Garden Dreams…


Who helped to plant your love of gardening?

Hi Friends!

It seems like just yesterday!

Those golden summer afternoons spent in the garden

while I was growing up are such sweet memories.


My mom was as happy as a lark

tending her beautiful rose garden

and all of the old-fashioned perennial beds

that lined our backyard.


I was as happy as a lark, too,

… sunbathing!

Mom gardened all around me,

while all of my attention was focused on

the latest issue of Seventeen magazine.

While she worked with her pruners, trowel, garden gloves, and flower basket,

my ‘garden tools’ were a beach towel, radio, Coppertone sunscreen, and sunglasses!

(Mind you, I wasn’t a princess! My outdoor chores included mowing the lawn, edging, shoveling snow,…)


When our afternoon work was finished,

Mom and I would sit together in the shade

sipping iced tea and chatting.


Oh, my…

If only I had been paying attention,

learning the names of all the plants and their special needs,

borrowing her tools and lending a hand…


Yet during all of those summer afternoons so long ago,

I was learning something


I saw the joy of gardening in my mom’s smiles

and the peaceful feelings found amongst her flowers!


Many years later,

after college, graduate school, and

teaching for several years,

 I finally saved enough money to buy

a home of my own.

It was a cozy little bungalow,

with a swing on the front porch,

and a large yard filled with garden beds.

(Oh no! Garden beds of my own?)


The previous homeowner had planted lovely perennial beds and colorful annual beds.  My yard was filled with day lilies, still blooming almost thirty years later!

So, I happily watered everything in my garden each day!

My parents would come each weekend

helping to make my dreams come true.

My dad and I would work on restoration projects

and my mom and I would garden together.

Each weekend, Mom would point out the weeds and the flowers.

There was so much to learn!!

(If only I had been helping in her garden while I was growing up!)

Mom was so patient,

  each weekend teaching me how to plant, prune,

and deadhead the spent blossoms.


With Mom’s tender guidance, I grew more passionate about gardening with each passing year!

Over the winter months,

my parents helped my dreams grow

as we worked together

on indoor projects,

like stripping the paint to reveal the beautiful woodwork,

one room at a time.

My little bungalow was slowly,

very slowly,

returning to the original charm of its 1922 roots.

DSCN5366My dreams were coming true,

with the love and help of my incredible parents.

I planted new perennial beds ~ a Friendship Garden and Cutting Garden.

My dad and I worked together one summer long ago, to build my Herb & Tea Garden and an arbor.

Over the winter months,

I brought home armloads of gardening books

from the library,

and read and read…

and dreamed garden dreams.

I reread the same gardening books each winter

for several years…


just like the plants in my garden!


When my parents retired,

it was time to make their new dreams come true,

in the Sonoran desert,

in Arizona!

Now my mom happily gardens with

cacti, succulents, and desert wildflowers.

When I visit her desert garden,

I love learning the names of her flowers,

 trees, and cacti.


When we hike in the desert or walk through the neighborhood, there is always so much to learn about the plants of the Southwest!

Each summer,

when my parents come back to visit us,

my mom always brings her

garden gloves.

She loves the lush green abundance

of the Midwest,

where she learned to garden

when I was very young.

So, my mom and I spend precious moments

working side by side,

in my garden together!


Playing in the garden together last week!

I feel so very


that my mom has shared

her love of gardening

and her gardening knowledge

with me over so many years!


Heartfelt thanks, Mom, for helping my garden dreams come true!

You taught me how to bloom!


Is there someone special in your life

who shared their love of gardening with you?


Thanks so much for stopping by today! I always enjoy our visits!

Sending sunshine!

♡ Dawn

A Walk in the Garden

Hi Friends!

We are oh-so happy that July has arrived in the Midwest with bright, sunny skies!

We really need a little sunshine!

Our weather in June made the record books. It was our cloudiest June in 122 years and the fourth wettest June in Illinois history. Last month our area had eight inches of rainfall (twice the average June rainfall) and some areas south of Chicagoland had fifteen inches of rain. Roads flooded and rivers overflowed their banks. One terrible night, nine devastating tornadoes ripped through rural communities south of Chicago. What a month!

It’s time to look on the bright side of life…

Our gardens here are lush and flourishing!


Let’s take a quick walk through the backyard garden today.

