10 Shade Garden Plants

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Not all areas of a yard or garden space receive full sun. For many plants, six to eight hours of sunshine is a requirement for growth and vibrant blooms.

However, shady areas can contribute their own unique beauty. The north side of a house or garage, the space beneath leafy trees or spots overshadowed by taller plants are perfect for these 10 shade garden plants.

10 Shade Garden Plants

Shade Garden Perennials

Like their sun loving kin, these perennials return year after year, however they thrive in partial to full shade.

Hosta

Available in a variety of patterns and hues of green, these magnificent plants often anchor the shade garden. Although they are known for their showy leaves, hostas bloom too. They produce tall stalks of white flowers in the summer. These plants can grow to be three feet in diameter so give them plenty of space.

Coral Bells

These beauties put up masses of tiny pink, white, red or coral bell-shaped flowers. Although the delicate flowers are pretty, coral bells show off with gorgeous foliage as well. The leaves vary from dark green to purple to bronze. The low mounding plants stay under two feet tall.

Hydrangea

This shrubby plant appreciates light shade and tolerates morning or late afternoon sun. Hydrangea produces large round clusters of flowers, in pinks, blues and white. This plant can grow up to four feet tall.

10 Shade Garden PlantsCoral bells, hydrangea and hosta share space in my shade garden.

Ferns

Have you ever walked through a forest and noticed wild ferns growing beneath the trees? Ferns thrive in cool, shady, damp conditions. In the garden plant beneath trees or other taller plants. Or place ferns in containers and hang or display on covered porches. They come in a variety of shapes with colors ranging from bright greens to deep earth tones to purples.

Astilbe

This showy plant is one of the most popular for the shade garden. They send up plumes of flowers in pink, lavender, red, white or salmon above fern-like foliage. They range in height from six inches to five feet, depending on the variety. The smaller astilbe plants do well in containers.

10 Shade Garden PlantsThis lovely Japanese fern thrives in my garden where it is shaded by ornamental grasses, clematis and irises.

Shade Garden Annuals

These annuals provide color even in the shade. Fill in any gaps in the shade garden with these easy to care for plants. Or place in containers on covered porches and patios.

Polka Dot Plants

Also called freckle face plants, these common plants produce colorful foliage. Colors vary. Some plants show off green leaves sprinkled with pink dots while others produce red whorls on a green background. Although known for their foliage, polka dot plants bear tiny pink or white flowers on slender stalks in late summer. They make ideal container plants and generally stay under a foot in height.

Coleus

Another plant with colorful foliage, coleus comes in a wide variety of leaf sizes and shapes. Leaves are typically variegated in reds, greens, browns, yellows and pinks. Easy to care for, these plants grow quickly, up to 18 inches tall. Coleus makes an idea container plant. Place them in darker corners of porches to brighten up the space.

Impatiens

These adorable flowering plants are available in so many colors. Use them to create a monochromatic shade garden, using all white or all pink flowers, for a dramatic touch. Or tuck a combination of colors into containers and place them in shady spots. I use these versatile flowers in containers in darker corners of the garden, on the porch, and in containers on the north side of the house. They wilt easily so keep them well watered.

10 Shade Garden PlantsNew Guinea impatiens, coleus and a polka dot plant in containers beneath the red bud tree. Rilynn is my garden cat. She loves the flowers.

Foxglove

These beautiful plants create interest with their bell shaped flowers on tall stems. Reaching a height of six feet, foxgloves thrive in partial or full shade, making them a very versatile plant. In cooler climates they even do well in full sun. (Check your planting zone on the map HERE.) The clusters of flowers range in color from white to yellow and lavender to pink. Like most of the shade loving plants, keep foxgloves well watered.

Begonia

One of the easiest plants to grow and maintain, begonias boast attractive foliage and pretty little flowers. Both can be a variety of colors. The leaves may be pale or dark green or bronze, while the flowers bloom in white, reds and pinks. Begonias do well in the shade garden as a low growing border plant. Or pop them into containers and place them anywhere a shot of color is needed.

These are my favorite plants to fill my vintage red wooden box, that belonged to my aunt. I use a variety of clay pots to group the begonias together. Keep these plants well watered as well. With shade garden plants, a good rule of thumb is to water them every day, especially during hot weather.

10 Shade Garden PlantsBegonias make excellent container plants and look wonderful grouped together.

Backyard Garden Series

From perennials to annuals, herbs to shade gardens, I’ve got you covered with the Backyard Garden Series. Check out some of the other posts below:

Questions about gardening? Ask in the comments below or send me a message!

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Create a Bee & Butterfly Garden

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Today, May 20, happens to be World Bee Day. Founded to bring awareness to one of the world’s most important pollinators, World Bee Day seems perfect for a post that offers tips to create a bee and butterfly garden.

