Category Archives: garden design

Early Spring!

With groundhog Phil predicting an early spring, I’m anxious to get back out into the yard! But it is February still. What to do?

Here’s what I’m planning:

  • While no snow is in the yard, rake up those darn oak leaves! They just keep coming–we still have some leaves on trees.
  • Start planning! Purchase seeds and bulbs.
  • Get ready for pea planting in March! Last year the peas I grew in containers did fabulously well; they were delicious! I’m definitely going to be planting more peas in containers on March 17.
  • Imagine how you want your yard to look, and make a plan. This is vital for me because I will be hosting a rather large graduation party for my son in June, and it will be held outdoors.

So, how will you spend the early spring? Whatever you do, happy gardening!



Building a patio in your garden

pavers2Over Memorial Day weekend, Brian and I took our show on the road to my sister’s yard to help her get it all beautiful for her son’s graduation party.  (My sister and her husband in the picture. plus Brian’s foot)

Brian and her husband, Greg, built a new patio out of pavers. surprisingly, this turned out to be fairly easy to do–with a little muscle, the materials, and a level, anyone can do this!

First, they took the level and checked it all out. Then, pink string was used to mark the level around the area. And yes, I tripped over that pink string despite its bright color meant to warn me.

paversThe muscle was needed to dig out the area and cart the dirt back to the woods. Then, it was just laying down the paving with leveling sand. And of course, making sure it remained level.

Brian took a break at one point, and when he came back, Greg and my brother had laid another row–which Brian insisted come out because it wasn’t level. For this, we have dubbed him the Garden Buddha. (In all fairness, he was also teaching my sis and I what to do to make her hydrangea bloom, so there is quite a bit of gardening wisdom in that brain!)

The entire process took two days, not bad, considering she has a beautiful new patio in an area that used to be pretty much dirt–too shady for the grass. It looks fantastic!

I did recommend digging a Victorian Trench around it to help with water run-off when it rains, but Brian and Greg were careful to make sure the paves angled just a bit down away from the house.

sistersWhile all of this was going on, my sister and I worked on weeding out her line of plants in front of the woods.

This was difficult for me because my sister’s philosophy is that if she didn’t plant it there, then it is a weed and it’s coming out. She was ruthless, pulling up lilies, ferns, and other plants. I pointed out that plants do spread and maybe these could be relocated, but no. She had a hoe and used it down the line. It looks nice now, and granted, I have no room in my yard for any of it, but still, this bothers me. What do you do with “extra” plants?

Nonetheless, her yard is party ready! She has added a grill and tiki bar on the new patio, and on the other side of the house where there is an existing patio, there is nice wicker furniture with an umbrella over it all.

So, if you yearn for a patio and have a free weekend, pavers could be your solution!

Happy Gardening!

Creating a Charming Front Porch Area: I Need Serious Help

I’m going to be honest here and tell you my front porch sucks. I would love a full porch with a roof, but this is what I’ve got–a concrete slab.frontporch

Nothing on top at all, and the sides are empty, too.

front top






Right now, we still have snow, so I’m just trying to come up with ideas. I would love to have a porch installed with a roof, but that isn’t going to happen right now. I also considered a pergola here, but since I have my husband building a pergola over the deck in the back, I can’t really do this either (at least this year).

niobeclematisI am seriously considering adding Niobe Clematis on both sides of the door. It blooms all summer. If I used the trellis in the picture, it would sort of provide sides to the concrete slab. I realize that this will give the porch only a summer interest, and more will need to be planted. I am open to all ideas! Please post and tell me what you would do and share ideas….this is a tough one, I know.trellis2

Container Heads

headStone heads for planting are all the rage right now, but most of these cost around $100.00 and up. I’m guessing most of us don’t have a couple of hundred dollars to spend on heads, at least I don’t.

I found a few kits to make your own head planters!

The least expensive was at Staples for $16.99. Sadly, they are out of stock right now.

Walmart also has this kit for $16. 10, but it is out of stock online.

kit I found the same kit as Sears for $23.91.

kit2I found this kit for making the face of a Greek god online at Stuff for Crafts for $14.24.

So, if you really want a stone head planter, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to achieve the look. While these aren’t quite the impression that the gargoyle above makes, they can still add a fun accent to your garden.

Happy Gardening!

Lilacs: A Spring favorite


“Still grows the vivacious lilac a generation after the door and lintel and the sill are gone, unfolding its sweet-scented flowers” ~ Henry David Thoreau
While lilac shrubs provide a good deal of privacy in the garden, they are mostly grown for their enchanting fragrance. Many grow as tall as 15 feet! Lilacs may be purchased at most nurseries, but before you buy one, ask your friends and neighbors if they have any saps from a lilac that they would be willing to give you. Yes, it will be small at first and will take a few years to establish itself, but it will be free.
How to Grow Lilacs
Plant Lilac bushes in the spring or the fall.
  • Pick a sunny spot in your garden.
  • Dig a hole and add fertilizer.
  • Place the plant in the hole, being sure to spread out the roots in the hole.
  • Cover with soil and water.
  • Lilacs bloom on old wood, so prune right after blooming.
Benefits of Lilacs
  • Attract butterflies
  • Easy to grow and care for
  • Heavenly scent
  • Excellent cut flowers
  • Used for treating wounds and fever

Lilacs generally bloom in late spring and early summer, but some varieties will bloom mid-summer and the fall. I have an ever-blooming lilac, and it blooms all summer. If you see one of these at a nursery, grab it! It will be gone the next time you visit the nursery. Ever-blooming lilacs have become immensely popular for their scent and color in the garden throughout the summer.

Happy Gardening!

Forget-me-nots: an herb for a shady spot

forgetmenotForget-me-nots. or mouse ears,  are  perennial herbs that bloom in the spring.  They are excellent ground cover and make good border plants as well.

In the language of flowers, forget-me-nots do actually mean forget me not. It also represents hope, true love, remembrance, and memories.

Like most herbs, forget-me-nots have some medicinal uses, and the entire plant is used to make medicines for nosebleeds and lung complaints. I have never used it in these ways, and I would consult a physician before trying it.

How to Plant

  • Pick a shady spot in your garden at the end of summer.
  • Prepare the soil by adding in  a fertilizer, such as bone meal.
  • Scatter the seeds.
  • Water.

The seeds will settle in, and you will have this charming plant in the spring. Forget-me-nots are a bit wild and will reseed themselves with no help from you–but they may reseed anywhere in your shady garden. If you don’t like where they pop up the following year, simply move them to where you would like them to be.

Forget-me-nots are an easy plant to grow if you are just beginning and are not sure what to plant in a shady area. Best of all, deer don’t care for them! Forget-me-nots are ideal around walkways or edges of gardens.

Happy gardening!