Garden Inspiration…



Hi Friends!

One thing leads to another!
Has this ever happened to you?

Over the past few weeks,

I’ve often thought of the charming, children’s book,

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. (Take a moment to enjoy the read-aloud here!)

Today’s post, inspired by Laura Numeroff’s sweet, children’s book,

offers a peek into the unexpected activity in my garden over the past few weeks…


If you give a gardener…

a wonderfully written and illustrated book,

Homegrown Tea ~ An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes

by Cassie Liversidge,

it will quickly become one of her very favorite books about growing herbs and teas.

As she reads, she will decide…

to move the Monarda (also called Bergamot or Bee Balm) from her Butterfly Garden

back to her Herb & Tea Garden, where it grew many years earlier.

She will realize that she doesn’t really need a small Butterfly Garden bed,

when her entire yard is a butterfly garden!


After she transplants the Monarda to the ‘heart of her garden,’

she will decide…

to move her favorite, old-fashioned flowers from her Cutting Garden,

to the inside of her Herb & Tea Garden,

along the white picket fence

(built with love).


How sweet it will be to tend the fragrant herbs,

surrounded by Bleeding Hearts, Hydrangea, Coreopsis, Black-eyed Susans, Coral Bells,

Speedwell, Obedient Plant, and Phlox!


As she moves these perennials,

she will realize…

 that she really doesn’t need a Cutting Garden bed,

next to the deck, near the towering pine trees,

because over the years

her entire garden has grown into a cutting garden!

Each morning, she happily fills vases of flowers to bring the beauty of the garden inside.


On those hot, humid days that aren’t suitable for digging in the garden,

she will dream her garden dreams…

with paper, ink, stamps, and watercolors

in her little Paper Garden studio.


What fun to design tiny gardens, using Art Impressions Watercolor stamps! (Bee skep is from a vintage Stampin’ Up set.)

While she creates little gardens on paper,

she will decide…

that it would be fun to grow tall, colorful blossoms

along both sides of her white, garden arbor,

where the pink and purple Clematis bloom.


when the days are a bit more comfortable,

she will spend hours and hours…

digging out patches of Daylilies,

day after day,

to make her garden dreams come true.

She will move beautiful Phlox that were already growing in the yard

when she bought her little bungalow 29 years ago.

They were such a lovely gift

left by those who gardened here

long before her

and are a very special part of the history of

her beloved, 94-year-old cottage garden.


Patches of pink, white, and purple Phlox,

spiky purple Obedient Plant,

and delicate, pink Coral Bells

will welcome visitors who step through the arbor,

and follow the flagstone path to the Herb & Tea Garden.


So, the happy gardener will…

stay busy as a bee

in her cottage garden

digging, transplanting, mulching,


‘watercoloring’ with perennials

as the late Summer days

turn to early Autumn.

What a joy it will be to watch her ‘new’ old-fashioned garden emerge in the Springtime!


If you give a gardener…

a wonderful book to read,

the seeds of inspiration will grow!


It has been a true joy to find so much inspiration

in my summer reading…


and I have lots more to share!


I’m so happy that you stopped to visit today!

What books have inspired you most this summer?

Hope you will leave a comment to share with us…

Wishing you lots of happy!

♡ Dawn















44 thoughts on “Garden Inspiration…

  1. Dawn,
    Your garden, as always provides me with such inspiration. I love some of the flowers you grow so successfully. I know it will be beautiful still once you’ve finished your “project”. I loved the water color stamped cards. How lovely.
    Autumn is my favorite time of year to work in the garden. I hope your weather is cooling nicely for such delightful pursuits.

