For the Mom Who Wants to Grow a Beautiful Garden

One of my favorite places to visit in the spring, when there’s still the edge of latent cold in the air? The greenhouse. The flowers. The fragrances. The light. The promise of a beautiful garden all my own.

For the Mom Who Wants to Grow a Beautiful Garden | Duluth Moms Blog

Let’s be honest, though. Planning a garden is overwhelming if you have no idea where to start. Frankly, when I put my first flower bed in the ground, I didn’t know what I was doing. All the knowledge I’ve gained has been hard-won: a few tears, a lot of sweat, a lot of reading, a lot of poring over seed catalogs, a lot of plants sacrificed to our Zone 3-4 winters.

So girl, I feel you. So been there, done that. I understand the overwhelm that comes with walking into the greenhouse on an early spring day. At first it’s magical, right? But the magic can soon give way to hesitancy, as you find yourself wondering:  Do I want annuals or perennials? Is there a difference? What goes where? What goes with what? And when you note the price tags for a gallon perennial, well it’s enough to make a girl’s heart sink, abandon the whole gardening dream, and walk out the door.

At this point, you know two things: you want a beautiful garden and you have no idea where to start. This post is for you, mama. While we wait for the snow to melt, the slush and the subsequent mud to abate, begin here.

For the Mom Who Wants to Grow a Beautiful Garden | Duluth Moms Blog

Decide What You Want In A Garden

Everything else follows this–plant and seed choices, site selection. But don’t worry. It’s not permanent. You can change your mind, I promise.  For instance, do you want fragrance? Veggies? Herbs? Privacy? For myself, I love cottage gardens, and thus my plant selections and arrangements utilize traditional cottage garden selections like foxglove, hollyhock, delphinium, and old-fashioned roses.

Decide How Much Work You Want to Put Into A Garden

Gardens require work–but it’s the best sort of work: quiet, restorative, and the calorie burn (250 hours per hour!) ain’t too shabby either. Most work usually happens in the spring and fall–I weed throughout the summer, but only maintenance weeding. And it’s fun to weed alongside my kids.

Select A Site And Design Your Space (On Paper)

I always encourage people to start small: create a space you love, one that keeps drawing you back to it, and expand from there. Border gardens–so named because they border an existing edge like a fence or a building–are an excellent place to start. Circular gardens–while amazing when done effectively–are definitely more difficult.

Decide How Much Money You Want to Invest

Gardens require some moolah to begin, but not as much as you might think. And plants are generous, lovely things.

For the Mom Who Wants to Grow a Beautiful Garden | Duluth Moms Blog

Start Selecting Your Plants

The fun part! I tend to prefer heirloom varieties of flower, largely because they tend to come back and reseed themselves, are more fragrant, are usually hardier, and they have some really lovely, whimsical names.  Here are some seeds and plants that I’d recommend for a basic cottage flower garden and have include both favorite annuals and perennials.

Annuals, biennials, and self-sowing annuals {plants that are re-planted or reseeded–by you or the plant–every year}:

Sweet William {A self-sowing annual to place at the front of the border}
You can easily grow it from seed, but it won’t bloom until the following year, so maybe buy it, knowing that the original plant will die, but will produce offspring the following spring that will bloom–pop it directly in the ground in the spring.

Zinnia  {An annual to place in the middle of the border}
Definitely grow this from seed–though it won’t bloom until later in the summer–it’s super great as an EASY-PEASY mid-border plant.

Cosmos  {An annual to place in the middle of the border}
You can easily grow this from seed–I don’t bother starting it indoors, but instead plant the seed directly outside in dirt as soon as it’s feasible to do so, knowing that I won’t see blooms until later in the summer.

Nasturtium {An annual to place in the front to middle of the border, or in containers too}
Super easy to grow from seed–fragrant, edible, and pretty.  Just pop this one in ground too.

Four o’clocks {An annual to place in the middle of the border}
Also super easy to grow from seed and it’s slightly fragrant–again, just pop it in the ground.

Morning Glory {A vining annual to place where you want vertical interest}
Another really easy plant to grow from seed and one that you can easily pop in the ground.  It climbs and adds vertical interest.

Johnny Jump Ups  {A self-sowing annual to place at the front of the border}
These are super easy to grow–just pop the seed in the ground–and they “jump” right up. They’re also edible.

Snapdragons  {An annual to place in the middle of the border}
Our growing season is too short for me to start these outside, so I usually purchase these, but you can start them outside if you have a longer growing season.

Pinks/Dianthus {A biennial or annual to place at the front of the border}
These don’t usually last more than a year or two here, but they smell SO good it’s worth it to me to replace them.

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Perennials {plants that–in theory{!} come back year-after year}:

Lavender {A perennial to place towards the front of the border, but not directly in the front}
Super great for fragrance, color, and structure.

Peony {A perennial to place towards the mid to the back of the border}
Super great for fragrance, color, and structure.

Old fashioned roses {A shrub}
Super great for fragrance, color, and structure.

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For the Mom Who Wants to Grow a Beautiful Garden | Duluth Moms Blog
This is a tiny slice of what goes into planning a garden but I’m here to tell you: if you want a beautiful garden, it’s attainable (without having to sell your firstborn, I promise!).  I’d encourage you to do some additional research on your own, and if you’re interested in reading more on the subject from me, leave me a note and I’d be happy to talk gardens. 
Summer is coming, mamas. It must!  Until then: dream in color and fragrance!

 

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