A ‘History Garden’


Hi Friends!

Change can be a good thing, but it’s never easy! As these Autumn days grow shorter, I have been as busy as a bee making some big changes in the garden. During the past two gardening seasons, I have been mindful of the immense time that my large perennial gardens require.

Over the years, I intentionally let my gardens expand, little-by-little. My passion for gardening spoke to my heart ~ “You will need something to keep you busy after you retire. You can spend all day, every day in the garden!”  So, after I retired (I actually use a different “R” word, I call it my “Renaissance.”), I happily spent time gardening early in the morning and all afternoon. Life felt sweet among the flowers and herbs!

A few years into my Renaissance, I began to feel additional passions tugging on my heartstrings ~ cardmaking, playing with watercolors, scrapbooking, blogging, volunteering, more travel, taking fun classes, and having weekends free to explore.  Gardening will always, always be my favorite pastime, for time in the garden fills my heart and soul with such joy! Throughout this year I have been gardening with intention, always soul-searching for ways to make a few changes. It’s time to begin making a ‘right size’ garden for my Renaissance!

My ‘History Garden’

After weeks and weeks of digging, today I celebrated the completion of my new ‘History Garden.’  This garden bed holds a bit of the history of our home, treasured memories of my first garden, and special family memories, too. It is located along the side of our garage, since that’s where the story begins…


Our little garage, was built in the early 1920’s on former farmland. The original owners built the garage, insulated the walls inside with wood from boxcars, added a potbelly stove for warmth, and lived in the garage for a whole year, while they worked to build the house. It’s a tall, but narrow garage, just right for a Model T Ford! The original doors were carriage-style and would swing out. After building the garage, they built a stone fireplace in the garden for cooking. I just love this little garage and the history that it holds. I knew that I wanted to preserve this little piece of history, so early on I had the garage jacked up and a strong foundation poured under the walls. It’s just right for my little car and a large potting bench!


Almost 30 years ago, when I became the owner of our little home, the area alongside the garage was filled with scraggly trees. So, my dad helped me clear the land to make a garden bed there. Over time, the garden bed changed from all annuals, to a small Butterfly Garden, and then grew lush with perennials.


In September, it dawned on me that I really didn’t need a ‘wild’ Butterfly Garden bed any longer. My entire garden, planted with large swatches of plants to attract pollinators, has become a colorful butterfly garden!


At the same time, I realized that I no longer need a Cutting Garden, filled with old-fashioned perennials, near the deck. Over the years, my entire garden has become a cutting garden. Filling vases with flowers to bring inside is my favorite way to begin the morning! So, I moved a few of these old-fashioned perennials into my white picket fence Herb & Tea Garden. The Cutting Garden bed was still full of beautiful perennials. It was a joy to share many perennials with friends who were making their very first garden. But the bed was still very full. These perennials had a long history. Most of them were already growing here when I moved in!

Aha! It was time to create my own ‘History Garden’ bed. For weeks, I dug and dug the overgrown daylilies alongside the garage. Over the years, they had been multiplying by leaps and bounds! After digging down one foot deep, to remove the roots and all of the daylily tubers, I had to slowly sift through the soil with my fingers, searching out all of the tiny tubers. It became a special kind of garden meditation, like searching for needles in a haystack. A half day’s work would only clear a small patch, before my back and knees forced me to hobble inside to rest. Many rainy days made for a very muddy mess. So, I was overjoyed to complete the digging earlier this week!

It was finally time to begin transplanting into my ‘History Garden’ alongside the garage! I transplanted peony bushes and phlox that have been growing in my garden for over 30 years. Next I moved some Astilbe plants, some of my very first perennials. I divided the tall, yellow Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ that has been growing near the garage for several years. The centerpiece of the ‘History Garden’ is the Yucca plant that once grew in my mom’s garden long ago. It grew here for many years without flowering. Now the Yucca sends up a tall stalk filled with creamy, white flowers every summer. The mother Yucca plant has produced three pups in my garden~ a lovely reminder of my mom and her three grown children.♥ Today my mom continues to grow Yucca in her Arizona garden. Thinking of our Yucca plants keeps us close, in spite of the miles between our beloved gardens! Just today I added the mulch and drew a map of the new garden bed. (I will be able to identify the remaining flower colors when they bloom in the Springtime.)