More than half of the world’s flowering plants require a pollinator to reproduce. Pollinators include butterflies, birds, beetles, wasps, bats, flies and bees. When a bee, for example, lands on a flower the sticky hairs on its body and legs collect pollen. As the bee flits from flower to flower, it transfers pollen, as it collects more, which is crucial for the plants’ reproduction.

Without pollinators, our whole eco-system is in danger. And, unfortunately, pollinators, especially bees, are declining in numbers.

We can help by creating bee and butterfly gardens, to attract and nourish these important species.

Create a Bee & Butterfly Garden

Create a Bee and Butterfly Garden

The best way to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies to the garden is to offer a variety of flowering plants and herbs. As the pollinators do their important work of gathering pollen, they feed on nectar from the flowers.

A great suggestion, from The Honeybee Conservancy, is to feed them throughout the growing season, by including plants that flower in spring, summer and fall.

 

Create a Bee & Butterfly Garden

Spring Blooming Plants

These early bloomers are crucial as food sources at the beginning of the growing season:

  • crocus
  • hyacinth
  • calendula
  • lilac
  • pansy
  • sweet violet
  • spiderwort
  • dianthus (mini carnation)s

Create a Bee & Butterfly GardenLilac bush

Summer Blooming Plants

Many plants bloom during the warm summer months, providing ample food sources for pollinators. Add any of these flowers and herbs to a bee and butterfly garden:

  • bee balm
  • cone flower (echinacea)
  • snapdragon
  • hosta
  • lavender
  • marigold
  • chives
  • basil
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • lemon balm
  • black eyed Susan

Create a Bee & Butterfly GardenHostas in bloom

Fall Blooming Plants

These late bloomers will keep pollinators coming to the garden after summer flowers fade away. Include a couple of these:

  • zinnia
  • sedum (live forevers)
  • aster
  • witch hazel
  • chrysanthemum
  • pineapple sage
  • Russian sage

Create a Bee & Butterfly GardenPineapple sage

Additional Tips to Create a Bee and Butterfly Garden

Try to include flowering plants from all three groups, to offer a continuous feast for bees and butterflies, hummingbirds and wasps. The plants can be grouped together, in a dedicated space. Or spread the plants throughout the garden space. The pollinators will find them.

No yard? No problem. The flowers and herbs listed do well in containers, turning a small balcony or patio into a bee and butterfly garden that will attract and nourish as well as a large space.

Bees and butterflies need a water source. Place shallow containers filled with water throughout the garden. Add twigs for insects to rest upon while they drink, or place containers near ornamental grasses or other upright plants. A bird bath works as well.

Butterflies and wasps enjoy mud puddles. They need the salts and minerals found in the mud.

Do not use pesticides or herbicides in the garden, as they kill pollinators. See Ecological Garden Hacks for natural ways of dealing with pests.

Create a Bee & Butterfly GardenCone Flowers

A Home for Many Creatures

One of the things that I most enjoy about my garden is that it is full of life. The plants grow and bloom and multiply. They not only bring me joy and provide healing for me, they offer sanctuary for many creatures.

Along with the plants, I provide natural elements so that beneficial insects and allies make my garden their home. Tree stumps serve as cute, natural containers for flowers, and they allow insects to take up residence there too. Ornamental grasses offer hiding places and blades of grass to rest upon. I have toad and spider houses tucked into my garden and shallow discs that I fill daily with water.

Bees, butterflies, lady bugs, praying mantis, wasps, dragonflies, frogs, toads, spiders, ants, earthworms and many other little critters co-exist in this backyard paradise. They are important to the health and wellbeing of my garden, and to the earth.

I do all that I can to welcome them and create a supportive environment in which they can thrive.

Won’t you join me, for the good and wellbeing of all, and create a bee and butterfly garden?

Create a Bee & Butterfly GardenThis amazing painting featured at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.

Backyard Garden Series

Check out these other posts, in this gardening series:

 

Click on photos below, to order packages of flower seeds that are perfect for creating a bee and butterfly garden:



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Easy Container Gardening

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Container gardening is a great way to add color and interest to the garden. For apartment dwellers, containers create a space to grow flowers, herbs or veggies on a balcony or patio. Although I have a large backyard garden full of perennials and herbs, and a raised bed veggie garden, I love including containers. I can change the annuals in the containers each year. And I can use a variety of interesting and often repurposed items in my garden space.

Use these easy container gardening tips, to create your own unique containers.

Easy Container Gardening

Choose a Container

I have more than 30 containers on my front porch and scattered throughout my garden. A few of those are classic clay pots or traditional plastic flowerpots, however most of them are repurposed containers. For container gardening, I love finding new uses for objects, in my house and in my garden.

