The Home Depot years …. Let’s try this again

After several sessions of blood, sweat and tears doing initial cleanup, I made my first trip to Home Depot. I went armed with zero knowledge of plants and certainly no gardening experience. In retrospect, I guess I was trying to “landscape” rather that “garden”. I could probably write an entire blog about that statement but I think many of you get what I’m talking about.

With “landscaping” in mind the only thing I had to draw on was my 15+ years of visual merchandising experience. So, there were a few things that I remembered from the old days…

  • repeat focal points – (colors, shapes, pieces) throughout and area that tie a larger area together and move you through the the area either physically, visually or emotionally.
  • group things in three’s – assymetry stops the eye and makes things more “interesting”.
  • pyramids and rivers – this makes sure things aren’t “flat” or “boring” and bring the customer in as things “cascade” down. Again, it moves the eye through the display.
  • repetition – there’s no better way to make a statement and make something small seems big than to group a bunch of them together nice and neatly!
  • if you move it over just a 1/2 of an inch, it’s much better (inside joke for the biz)

What follows is a somewhat comical interpretation and implementation of those principles. I have to admit, I’m somewhat embarrassed looking back at some of these pictures. There is a lot of “what was I thinking?” “seriously?” “really?” going on but I have to tell you, there is nothing like making mistakes to help you learn a lesson.


The poor freesia that never stood a chance, a topiary ceanothus (cringe) and the eventual giant butterfly bush

If I’m remembering correctly, the bed above was the very first planting in the garden. In the following photos, you will see examples of the many hard lessons I learned from my first attempt at “gardening/landscaping”. One of my main goals for this blog is sharing the trials and tribulations of my own gardening journey. Here are some important lessons I learned pretty quickly..

  • find out what “zone” and hardy/not hardy means
  • read the tags
  • figure out how much sun/shade the area of the garden gets and when it gets it
  • read the tags
  • do research especially when “adopting” a plant, shrub, tree from someone
  •  my soil was crap
  • don’t buy “topiaried” things (this is just a personal thing!)
  • did I forget to say read the tags?


The umbrella palms that were not long for this world


IMG_3208 copy

The cordyline was an expensive mistake as my “focal” plant. notice the missing ceanothus? I think it lasted two weeks till then it died. The yellow yarrow is one of the few remaining original plants but they are scattered throughout the property. They are the original “gold” inspiration for the name of my blog.


My first grouping, completely unintentional, of purple, green and gold. Of course, none of the purple made it through to spring

In this photo you can see all three “focal” cordyline. and yes, there are four, not three, dianthus. For some reason I felt it needed to be four in that spot.

Not every lesson was a bad one. During the process, I began to take note of a some things that appealed to me and would help me shape my garden over the years to come.

  • to this day, if it looks like it could hurt me, I’ll touch it then probably buy it (except for agaves and cacti – I’m scared of those!)
  • if it’s maroon or purple, it’s probably coming home with me
  • if it’s variegated it’s probably coming home with me
  • I liked plants that had long bloom times
  • I was attracted to “architectural” or structurally unique things


The willows filled in quickly, which was nice the first summer, but eventually grew way too big and became unwieldy every summer after that


One of my the best lessons I learned this year is that if I don’t like where something is – move it. Little did I know how much I would use this in the coming years!


An example of one of the many azaleas/rhododendrons that were selected to be a part of my very first “relocation program”. The all survived the relocations but all did not survive the great blight of 2014

As I reflect on my first summer with my garden and all the trials and tribulations I experienced, there are few things that, to this day I will always remember…

  • follow my instincts and what I’m drawn towards
  • there is absolutely NOTHING like getting dirty and feeling connected with the earth.
  • this is MY garden. It’s a reflection and expression of me and it’s deeply personal. I bought this house during one of the worst times of my life and discovering this new form of creative expression has been a transformative experience for me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the second “installment” of my blog. Next up…

My “Collector’s Garden begins…”

3 thoughts on “The Home Depot years …. Let’s try this again

  1. There is so much to love here! I think we’ve all been in exactly the same place at sometime, cuz we all have to start somewhere. I look back at early photos of my garden and do the “cringe” thing…and oh my! The plants that I’ve loved and lost. It’s all about learning though.

    Now there is one thing I do take issue with…you said: “except for agaves and cacti – I’m scared of those!” WTF? Say it isn’t so. You mean I walked all around your garden and it ever occurred to me you were Agave-less? Must have been the amazing Dierama that blinded me to your error.


    • Loree, I DO love the agave and cacti- so much! But, I am so clumsy and accident prone…it’s all I can do to not lose an eye with my yucca and my cordyline! (Which I literally poked my in my eye!


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