Step through the arbor

Bright, orange daylilies welcome friends, as we step through the arbor into the garden.

Clematis blooms fill the arbor

Colorful Clematis blossoms fill the arbor, twisting and climbing all the way over the top.

The flagstone path has been a special part of this garden since the 1920s. It leads to an old stone grill  and patio, built by the original homeowners.

The flagstone path has been a special part of this garden since the early 1920s. It leads to an old stone grill and patio, built by the original homeowners. Some day I will tell you the whole story! But we can’t linger today…


The path leads to our Herb and Tea Garden. It is the Heart of My Garden, built with so much love! Culinary herbs fill one raised bed, Mints and sages, just perfect for making herbal tea, fill another raised bed. Next time, we will pick our favorites to make tea.  But we mustn’t linger today…

A weathered birdhouse

A weathered birdhouse welcomes our feathered friends to the Herb Garden, too.


Our backyard is a sea of orange and yellow in late June. The daylilies bloom just in time for Father’s Day each year. Yellow Stella d’Oro daylilies add color to the Friendship Garden for many weeks.  Asiatic lilies show off their blossoms in the Cutting Garden.


Pink Lacecap Hydrangeas and white Annabelle Hydrangeas put on a dramatic show with their large blossoms. Delicate blossoms add color and interest nearby.

I really wish that we could spend more time enjoying the garden together today.

However, along with the flourishing blossoms,

the mosquitoes are flourishing, too!

They are biting like piranhas and are really attracted to me.

News reports warn that Chicagoland will have the second largest mosquito population

in the United States this summer.

(Only Atlanta is predicted to have more mosquitoes than us.)

This week, as new broods of mosquitoes hatch, they are chasing me from the garden.

In midday, I wear long sleeves, long jeans, a hat, and garden gloves,

but still get bitten, and my face is covered with bites.

The brief moments that I take off my garden gloves to take photos,

my hands are covered with bites.

In addition to the discomfort, the bites can be dangerous.

Mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus and Chikungunya, a newer mosquito-borne virus.

It’s important to empty the standing water

from birdbaths and bee baths in the garden.

A green approach to keeping mosquitoes away includes planting

Citronella, Marigolds, Lavender, and Catnip.

The Basil and Lemon Balm in our Herb Garden are said to repel insects, too.

I’m afraid that insect repellent

will be a necessary item on our shopping list.


I still dream of lingering in the garden on summer afternoons.

Yet this is becoming a very challenging gardening season!

Hope you can share some helpful ideas with us…

Sunny hugs!

♡ Dawn

Anticipation… {via Pinterest}

Hi Friends!


Can you feel it?

Are there signs of Spring in your garden?

What signs of Spring are stirring in your heart?

In the Midwest, we are still living in a ‘Marshmallow World.’ The bright sunshine makes our snowy landscape sparkle like glitter. Our bone-chilling temperatures keep us bundled up in layers, hoping to find a bit of warmth. The Winter winds are still biting cold. Waist-high snowpiles along our driveway make backing down the driveway a bit of a challenge.

My perennial and herb gardens remain buried under a very thick blanket of snow. I’m longing to peek into the garden! I’m yearning to see a blade of green grass anywhere. Although we are surrounded by the reminders of a very long Winter, I can already feel the early signs of Spring sprinkled throughout each day!

The signs are everywhere…

Last night, I read the entire issue of ‘Garden Gate’ magazine, from cover to cover.

We shivered and huddled for warmth, while standing under the full ‘Worm Moon’ and star gazing.

At the market today, packets of flower seeds jumped into my basket.

A pair of cute, sturdy garden gloves hopped into the basket, too.

I have been sketching a few plans in my Garden Journal already!

This weekend, our clocks will ‘Spring Forward’ one hour, as Daylight Savings Time begins.

Our extended weather forecast calls for more seasonal temperatures, above freezing, at last!

The signs are everywhere…

Exactly two weeks from today,

at 5:45 pm Central DST,

Spring arrives!!

(Check out the Countdown to Spring clock.)


“One of the most delightful things

about the garden 

is the 

anticipation it provides.”

                                                                                ~ W.E. Johns


In the Springtime, the Magnolia, tree near our front porch, bursts into bloom.


Spring bulbs add bright, cheery pops of color throughout the garden.


Irises are one of special flowers that brighten our Friendship Garden.