Here are possibilities that can be converted to garden use:

  • metal containers of all kinds, including toolboxes, buckets, colanders, deep trays, boxes, water troughs, wash tubs and watering cans. If it can hold dirt, it can serve as a container for flowers. Metal baskets, attached to fences or walls can hold containers.
  • plastic containers including boxes, tubs, and bowls
  • wheelbarrows
  • wagons
  • wooden objects such as boxes, drawers, chests, and for holding containers, chairs and tables
  • Natural objects such as tree stumps

Drill drainage holes in the bottom of metal, plastic or wooden containers so that the dirt doesn’t stay water logged, which is bad for the plants. If the container is deep, this isn’t necessary.

If the container is very porous, add a coconut liner to hold the dirt in and allow water to drain more slowly. Purchase a roll of liner and cut to fit the container.

For less porous containers, add a layer of pebbles to the bottom or line with coffee filters, to slow drainage. Fill with potting soil. The container is ready to plant.

Easy Container GardeningA variety of clay pots grouped with maple tree stumps, all holding colorful vinca.

Easy Container GardeningThis grouping is composed primarily of metal containers, including buckets, colanders and a metal shelf holding three containers. They hold tobacco plants, portulaca and polka dot plants. The old chair serves as a holder for a bucket. A minnow bucket, hanging above the chair, becomes a candle holder.

Easy Container GardeningA copper watering can holds a Trailing Mazus. I hang this container from a shepherd’s hook, in the hosta garden.

Choosing Plants

There are many easy to grow and maintain plants to choose from for containers. Check out 10 Low Maintenance Annuals and 13 Easy Herbs to Grow for ideas. Or visit Lowe’s Garden Center for inspiration.

In addition to those, other great container plants are:

  • coleus
  • polka dot plant
  • tobacco plant
  • salvia (low growing)
  • verbena
  • lobelia
  • sweet potato vine
  • African daisy
  • succulents
  • ivy

There’s no right or wrong way to plant a container! Group different colors of the same plant or create a monochromatic grouping. Plant two or three flowers in small containers and group them together on a baker’s rack, bench or in a wire basket. Or combine a variety of plants together in the same container.

One idea is to plant a taller plant, such as Miscanthus, a small ornamental grass, in the center of a large container. Add mid height plants such as coleus or geraniums around the taller plant. Fill in along the edge of the container with a vining plant or one that spills over such ivy or lobelia.

Have fun creating the look that suits your container and your space.

Easy Container Gardening Begonias and coleus in clay pots, within a vintage box and on a bench. These shade loving plants thrive on a covered porch.

Easy Container GardeningRed pentas are surrounded by white and purple lobelia in a large oval metal container.

Easy Container GardeningSucculents in a metal colander.

Caring for Container Gardens

Once they are planted, container gardening truly is easy. Know whether the plants require sunshine or shade and place them accordingly. My lists of plants indicate this.

Water as needed. My well established perennials need very little watering during the summer. As long as it rains once a week or so, they are fine. However, containers dry out quickly. During the hottest part of the summer watering containers is a daily chore. Choose mornings or evenings so that temperatures are cooler and the plants can enjoy a long drink of water.

Even plants in shady areas need to be checked frequently, although they may not have to be watered daily.

Remove spent blooms on flowering plants, to encourage continued flowering. And some plants benefit from an occasional light application of fertilizer or plant food. Watch for some DIY plant care products in an upcoming Summer Gardening Tips.

With very simple, basic care, you can enjoy the rewards of container gardening! Those traditional or repurposed containers will provide color and scents throughout the summer until the first frost.

Backyard Garden Series

Check out the rest of the posts, in this informative series:

Spring Garden Tips

Ecological Garden Hacks

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

Growing Clematis Babies

DIY Natural Mosquito Repellent

Easy Container Gardening

Here’s an assortment of fun containers, to get you started!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

When I planted my garden in 2014, I included a space for herbs. I called this section of my backyard paradise the Apothecary Garden. In Medieval times, the person who sold herbs for medicinal purposes were called apothecaries.

At that time, I had no idea the role herbs would play in my future life. I just knew I loved the way herbs smelled. My desire for an herbal garden stemmed from my intention to cook with fresh herbs and to dry them, creating my own potpourri, teas and skin products. (Read about the birth of my Apothecary Garden.)

Six growing seasons later, the Apothecary Garden thrives. It provides fresh herbs and brings me much joy. This year I am expanding the herb garden, adding more plants and new varieties of existing herbs.

Most herbs are very easy to grow, tucking them into the ground or in containers. Apartment dwellers can grow herbs as easily as homeowners with big yards. They simply require 4 – 6 hours of direct sun, good soil, and proper drainage.

To get you started, here are 13 easy to grow herbs.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

 

Basil

Considered an annual, basil that is allowed to flower and go to seed produces volunteer plants the following summer. There are many varieties to choose from including one with dark purple leaves. Fragrant basil grows best in a sunny location.