I can’t wait until next Spring to watch my ‘History Garden’ grow! It should be filled with color from early Spring through late Fall. I even left a space to add a new perennial, from my long ‘wish list.’ I have a feeling it will be pink Japanese Windflowers! I first noticed them blooming in a beautiful garden in the Black Forest, in Germany. Their gorgeous Autumn blooms hold such a special place in my heart!

Colorful Maple leaves grace the birdbath on a sunny Autumn day.

I will still be as busy as a bee in the garden a bit longer. It’s time to clear the remaining plants from the old Cutting Garden and plant grass in that area. Next year, there will be a little more to mow, but much less to weed! I’m already planning more changes in the garden next year. Gardening with intention will keep my passion for gardening (along with all of the other pastimes in my Renaissance) growing for years to come!


Can’t wait to share a wonderful gardening book with you next time!

It has inspired these changes… with more to come!

Are you planning any big changes in your garden?

Happy Autumn days!

♡ Dawn









41 thoughts on “A ‘History Garden’

  1. What fun and autumn is one of the best times for planning and planting here in Southern California. I’ve been planning on picking up some bulbs this year and getting them planted. I’ll look forward to watching as your history garden grows and shows it’s beauty.

    • It’s a great season to plant here, too, Karen! It’s a perfect time for garden planning, since the growing season is quickly winding down. We are under a frost advisory tonight! We will have temperatures in the mid-30s. Brrrrr! Can’t wait to hear about the bulbs you are planting, Karen! Wishing you happy Autumn days in the garden! ♡

  2. Dawn, loved the story about your garage and I can’t wait to see your new garden come spring! I love perennials, but they are a lot of work. I rarely pull a weed in my garden, but I am constantly cutting back. I fill both garbage cans each week. Getting the garden ready for winter.

    • Many thanks, Jann! My little garage has such a long history! I have so many perennial beds, that I can never have the entire garden looking good at the same time. Pulling weeds, especially Bishop’s Weed and Creeping Charlie, is a big job here. So, eliminating the large Cutting Garden is a very good start! I was able to save the oldest perennials that ‘belong’ in this garden, since they are part of the history of an old house. I feel so good about that! We have our first frost advisory tonight. I hope my Autumn blossoms will last a few more weeks! The mums are really putting on a show now. I’m looking forward to more stories about your new She Shed, Jann! Will you be able to use it through the winter months? Thanks so much for visiting today, Jann! ♡

  3. What a coincidence! I just removed a dying bush, a victim of our long draught, as well as some very old irises. Your blog has inspired me to rethink what might do well in their stead. Will continue to search for colorful water savers. Thanks for your enthusiasm. It is catching!

    • Kindred spirits, Anne! You have such challenging growing conditions in such a long period of drought. Do you grow a lot of succulents in containers? Colorful pots filled with interesting succulents might add bright spots of low-maintenance color to your garden or patio. Mediterranean herbs might bring back special memories of your travels! Watch for an inspiring garden book in my next post! You might enjoy it, too. Thank you for the wonderful Happy Mail, dear Anne! You are such a joy in our lives! ♡

  4. Ten years ago, I dug up grass to make perennial beds, shade and sun, all over the 3+ acres. Then a couple of years ago as I continued to ‘mature,’ I realized I didn’t really need all those beds nor did I want to spend six hours outside at a time weeding. I have since taken out four beds and have planted larger groupings and ground cover with the idea to be able to continue to garden, and divide, plant but not weed constantly. I will look forward to seeing spring photos of your history garden. The main part of the house was built in 1840 and I have many hosta and peonies from a previous owner. 🙂

    • I understand completely, Judy! We are both on the same wavelength in our passion for gardening. Your garden is really huge! I know that we both love our gardens, but have other exciting pastimes, too. It’s nice to be able to take weekends ‘off’ from the garden, too. You know how much I dearly love old houses. I would just adore your 1840 home, Judy! I feel so blessed to have an old garden, too. All of my Hosta were here before I bought my house.

      I know you will enjoy the gardening book I share next time. It might be one of your favorite books, too! You have even heard the author speak! (Hint! Hint!) 🙂 The colors in New Hampshire must be spectacular. We have our first frost advisory tonight. I’m really hoping that our gardening season will last two more weeks. I still have lots to do! Thank you for always being here, Judy! Happy Autumn days! ♡

  5. What an enjoyable time I have had here, Dawn, enjoying your intentional garden! I love the idea of a history garden and am inspired by how your garden has grown and changed and morphed over the years. That is what all good gardens should do.
    All the work I had planned to do this season, especially this week and next, are now unattainable, BUT, I will clear what I can, when I can, and look forward to what changes I can do come next spring. We are already looking to expand our prairie, which will probably happen whether we plant or not. 🙂 Our front beds are a bit overgrown. I was waiting for the new house to be completed next door, knowing our sun/shade needs will change. Well, that house isn’t completed yet, I am temporarily hobbled, and so, we adjust. Life is accommodating that way. 🙂
    It will be cold tonight. That should really bring out the fall colors.