Bright peonies in late Spring bring old-fashioned charm to the garden.


Following the stepping stone path across the yard to the Herb and Tea Garden in the Spring makes my heart sing!

Let's relax and enjoy a cup of tea together!

Right now, snow is still halfway up my white picket fence. I can’t wait for the glorious Spring day when I can first open the garden gate… and step inside!

Spring is on the way…

and the 


is so delightful!

While our gardens rest, insulated by the snow, Midwest gardeners are so curious to see what’s happening in our garden beds. We haven’t been able to see our gardens since the blizzard buried us in snow five weeks ago! Our gardening friends in New England have been waiting much longer, through their relentless series of winter snowstorms.

As we all anticipate Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are waiting for the arrival of Autumn. Visiting garden blogs from other parts of the world has been such a joy during our Winter days. It has been so lovely to peek into gardens of blog friends in Wales, Scotland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and closer to home in California and Arizona. Although we are separated by distance, we all share the same joys of digging in the soil and nurturing new growth in our beloved gardens. 

Wherever you live, I hope you will take time to notice all of the subtle changes…  

in nature and in your heart. 


Enjoy every moment!

I can’t wait to share a few of my garden plans with you! It will be fun to hear about your garden plans, too!

Counting the days!


P.S.  Have you seen any signs of Spring yet in nature… or in your heart? Hope you’ll share…

A ‘Secret Garden’

{via tumblr}

Hi Friends!

Brrrrr! Snowflakes are twirling down, covering my garden with a sparkling, white blanket today. It’s a perfect time to dream of sunny days… and to share two small gardens that hold a very special place in my heart.

First, we must visit my favorite garden spot in the whole world!

It’s just a few steps away,

through the arbor,

past our Friendship Garden,

and down the flagstone path to our Herb and Tea Garden.


Welcome to my favorite, little garden oasis.

The garden gate is open to welcome you.

Welcome to the 'Heart of 'our Garden!

Step through the gate, into the ”heart’ of our garden.

This garden is not a secret at all!

Friends are always welcome to pick herbs or mint for a cup of herbal tea.


Enjoy the heavenly scent of fresh cut herbs.

Our little, picket-fence garden, filled with culinary herbs and mints, will always be my favorite garden spot in the world. Although today it is covered in snow, our Herb and Tea Garden is a warm reminder of a special dream-come-true one summer long ago. It is filled with love and sweet memories!  Oh, the happy hours I have spent in my favorite little garden ‘getaway’.


But I also have a ‘secret garden.’

It’s a small, green oasis ~ a calm place of beauty, that makes my heart sing! What makes my ‘secret garden’ so special is the place where it is hidden, the people I share it with, and the memories it holds.

My ‘secret garden’ is so far away.

Just going there is an adventure of the very best kind!

It requires an eight hour flight to another continent,

a fast drive along the autobahn,

and a streetcar ride downtown.


Just behind this castle lies a beautiful park…

A walk past the castle leads to a beautiful park filled with many gardens. Sometimes it takes me a while to find my ‘secret garden,’ as I meander through the park, following the winding paths. Finally, I can spot it in the distance ~ my ‘secret garden!’


Each visit holds such special memories.

I first discovered this special garden over thirty years ago, on a warm, summer day, while walking with a dear friend who lives near the castle. Over the years, we have visited my ‘secret garden’  together many times.

Stepping through the green, living arches into the garden always fills me with joy!

I will always remember visiting my ‘secret garden’ one Christmas Day long ago. As I walked along the paths in the park, there were families out for a Christmas stroll, walking arm-in-arm, singing Christmas carols together.

One very special summer, I invited my mom to see my ‘secret garden.’  Imagine her first glimpse of a real castle, and our walk through the park together. Suddenly, we were caught in a huge rainstorm, but our umbrella and our sense of adventure let us continue. Being together in this faraway place is such a sweet memory for both of us!


It’s lovely to spend time, just sitting on a bench, enjoying this very special place.

Not so long ago, on an Autumn morning, my husband and I explored the castle and walked through the park with our dear friend. When we first stepped into my ‘secret garden’ together, it was a magical moment shared by all!

Oftentimes, I visit my ‘secret garden’ on my own.

I know the way.

I follow my heart…

… and I count my blessings,

for the special people in my life!