Dill

Pungent and flavorful, use the leaves, yellow flowers and seeds in a variety of ways in the kitchen. Leave some plants with seeds, as they too will produce volunteer plants the next year. Grow dill in a sunny spot or tuck into a container that receives adequate sunlight.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Mint

One of the easiest herbs to grow, peppermint, spearmint and chocolate mint flourish and return each year. The plants made great ground cover in the garden. Mint does spread  rapidly, so place it in an area where its growth can be controlled. Or plant in large containers. Mint grows well in partial shade to full sun.

Thyme

Another low growing herb, thyme is a perennial, returning year after year. It too makes a wonderful ground cover and can tolerate being walked on. In a container, thyme trails over the edge, partnering well with other herbs in a display. Grow thyme in full sun.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Chives

With their pretty pink blossoms, chives are attractive enough to add to a border garden. Harvest the flowers or the tubular stems to add a subtle onion flavor to dishes. Grow chives in a sunny location in well drained soil, or plant in containers. This plant is perennial.

Lavender

Among the many varieties, English lavender is the most popular form of this wonderfully fragrant herb. It is a perennial that prefers full sun and well drained soil. Include lavender in the herb garden, flower border or in containers.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Chamomile

This well known herb thrives in full sun to partial shade. Sow chamomile seeds, which can be ordered here, in late spring directly on the ground or in a container. Use the flowers fresh or dried to create a soothing tea.

Lemon Balm

This extremely easy to grow herb offers a strong lemony scent and flavor with a hint of mint. A perennial, lemon balm is another plant that can take over the garden, if not controlled. Grow in a full sun to partial shade or tuck into a container.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Bee Balm

A perennial, bee balm, like mint and lemon balm, is simple to grow. And it too likes to spread. Bee balm’s gorgeous pink, white or purple flowers do indeed attract bees and butterflies. Use the flowers or the leaves to brew a fragrant cup of tea. Bee balm prefers full sun but moist soil, so surround the plants with a layer of mulch.

Lemongrass

Resembling ornamental grasses, the tall flavorful leaves and tender bulbs of lemongrass are used in soups or teas. An annual in most regions of the US, lemongrass must be replanted each spring. Place in full sun and keep the soil well watered.

Sage

Sage’s grayish green or variegated leaves add rich flavor to foods and teas. The flowers are edible as well. Grow in full sun in well drained soil or in container combos. Low growing sage makes a great border plant also.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Fennel

Fennel’s leaves resemble dill leaves. Very easy to grow, fennel provides a subtle licorice flavor to dishes. The dried seeds make a fragrant tea. Grow in a sunny location.

Rosemary

This shrubby herb can grow tall enough to resemble a small tree or train it to climb a wall or trellis. Rosemary requires a hot, dry, sunny location or it thrives in a container placed in direct sunlight. Bring rosemary indoors in the winter and replant in the spring.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Beneficial Herbs

Herbal plants add flavor to foods. I love walking into my garden and pinching off sprigs of fresh herbs to cook with. Actually, I enjoy walking through my herbal garden each evening, as the plants release their amazing scents as I brush the leaves.

Fresh or dried herbs are perfect for brewing health boosting cups of tea. And, as I intended, I create my own potpourri each fall, from the dried leaves and flowers.

When I planted my Apothecary Garden I did not know that in two years my life would shift drastically as I adopted a plant based lifestyle. Herbs play a huge role in keeping me healthy. As I realized the importance of these medicinal plants, I looked in amazement at my hardy and mature Apothecary Garden. What I needed for my health was already here, waiting for me to recognize the significance of my earlier actions.

How magical and enchanted life is. And how beautiful these life giving plants are.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Backyard Garden Series

Check out the other posts in this gardening series:

Spring Garden Tips

Ecological Garden Hacks

Growing Clematis Babies

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

DIY Natural Mosquito Repellent

 

Grow an enchanting herbal tea garden, with this package of seeds. Click photo for link to Amazon.

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

Spring Garden Tips

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Happy first day of spring! I’m excited. Spring ushers in a time of renewal and birth and heralds the coming of warmer weather and longer days. For once, the fickle Missouri weather matched the approaching season. Sunshine and warm temps filled the days, encouraging me to get outside.

And my favorite outdoor activity this time of year? Tending to the garden.

I love seeing the first stirrings of life in my backyard paradise. It signals the return of colorful flowers, fragrant herbs and tall, waving ornamental grasses.

But first, tidying up is a must in March, after the garden’s long winter nap.

Check out these spring garden tips, to prep for the glory ahead.

Spring Garden Tips

 

Clear Away Debris

After months of cold, wind, rain and a bit of snow, the garden looks a bit bedraggled. The ornamental grasses droop along the fence row. Last summer’s flower stalks, which look beautiful contrasted against snow on the ground, can at last come down. And somehow, in spite of a six foot privacy fence encircling the yard, trash blows in.

As Greg and I survey the garden area, we pick up trash, cut down dry stalks and mentally take note of stray ornamental grass starts that need to be dug up.

Action step: Clear away garden debris including last year’s dead plants, dry stalks, leaves and any trash carried in by the wind.

