First Spring Plantings

Naturalist John Muir wrote, “Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.” His words beautifully capture my day. Taking advantage of gorgeous weather and a half price sale at a local garden center, I started my spring gardening in earnest today, planting in metal containers in the backyard. 

First Spring Plantings
Spring is my favorite time of year. Trees bloom or leaf out, the days are warmer and longer and my garden awakens. Most of my backyard paradise is planted in herbs and perennials that return year after year. However, I have 30 plus containers that I fill with colorful annuals. I officially launched the gardening season today, beginning with a cluster of metal buckets and tubs. 

First Spring PlantingsColorful annuals ready for planting

First Spring Plantings

First Spring PlantingsBlank “canvases”, ready for color. 

I have enjoyed using a variety of metal containers in the backyard. They are grouped around the brickio, tucked into corners, perched on vintage chairs and even attached to the fence. Most of these industrial planters were flea market finds. I love the two big washtubs that I have, and I started by planting in one of those, filling it with canary yellow and midnight blue calibrachoa. 

First Spring Plantings
Next I filled Annie’s tub. My cousins gave me this oval metal tub after my aunt passed. It means a great deal to me, as Aunt Annie was a gardener too. In honor of her July 4th birthday, I plant red, white and blue flowers in Annie’s tub every year, changing the plants according to what I can find. This year the tub was planted with red pentas, and white and brilliant blue lobelia. 

First Spring Plantings
White portulaca went into the metal watering can and shared space in a bucket with red gazania. The gazanias filled the remaining buckets except for the tall metal container. Yellow calendula is coming up in that canister, sprouting  from last year’s seed. 

First Spring Plantings

I was pleased with the results. I only filled six containers, but that’s okay. It is a start and like traveling, the joy is in the journey, enthusiastic joy, as John Muir called it. Although thunderstorms are in tomorrow’s forecast, I hope to get several more containers planted. 

First Spring Plantings
First Spring Plantings
I ended this perfect spring day, spent working in the garden, by lighting a fire in the fire pit. There is still something so magical to me about laying out kindling and bark and setting it ablaze. The sun disappeared as my little fire crackled merrily. I fed it with larger branches and then short split logs, well seasoned. 

Such contentment and deep bliss filled me, sitting there in the backyard garden, watching the flames dance. Overhead the first twinkling star appeared, a tiny flame in the darkening sky. “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight…” I softly chanted aloud. So many times I whispered those words as a child. So many of those wishes have come true. 

I smiled as I sent another wish up….up with the smoke curling from the fire…and out among the stars. 

First Spring Plantings

Surrender 107: Feeding the Soul

I was excited today to have no appointments or commitments, freeing me to spend the day puttering in my backyard garden. Spring arrived early this year, and although I’ve spent an hour here and there pulling weeds, the flourishing garden needed a good deal more attention. I was happy to oblige. 


This is the third season for my personal paradise. It thrills me each spring to see the garden awaken, plants pushing through the mulch. It’s never quite the same garden, year after year. Plants spread, spaces fill in, surprise flowers pop up in unexpected places. That’s the joy of gardening, watching the way that nature shifts and evolves. 


Today I tidied up the southern border, removing weeds and inspecting new growth. Greg was a tremendous help, reattaching the vintage screen door that fell victim to high winds, chopping wood for the fire pit, mowing and weed eating, and joining me in removing the last of the weeds.  

The weeding finished, I turned my attention to one of my favorite activities…planting. I have a large assortment of metal containers dotting the brickio and backyard, including wash tubs, buckets, watering cans, boxes, minnow buckets and an old red toolbox. I vary the flowers and color themes each year, which is part of the fun! 


Because I harvested seed last fall, some of my containers received seeds today, rather than established plants. I’m looking forward to seeing if the calendula, firework flowers and coneflowers germinate and thrive. I also started lavender seeds in a large metal box. Other containers had young flowering plants tucked within them. 


The oval tub that belonged to my sweet Aunt Annie received special attention. My aunt, who left this earth last year, had a July 4th birthday. As I did last year, I planted red, white and blue flowers in the tub, to honor her life.  

It was a good day in the garden. I have more to do…more containers to plant, a whole section near the Peace Gate to redo, bare spots to fill in. And the north side of the yard will receive creative attention this summer. It’s a process, a journey, a surrender, to the desire to create living art. I anticipate many happy days ahead, spent puttering in my garden. 

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.” My soul was fed today. 


Day 194: DIY Mosquito Repellant

DIY mosquito repellant e

Today’s first was perfect, timing wise. As I worked in the garden, planting the latest batch of flowers in the southern border, twilight descended. With the approaching darkness, mosquitoes began to whine around me. I looked down to see a couple landing on my bare arm. These pesky little creatures have not been a problem until this evening. I had intended to have a movie night after working in the garden, but as I slapped at mosquitoes, and looked at the amount of work I still had to do outdoors, inspiration struck.

While at the lake house over the 4th of July, Cousin Pam brought out a bottle of homemade mosquito repellant, in case anyone was being bitten. I love DIY products and she shared the simple recipe. I knew I had all the ingredients at home and tucked the thought away for future use. Tonight, I remembered lemon juice and lavender oil, but I couldn’t remember the rest of the ingredients. A quick google search brought the easy recipe right up on Pintrest.

Combine in a 16 oz spray bottle:

15 drops of lavender essential oil

3-4 tablespoons of vanilla extract

½ cup lemon juice

Fill bottle with water and shake. Ready to use.

It took me just a few minutes to make the repellant. The picture shows the finished product as yellow. Mine came out brown, with the added vanilla extract. I think there is clear vanilla extract if one wants to use that. I was excited to try this out.

DIY mosquito repellant in my garden e

Back outside, I sprayed my exposed arms. I sprayed a small amount into the palms of my hands and dabbed the repellant onto my face and neck. What a wonderful scent! I worked in my garden until well after dark and although I saw several mosquitoes swarming around, none landed on me, and I didn’t get bitten at all.

I’m delighted with this homemade repellant. No chemical smells and no chemicals on my skin. The spray didn’t burn or irritate my skin, on my arms or my face. And best of all, it smells so great, which is an added benefit when I’m working in the garden, sweating. Lavender is also soothing and calming. As I tucked flowers into the ground, and then gave them a long drink of water, I found myself humming and smiling. I’m always happy in the garden, but the lavender seemed to increase my sense of well being. What a great way to end a busy day!

southern border in process e

The border is progressing nicely!