Wishing you warm memories!

♡ Dawn

          P.S.  Hope you will share your warm memories of a favorite garden or a secret garden spot of your own!  It will help to melt away the winter chill. (If you know the location of my ‘secret garden’…  shhhhh! Help keep the secret!) ♡

A New ‘Garden’ Season!

Our 'Autumn' Blaze Red Maple reflects the beauty of each Autumn day!

Our ‘Autumn Blaze’ Red Maple reflects the beauty of each October day!

Hi Friends!

Change is in the air in our Midwest garden! Our chilly nighttime temperatures, shorter daylight hours, and brilliant Autumn colors are poignant reminders that a new ‘garden’ season is just around the corner. Now the precious hours spent gardening in the warmth of an Autumn afternoon seem ever so fleeting!

Although the garden colors are fading quickly now, there are still some lovely reminders of our colorful Summer days. Bright pink Cosmos blossoms still dance in the breeze in our old-fashioned Cutting Garden.

These Cosmos grew from special seeds from Rheinstetten, Germany. A gift of friendship from a faraway friend!

These Cosmos grew from seeds sent from Rheinstetten, Germany. What a lovely gift of friendship from a faraway friend!

There was a surprise discovery this week in our Autumn garden! Finding a blossom from an early Spring Anemone, blooming beside a fallen Autumn leaf, made my heart leap! Oh, the small thrills that make a gardener’s heart dance with delight. Surely, you can understand…

A brave Anenome, that typically blooms in May and June, is blooming in our garden this October!

A brave Anemone, that typically blooms in May and June, is blooming in our garden this October!


Brilliant leaves twirl down creating a colorful in a colorful dance on a Autumn breeze.

Brilliant leaves twirl down creating a colorful dance on an Autumn breeze.

After gazing upward, again and again, to enjoy the glorious colors overhead, it was time to begin a few gardenkeeping tasks today. With my favorite herb snips in hand, I headed through the garden gate to begin harvesting bundles of herbs to dry for our kitchen this winter.

Oh, the delights that greet us as we step through the gate of our Herb and Tea Garden!

Oh, the delights that greet us as we step through the gate of our Herb and Tea Garden!

It’s such fun to snip sprigs of Rosemary, Sage, Marjoram, Oregano, and Thyme gathering each bundle tightly with a small rubber band. Thoughts of winter soups and Thanksgiving stuffing come to mind at harvest time. Our dried herbs will flavor so many meals in the coming months.


The small bundles of herbs will hang to dry in our cool, dark basement until they are ready to use in the kitchen.

Harvesting Hydrangeas is always one of my special joys. In October, we usually have so many lovely, mauve-colored Hydrangeas to dry ~ enough to fill many baskets, crocks, and stoneware pitchers for a gorgeous ‘winter garden’ inside. Sadly, last winter’s long, severe cold and snow cover in the Midwest meant no flowers at all on most of our mophead Hydrangeas! It was the first time that there were no buds, only large, healthy leaves on the Hydrangeas growing near our front porch. Garden bloggers in many areas reported the same disappointment in their gardens this summer.

Just one small basket of Hydrangeas, mostly of the lacecap variety, was harvested with great care. Each blossom seemed more precious than ever before! I will truly miss having dried bouquets of my favorite, old-fashioned flowers nearby while sipping tea, reading, and watching the snowflakes fall outside the window all winter long! Nature has taught me that nothing is certain in the garden. Over the years, I have learned a great deal about the importance of patience… and hope!

There were only a few blooms on our Hydrangeas this season.

There were very few blooms on our Hydrangeas this season.

Harvest time has just begun! Herbs and Hydrangeas are hanging to dry in the basement.

Harvest time has just begun! Some herbs and Hydrangeas are already hanging in the basement to dry.

This week, we had our first frost and the garden is preparing to rest. My favorite Rosemary plant has already been brought in from the Herb Garden and is happily growing in a large pot in our sunny dining room. Its heavenly scent will remind me of summer days in the garden through the coldest of winter days. A gorgeous Mandevilla plant that bloomed all summer on our deck is now blooming in the dining room, adjusting to the sunny, southern exposure. It will be so nice to enjoy this colorful souvenir of summertime in the weeks to come!