    • Arms around you, dear Penny, for your kind words! It’s so funny to think that when I bought my little house with a mature garden, I knew nothing at all about gardening! My mom taught me everything! I would water all the plants all week long, and she would come on the weekend to help me learn the difference between the plants and the weeds. 🙂 As a newbie gardener, I think I read all of the gardening books in our library (two winters in a row). I loved slowly making the change to perennials. Adding herbs to my garden was one of my very favorite things! My garden grew as the gardener grew! 🙂 My heart tells me it’s time to make more changes in this wonderful chapter of life! Our sun/shade needs will be changing very soon for the same reason. So, I am being very intentional with the changes I am making now.

      While you are resting and healing, dear Penny, just dream your garden dreams and make a few plans (on paper) for next year’s garden. I love how your Prairie garden will grow on it’s own! You have the right attitude, Penny. Keeping you close at heart during your recuperation, my friend. Stay warm and cozy inside! ♡

  6. I love your garden. My Mom is great at gardening. Whenever she gets time from her police job, you can see her immersed in our beautiful garden (Thanks to my mom) ❤ Our garden right now doesn’t have too many flowers because many of them are spring flowers. Only Roses in the tubs and Pink and Purple Mandevilla are hanging all around our entrance gate and wall 🙂 I think my mom will soon start working with the seasonal Autumn flowers 🙂 Happy Autumn to you too!

    • Oh, Ricky! Your garden sounds so lovely! I’m sure it is relaxing for your mom to spend time in nature. That’s how I always feel, even when I’m working hard in the garden. It’s nice to look forward to Spring when the garden wakes up again! Thank you so much for stopping to visit today, Ricky! Happy weekend! ♡

  7. Life has been so busy, it seems that I have had little time for much more than “breathing”. But last night the monarchs came through, such a magical thing. I had gone out to help Mom get the barn cats in and there they were, coming across the pasture, over the house and softly finding a place in the trees for the night. It wasn’t the numbers we have seen in the past, but it was so lovely. It was my mother’s first time to see it and even with her limited eyesight she could see them. We stood and watched until it got too dark to see them. And then I noticed my fall asters were blooming and it made me smile!
    Things are getting done around here thanks to Mom. She is not satisfied with the little garden I threw together for her last spring when she came to live with me. She has clear out the area where I once had a large vegetable garden. So in the spring she will be busy planting. Amazing for 93 don’t you think?
    Love the evolution of your gardens, Dawn. Gardens should change and evolve! And the garage…what history! looking forward to the book!
    From West Texas where the air conditioner is still coming on!😁

    • ‘Breathing’ is such a good thing, Chris! 🙂 Heartfelt thanks for taking the time to visit. I always look forward to your comments! How wonderful that your garden is along the migration path of the Monarchs! It must be awe-inspiring to see them! So happy your mom could experience this magical moment. The Monarchs are attracted to our Fall Aster, too. It’s so striking to see their bright orange against the bright purple!

      Your mom is truly amazing, Chris! Her hard work in the garden keeps her healthy and happy. She has important work to do every day. Gardeners are always looking toward the future, too. Our gardens teach us so many important life lessons. There is always something new to learn in the garden! It fuels our passion for digging in the dirt. Hugs for your mom!

      We would welcome some of your West Texas warmth here in the Midwest. The sun shines brightly here, but now the weather is much, much cooler. Last night, I wore a turtle neck and winter jacket when I went to the library. A cup of hot cocoa warmed my heart and hands on a cold night! It’s a bit of a roller coaster at this time of year. Monday we are expecting temperatures in the low 80s. Our leaves should really be colorful in the coming days! Happy weekend, dear Chris! ♡

    • Oh, thank you, Ginnie! The changes in my garden are still keeping me very busy. I’m hoping to finish soon and can’t wait to see how it looks in the Spring! Wishing you nice Autumn days, Ginnie! Thanks so much for visiting today.♡