Spring Garden TipsThe garden is a mess this time of year.

Trim Back Ornamental Grasses

Even during the winter months, ornamental grasses add interest to the garden. The stalks and tassels turn golden, providing color on gray, dreary days.

As the weather warms, the stalks need to be trimmed back, to six to eight inches above the ground. This allows fresh growth to appear. And trust me, the new stalks will quickly grow and fill back in.

We use an electric hedge trimmer to accomplish this spring garden task quickly and easily. The trimmed stalks go into a large metal barrel, for burning.

Action step: Trim back ornamental grasses. Burn the stalks or dispose of them via a trash dumpster. Don’t use them for mulch, as the seeds from the tassels will germinate.

Spring Garden TipsTrimmed ornamental grass clump. Cut back to 6 – 8  inches above ground.

Spring Garden TipsMetal burning barrel. The cover from the firepit keeps flaming debris from leaving the barrel. We keep a garden hose nearby, just in case.

Get a Head Start on Weeds

Everyone’s least favorite garden task is pulling weeds. It is an absolute necessity however. Not only are weeds unsightly, they crowd flowers, veggies and herbs, stealing their nourishment.

It’s early yet for most weeds. But not for eliminating ornamental grass starts that pop up all over the garden. It’s not difficult to remove these plants while they are tiny. It becomes a much bigger task if they’ve been left to grow.

I had quite a collection of starts, ranging in size from miniscule to large clumps. We noted the larger grasses last fall, and left them until spring clean up. Greg graciously removed the bigger grasses and clumps, while I dug up the smaller ones. After recent heavy rains, the small grass starts came up easily.

At the same time, I removed a couple of small tree starts and tackled clumps of dead crab grass. Greg used the weed eater to knock down dead grasses in the corners of the yard and along the edges of flower borders and beds.

Action step: Walk the garden area and inspect beds and borders for dry weeds and early starts. Spend a few minutes each day, walking the garden and pulling up weeds as they appear.

Spring Garden TipsRemoving a tiny ornamental grass start.

Check Soil

Before the garden begins to fill in, enrich the soil. Organic material like compost or manure adds moisture and much needed nutrients. My garden is six years old. Reworking the soil and adding compost nourishes the plants that are returning and gives new plants a great start.

We have a couple of places in the garden that hold too much water, creating boggy areas. Organic matter and peat moss worked into the soil will help to balance out those areas, creating better drainage.

Action step: Add organic matter to the garden if it is more than a couple of years old, to revitalize it. Balance out dry or boggy areas.

Spring Garden Tips

Spring Garden Tips for Mid Season

As the season progresses, these tasks will complete garden prep:

  • Plan out new beds and borders
  • Plant hardy annuals in containers and beds
  • Plant bulbs
  • Transplant seeds if they were started indoors
  • Plant cool weather veggies such as lettuce, cabbage and peas
  • Prune early flowering bushes, after they flower

Action step: This is the fun part, after days of cleaning up the garden and prepping for new plants. Take time to think about what you want to add to the garden this year. Visit nurseries. Tour other gardens. Check out Pinterest or browse online for ideas.

Spring Garden TipsLemon balm showing up in the garden. I’m excited to have my first cup of  freshly brewed lemon balm tea.

Spring Garden Tips for Late Season

Beyond the threat of frost, typically mid April to early May in most of the US, complete these tasks:

  • Cut back stems after bulbs bloom
  • Check garden for empty spots
  • Fill in with annuals and perennials
  • Plant herbs
  • Plant vegetables. Try out a raised bed garden.
  • Mulch with 2 – 3 inches of organic material such as cedar. Mulch helps to hold in moisture and prevents weeds and disease.

Action step: This is the time to bring winter dreams into reality. What do you want to add to your garden? Now is the time to do so. My garden changes every year, as I add to it. This year my intention is to rework the Apothecary Garden and add more herbs.

Spring Fever

I love this season and being outdoors. The garden is slowing awakening. New growth is appearing. Right now, it looks rather bleak. But I know. I know that just beneath the surface, life is stirring and soon my garden will fill with colors and scents.

In a couple of months, the garden transforms from this…

Spring Garden Tips

…to this! What a remarkable change.

Spring Garden Tips

Every task, every weed pulled, every plant tucked into the ground, is worth the effort. This backyard garden is, indeed, my paradise.

Backyard Garden Series

Check the other posts in this gardening series:

Ecological Garden Hacks

Growing Clematis Babies

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

DIY Natural Mosquito Repellent

 

Try out these essential gardening supplies and tools! Just click on the picture to view product.