This is always the time when a gardener reflects on the past season and looks ahead to next year’s garden. As a garden blogger, there will be new gardening hopes, dreams, and plans to share. Travels to the sunny Southwest will bring some lovely desert gardens to our blog. I look forward to sharing some favorite gardens I’ve visited on past European adventures, too. What fun to remember beautiful castle gardens while our Midwest cottage garden rests!

Yes, the garden is changing…

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

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

… and a new garden season is just beginning here!!

I’m looking forward to sharing another favorite passion of mine in the coming months! A long-time dream of mine has just come true. I have set up a Studio space in our basement where I can create (and be messy!). It’s a wonderful place to spread out and enjoy making cards, scrapbooking, watercoloring, and to begin experimenting with new techniques in a mixed media art journal.

It will be such fun to sow new seeds of inspiration, water them with passion, and encourage new skills to grow and blossom!

Hope you will enjoy visits to my ‘Paper Garden,’ too…

DSCN3334 - Version 2

Now I can spend my days in the ‘garden’ all winter long! ♡

Banners and bunting celebrate my passion for paper!

Colors, patterns, and texture make my heart sing.


It was such fun to create a banner for my new Studio space!

For my papercrafting friends:  First I die cut banners using SU ‘Banners’ Framelits and embossed the Bazzill ‘Forget Me Not’ cardstock with the Embossalicious ‘Flowers’ EF. I layered K&Company Floral Tags, embossed with the Cuttlebug ‘Birds and Swirls’ EF. Next I die cut Spellbinders ‘Scalloped Ovals’ on SU ‘Very Vanilla’ cardstock and embossed them with the SU Sizzix ‘Flowers’ EF. Then I added letters die cut with SU ‘Little Letters’ Thinlets on The Paper Company ‘Chocolate Truffle’ cardstock. Finally, I used SU dimensionals to add the sentiment and strung the banner with natural polished hemp.

It’s such a treat to spend time in my ‘Paper Garden’…  now that my perennial and herb gardens are slowing down.

I’m ever so grateful that YOU are here visiting! I truly appreciate the time you spend here at Petals.Paper.Simple Thymes!

For me, spending time with Kindred Spirits is always such a joy!

Come visit again soon…

Autumn blessings, sweet friends!


P.S.  Are there special hobbies that you enjoy during the winter months? Or do you continue the same passions year round?

Just My Cup of Tea…

Let's relax and enjoy a cup of tea together!

Let’s relax and enjoy a cup of tea together!



Hi Friends!

I cannot sit and chat with you,

The way I’d like to do,

So brew yourself a cup of tea,

I’ll think of you… you think of me.



Enjoying a cup of tea is one of my very favorite things to do. It’s lovely to sip tea while enjoying a great book. It’s even lovelier to enjoy tea with a good friend!

Taking a few moments to walk out to the Herb Garden to pick herbal ‘tea’ leaves always makes me smile. The sunshine, gentle breezes, and birdsong fill my heart and this small moment feels like a little celebration!

True tea, in over 3,000 varieties, all comes from just one plant ~ Camellia sinensis. It only grows in regions where the climate, soil, and altitude are just right. So, I actually brew an infusion or tisane from our herbs. The word ‘tea’ brings such warm thoughts, so I always call our tisane  ‘tea,’ for the pure pleasure it brings!

Herbal teas are made with the leaves, flowers, roots, fruit, berries, or bark of certain plants.  The leaves of the mint and sage plants, in our Tea garden bed, make wonderful tea. It’s so easy to brew a cup of herbal tea made with Candy Mint, Chocolate Mint, Peppermint, Sweet Mint, Lemon Balm, Apple Mint, or Pineapple Sage. It’s nice to create your own custom blends, too!  Let’s walk down the path to the Herb Garden together…

Our unseasonably cool July afternoon is just perfect for a hot cup of Chocolate Mint tea.

Old basket handles make nice supports in the herb garden!

 Although there are different ways to make herbal tea, I have always used this very simple method:

♥ Pick several leaves from the plant.

♥ Wash the leaves gently.

♥ Bring fresh, cold water to a boil.

♥ Place leaves into a teacup and add boiling water.


♥ Place the saucer on top of the cup  and let tea brew for five minutes or longer.

Flavor, rather than color, will determine when your herbal tea is ready.


♥ Carefully remove the leaves.

♥ Enjoy your freshly brewed herbal tea!