  8. Congratulations on the creation of the History Garden next to your charming garage, Dawn. I love how you have carefully planned the space. I do hope you will share its progression with us here. You are truly a gardener’s gardener! I have moved a few daylilies this year and I identify with the sifting and finding those little tubers. I really need to divide another bed that has come completely overgrown. I’m looking forward to hearing about the gardening book that inspired your work. Have a lovely week ahead, dear friend. ♥

    • Such sweet things to say, dear Martha Ellen! I am looking toward the future and trying to make wise changes in the garden. I know you can understand the challenges of digging up a patch of daylilies. The bed ran the length of the garage and about six feet wide. It felt like I was digging and sifting through the soil forever! It took several weeks. The History Garden is mulched and ready for winter. I promise to share photos as it emerges in the Springtime. 🙂 Over the weekend, we completely cleared the old Cutting Garden bed. I moved Stella d’Oro Daylilies to form a curved border at the base of our tall Pine Trees. Today I will scatter grass seed to fill in the entire area. It’s a huge change, but I’m embracing the idea of less weeding in the years to come! Have you been busy in the garden, too?

      Do you have brilliant Autumn colors yet? Our leaves are just beginning to change here. The next two weeks should be very pretty. Then the raking begins! 🙂 Wishing you lovely Autumn days, Martha Ellen! Thank you for always being here and spreading joy with your thoughts! ♡

  9. Dearest Dawn! HELLO! How lovely is your garden and I so miss blogging the way it used to be, but seeing sweet friends like you once in a while really is great. Thank you for coming to visit me AND for this lovely stroll through your garden!

    • Bonjour, Anita! I always enjoy our visits, too. Many thanks for your sunshine and kindness! These are very busy days in the garden as the growing season winds down. Although it can be hard work to make big changes, it will be oh-so sweet to enjoy the rewards in the Springtime. Gardening always teaches us patience. Wishing you creative days at home and in the classroom, dear Anita! You are such a joy! ♡

  10. I love that you’re calling this your Renaissance, Dawn. It’s such a practical and beautiful thing to do. Gardening, even when we love it, can be back-straining work. I find it harder to get up and down from the ground and I’m always sore the next day. We’ve gone the opposite direction, replacing grass (lawn) with native perennial plants, but I suspect our plot of land is much smaller than yours, as it remains fairly manageable. Most of my pots are now succulents (also due to the drought) but they require less work as well. They rarely need watering and they grow slowly and don’t require regular pruning.

    I really enjoyed this post. I found it uplifting and interesting and inspiring. xo

    • Many thanks, Alys! Isn’t Renaissance the perfect word for a new chapter in life, filled with exploring exciting new things, learning, and growing in so many ways? I chose this word a few months before I retired to inspire and celebrate the journey ahead. 🙂

      After spending hours in the garden, I can really feel it, too. It was also a very practical decision to replace my Cutting Garden with grass. Now there will be a wide open grassy area connecting our front yard and backyard. When the time comes that I am not able to mow the lawn, a mowing service will be able to easily maneuver their large lawnmower through both parts of our yard. 🙂 My small lawnmower easily fits through a narrow opening near our garage to mow the backyard. After so many weeks of digging and transplanting to make this happen, I am now happily watering our grass seeds. We are having warmer than normal October days, so the seeds should sprout soon! We have had an abundance of rain throughout this growing season.

      Native perennial plants are a wonderful way to garden. I love watching your succulents growing in their pretty containers, too. You have found the perfect solution for gardening during such a lengthy drought. I will always remember the day we ‘met,’ Alys. You were working so hard to carry water from your bathtub to save your trees from the drought. That very moment, I knew I had found a kindred spirit. We both have such a passion for nature and our gardens. Thanks so much for stopping to visit today, Alys! Enjoy the countdown to your very favorite holiday! ♡

      • Dawn, I always feel happy and refreshed when I read your lovely comments. Thank you! Kindred spirits indeed. Isn’t the world of blogging a wonderful?

