February 14, 2022
Though the cold is never very deep or long here in the Southeastern US, the warmer days thrill my heart in anticipation of my garden. I am ready to grow something beyond my few little house plants (which I often neglect) and create beauty in my yard. The idea of a vegetable garden intrigues me, but flowers bless my heart in such a special way and fill my home with beauty that only God could create. Thus, for now in my limited time, my primary gardening focus is flowers and other beautiful plants. I am grateful to be in a place and time where my family’s livelihood does not depend on my gardening and I can simply enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.
Every year in early winter, I do the same thing; I think to myself, “I really should do a better job planning my garden!” Then spring comes with hastening speed, and the “jungle look” is my garden’s predominant style. No plan generally means no action for me. Here in the Southeastern US, planting season comes fairly early, and many gardeners can successfully plant in April. A friend of mine even sows seeds in March, a little gutsy in my humble opinion. All that to say, I better get a plan in my mind soon for planting in April!
When we first moved into our home about 8 years ago, I ripped out most of the garden. The previous homeowner, an eccentric artist, had planted a rather strange variety of plants in the garden. Though I did not know how to achieve the cottage garden look I love, I just knew that the current situation was not my vibe. So I pulled out azaleas, carnations, rose of Sharon, and loads of monkey grass.
This year, with the help and guidance of a dear friend (who is a veteran gardener), I hope to create a more cohesive, planned look for my main garden. My sweet friend, whom I will call Susan (in honor of black-eyed Susans), has taken on the challenge of helping me with my garden. I told her I did not want to wear her out, and she replied I could never wear her out when it comes to gardening!
Susan came over recently to spend time with our family, and she brought some special treasures with her. In a lovely crate, Susan had gathered some of her favorite garden books for me to peruse. Susan shared that these books spurred her creativity and gave her the knowledge to plant beautiful gardens. Now after many gardening seasons, these books hold precious memories of former gardens, many of which were in states across the US.
Susan sat on my piano bench while I sat on the floor as my children tore apart our living room. Unruffled by the chaos, Susan shared tidbits of her gardening wisdom, and I literally sat at her feet, drinking in the knowledge of years in the dirt. We discussed unique plants, creative elements to add, and soil maintenance. She also shared some plants to avoid due to their invasive nature such as bamboo.
With a grand sweep of her hand, Susan can describe and create an imaginary garden complete with varying heights, unique varieties, and decorative garden features. Susan has a wonderful artistic eye, and she can envision beauty in a barren space. Not only does she have a deep understanding of plants and their needs, but Susan knows how to creatively place plants for the best dramatic effect. She loves to incorporate elements such as bird baths, benches, mirror balls, and other interesting features.
This dear soul has taken on the challenge of helping me map out my garden which currently looks like a very large section of drab mulch with the evidence of last year’s dead remains. Susan has encouraged me that gardening is a process, and I will not accomplish everything I dream of this year. Susan suggested that we focus on a few key elements this year which will give the backbone to a successful garden.
Here are some of Susan’s suggestions for this year’s gardening. I may not accomplish all of these dreams this year, and that is okay! Even if I can incorporate one or two ideas, I would be so excited.
1. Enrich the soil.
At the very least, I plan to mulch the bed and hopefully add some mushroom compost.
Carefully planned hardscaping will help with several current issues in my garden. First, the actual bed is higher than the sidewalk, and the mulch is falling onto the sidewalk. A stone border will add visual interest and clean lines while keeping the garden contained. Second, creatively placed hardscaping will create sections and divide the large space. The front bed is about 8’ by 20’ which is a glorious space to create, but for an inexperienced gardener like myself, is a bit intimidating. My friend is going to help me create sections in my garden which will give us structure and help us determine the best plants for each area.
3. Incorporate some color for year round enjoyment and texture.
4. Incorporate some climbing elements.
I hope to plant something like morning glories or purple hyacinth bean on a little trellis.
5. Incorporate artful features such as a bird bath, bench, etc.
My garden is flat and desperately needs more visual interest. Susan suggested some large galvanized tubs like you might find at Tractor Supply. They are a bit on the pricey side, so I will keep my eyes open this spring at garage sales for some large tubs or pots. I do already have an old galvanized tub that I hope to include in the garden
I hope you will join me on my little gardening journey! An expert gardener I am not, but flowers bring such joy to my heart and home. My heart is especially warmed when I see my children stop to enjoy the flowers, and hopefully they will develop a love for God’s creation as they witness the wonder of growth.
No matter where you are, whether town or country, I hope you will grow something this spring and summer!