My Collector’s Garden begins

For those of you who have been following my story, you know that I’ve been sharing the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Well, let me give you a visual of the ultimate lesson one can learn as gardener..


Everyone remember the storm of February 14? There were few survivors.

What is that saying, when one door closes another one opens? Now I had a blank canvas to work with it this spring!


Along with surveying the damage, this was my first time seeing all the spring bulbs that were scattered throughout the garden! I’ve given up trying to tame them and resigned myself to their “chaotic” spring interest


One of the first projects was to relocate the rhodies! The yarrow was moved and scattered throughout the garden rather than in one cluster. 

Well, as fate would have it, in late March/early April, I would meet someone who would dramatically influence my gardening style going forward – the BF. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. To say he has had an influence on my gardening style is an extraordinary understatement.

In an effort to keep this post succinct, I’ll focus on the topic at hand. Seeing his garden for the first time, I was inspired by the sheer variety of plants but also on the countless unfamiliar ones. Clearly I had a lot to learn! Perhaps most inspiring was his passion and personal connection to the world he created. This is the moment I “got” the difference between “landscaping” and “gardening”.

The evolution of my collectors garden was about to begin.

First things first, I had to clean up the mess I created the season before. If I remember correctly, the wallflowers, speedwell, the Russian sage and yarrow were the only survivors. As you can see, the butterfly bush made it but would not remain part in the picture for long.


Now what?


So much better! 

So as not to lose sight of my lessons during this time of my gardening journey, I was soon to learn…

  • a collectors garden requires a LOT of plants
  • $3.99 and $4.99 plants grow into the same plants that $12.99 and $14.99 ones do!
  • “crampscaping” is seductive and inevitable
  • you can try but you can never get really get rid of bulbs!
  • there are AMAZING places to buy plants other than Home Depot!

Here are my regular “haunts”….


The “fancy” plant store

Apparently I’d known about Cornell Farms as I bought my magnolia grandiflora here last year. Why it didn’t register to shop for anything else I’ll never know.  This picture begins a series of pics of me taunting the BF while he is at work and I’m shopping for plants!


Two locations for your shopping addiction

I was very fortunate to have a break between jobs this spring and was able to devote myself pretty much full time to my garden’s “renovation”.


I’m the worst

This would later evolve into what we call “plant cheating” on each other. While plant shopping together is one of our favorite past times, our work schedules just don’t match up as much as we’d like, sooo….



It’s safe to say that approximately 75% of my garden consists of Xera plants!


Me walking into Xera for the first time! 


One of my personal favorites! 

I always seem to find something unusual here!


I’m not sure the top of this barrel was ever clear that summer! 


I love that I still have most of these in my garden!


My first round of the new style 


Crazy to look back and see where it all started…

Most of this bed was relocated a few weeks later. This bed would later be filled with the fruits from my first “Peony Pilgrimage” to Adleman’s Peonies in Brooks, Or a few weeks later! But, that’s another blog post!


And so it begins…

In the front right side of my garden, the dianthus and the willows both not only survived the winter but came back strong in the spring. I love looking at this picture and seeing what is still there and how tiny it was when it went in!


Looking at these pics, I notice certain plants were moved 6 inched here, a foot there…evidence of my future cramscaping. 

Now that the initial rework of my garden was done, it was time to make it all stand out! It was time to MULCH! And there are so many lessons I learned the hard way here!

I would probably have to say that after “reading my tags”, there is one other lesson that I learned but continually failed to learn…


As you can see from the size of my garden, no matter how many bags of mulch I brought home, I ALWAYS needed more! My problem was lack of patience and wanting to do things immediately rather than wait for someone to come dump a load of mulch in my driveway!

I could probably write a blog post on just this topic. In summary…year one….endless trips to get more and more bags of mulch. Year two….ordered 10, yes TEN, yards of mulch that took an entire summer to finally finish using! Year three…ugh, I did it again…more bags….

All that being said, creating order out of chaos brings me great joy and no matter the process, the end result always seems worth the effort!

Looking back at the timeline of my Photos on my computer, it appears I was able to get all of this done my mid May of ’14. Thank goodness because in just a few weeks I would be starting my new job and I’d no longer have the luxury of spending my days consumed in my new found passion!

As I sign off on this blog post, here’s what I learned and/or discovered about myself…

  • the more I mixed shape, color and texture in an area, the more I loved it!
  • when you fall in love with something at a nursery, you will eventually figure out where to put it, so just buy it!
  • there is more out there than just perennials…I’d work on that next year! Can you say winter interest?
  • I will be spending a significant portion of my life watering….and watering…and watering…

Next up in my series….

“Can a relationship withstand BAMBOO REMOVAL?”



6 thoughts on “My Collector’s Garden begins

    • Hi Tamara! I love seeing your journey unfold now! I can only imagine how exciting it is to create a whole new world with all the knowledge you gained from you’re first place! I have a secret dream of having a second home somewhere where I can do something totally different from what I have now! I can’t wait to see it continue to evolve and perhaps learn some lessons (aka steal ideas) from you, too!


  1. Oh that snow! I remember it well, as my garden was going to be host to 80+ garden bloggers in July and I was looking at a lot of holes that needed filling.

    I love your acknowledging that 3.99 and 4.99 plants grow into the same plants that 12.99 and 14.99 ones do. A lesson some never learn. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE your serious of nursery selfies. How much fun you’re having at the BF’s expense.


  2. Alan,

    So happy to see your garden and your thoughts along the way. The thing I love, other the plants and the places and the people, is how you continue to learn and grow (tee hee) as a gardener–ad infinitum, if I’m understanding this correctly.

    Cheers Darling


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