Every one knows them, the lawn Nazis.  Every inch of lawn perfectly manicured, with symmetrical arranged rows of cut grass.  A bright green lawn can be a beautiful sight, and nothing more lovely than when freshly mowed.  However, what about an alternative?  With talk of water conservation and using only green fertilizers perhaps the “perfect” green lawn will slowly become a thing of the past and a new “lawn” ushered in.  Now I am not necessarily speaking of letting your lawn go or creating a prairie out of your front lawn, but interesting and viable alternatives can be done.  For instance, what about creating an endless garden in the front with mulch or stone pavers winding along it?  A charming fountain to be the focal point with different grouping of flowers and architecture dotting the landscape.  If well done it could be nice alternative to the same old yard.  If the bright green lawn is what you desire one thing to remember is to not cut the grass too short.  When cut too short the weeds have a greater chance at snuffing out the grass and lawn roots can be exposed making the grass dry out quicker. Given a fighting chance the grass will muscle out the weeds.  It also saves on gasoline to not mow as often.   If you want a lawn that thrives with less maintenance, consider using a locally adaptable grass seed which will really raise the success rate of your grass.  What ever you choose, just remember, don’t be a lawn nazi!



I have yet to really get the courage to cut flowers to put in vases in my house.  I am always torn between cutting and letting them stay in the yard.  To cut or not to cut, that is the question!  Laugh if you must but it really is a dilemma.  Most people I am sure do not have my hesitancy to cut flowers for vases.  The problem I think more often than not is what to plant that would work in a vase or arrangement?  Of course the traditional roses or carnations pop into mind, but those are just the tip of the ice berg lettuce!  Bells of Ireland are a fun yet not as traditional flower for the garden that looks great in a vase, sweet daisies and sunflowers, delphiniums are just a few of the flowers that are nice for cutting. I read somewhere that it can be hard to cut the flowers in a garden since each one has its place in creating the look you want.  They suggested a cutting garden.  What a great idea!  A real solution if you ask me and the best of both worlds if you have the space.  I think I smell a project coming on in my notebook of ideas for spring( if you don’t have one I would highly recommend starting one!).   Go out and create!

When I first moved into the home I currently live in, the garden was a wild thing in the least flattering sense of the word.  Over grown yews snaked around the front of the house along with untrimmed and unkempt spirea.  Along one side of the house, was mint as far as the eye could see. Only a dogwood and peonies broke up the mint encased in railroad ties.  The back was covered in over grown weed trees.  What is a weed tree you might ask?  It is a tree that has planted itself in a place on its own.  After my mom and I cleaned it out we began the process of trial and error. We were in a battle with the mint for quite some time, even now 13 years later I will find mint springing up in the spot it had originally been growing when we first moved in.  After the weed trees were removed we replaced the railroad ties with brick pavers and redesigned the front of the house.Clematis climbing up a weathered trellis accompanied by veronica, coneflowers, and sedum have replaced the weed trees along the back of the house  Thirteen years later I am happy to say I love my yard.  When I walk along the side walk and peer down the side of the house where the mint used to rule I see a happy array of flowers and textures.  On the whole the garden is not uniformed but I its mine and I love it.

What will you do to represent leap year this year?  Mother Nature decided to take a leap and give us a warm day!  How did you spend it?  On days like these I like to take stock of my yard and prepare for the upcoming growing season.  What do I want to do this year?  I think I will plant hollyhocks.  These are quintessential cottage flowers.  Some people would think that it is an unwise investment.  Finding favorable conditions for hollyhocks can make these biennials spread to new locations which you can then transfer to where ever you wish.   Such statuesque flowers really give some wow factor to many areas and especially your yard.  Mix those hollyhocks with columbine, hardy geranium, and tansy will create a charming cottage atmosphere.   I am going to take a leap and combine these flowers and see what butterflies and good insects are attracted to my yard.  Let’s see where this leap will take me!

What passionate gardener doesn’t constantly compare what they have and what they could be doing better? For me the journey of gardening started when I was little.  I learned to appreciate nature through my mom.  She would constantly point out a sunset here or a cloud formation there. It made me feel closer to nature.  She is the one who put the first flower in my hand and a spade in the other.  With these humble beginnings I began my passion for gardening.  Over the years, I have seen many different style gardens.  I have observed uniformed, almost geometric gardens, gardens with statement to carefree gardens wild and untamed.  I feel a part of that gardeners life and past are present, a piece of who they are.  What you must remember is not fall into the habit of comparing what you have to what someone else is growing.  Find peace that what you grow is a part of you, and take pride in that!

When I contemplate the above quote, my mind wanders to Lisle, Illinios’ Morten Arboretum with its raw and polished beauty.  For those of you not familiar with the Morten Arboretum, it is a marvelous living museum of outdoor plants.  You can tour the prairie, visit the marsh, explore the forest or hike through manicured yet wild gardens.  This place has it all.  I love to journey there because you can really connect to nature.  Take the forest for instance, every time I go there I find my self feeling rejuvenated.  The path winds through darker, mysterious pines to the more idyllic maple and oak trees.  I think to myself, every day science shows us new wonders, yet I find it ironic that the most impressive display can be found in a newly bloomed aster or the annual reappearance of jack-in-the-pulpits.  Man strives to find wonder in technological things, but one only has to go back to nature to see true magnificence and find ones place in the world.

Up till now I’ve blogged mainly about outdoor gardening.  Let’s take a moment however to explore the idea of houseplants or as I like to think of it, indoor gardening.  I love houseplants, there are so many great varieties.  When I was in my late teens I worked at Frank’s Nursery and Crafts.  I had always had houseplants in addition to my outdoor gardening and other interests.  When I became employed as a sales associate at Frank’s I was introduced to the many varieties of houseplants out there.  Lipstick plants, pothos, philodendrons, draceana,  ferns and cactus to name a few, they were all entrancing.  It was a part of my job to help take care of these beauties.  I feel in some ways it takes more skill to keep a houseplant than their outdoor counterparts.  One has to find the right lighting, moisture, soil and humidity to keep them alive.  For instance I never knew african violets could not get their leaves wet because it caused damage and decay before working at Franks. You had to water them from underneath.  Who knew?  I think also that the houseplant can become over looked and thought of as a dirty nuisance.  If done right however, they can become a little piece of heaven in your home.  So, take a challenge and try houseplants, the rewards are endless!