        Sending a virtual hug your way. xo

  11. There was a lot to take in here so it took me awhile to get to the comments. I love the history of your home. When I moved into mine 2 years ago, there was a lot that needed work. just finished moving some climbing roses next to the handrails of the porch steps. They were hard to walk around. I planted a memory garden this year and you have given me so many good ideas for next spring. We are well into the rainy season so everything has to wait now. I took out all the grass because the ground here didn’t support it. I’m going for maintenance free landscaping. 🙂 But a cutting garden is something I would love to have. It just takes time, money and a strong back, right? 🙂

    • Heartfelt thanks, Marlene, for your kind words! A memory garden sounds so lovely. It will be such fun to watch it grow! Maintenance free landscaping will suit your lifestyle perfectly, Marlene. I know that you enjoy other pastimes, too. Gardening certainly takes time and a strong back. I added perennials very slowly, as my budget would allow. Over the years, they multiplied creating beautiful areas of color that are very popular with the pollinators. What could be lovelier than making our little corner of the world a more beautiful place and learning new things each day in the process! Wishing you nice Autumn days, Marlene! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and share your thoughts today! ♡

  12. Sounds like this has been quite the labor of love for you. I’ll look forward to seeing how it looks come spring. No regrets here that my gardening days are over. If I get the urge again I can join the resident grounds committee here at Vantage House. Hope you get to Martha’s Vineyard one day.

    • It truly is a labor of love, Marcia! I’m making changes now so that my garden continues to bring enjoyment into my life. I’m so glad that you followed your heart and are beginning a whole new, more relaxed lifestyle. I know that one day, pots of herbs and a few flowers on a balcony will be a perfect, little garden for me. Now you will have more time to visit gardens. I’m dreaming of a visit to Martha’s Vineyard one day. Autumn, when it isn’t so crowded on the island, sounds like the perfect time to visit. I’m looking forward to your photos! Have a nice Autumn weekend, Marcia! Thanks so much for stopping to visit today. ♡

  13. I’ve been so busy in my garden that I just read your latest news about intentional gardening! It’s amazing how our gardens help us grow! We just recently took out! all the grass (weeds) in the space between driveways. Though not a true gravel garden, I’m hoping that what’s been done results in greater beauty, more of the good stuff for my favorite little pollinators and less watering! Next stop? My long awaited and sorely needed potting “shed”. As always, I love reading your updates….true treasures..

    • Many thanks for your kind words, Louise! I love hearing about the changes in your garden, as we work furiously until the colder weather arrives! Now that this season’s garden projects are finished here, I am finally beginning the annual end-of-season tidying up in the front yard. Today was perfect for trimming our huge evergreen bushes and a few hours of weeding. Hoping for dry days to paint my white picket fence surrounding the Herb & Tea Garden. It needs a ‘winter coat’ of paint to protect it from the winter snow. Your Potting Shed sounds like a wonderful addition to the garden! So happy for you, my friend! Thanks so much for being here and sharing in the conversation, Louise! Have a great week! ♡

  14. Beautiful article, my dear! I have been thinking about doing the same in my yard! I might even have to have the entire lawn stripped…it is mostly creeping charlie and clover!!!! Love you! Kim

  15. I love your new history garden, Dawn! It really does hold so many memories. We didn’t have as much time to garden this year as we could have liked, busy with the wedding and honeymoon, but I’m so thankful for those restful times I did manage to find working in the soil. Hope you have a Happy Halloween!

    • Many thanks, Chris! I have such a sentimental heart and treasure old houses, old-fashioned perennials, old tea cups, and old traditions and memories. They all remind us of simpler times. You definitely had your most exciting, memorable summer ever, Chris! Now you and Todd can enjoy all of the upcoming holidays as newlyweds. (Try to stay newlyweds forever! ♥ That’s what we are doing!) I’m so glad you found a little time to work in the soil.

      I thought of you when our Pineapple Sage bloomed. So beautiful! I’m planning to dig it up and bring it inside for the winter. I also rooted some. I’m going to make a little indoor herb garden in the dining room for cooking and teas over the winter months. Have you tried rooting any of your herbs in jars of water? So easy!! The tiniest sprig of fresh herbs can warm up a cold winter’s day! Have a spook-tacular Halloween, dear Chris! ♡

      • Great advice, Dawn. We will try our best to stay newlyweds! And an indoor herb garden is a great idea, too. I’ve dried some herbs for the winter, but it’s never the same as using them fresh. I’m going to have to look up exactly how to root the herbs in jars of water; that sounds so useful and would bring some nice life into the apartment. ❤

      • It’s so easy, Chris! You will be surprised how quickly they begin to root! I just use empty glass jars with the labels removed. Clip several sprigs from your garden herbs. Remove the lower leaves, so they won’t be submerged. Keep adding more water as it evaporates. I change the water every so often (if I remember). Bright light works well. When the jar is filled with roots, I plant the herbs in pots of organic potting soil. You can enjoy them as you cook… and the fragrance whenever you touch the leaves feels like summer sunshine for the soul! Let me know how it goes, Chris! Have fun! 💗

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