Of course, you don’t need an Herb Garden at all…

Just a small mint or sage plant, in a pretty pot on your windowsill, would be perfect!


Having tea with friends is always so delightful. On summer afternoons, friends often enjoy going into our Herb Garden to touch the leaves of each plant, smell each scent, choose their favorite variety, or experiment with their own unique blend. It always becomes an impromptu ‘tea party!’

Jen Roffe Print on Etsy {via Pinterest}

Jen Roffe Print on Etsy {via Pinterest}


This has been a week filled with serendipity ~ pleasant surprises!

Just this morning, a sweet friend reminded me that today is the birthday of a truly remarkable woman.

It’s Beatrix Potter’s birthday!

Beatrix was born on July 28, 1866, in London. For generations, her charming characters ~ Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-duck, and their friends ~ have warmed the hearts of readers everywhere, as they live and play amongst the gardens and flowers. Beatrix loved gardening and plants. Her sweet watercolor illustrations bring each story to life! Over the years, I delighted in sharing Beatrix Potter’s classic tales with my young students.

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“The secret to a well balanced life

is a cup of tea in one hand

and a good book in the other.”

{via Tumblr}

Currently, I’m reading the wonderful biography,  Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell. It’s fascinating to read quotations from Beatrix Potter’s letters, journals, and books to discover the path that led to her love of gardening. It’s such fun to learn about  the plants that grew in her garden at Hill Top Farm and influenced her stories. In addition to publishing more than 23 books, Beatrix is much admired for her work in land preservation in The Lake District, in England. The more I read about her life, the more I appreciate her gifts as a writer, an artist, and a visionary.

As I sip my tea and read, I find so much garden inspiration…

and travel inspiration, too!

I dream of exploring The Lake District, Hill Top Farm, and the countryside that inspired Beatrix.

Walking where Beatrix Potter walked…

In fact, today would be the perfect day to watch the wonderful movie, Miss Potter, again.

Beatrix Potter will always be ‘just my cup of tea!’



My favorite author and illustrator, Susan Branch, shares her heartwarming diary of her visits to Hill Top Farm, while traveling through The Lake District,in her latest book, A Fine Romance.  Her hand-lettered, watercolored diary is such a treasure!  It is a wonderful book to read again and again…and dream!


  You will LOVE Susan’s blog posts: Beatrix Potter and Me.

I think she will be ‘just your cup of tea,’ too!

 Scatter sunshine!

♡ Dawn

 P.S.  Please share your memories of Beatrix Potter’s stories with us. Perhaps you grew up hearing these tales, shared them with your family, or shared them with your students. If you have been lucky enough to visit Hill Top Farm, we would love to hear your memories of that very special place!


Chatting By the Garden Gate ~ 2

Welcome to the 'Heart of 'our Garden!

Welcome to the ‘Heart’ of our Garden!

Hi Friends!

Today, in the garden,  it happened… serendipity!

I just have to share my fortunate happenstance…

We have had a week of cool, sunny days… just perfect for spending hours in the garden! Everything is growing so quickly, including the weeds! So, today I was tidying up the Herb Garden.

Chocolate Mint

Chocolate Mint

The mints in the ‘Tea’ bed have really spread in the past few weeks. They were intertwined amongst one another and beginning to send runners over the raised bed. After a bit of pruning, I knew just what these vigorous, fast growers needed ~ more small trellises to climb. A trip to the garden center certainly wasn’t in my plans for today. Hmmm…  Perhaps I could find something in the garage to support and control this Chocolate Mint plant.


I found the perfect thing! Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Beneath my potting bench, amongst the clay pots and vintage wooden boxes, was an old basket with a loose handle. Last summer, it held a lovely basket herb garden on the deck. At the end of summer, as I was putting it away, the handle came loose from the basket. So, I tucked both parts of the basket under the potting bench, where they rested, forgotten… until this very moment!


Slowly, I pushed the sturdy basket handle into  the soil. It made a nice arch right over the Chocolate Mint plant. I carefully wrapped the vines of the mint around the basket handle. It worked perfectly to support the new growth. When I stepped back to admire my idea, I thought it looked great! In fact, I liked it even better than the bamboo supports that I’ve used in the past.

Serendipity ~ a pleasant surprise!

Old basket handles make nice supports in the herb garden!

Old basket handles make nice supports in the herb garden!

Now I’ll be hunting for old baskets with loose handles everywhere I go. Wouldn’t it look nice to have each mint plant in my ‘Tea’ bed climbing around an old basket handle?

Herbs and baskets just belong together ~ even in unexpected ways!



Let’s enjoy a tall glass of  lemonade, and take a little walk through the garden to see what’s blooming this week.


Susan Branch shared her favorite recipe for Basil Lemonade. Doesn’t this sound refreshing? I just love the watermelon stars on skewers!



Our garden is a riot of color  in July! Many heavy rainfalls this month have encouraged lush growth. The beds are awash with bright blossoms.


A large clump of ‘Herbstsonne’ shining Coneflower (Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstsonne’), growing up to 7 feet tall, stands by the arbor to welcome visitors.



A sunny mix of orange Daylilies and Stella d’Oro Daylilies paint our Friendship Garden with warm colors.



Daisies, Hydrangeas, Speedwell, and Phlox bloom near the front porch.



These mophead Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) bloom near Coreopsis ‘Rising Mercury’ and Rudbeckia.



Daisies and Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer Twist-n-Shout’) make a colorful combination near the front porch.



Shade-loving Astilbes brighten our woodland garden



Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) mingle with Rudbeckia in a sunny area of the garden.



Daisy-like, with green centers, these Coneflowers ‘Herbstsonne’ tower over the other perennials, dancing in the summer breeze.


Our Summer is really flying by quickly! Can you believe that this is the last weekend in July?  Hope you can enjoy some of your favorite Summer activities. Whether you are working in your garden, gathering with family or friends, sailing, traveling, cooking out, relaxing near a lake, or reading on your balcony, enjoy these magical summertime days!

Scatter joy!


P.S.  What’s at the very top of  your Summer ‘bucket list’ this year?

The Heart of My Garden ~ Built with Love!

Our story begins in 1995, when The Summer Book, by Susan Branch was hot off the press. The moment I read it, a new dream began to grow!

Our story begins in 1995, when The Summer Book, by Susan Branch was hot off the press. The moment I read it, a new dream began to grow!

Hi Friends!

It all began with a very special book… and a big dream! Perhaps we should step back a few years to the beginning of the story…

As a young, single homeowner, nothing made me happier than restoring my little 1922 bungalow, adding my own creative touches every step of the way. My dad (my hero!) has always been there with the knowledge, expertise, tools, and his gifts of time to help make my dreams a reality. Together, we would work on big projects, as he patiently taught me how to plan, measure twice, use all kinds of tools, and choose the very best materials.

After my parents retired and moved to Arizona, my dad continued to help me build my dreams! Every Spring, Dad would ask the special question, “What project should we do this Summer?” Then Dad and I would begin to make our plan over the phone. That year, it was different. We wouldn’t be stripping woodwork together, building a pantry, or updating the electricity. I had a special plan… a dream for my garden!

The Summer Book by Susan Branch inspired

Reading The Summer Book* by Susan Branch was my inspiration! I dreamed of creating an Herb Garden, surrounded by a white picket fence, just like Susan’s Kitchen Garden.                                                              *This special book is now out-of-print, but still lovingly sought after by her devoted fans. Keep your eyes open… and you may be lucky enough to find this treasure somewhere!


I had just finished reading The Summer Book by Susan Branch. She shared the story of how she wished for a Kitchen Garden, surrounded by a white picket fence. Joe built it for her in their yard on Martha’s Vineyard. I wondered… Could Dad and I build a special Herb Garden in my yard that Summer?

With many phone conversations, our little plan took shape. I chose the location and dug out huge evergreen bushes that filled that corner of my yard. Sawing and digging ~ digging and sawing, day after day. I wanted to have the area cleared by the time that Dad arrived for his Summer visit! Dad shipped the tools we would need all the way from Arizona, so that they would be waiting here upon his arrival. I was so excited that this special dream was coming true!

I will always remember how hard we worked together to level the ground where the huge bushes had been growing. Chopping out the stray roots to make way for two raised beds was a big challenge!  As we worked, we laughed and talked, and dug and sawed. Dad is a wonderful storyteller, so the time passed quickly. We leveled the garden paths and added a white picket fence around the new Herb Garden. Although I expected the project to take a weekend, Dad and I worked together for two weeks to build my new Herb Garden. It was truly a ‘labor of love.’

