Hello my friend ((big hugs)), how have you been? Things have been crazy here, as usual, Sam came down with another one of her coughs, which was awful for her but also meant mommy being up all night with her, which as you know all too well equals fried brain cells. Luckily for me, & all of the plants I had purchased that were sitting on my deck beginning to wilt, she was better by Tuesday & we were able to finally plant our first garden.
This whole garden idea started one day in February when I asked the girls if they wanted to plant a garden this year. I’m pretty sure I got the idea from when it’s those last few months of winter & you are just dying for warm weather, green trees & flowers. I pictured myself & my little minions every day after school pruning away at our beautiful little flower garden, we’d talk about our day & be warm & tan & have little aprons that would be overflowing with all of the flowers that our beautiful little garden with a white picket fence around it would ever so effortlessly produce. Usually these perfect mommy daydreams I have come nowhere near actually manifesting into reality but the girls took this one hook, line & sinker. They have asked me almost every day since February if it was spring yet & time to plant our flower garden. Last week I was finally able to say, “Yes. Yes my lovelies it’s time to plant our garden!” ((insert high pitched squeals here from them & a reality check for me that I actually have no idea how to plant a garden. Oops.))
I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb. It’s not quite brown either, I’d say it’s a good amateur asparagus green. (lovely visual, right?) I’ve grown herbs on the deck, which required pretty much nothing of me, & some flowers in pots but never a real, in the ground, GARDEN. I chose a ‘cutting garden’ (a garden that produces flowers that are good for cutting, duh, I know) because I figured it would be pretty to look at in the yard & also would produce a quick & continuous payoff for the girls & myself. As I mentioned, I don’t know a lot about growing flowers so before I headed off to the nursery I did some self education via Pinterest. Better Homes & Gardens & other legit gardening sites were very helpful, I love this flower index BH&G has, but I also loved reading first hand accounts of other people’s experiences with cutting gardens. Yet another reason I love blogs. I really liked this lady’s the best, I think
she might be British which made her even cuter, she actually seems to live in PA about 6 hours away from me, same difference, but what I loved most was her honesty about what worked & what did not. (a good dose of sarcasm never hurt someone’s chances of turning me into a loyal new blog follower either.)
So step one, choose a place. We have a decently sized yard but ever since buying a playhouse/swingset thingie last winter most of yard has become a high traffic play zone. I looked around wondering & then saw it, the bastard corner of the yard to the left of the deck that has become the dumping zone of cracked pots, moldy toys & other outside junk that at some point had been dumped in this area that was just out of sight from guests. Come to think of it, it was actually perfect, the majority of it got full sun (which most of the beautiful cutting flowers need, BH&G says ‘full sun’ is at least 6 hrs of direct sunlight) & it also offered a small part-shade section that would be perfect for the blue hydrangeas I desperately wanted.
Step two is the probably, no, most definitely the hardest part. You have to dig up & remove all of the grass, break up all of the ground to aerate it, & you’ll probably have to bring in some healthy topsoil too. Remember my ‘ah-ha decision to take small bites‘ , well, this is one of those moments where I knew doing it myself would be biting off more than I can handle & would most certainly end with brutal repercussions. This is where I feel kind of uncomfortable about blogging about this because I know not everyone is as financially blessed as we are at the moment but I want to be honest & not give the impression that I did all that hard work. I paid our yard guy to do it. I went out there & spray painted the outline in the yard & he & his crew came in, did their thing & left us with a beautiful blank canvas for our garden.
Step three, now it gets fun! I made a mental map of the garden & chose plants according to the sunlight & what I had read about their care needs. I wanted nothing that was going to be a fussy, needy, plant. We have enough fussy, needy creatures, including myself, in our house thank you very much. Through my reading I also discovered that different flowers bloom at different parts of Spring, Summer & even into Fall. (l told you I was new to this, stop laughing!) So, with a little planning our garden could keep producing a variety of flowers for the next 6 months, with that in mind I chose the following…
I went to a few different nurseries in my area & here’s my take. Going to the big home stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s are ok but the selection is pretty dull & honestly the plants tended to look a little sad, like they’d been sitting around for awhile by the time they got there. The nurseries on the other hand had an amazing variety & I found that the people working there were experts & were more than happy to guide me through all of the different plants & even give some great advice on which to purchase. The prices did seem a bit higher than the big home stores but if the plant cost less but isn’t as healthy or what you really wanted than it’s kind of going to be a waste of money anyway, at least that’s how I justified it. For you local peeps I went to Potomac Garden Center & Behnke’s)
I also bought cute little gardening gloves for the girls because I thought they’d be girly & not want to really get their hands in the dirt, it was a waste, they lasted about 10 minutes before being tossed aside, looks like my tomboy genes actually are somewhere in those little princess bodies, they were even playing with earthworms by the end! I’m sure ‘Queen Elsa’ the worm & ‘Princess Anna’ the worm are quite happy with their new dirt castles the girls built for them.Step four, planting, turned out to be one of those things my kids really want to to do but aren’t fully capable of doing correctly, I found myself having to walk that fine line of fixing their work while still ‘letting them do it’. I worked on planting the big boys & delegated the Cosmos & Snapdrapons to the girls. There was a lot of stopping what I was doing & helping them with each of theirs & it crossed my mind that I certainly could have done the whole garden in half of the time it was taking but I had to remind myself that this isn’t a garden for me, it’s for us, & in order for them to feel like they have ownership in it, which is what will reap all of those wonderful benefits like quality time, responsibility, pride in their work & just a whole lot of fun good memories, they needed to do it too.
In one afternoon we planted the entire garden. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work & I was so sore the next day, at one point I asked P if I had run a marathon in my sleep or something because planting a garden should not have kicked my butt this hard!
It was of course completely & utterly worth it, the girls have been watering & tending to it…some more than others… I’ll be documenting our progress with our little family garden throughout the year so if you want to get in on it it’s not too late! I HIGHLY recommend planting a garden as a fun activity you can do with your kids. Remember how we talked about hating playing with Barbies, well I figure this way we can be pruning & caring for our garden together instead, it’s a win win my friend.
Think about it & if you do or if you already have one & have some knowledge to share then please share away in the comments below! Even better share a picture with me on Instagram, I’m @mspinkmonster & let’s use the hashtag #ourgarden so we can all see one another’s! Yay! This is going to be so fun! As long as it doesn’t die…that would suck.