Chatting By the Garden Gate

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

Hi Friends!

These glorious, late October days have been busy ones in the garden! Instead of cool, early mornings in the garden, I have been spending the warmer, afternoon hours gardenkeeping. Our ‘Autumn Blaze’ Red Maple is in full color now. What a joy to look skyward and take in her glory! Her leaves are fluttering down and we will be raking very soon.

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I have been harvesting herbs to add the warmth of summer to our winter soups.

On Saturday, we worked together to give the white picket fence around the Herb & Tea Garden a fresh coat of white paint for the snowy months ahead.  This big task was actually enjoyable, as we worked together. My husband painted along the outside, while I painted the inside. Fascinating conversation mingled with the wonderful scent of  herbs. A frisky squirrel entertained us from the branches of a nearby tree, while Maple seeds twirled down around us. Very tired, but happy, I finished cleaning up just as darkness fell.

papergardencollageToday I gathered bunches of Lacecap Hydrangeas to dry.

What fun it was to add color from my perennial gardens to my little ‘Paper Garden’ studio downstairs! Dried flowers and herbs from the past three summers hang from the ceiling rafters over my creative papercrafting space. They truly fill my heart with inspiration as I create! I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy time in the ‘garden’ all year long!

As I reflect back on this year’s gardening season, the word that comes to mind is change. Mindful, intentional changes have kept me busy in the backyard for many weeks.  I’m already planning big changes for the perennial beds in the front yard next year. My gardener’s heart tells me that it is time to ‘right size’ my flower gardens. Although change is never easy, I’m already making plans for a new look in the garden… and I’m excited!

A wonderful book has filled me with both inspiration and practical advice…

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The Right-Size Flower Garden, by Kerry Ann Mendez, caught my eye last year on a ‘New Books’ shelf at the library. Within the first few pages, I knew that this book was speaking to my heart! It definitely passed my ‘spark joy’ test, so it was a valuable addition to my own gardening library.

A garden author and lecturer, Kerry Ann shares her advice with the perfect blend of practical experience and her delightful sense of humor, as she guides us step-by-step to create a garden in balance with our lifestyle. As I read, I often found myself nodding in agreement, as the author shared her own stories of the changes in her garden.

Kerry Ann reminds us, “To reduce work by 50%, then at least half of your garden will require editing.” She shows us how to edit our gardens using her “Three R’s” approach. Kerry Ann’s advice has been so helpful as I decide which garden beds will “Remain, be Revamped, or be Removed.” She assures us that the changes will be exhilarating, as the Refinement of our gardens brings us Relief and Relaxation.

Beginning the process of ‘right-sizing’ my perennial gardens this summer was a huge first step for me. My very favorite, old-fashioned flowers and those with sentimental value found new homes in my Herb & Tea Garden and my History Garden. These plants will continue ‘spark joy’ for me in the garden. My large Cutting Garden bed is now gone and the newly planted grass seeds are already creating a carpet of green in its place. It will be so much friendlier to mow a little more grass, instead of weeding the large Cutting Garden bed.  I am already feeling a sense of relief!

Removing a large patch of orange Daylilies along the garage to create my ‘History Garden’ was a real challenge. Digging up the plants was a test of physical stamina, while it was emotionally difficult to toss away so many beautiful, healthy plants. I just kept repeating Kerry Ann’s mantra ~ “These are not children or pets.” If you crept up behind me as I was digging, I’m sure you heard me!

I felt so grateful for Kerry Ann’s permission, wisdom, and guidance to begin these big changes! The Right-Size Flower Garden has also been a wonderful resource of suggested plants for each part of my garden. I have learned more about the plants that I have grown for years and have many ideas of ways to replace these high-maintenance plants with low-maintenance alternatives. I can’t wait to try her recipe to rid my grass of Creeping Charlie (a perennial weed, also called Ground Ivy) next Spring! I will be sure to report back with the results!

The Right-Size Flower Garden is a delight to read (and reread!) and a valuable resource, as we design gardens that provide color, fragrance, and privacy with drought-tolerant perennials, shrubs, and trees. While the 2016 gardening season is still fresh in our minds, it’s the perfect time to be mindful of what worked well and what could be better in next year’s garden. Over the winter months, I will reread this book leisurely, with a cup of tea, as I plan more garden changes with intention. It holds the seeds of inspiration for “Refinement, Relief, and Relaxation” in my beloved perennial gardens!

Have you been thinking about any changes in your garden?

    Hope you will share your thoughts with us!

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Wishing you a Happy Halloween,

and a wonderful start to November!

Happy Autumn days!