Working hand-in-hand with Dad made my dream come true!

Working hand-in-hand with Dad made my dream come true!


We even had time to assemble a garden arbor before Mom arrived in town. She was so impressed to see the lovely additions to my yard!  Now there would be relaxing family times for the rest of their Summer visit. What wonderful memories and ‘souvenirs’ we have from the Summer of ’95.

Stepping through the garden arbor and garden gate always brings back lovely memories!

Stepping through the garden arbor and garden gate always brings back lovely memories!


Today is a perfect, sunny June afternoon to peek inside our Herb & Tea Garden. I’ve been busy adding new organic soil to the raised beds. One bed is filled with culinary herbs: Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Cilantro, Garlic Chives, Oregano, Sage, Chives, Dill, and Marjoram.

Welcome to the 'Heart of 'our Garden!

Welcome to the ‘Heart of our Garden!’


Culinary herbs add a fresh touch to all of our summer meals.

Culinary herbs add a fresh touch to all of our Summer meals. It’s also fun to brush away the Winter snow and gather a few herbs!










Garlic Chives

Garlic Chives






The “Tea” bed is filled with mints and sages to brew fresh herbal tisanes,  perfect served hot or iced. You might enjoy Candy Cane Mint, Peppermint, Apple Mint, Sweet Mint, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Balm, or Pineapple Sage. It’s fun to create your own personal blends, too!

Our "Tea" Garden

It’s always fun to plan Tea Parties. Guests are welcome to wander down the path to our herbal “Tea” Garden to pick a few leaves for their own unique blends!

Candy Cane Mint

Candy Cane Mint

Apple Mint

Apple Mint

Chocolate Mint

Chocolate Mint

A vintage tea cup (a gift from a student long ago) graces the center of our "Tea" garden. Nestled just below are special rocks collected over the years ~ a cobblestone from Prague, a cobble stone from Bacharach, stones from Red Mountain, and stones from our "secret place' in the Sonoran Desert.

A vintage tea cup (a gift from a student long ago) graces the center of our “Tea” garden. Nestled just below are special rocks collected over the years ~ a cobblestone from Prague, a stone from Bacharach, stones from Red Mountain, and stones from our ‘secret place’ in the Sonoran Desert.


My sweet, talented friend, Kristin, created delightful garden markers from river rocks, collected in New Mexico and Arizona, especially for our Herb Garden.

'Garden Stones by Kristin' mark the culinary herbs.

‘Garden Stones by Kristin’ mark culinary herbs.

'Garden Stones by Kristin' highlight some of our herbal "Teas."

‘Garden Stones by Kristin’ highlight some of our mints and sages in the “Tea” Garden, too.

Large stepping stones lead the way through the garden arbor and across the yard to our Herb and Tea Garden. Old-fashioned perennials surround the inside and outside of the white picket fence. Gracing the outside of the picket fence are pink and white Peonies, Stella d’Oro Daylilies, Hostas, and Sedum.  (Many years, I  also plant Gladiolas along the picket fence, in honor of  Susan’s wonderful inspiration!)

The magic happens whenever you step through the garden gate and are greeted by the lovely herbal scents. Along the inside of the fence, we enjoy pops of color from Black-eyed Susans, Balloon Flowers, Pincushion Flowers, Daylilies, Cranesbill Geraniums, Daisies, Bee Balm,  Obedient Plant, and Chrysanthemums. A rustic birdhouse stands tall in the center of the Herb Garden and a folk art Garden Angel watches over this special place. Bees buzz in and butterflies flutter about all day long. Now I’m in search of the perfect bee skep to add to our Herb Garden. This quiet, little garden is one of my favorite places on earth!

My parents just returned to Arizona last week, after another lovely visit with us. We had so much fun reminiscing about the Summer when Dad and I built the Herb Garden together.


Each Summer, the Herb and Tea Garden is the ‘heart of my garden.’  My hours spent weeding, planting, and gathering herbs are such sweet times!  I always think back to that Summer, so long ago, when Dad and I built this special garden together. Every time I step through the garden gate, it feels like a big hug from my dad! ♡ I will always cherish the hours spent in the heart of my garden ~ built with love!

Thanks, Dad!!



P.S.  Which herbs are your favorites?