    • Oh, thank you, Karen! Our rainy summer days and hot weather are making everything flourish. It’s so funny how one little change can lead to so many other changes! 🙂 Digging up patches of Daylilies is quite a task. I have to go through the soil so carefully to remove every trace or they will return next year. I just love Daylilies… and there will still be many patches of them to brighten our June days for years to come. I’m looking forward to Autumn days in the garden, too. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, Karen! ♡

  2. Oh dear Dawn, you write so beautifully! I love the analogy from the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to your own journey as a gardener. My grands loved that book and Grayden and I laugh about it in respect to our home improvements. Your garden is already a dreamy gorgeous one! But we gardeners are always scheming and planning, aren’t we?
    My garden has had many disappointments this year as you know, but I’ve learned so much more because of it. It’s funny how that works. I’m looking forward to dividing perennials and continue dreaming of our garden for next year. Hugs to you, my friend. ♥

    • Heartfelt thanks, Martha Ellen! You always say the sweetest things. I have definitely been that little ‘mouse’ in the garden for the past few weeks. One little change can certainly lead to more changes! I guess I’m just following my heart… and taking advantage of each day with good weather. In the long run, I’m hoping for fewer garden beds to weed. 🙂 One of the best parts of gardening is learning new things!! Such fun!!

      Martha Ellen, are you watching the NY Harbor webcam right now? The QM2 is just leaving! I can tell that lots of Girlfriends are watching Susan and Joe head off to their adventures in in England and Scotland. So excited for them! It must bring back so many wonderful memories of your trip on the QM2. 🙂 Sending hugs, my friend! Have a wonderful weekend! ♡

  3. What a lovely, fun blog post! I can see how your thoughts evolved from our recent brief walk through your garden. I am in awe of how you plan and move and develop your garden along the way!

    • Huge hugs, Carol! It really feels like I am ‘watercoloring’ with perennials! 🙂 One idea inspires the next one… and I start digging. 🙂 Can’t wait to see everything come up next Spring. I do believe that garden fever is contagious, my friend! You’ve been exposed! Can’t wait to see how your garden has grown, Carol! Wishing you happy, delightful days in the garden! ♡

    • So happy that you stopped to say ‘Hi,’ Gert! 🙂 I always enjoyed sharing that sweet book with my students. There are several others in the same series, by Laura Numeroff. Such fun! We have had a warm, rainy summer and the garden is in full bloom. As you can imagine, the weeds are thriving, too. What are your favorite flowers, Gert?

      I just waved Bon Voyage to Susan and Joe as the QM2 left NY Harbor. So many Girlfriends must have been watching. 🙂 Such a wonderful adventure awaits them! Can’t wait to hear all about their travels through England and Scotland! Wishing you sunny days, dear Gert! ♡

    • You are too sweet, Kim! Come dig up Black-eyed Susans! They are still in full bloom. 🙂 Perhaps you’d like to take a patch of Daylilies home, too???? I’ll be digging again tomorrow. Wishing you a happy weekend, sweetie! ♡

  4. The garden and watercolors are as beautiful as you. You never fail to bring warmth and joy. Off to Tuscany and will think of you with each splash of Nature’s colors.

    • Your lovely words truly touch my heart, dear Anne! So excited to hear more about your wonderful adventures in Tuscany! 🙂 Dreams really do come true. I hope, hope, hope you are packing a tiny, travel watercolor set to capture the beautiful colors of Tuscany, en plein air. Sending our love and wishes for safe, happy travels! ♡

  5. Dawn, how so very clever to write your story in this way! And I am in love with your watercolors. I know that you stamped the bee skep, but did you paint the flowers free-hand? They are charming! I have two of the books in your stack. You’ve inspired me to do a drawing/watercolor of my gardens this winter while I wait for Spring.

    • Oh, thank you for your kind words, Cathy! I used Art Impressions Watercolor stamps, watercolor markers, a paintbrush, and water, on watercolor paper. You would love these stamps, Cathy! Each flower stem, bit of foliage, grass, watering can, pot, garden gate,… is a separate, tiny stamp. Each picture becomes a one-of-a-kind garden. It takes me a long time to create each little image… but it’s so relaxing! I can ‘garden’ throughout the Winter! 🙂

      I am making so many changes in the garden that I knew I would forget where everything was planted by Springtime. So, last night I had fun watercoloring the garden map. As the gardens continue to change, I’m planning to sketch and watercolor more maps. My Herb & Tea Garden was inspired by Susan’s Kitchen Garden, in the Summer book. 🙂 Kindred spirits! I’m curious about which books you read. Thanks so much for visiting today, Cathy! Have a wonderful weekend! ♡

  6. Sounds like you’ve been busy, Dawn! Your garden sounds so lovely, and I really like the little map you’ve created for it. I couldn’t help but notice that one of your summer reading books is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She writes a column in Oprah Magazine (where I’m a copy editor) each month, but I’ve never read her books. How do you like her writing? I haven’t done much reading this summer because of the wedding and honeymoon, but now that I’m back I’m getting into it again, especially while commuting 🙂

    • Heartfelt congratulations, Chris! ♥ I must come visit to hear about the rest of your honeymoon! On my last visit, you were at Disney Paris. 🙂 I’ll bet the last few months feel like a dream-come-true!