 

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Working in my studio this afternoon, I paused to swivel my chair toward the windows. Golden October sunlight streamed into the room. Depending on one’s perspective, I was either distracted by the golden light…or invited outside by it. I chose to see it as a beautiful invitation. With October drawing to a close, and afternoons like this one becoming less common, it felt like an opportune time to move through the garden and harvest what I could.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

A Harvest of Sweet Produce

I didn’t change into gardening clothes, so sure was I that a stroll through the garden would satisfy my longing to be outside. Wearing a nice paisley shirt, vest, jeans and boots didn’t deter me though. Soon I was elbow deep in the raised veggie bed, digging up sweet potatoes.

What a great harvest this year! Sweet potatoes piled up in my red tub. I can’t wait to prepare and eat these sweet veggies in the coming days. I’ve already earmarked recipes such as sweet potatoes with braised red cabbage, chili roasted sweet potato fries and cardamom and coconut milk mashed sweet potatoes.

It is incredibly satisfying to me to tuck these little plants into the dirt in the spring, and harvest food during the summer and fall. I plucked a green pepper and a handful of cherry tomatoes from the garden as well. One tiny pepper remained on the last pepper plant, however my volunteer tomatoes vines are heavy still with green tomatoes.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Herbs Abound

Most of my herbs are still flourishing. In fact, they are lush with new growth. Sage, lavender, basil, lemon grass, lemon balm, bee balm, chamomile, mint, dill, thyme and rosemary are available for teas and recipes.

The fragrant plants released their scents as I stopped to touch them and pull a few weeds. I feel such peace in my Backyard Paradise, such love. Lemon balm won me over this afternoon. I snipped sprigs of the bright green herb for tea time.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Bringing the Vintage Flowerpot Indoors

Finally, I examined the vintage flowerpot, and made a decision. This container is almost as old as I am. (Read its story.) It has rested for many years in various spots around my front deck and garden. Instinctively, it feels like it’s time to move this treasured keepsake indoors. I fear a hard freeze, after a rain, could damage the flowerpot and that would make me sad.

Resting on my potting table, the ceramic container received a good scrubbing on its exterior and a new plant to cradle. After removing the faded moss roses, I transplanted a Purple Heart plant into the pot. This seemed fitting, as the container came to me from my mom years ago, and the young plant did as well, last spring.

I discovered that the snake plant I had intended to grow in the container is poisonous to cats. Purple Heart is a safer alternative and thrives well indoors. The freshly cleansed and potted container has a new home next to my little entryway table, where it can continue to bring me joy.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Harvest Smile

William Cullen Bryant wrote, “Autumn, the year’s last, loviest smile.”

Autumn offers the loviest smile, indeed. The very air shimmers with magical golden light that seems to ignite a kindred glow within my heart. I love this season of the year, this sweet time of harvest and brilliant colors and the soft sighs of nature as it prepares to sleep.

I’m grateful I turned my chair to appreciate the sunlight. And I’m ever so grateful that I accepted the invitation to venture outdoors.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Twilight in the Garden

After rain almost every day last week, and more thunderstorms moving in tomorrow, a window of opportunity presented itself today to do much needed work in the garden. I put in necessary time weeding and trimming and tidying up, while Greg mowed the yard and helped out where he was needed.

I motivated myself to keep going with the promise that I would enjoy the fruits of my labor by lighting a fire in the fire pit and scattering a few candles around the garden.

Twilight in the Garden

As the sun set behind a bank of gray clouds, I stretched my weary back and called it good. I have more to do, however I accomplished so much today. My backyard paradise resembles a garden again, a wild one after a week of rain, but a garden nonetheless. Tired, I almost passed on building a fire. A job well done brought me great satisfaction and for a moment I considered heading indoors and taking a much needed shower.

The beauty of the garden in summer, the peace and invitation to rest, won out.

Here are pics, from an evening in the garden.

Twilight in the Garden

The fairy garden is all filled in and makes me smile every time I look at it.

Twilight in the Garden

I continue to monitor the mystery plant, which is looking more and more like a cantaloupe after all.

Twilight in the Garden

I love candlelight in the garden! It’s important to use safe containers and keep flames away from grasses and plants or anything combustible. The metal lantern was a gift from my son and daughter-in-law. I have no idea what the metal cylinders are usually used for but they make interesting candle holders. I purchased these at a 2 Friends & Junk show. The rusty table was in Bob Moore’s backyard. I was happy to transfer it to mine, after he passed away.

Twilight in the Garden

More candles, with a backdrop of ornamental grasses that are beginning to tassel. The bistro table and chairs were another 2 Friends & Junk find several years ago.

Twilight in the Garden

This…this was the beauty that called to me. I’m so glad I listened. Greg and I carried out bowls of madras curried lentils that had been simmering all day in the slow cooker. (Recipe HERE) Night fell as we ate and candles flickered in the garden, their flames tiny echoes of the fire dancing in the fire pit.

And that small fire was perfect. I watched the leaping and twisting flames, mesmerized. John Geddes said “Light a campfire and everyone’s a storyteller.” We told stories tonight, primarily around work we’ve both been doing on our family trees at Ancestry.com. It was the fire though that was the main storyteller. It spoke of ancient quests and ever changing mysteries and the power of Light to illuminate the darkness.