♡ Dawn

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A ‘History Garden’

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.)

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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!

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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

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Garden Inspiration…

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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…

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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!

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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).

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

So…

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.

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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.

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So, the happy gardener will…

stay busy as a bee

in her cottage garden

digging, transplanting, mulching,

and

‘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!

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If you give a gardener…

a wonderful book to read,

the seeds of inspiration will grow!

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It has been a true joy to find so much inspiration

in my summer reading…

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and I have lots more to share!

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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

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Picking Daisies

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Hi Friends!

Waiting in line has never been my ‘cup of tea,’ but this afternoon it felt different.

For I was waiting patiently in line, in my Daisy patch… behind all of the pollinators hard at work.

Slowly I inched my way into the large clump of Daisies, alongside the busy, little bees.

My morning work was finished, and my happy reward was picking Daisies.

Fresh picked Daisies, white Anemones, and Anemone seed heads

Fresh picked Daisies, white Anemones, and spent Anemone seed heads

As I waited for each little pollinator to move on, I began to count the blessings that the garden brought me this week. One-by-one, as I snipped each ‘He loves me’ Daisy, I remembered those sweet, heartwarming moments…

⚛ On Tuesday morning, as I was cutting the grass, our lawnmower stopped. Only halfway through the front yard, I tried and tried to restart the engine to no avail. David, a landscaper hard-at-work in a nearby yard, noticed my dilemma and came to the rescue. From his truck, he produced oil, a new spark plug, and his tools. Right there, in the middle of his busy morning, he adjusted the carburetor, and was able to start my lawnmower one more time. The kindness of a stranger had saved the day and I worked quickly to finish my job! (Shhhhh! I have a ‘thank you’ gift to leave in David’s truck when he comes to work in the neighborhood this week!)

⚛ Later that afternoon, while I was working in the garden, our neighbor, Jim, walked up. He had seen the lawn mower problem that morning, and ever-so-kindly offered to put the lawnmower into his truck and take it to a trusted repair shop. Now the repairman is trying so hard to work his magic, and then Jim will pick it up again with his truck. The kindness of a young neighbor (with a truck) is always so appreciated!

Raindrops on pink Clematis and Peony blossoms

Raindrops on Clematis and Peony blossoms

⚛ On Thursday morning, as I weeded the front garden beds, two lovely ladies stopped to chat as they walked past the garden. It was fun to talk with Susan, as we shared our tried-and-true tips for avoiding mosquito bites in the garden. A bit later, Devi stopped to introduce herself. She is a sweet, retired teacher, new to the neighborhood. It was such fun to tell her about our wonderful library and all that it offers! I invited her to step through the arbor to see my Friendship Garden in the backyard. Gardening always seems to invite the nicest passersby to stop and talk. It’s one of nature’s best kept secrets!

⚛ On Thursday afternoon, Elena stopped to visit. Since the day she was born, I have enjoyed watching her grow and blossom. She shared the exciting news that she now has a home of her own. Instantly, I offered to dig up perennials for her very first garden. So, plans are underway! It always warms my heart to share my garden and the gift of gardening with friends. Two other special friends, Hollice and Maria, will also come to dig up perennials to start gardens for their new homes this summer.

'Garden Grow' collage

Supplies used: Altenew ‘Garden Grow’ stamp set, Canson watercolor paper, Versafine Onyx Black pigment ink, Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, paintbrush, water, and Post-It notes for masking images.

⚛ Saturday brought the blessing of gentle showers all day long. So, I happily spent many hours in my ‘Paper Garden’ studio downstairs. It was such fun to experiment with the Altenew ‘Garden Grow’ stamp set, creating masks to design some little garden vignettes. As I watercolored the images, using Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, I thought about special friends who could use a bit of cheer. Soon these images will become the focal points on handmade cards. Creative time adds sunshine to the rainiest of days!

Yellow Iris and Victoria Blue Salvia

Yellow Iris and Victoria Blue Salvia, after the rain

Picking Daisies this afternoon truly did feel like an exhilarating tonic for the soul!

As the sun shone down upon the blossoms,

I slowed down to nature’s pace and took time to reflect.

So many blessings from the garden brought unexpected joys to these early June days.

Sometimes… waiting in line can be blessing, too!

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Thank you so much for picking Daisies with me today.

Your visits and comments are such a joy!

Happy Springtime days!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What unexpected joys blessed you this past week?

Chatting By the Garden Gate

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Hi Friends!

Springtime days in the garden just make my heart sing! Warm, sunny days seem extra-special this Spring because they have been so rare. We are experiencing cooler than normal temperatures and twice the normal rainfall here in the Midwest. In fact, 17 of the last 24 days have been rainy days. This week alone, the rain gauge in our garden has collected two and one-half inches of rain! More storms are on the way…

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Delicate blossoms of ‘Cranesbill’ Geranium brighten our perennial borders.

Each time the rain stops, a bit of gardenkeeping begins. Everything is growing so quickly! The pollinators have already been very busy doing their important work in the garden.  The bee baths are collecting rainwater and encouraging the bees to stay in our garden, rather than leaving to find fresh drinking water.

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I have been dividing clumps of Spring blooming Anemones in our Friendship Garden bed.

Our Friendship Garden bed always beckons me first when gardening season begins. As I work, I try to watch my step, hoping to prevent some soil compaction in the wet, fragile earth. The ‘perennial’ chore of digging up invasive Bishop’s Weed seems endless in our garden. I divided several perennials before adding a fresh layer of mulch to this large backyard bed. Very soon, this special flower bed will be all abloom in the colors of Springtime!

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Ferns unfurl in our Woodland bed, beneath the towering pine trees.

The additional moisture this season has encouraged the ferns and hostas to unfurl so quickly! We have an abundance of small ferns this year.  This week, I transplanted a few into pots for the front porch. It’s a bit of ‘trial and error’ research! Have you had success transplanting ferns into containers? A few years ago, I transplanted hostas into containers with great success. They thrive on our shady front porch and overwinter easily in our unheated garage. I’m so curious to see if the potted ferns will be just as happy and content!

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Lily of the Valley add their heady fragrance to the Woodland garden bed.

The month of May has always been my favorite time in the garden. It’s truly enchanting to see lush foliage, pops of color, and swelling buds that seem to change daily! May holds the promise of all the months yet to come. I have been mowing the lawn often and digging up dandelions, too. Today as I worked, the first peony opened its petals. A short time later, the first ‘he loves me’ Daisy bloomed. It’s always fun to reward all of my hard work by picking bouquets of blossoms!  It was a treat to fill a stoneware crock with Lilacs for the front porch last week. Yesterday I filled a small, pink vase with Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley to bring a bit of Springtime inside. It’s the little things that make life so sweet!

After mid-May, I look forward to planting some new additions in our Friendship Garden. Hyacinth bean vines will climb a trellis and historic Western Jacob’s Ladder will grow along our white picket fence. There is also a new addition for our Herb Garden. For the very first time, we hope to grow our own Red Kuri pumpkins for our favorite Autumn soup. Next week, it will be time to fill containers with colorful annuals, too. This weekend, our nighttime temperatures will drop into the 30s. So, I’m trying so hard to patiently wait… just a few more days!

I hope that you are enjoying a bit of time in nature, too. Whether you are working in the garden, walking in a park, or hiking through the woods, listen closely to the birdsong… and the song in your heart!

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I’m so happy that you stopped to chat by the garden gate today!

Can’t wait to share the most wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon… next time!  ♡

Sunny wishes!

♡Dawn

  P.S.  What flowers are blooming in your garden this week?

Spark Joy

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Hi Friends!

Brrrrrr! In the Midwest, March certainly “roared in like a lion” yesterday bringing sleet and snow. This morning we woke up to bright sunshine and single-digit temperatures. More snow is on the way tomorrow. By this time of year, I always take Shelley’s quote to heart. These words, carefully stitched and framed, are hanging near the back door, to warm our hearts as we head out into the cold!

I’m so happy to welcome all of the new ‘kindred spirits’ who have begun following our blog over the past few weeks! There is so much to see hidden behind the slide-out sidebar. (Just click near the top of the orange bar). Brew a warm cup of tea and spend some cozy moments exploring the blog archives and the tag cloud. I hope you will find something to warm your heart and make you smile!

Life has slowed down considerably during the past few weeks due to a lengthy illness. Doctor’s visits seem to be my only adventures lately. I have been following doctor’s orders to the letter hoping to feel better very soon. While resting, I have enjoyed lots of extra reading time. I couldn’t wait to share a few thoughts about a new book…

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After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last summer, I eagerly awaited Marie Kondo’s follow-up book, Spark Joy. Fortunately, our library ordered several copies hot off the press in January. As I read, I searched for tips to recharge the next phase of my own Tidying Up celebration.

I will always cherish KonMari’s philosophy of Tidying Up, so wonderfully explained in her first book. KonMari’s new book, Spark Joy, added a few more tips that will be helpful as I finish tidying up komono (miscellaneous items) in the kitchen and two more closets. The biggest challenge of the Tidying Up celebration is always saved for last ~ deciding which sentimental items to keep. Armed with another dose of KonMari’s motivation and tips, I’m ready to take on the next part of my celebration!

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 As I read, I made note of a few of KonMari’s tips from Spark Joy that truly resonated with me. As I put her ideas into practice, I would love to share them with you. It was very interesting to read how KonMari has mellowed in her Tidying Up instructions, since getting married and the birth of her daughter. While staying true to her philosophy of having only those items that spark joy in your home, Spark Joy feels more realistic for today’s busy, complicated lifestyles.

Last Autumn, I enjoyed Tidying Up clothing and books. It was surprisingly easy to decide which items to keep! As I held each item in my hands, I could feel those that sparked joy in my heart. The paperwork category was much harder to tidy up. First, I stopped to do a bit of research to be sure that I was saving all of the necessary financial, household, and insurance papers. It was more of a challenge to feel the joy, as I began shredding papers from the file cabinets. (Honestly, there is still a bit of shredding to finish up!) I’m taking it slowly, against KonMari’s advice to work quickly. ‘Better safe than sorry’ when it comes to shredding!

I intentionally planned an extra-long break from my Tidying celebration throughout the holiday season. Although KonMari’s method of working by category is brilliant, it does create a huge mess while working through the process! Be mindful of this fact if you are planning a Tidying Up celebration of your own. In fact, in Spark Joy, KonMari says that as long as you apply the basics, it’s okay to do your own unique version of Tidying Up.

I’m still very enthusiastic about the process! Although I have had to slow down for the past few weeks, it is my intention to complete my once-in-a-lifetime Tidying Up celebration before the garden wakes up. I’m already looking forward to the next get-together of our little ‘Spark Joy’ club. We are a group of dear friends who live locally and enjoy getting together to encourage one another in this adventure. We always have such funny stories to share about Tidying Up!

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Yesterday, inspired by Marie Kondo’s thoughts on “becoming a person who matches the books you’ve kept,” I took a peek at some of the books that spark joy that I kept in my book collection…

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Most of my treasured books are nonfiction. On cold winter days, what could be more fun than reading gardening books and dreaming garden dreams?

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I’m truly passionate about growing perennials and herbs. Thoughts of spending hours tending the plants in my white picket fence herb garden warm my heart all winter long. I can still remember the day I bought The Pleasure of Herbs, while visiting a dear friend in Minnesota. From the moment I opened that book, I knew that herbs would always be a very special part of my garden!

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Although I don’t plant a vegetable garden, these are a few of the cookbooks that inspire recipes with fresh, organic ingredients. The Produce Bible is a great reference, filled with wonderful tips.  Tasha Tudor has always been one of my gardening inspirations.

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This stack of books feels right at home on a table beside my rocking chair. It is filled with inspiration for simple gatherings with family and friends, gardening, and lovely watercolors from nature.

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This small stack of books holds an antique lamp, on a tiny table beside the sofa in the living room. I enjoy reading these books often, choosing recipes for tea parties. Small gatherings of kindred spirits sharing tea make such special memories! Tea for two is my very favorite way to stay close to dear friends.

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Oh, my heart! Most of my friends know that Susan Branch has been my inspiration since her very first book was published. This is just part of my most favorite book collection of all. Heart of the Home will always be an extra-special book. I bought it for my mom when it was first published. She enjoyed it for so many years, and then gifted it back to me! I have given Susan’s books as gifts so often. Whenever I am antiquing, I always look for out-of-print Susan Branch books for special gifts. Such serendipity to find just the right book for a special friend!

Next month, Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard ~ Isle of Dreams, will arrive in the mail. It’s such a thrill every time a new book is published! I’m sure this will be my very favorite book of all. It is Part Two of Susan’s handlettered, watercolored memoir. I just can’t wait to read all about how she bought a little home of her own, planted a garden, grew as an artist, and met the love of her life! Kindreds to be sure!! I’m simply thrilled to enjoy Afternoon Tea with Susan Branch again in May, at a large tea party and book signing in her honor! Such a fan girl!

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My books most definitely reflect the person I aspire to be!

They spark joy in my life… and inspire me to ‘blossom’ every day!

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I’d love to hear about the most special books in your collection!

Perhaps we share some of the same favorites, as kindred spirits often do…

Happy Reading!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Heartfelt thanks for all of the beautiful cards, phone calls, and emails! Your friendships have truly warmed my heart and brightened my days! ♡♡

 

Chatting by the Garden Gate…

Welcome! The garden gate is open!

Hi Friends!

Hope you are enjoying these late summer days in the garden!  Here in the Midwest, the first week of September brought us a real heatwave. Yet it still feels like summer is coming to an end much too soon. Although the garden is filled with bright color, the light is different now, the foliage is looking a bit tired, and the ground is very dry. We are hoping for a little rain to help the garden thrive in the weeks to come.

This morning, I danced into the garden very early hoping to avoid the afternoon heat. What a treat for the senses! I was mindful as the birds sang sweetly and the cicadas buzzed louder and louder. Butterflies fluttered from bloom to bloom in the gentle breeze. Oh-so many bees buzzed about doing their important work. The sweet fragrance of the blossoms drew me closer. The morning sun felt warm, rather than hot and sticky. Although there was much work to do, I spent a few moments just ‘being in the garden. So often, we are too busy ‘doing’ in the garden. In these precious moments, under the wide, shady brim of my straw hat, my eyes were smiling and my heart was singing!

Blue Mist Bluebeard shrub in bloom

Soon, gardenkeeping called and I set to work transplanting a small Blue Mist Bluebeard shrub. The mother plant has been a lovely part of our front yard for many years. It was a gift of friendship from Candy’s garden and has survived our harsh, snowy winters here in USDA Zone 5. Every year, in late summer, this shrub rewards us with beautiful blue flowers and a heavenly fragrance. Best of all, it is just filled with bees! Each time I pass, I notice an abundance of bees landing on almost every stem. They are practically waiting in line for their turn!

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Two years ago, we discovered five baby Blue Mist Bluebeard shrubs growing in a raised bed about eight feet away from the mother plant. Oh the joy!! They are now about 15 inches tall, filled with beautiful blue blossoms, and attracting many bees of their own. So this morning, I began transplanting the small shrubs to the backyard, along the white picket fence of my Herb Garden. They are such an attractive shrub all year long with their aromatic, gray-green foliage. Their woody stems will add interest to the picket fence border garden through the winter months.

Most important of all, I hope these shrubs will attract even more bees to my Herb Garden! There is a Bee Bath just inside the picket fence, where the bees can rest upon flat river rocks to sip fresh water. Having a nearby water source will keep the bees happily working in and around my Herb Garden even longer. They won’t have to travel to seek out water. Moving these beautiful shrubs to their new location near the white picket fence should keep the herbs, the bees, and the gardener happy!

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If you would like to add a pollinator ‘magnet’ to your garden this Autumn,

I would certainly recommend…

Blue Mist Bluebeard shrub

(Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Blue Mist’)

(Also called Blue Spiraea)

USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9

Deciduous shrub, with gray-green foliage

Plant in full sun

Grows moderately fast, to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Water regularly for the first year, then it needs only occasional watering

Very heat tolerant

Deer resistant

Long blooming, fragrant blue blossoms, late summer until hard frost

Clipping spent blossoms will encourage rebloom

Prune when leaves first appear in the springtime to promote strong, dense growth in the summer

Blooms on new growth

Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees, bees, bees!

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Every year, the Blue Mist Bluebeard shrub brings us such pleasure in our cottage garden. I love to use its cuttings in flower arrangements. We often stand near this lovely shrub just to watch the busy pollinators at work. The bees seem to stay on the blossoms and haven’t bothered us at all. Don’t plant it too close to your door though. (You don’t want unexpected guests to follow you inside!)

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Transplanting the Blue Mist Bluebeard shrubs to the backyard and digging up Rudbeckia plants to share with neighbors this morning created a large, open space in one of our front garden beds.

Perfect timing …

Celosia 'Intenz

Showy Celosia ‘Intenz’ (also known as Cockscomb) adds bright color and pizzazz!

Just yesterday, at the fruit market, a beautiful new plant jumped into our shopping cart.  Celosia ‘Intenz,’ with its spiky blooms of brilliant color instantly made me smile! As we walked around in the market, so many other shoppers were smiling at the very same plant in their carts. It felt like we were all part of a secret garden club on wheels! Celosia ‘Intenz‘ is a new, annual plant for this year. It will be fun to enjoy its wonderful blooms in the garden for the remainder of the season. Then I plan to dig it up and bring it inside for the winter. By taking cuttings, I’m hoping to have more new plants for the garden next Spring!

Hope you have a great week ahead!

Wishing all of our American friends a very happy Labor Day!

Enjoy an extra day

to relax,

plan a cookout,

go to a baseball game,

take a long walk or bike ride,

or

 play in your garden!

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Thank you so much for stopping to chat by the garden gate today.

I always enjoy our visits!

Scatter smiles!

♡ Dawn

             P.S.   Which plants in your garden attract the most pollinators?  Let us know!