      I just loved Big Magic! It touched my creative heart in so many ways. I had both the book and the audio book, so it felt like Elizabeth Gilbert was reading to me as I followed along. You can just feel her passion about creativity as she reads! Chris, as a writer, I think you would really enjoy Big Magic. You will find so many connections and lots of encouragement to pursue your writing dreams! I would love to hear your thoughts on the book. Have a wonderful weekend, my friend! ♡

  7. What a beautiful post linked to your garden and everything that is flourishing in it. I like the idea of sketching out your garden with watercolors. I am forever re-designing and re-organizing. Unfortunately I’m at times an impatient gardener. I should really wait for the 90 deg weather to cool off before I start transplanting, but I can’t wait for Fall and am happiest digging 🙂 Your garden is gorgeous! I like the speedwell too, but for some reason this summer, the blooms weren’t as long, perhaps moving it where it would get more sunshine would help?

    • Thank you so much, Loretta! It was fun to add perennials with different bloom times to the edges of my Herb & Tea Garden. So, there should be enough color throughout the growing season to attract the pollinators. Honestly, the whole idea to start digging and transplanting began when I read the wonderful book Homegrown Tea! I’m so grateful for the inspiration! I left just enough room to add a few new-to-my-garden plants, too. I always have a wish list! 🙂

      I am so drawn to the shape of Speedwell. Some of my Speedwell is planted in the sun and some is planted in part shade. We have had such a rainy summer that everything is growing like crazy here, especially the weeds! I’m looking forward to the cooler Autumn days, too! I’m really hoping to do some more digging tomorrow. Hope Mother Nature cooperates with my plans. Wishing you happy days in the garden, dear Loretta! ♡

  8. Funny, I wrote a post a few years
    ago about how I AM the mouse in
    that book!!! Love how you’ve applied
    it to yourself, here. I bet your garden
    is such a delight, as are you, Dawn!!

    xo Suzanne

    • Too funny, Suzanne! Kindred spirits, to be sure. I am your kindred mouse! I just kept thinking of that book as my plans kept progressing from one flower bed to another. The garden has always been such a happy place for me! I soak it all in during the growing season… and am grateful when the garden goes to sleep for Winter. Then it’s wonderful to have time to pursue other creative passions. I’d love to read your post from a few years back. I would love to hear your mouse tales, dear one! Wishing you happy days in the garden… and wherever they lead you! So glad that you are here, Suzanne! ♡

  9. Dawn, I love going to used book sales and always buy any watercolor illustrated journals I find, like the Painted Garden book you have. I have Sara Midda’s 1981 “In and Out of the Garden”. It is hand-lettered like Susan Branch’s books. I have also collected Vivian Swift’s little hand-painted travel books.

    • Oh, Cathy! It’s a very good thing that we go to different used book sales. We might have a kindred tug-o’-war over the same books! 🙂 I bought a copy of The Painted Garden last summer. This summer, I found another copy and decided it would be perfect for inspiration in my Paper Garden studio! So, I keep one copy upstairs and the other copy downstairs. It’s just so lovely! I bought Vivian Swift’s hand-painted travel books as soon as they were published. Now I must be on the lookout for Sara Midda’s book. I have heard such nice things about it. I just love the serendipity of finding special books! The hunt is always part of the fun for me. Thanks for giving me another special book to hunt for, Cathy! Big hugs! ♡

  10. Beautiful post Dawn! And I am positive I have those stamps! Back in the late 90’s we had a stamp and scrapbooking section at the party store and I was the buyer who got to stock all those lovelies! This fall I will have to dive in to the archives and see what I have…I will let you know!
    Right now I am getting reading to launch myself towards Ohio! I am definitely ready to get recharged! Heading home; to cooler weather, family, friends and familiar landscapes!
    I hope to begin getting my little herb patch ready for fall planting when I return. It has been weeded and tilled and stands ready to be created. I have been planning this since before the drought hit….one would think I would be ready! Alas it is still in flux as I dream and redesign! 😊
    I will be on the lookout for Homegrown Tea!
    Thanks again Dawn…really enjoyed this!
    Chris….W. Texas ….headed N

    • So happy that you are here, Chris! ♥ I’ve been missing you! All of my ‘projects’ have taken away from my blogging time this summer. I really miss connecting with all of my kindreds each week! I should be back on schedule very soon… unless my little mouse tendencies continue. 🙂

      Oh, my word! I can’t imagine the excitement of being a buyer for the stamp and scrapbooking section! That job would be even harder today. All of the new, independent stamp companies have fabulous new product releases monthly!! There are so many talented designers in the papercrafting world! They are such lovely, kindhearted people.

      I have several wonderful herb and tea books. But I was just delighted to happen upon this book at the library a few weeks ago. Now Homegrown Tea has become my new favorite! When I can no longer renew my copy at the library, I think I will have to buy a copy of my own. It’s one that I will refer to for both inspiration and practical advice again and again!

      So happy that you are headed north to Ohio for a bit, Chris! You can breathe in the cooler air and maybe see a few early colors change. (Remember ~ just B.R.E.A.T.H.E, my friend!) Enjoy your special times with family and friends! Safe travels, dear Chris!

  11. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (and a Moose a Muffin) are favorites of my grandkids. I am invited to a baby shower and a children’s book is a request – you have just given me one! Thank you.

    Now, if you give a gardener a book . . . how inspired and inspiring she will be. This was such a wonderful post to read just now and to see your plantings, both from your outside garden and your inside paper garden. Wonderful work. My monarda has been so profuse this year, still blooming and not only full of bees, but, of hummingbirds as well.

    As I do most summers, Tasha Tudor’s Garden has been opened once again, cherished and enjoyed, as well as Tovah Martin’s Garden Whimsey.

    • It’s the perfect choice, Penny! Showering the new arrival with children’s books is always so heartwarming. Two of my favorite gifts for baby showers are: Hand Rhymes or Finger Rhymes. The poetry, illustrated by the amazing Marc Brown, shows finger motions for each stanza. Such a wonderful gift for little ones and their parents (and grandparents)! Books are gifts they can open again and again…

      I’m so happy to have the Monarda back in my Herb & Tea Garden. For several years, it grew in a small Butterfly Garden that had turned a bit wild. Now, I will enjoy the Monarda every day. It still has a few blossoms. Oh, I hope it will bring hummingbirds!! I will keep watch for them.

      I’ve been thinking a lot about Tasha Tudor, too, as I spend my days digging and transplanting. I adore that special book about her garden! I haven’t heard about Garden Whimsey. Thank you so much for the suggestion, dear Penny!

      • Wrong title. Oops. A Time to Blossom by Tovah Martin. It is filled with garden whimsey. Tovah Martin wrote the text for Tasha Tudor’s Garden. Tovah has written several books on houseplants and wrote for Victoria Magazine. She may still. At any rate, you would like A Time to Blossom, especially if you remember making hollyhock dolls – or, like me, wish you did.

      • Oh, thank you , Penny! I will look for it. We are thinking about 3 French Hens this weekend if the sun is shining! 🔆🔆 Fingers crossed! Happy weekend, dear Penny! 💗

  12. Hahaha… has been a little hectic this week! But I will remember to B.R.E.A.T.H.E! Especially once I am behind the wheel of the car. I do love to drive! We are a road trip kind of family! 😊

    • Your excitement is contagious, Chris! Enjoy every mile of your road trip. As you head north, you will be rewarded with cooler temperatures. Best of all, there will be lots of hugs when you reach Ohio! Wishing you safe travels and happy times! ♡

  13. Your garden is absolutely beautiful. As a gardener, I understand how much work is involved. But, those gorgeous cards are beyond my ability. They are so lovely, and I know what kind of skill is required for those results because I tried a class once and was an absolute failure. Indoor or outdoor your gardening skills are on display here, and I thank you for the inspiration. 🙂 I have a lot of fall moving to do but am dealing with a drought and a ten day trip this month. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the end of Sept into the first part of Oct weather is conducive to all the work I have planned.

    • Such kind words, dear Judy! The Daylilies were happily growing in the garden when I moved here long ago. So, you can just imagine the long roots and all those little tubers. It feels like sifting through the soil looking for needles in a haystack. I’ve been digging up a small patch one day, then searching again for those little tubers the following day before moving other plants into that space. It’s painstaking work! I’m going to save two huge patches of Daylilies, since they surround our backyard with an ocean of orange every June. I just love them!

      Your terrible drought just goes on and on. It’s so stressful on the trees, the garden,… and the gardeners! Hoping your garden will have some nice, rainy days while you are away. Enjoy your wonderful adventures in Ireland! Can’t wait to see your photos and any travel tips! The Emerald Isle is tugging on our heartstrings, too. 🙂 Safe travels, Judy! ♡ P.S. I’ll send an email with some creative links for those tiny, paper gardens. If you have the patience to stitch quilts, I know you can do this! It’s fun and so relaxing! It’s the perfect way to ‘garden’ in the winter.

    • Thanks, Jodi! I spent hours today digging and transplanting around the arbor. (A great workout for the heart and soul!) Hoping for gentle rains overnight to welcome all of the perennials in their new beds. Have a great weekend, Jodi! ♡

  14. I must stop by and pay your beautiful flowers a visit! Laughing as I’m reading about your plants and transplants, I think my husband is truly on to something…he’d like to invent a Velcro – type device that I can adhere to the bottom of every single one of my plants as I’ve been known to move them around until they either beg me to stop by withering away or they smile back and flourish when I finally hit on the proper location! One dear old favorite is my David Austin “Heritage” rose that I brought home to my first garden nearly 30 years ago. It now reigns supreme in the pocket garden outside my kitchen window, remembering the vow I made to it never, ever to move it again should it thrive in this, it’s perfect place. This summer it has acknowledged its contentment as it has bloomed consistently — at least a dozen blooms every week! Happy, happy gardening, Dawn!

    • What a great invention that would be, Louise! 🙂 Your ‘Heritage’ rose is in a perfect location, where you can enjoy it everyday. All of the gorgeous blossoms are a sure sign that it is very happy in its forever home! I think it will be a while until I find out if all of the transplants are happy in their new beds. I’m hoping next summer will be a colorful one in the garden!

      Something so silly happened on Friday afternoon ~ I was ready to dig up bunches of Obedient Plant in the front yard to move it to the back yard. I had to wait in line behind all of the bumblebees for my turn. Finally, I dug up a huge armful of the plant in full bloom. As I held it, I heard a loud buzzing… so I dropped it quickly. Turns out it was my Fitbit buzzing 🙂 (to remind me to take a water break)! So, I sheepishly gathered up the stems of Obedient Plant and moved them to their new home. Within moments of transplanting, the bumblebees found the blossoms again. All’s well that ends well! Wishing you happy days in your garden, too, Louise! Isn’t the cooler weather delightful? ♡

  15. Dawn, you planted a beautiful garden as well as a smile on my face. I love your positivism, your creativity and your charming way of weaving together your love of flowers, books and the famous Mouse. 😉 I’m gobsmacked at the age of your cottage garden, too. My goodness how wonderful. When we moved here 21 years ago I inherited a swath of lawn, a patch of ivy, a few roses and a diseased almond tree. Ha! You’ve worked wonders with your home and garden and your love shines through.

    As for your paper garden, what a talent you are. Your cards are stunning. Finally, I loved your photos, and smiled, not only at the bee but the other bug sharing the frame. I’ve often snapped photos in the garden, and don’t realize there were other visitors on the plant until I download it to my computer.

    Wishing you cooler days from an equally hot San Jose (97 today). Ugh.