I listened, with gratitude.

Twilight in the Garden

The Glory of Gardening

I experienced the incredible joy of being in gardening mode all day. My mom and I visited Sutherland’s Saturday morning, for their final half price sale. We arrived at the store’s garden center at 6:43…and there was already a long line of customers, eager for the gate to open at 7:00. We joined the crowd…and found all we were looking for!

I got very little done over the weekend, with those colorful flowers. However, I was up early this morning, ready to get everything planted before thunderstorms roll into the area tonight. What a full and beautiful day in the garden.

The Glory of Gardening

My garden lagged behind this year, hampered by a cold early spring. I learned much about patience and accepting what was this spring, as day after day I inspected the garden for signs of life. Just as plants began to emerge, and a few buds appeared, another cold weekend with below freezing temperatures shut the garden down. I was afraid I had lost plants. I had to be okay with that.

The Glory of Gardening

Today I couldn’t tell that the garden overslept. Colorful blooms are appearing at last, the empty patches of ground are filling in and although I was delayed in planting in the many containers scattered about, I remedied that today.

Here’s a peek into my personal paradise.

The Glory of Gardening

This ancient azalea bush, transplanted from Greg’s parents’ house in Arkansas, was budding when the cold touched it. Those early buds shriveled up. I am so grateful it survived. It’s putting on a spectacular show now.

The Glory of Gardening

The beauty of using annuals in the containers is that I can totally change the look of the garden each year. I opted for lots of color this season, focusing primarily on yellows, oranges and pinks. It feels very celebratory, an acknowledgment of perseverance.

The Glory of Gardening

All the containers were filled. I used zinnias, snapdragons, portulaca, and vinca. The potted plants on the metal shelf beneath the workshop window were moved to the rusty wire basket across the yard, where they will receive less sunlight. Potted vincas took their place.

The Glory of Gardening

The hostas are huge this year and filling in nicely. I used colorful flowers in the meditation area for the first time, instead of white blooms. And the southern border looks amazing. It will be a sea of purples, pinks and yellows soon.

The Glory of Gardening

For five years, I’ve used an old picnic table, made by Grandpa Moore in the early 60s, as a potting table. It has served me well, although the height was a bit low for me. To ease my back, I’d end up sitting on one of the attached benches as I worked.

Today, Greg finished a special project for me. He made me a potting bench, cleverly repurposing wooden pallets that he’s saved. I love it! Although Greg kept apologizing that the potting bench wasn’t fancy, I think it is absolutely perfect for my needs. And I appreciate that he recycled materials that he had, rather than purchasing new boards.

The Glory of Gardening

The potting bench looks adorable, with my hand tools hanging conveniently across the top. I now have a place to display two vintage water sprinklers that are so cool looking. I’ve yet to try them out in the garden, but I will!

I am grateful for Greg’s generosity. He has contributed greatly to the backyard garden. In doing so, he has been a supporter of my dreams and vision for this sanctuary.

The Glory of Gardening

I completed all that I set out to do today. I have a whole flat of flowers left over, that will go into various containers that are currently tucked away. In the meantime, those bright blooms have the perfect resting place on my new bench.

English poet Alfred Austin wrote, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

I experienced all of those nurturing things today, and by the end of the afternoon I was a sweaty, dirty, happy mess. It was glorious, indeed.

The Glory of Gardening

Signs of Life

I mentioned in another post that the cold spring we’ve had in the Midwest has greatly delayed my garden. I’ve had to make peace with that fact, more than once! This is my backyard garden’s fifth season, and never have I watched it so closely, for signs of life.

Signs of Life

Freeze warnings and temps that dipped into the low 20s continues to plague us this month. I lost plants that I potted, even though I had them on a protected, covered front porch. Perennials that bravely pushed through the mulch, expecting spring, got bitten by the frost and disappeared. My garden has remained empty long past what I considered normal, and I had to release, over and over, a tendency to fret about it.

It didn’t help that on Facebook I was getting notifications about previous posts. Those photos of the garden, in my Memories Feed, reminded me just how far behind my garden really was. It wasn’t my imagination. Plants, flowers and herbs were lagging weeks behind.

Signs of Life April 2016.

Signs of Life April 2018.

Finally, we have the promise of a gorgeous, and warm, weekend ahead. I spent time in the garden this afternoon, pulling the weeds that are popping up, and welcoming that task because at least the earth is stirring. I noted what I have lost: one clematis vine, that did not return after a cold snap, and I have a large bare patch in the border garden that should be full of primroses. A few more minuscule plants are peeking at the sky. I know I can replant that section if I need to.

Signs of life are present though and I am grateful. The herbal garden is filling in. The mint I thought I had lost is reappearing, its tiny leaves fragrant when I brush them with my fingers. Perennials are slowly pushing through the ground, a fraction of their usual size this time of year, but they are alive. The containers are all still empty, but I believe it is safe to plant in them again.

