the airport to get something lined up for her. It’s so frustrating when stuff happens when away on travel. The garden looks fabulous. Love seeing all of your beautiful flowers.

    1. Thank you so much Tammy! I’m so glad it all worked out in the end. We are really thrilled for both girls! xoxoxo

  5. What a terrible experience for poor Tori! And as a mom that went through that whole thing way back when I can imagine how badly you were feeling not being there to help with the situation. But, I’m glad you found an amazing driving school in the end. Happy graduation to Mackenzie! How proud you must be. You have definitely been a very busy lady! Thank you for sharing my August gardening to-dos, my friend.