    • You made my heart smile, Alys! 🙂 Isn’t it amazing to inherit a mature garden with so much history? My lovely neighbors, to the north and south, were able to tell me about where some of the plants and the tall pine trees came from. There were so many annuals here that first summer, too. Over the years, I made the change to perennials and added the Herb & Tea Garden. I just love the Phlox, Peonies, and Daylilies that were already mature plants when I inherited my garden. There are red Tulips in my Friendship Garden that have bloomed every year since before I moved here. This was my 29th gardening season here!

      The other tiny insect photo-bombed my busy bee photo, for sure! 🙂 I didn’t even notice it for a day or two, until after I published this post. You spotted it right away! Great detective work!

      Heartfelt thanks for your kind words, Alys! It’s a blessing to have two great passions ~ gardening and papercrafting, along with several other interests. The garden is my happy place, but my little Paper Garden studio is a wonderful place to explore, learn, and grow creatively. I just love learning new things… and there is always something new to learn in both places. I often wish there were more hours in my days! 🙂

      Oh, I truly hope you will feel relief from your hot weather very soon! It looks like we will have a nice week ahead. So, I’ll be busy digging and transplanting. I’m on a mission! I think there are still several weeks of heavy-duty work ahead of me. It has become my new workout routine! 🙂 Wishing you cool breezes, dear Alys! ♡

      • Dawn, you are always a breath of fresh air. I didn’t know you had lived in your house for so long. For some reason I thought it had been about a decade. You have lots of wonderful history there, yours in the making and all that came before you. I’m finding myself less and less interested in annuals, especially with our dry conditions. They are thirsty plants, that dry out quickly with their shallow roots. I realized yesterday, too, that I’ve gradually converted almost all of my pots to succulents. There are so many beautiful ones now, and some are even in bloom. It’s been a nice new discovery for me.

        I know you’ll enjoy the hard work of the days ahead, perhaps with a warm soak in a tub at the end of them. xo

      • Such a sweet thing to say, Alys! After years of watching This Old House, my heart told me it was time to have an old house of my own. I am so grateful that my parents helped me in so many ways. They are both amazing teachers! My mom taught me all about gardening, wallpapering, and painting. My dad taught me how to strip woodwork, do simple electrical work, mix cement,… Before my dad retired, they would come each weekend to help me with projects. After they retired and moved out of state, they would plan summer visits to help me with big projects. I could never have restored my old home without their love, guidance, advice, and help. Even now, they continue to share their wisdom by phone whenever I have questions about home projects. It has truly been a labor of love for the past 29 years! I am so very blessed. ♥

        Your pots of succulents must be beautiful, Alys! They sound just perfect for your California garden. It’s fun to choose interesting containers, too. I love admiring and learning the names of succulents in garden centers here and on our visits to Arizona. After a few years of planting annuals, I gradually changed my garden to perennials. I remember saving my pennies to pick out one perennial each week at our local farmers’ market. (I don’t think I ever bought fruit or veggies there, just flowers! :)) Now I just pick out a few annuals for containers on our front porch and deck. It’s fun to watch our gardening styles evolve over the years.

        Thanks so much for your encouraging words! I do love the hard work of digging and transplanting in the garden… and a warm soak sounds really good right now! Can’t wait until next spring to see all of the changes in my garden beds! Heartfelt thanks, dear Alys, for always taking the time to leave your wonderful thoughts here! Hope cooler days are on their way to you! ♡

  16. I’m glad I stopped by and read your beautiful blog. I don’t read much, however..Gardening is my passion and I’m a nightmare for changing my mind and moving plants! Best of all for me, is the planning and dreaming of what might be, watching the garden flourish year on year. Making tweaks here and there, and most of all enjoying the fruits of your labour.. So Thankyou for making me smile Dawn ☺️

    • Welcome, Jenny! I’m so happy that you stopped to visit today. I’m in awe of your beautiful Walled Garden! What an amazing labor of love! You are truly recreating a treasure at historic home. I look forward to following your progress. I’m still busy moving my perennials around. Now that Autumn has arrived, I hope that we will have lots of good working weather, so that I can complete my plans before cold, snowy weather arrives. Isn’t it wonderful to dream our garden dreams? Wishing you happy Autumn days in the garden, Jenny! ♡

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