Signs of Life

Signs of Life

As it always does, the garden teaches me about life. I’ve learned this season about trust and acceptance. The garden is what it is. It changes every year, and this year is no exception, even if I don’t particularly like the changes. I must accept the reality of what is.

I’ve learned to believe more deeply in the unseen. It was tempting, more than once, to dig up a plant to see if the roots had survived the cold. How counterproductive that would have been! There was life beneath the surface, and things happening that I could not see. I learned patience watching a garden that did not appear to be doing anything.

Signs of Life

I learned about loss. A few plants did not survive. The majority did, however, and I practiced more acceptance and gratitude as I puttered in the garden this afternoon, observing the changes that have occurred in the last few days. All of these lessons apply to life. Part of my journey the last few years has been learning acceptance, patience and trust, and expressing genuine gratitude.

And I can compare the life sustaining work going on in the plants, beneath the surface and out of sight, with my body’s healing process. Although I have many visible signs of improved health, the deepest healing is happening at a cellular level. As health is restored there, it manifests outwardly. I love the mystery of that process of rebirth, in my body and in my garden.

Tomorrow I am buying annuals to fill containers and veggies for the raised bed garden. I’ll purchase a few new herbs. Before planting more perennials, I’ll continue to watch the bare places, for signs of life there.

All is well, my garden assures me. All is well, my soul agrees.

Signs of Life

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

A month ago I shared a post about waking the garden up. On that day, after a cold and dreary February, it was promising to see signs of life stirring in that barren space as I prepared the garden for spring. However, standing in the garden today, I could see very little change from 30 days ago. In spite of the supposed arrival of spring, winter continues to pop by, crooning lullabies to my garden so that it slumbers still.

With temperatures that have periodically dropped into the low twenties, and bouts of ice, sleet and snow, not only has the garden barely stirred, I’ve lost plants. All the flowers I tucked into pots three weeks ago fell casualty to icy conditions and sub freezing temps on Easter Sunday, even though they were on a covered porch. With below freezing nights in the forecast for this weekend, I dare not plant anything. Winter, it seems, is reluctant to move on.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

The warmer temperatures this afternoon had me in the garden. But other than more tidying up and a bit of weeding there was not much that I could do, with the threat of freezing temps ahead. Walking around, inspecting the garden, I couldn’t help but note the lack of growth. I thought last year spring was slow to escape winter’s grip. This year, spring seems locked still in a tight cold embrace.

I thought the garden looked forlorn. Then I realized perhaps it was me feeling forlorn because of the condition of my backyard paradise. And that wouldn’t do. Gardening is about trust and faith. I needed to do the tasks I could and allow the garden to be exactly as it, trusting the cold spells will come to an end exactly when they are supposed to. As a result of this mental shift, I began to find gifts from the garden, little reminders that all is as it should be.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

Creeping phlox and creeping jenny greeted me near the garden gate, the first plants to show signs of being fully awake. These phlox plants were transplants from Leta Moore’s garden. Although she has been gone for 19 years, these hardy plants continued to thrive in her front yard garden with little care. I am grateful for their perseverance.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

As I turned soil in the raised vegetable garden bed, I discovered kale growing! How amazing, as I scattered these seeds early last summer. Not only was this little plant incredibly encouraging, it reminded me that there are vegetables that do very well in cooler temperatures. I may not be able to do all the planting that I am longing to do, but I can start lettuce, beets, cilantro and onions for an early harvest. That will satisfy the desire I have to get plants into the ground.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

In the herb garden, the thyme, which stays green all winter, was flourishing. Tender shoots of lemon balm, while way behind their normal spring growth, were putting on more leaves. I took these hopeful signs as an invitation to create fresh thyme/lemon balm tea. I’ve used dried herbs during the winter, so what a treat to steep freshly picked leaves. I carried a bowl of fruit and avocado slices into the garden, along with my steaming cup, creating a spur of the moment afternoon tea.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

Sitting there, sipping tea, I felt peace. The impatience I felt earlier to get going in the garden was replaced with acceptance of what was. To argue against reality creates stress. I did not create this garden to cause stress. This is my gym and my meditation center, where I ground myself and free my spirit. It’s where I can lose myself and find myself at the same time. My garden is my sanctuary.

The most precious gift that I found this afternoon, beyond peace and acceptance, caught my eye as I pulled weeds. A solitary grey feather lay upright in the grass nearby, as if growing from the earth. The feather quill is my symbol for 2018. Finding a feather carries great significance for me. I picked it up with care, marveling at its beauty. It felt like a sacred moment.

Feathers are a sign from spirit. And the color of the feather brings with it a message. When a grey feather is found, it signifies peace and faith, and promises that all is well. I took a deep, cleansing breath and smiled as I surveyed my sleepy garden. Indeed. All is well.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby