Planning, Planting, Perspiration, and Patience

13 07 2016

“You should be in business! You should be a landscape designer!”

DSC_0002 DSC_0010 DSC_0028

Thanks, I appreciate the compliment; I really do, but I know better. When folks see my yard, they are rightfully (I think) impressed. It is filled with healthy and beautiful plants, living in large (mostly) well-maintained beds. What they don’t see is how this came to be . . .

In 1998, we purchased a newly-built home in a new neighborhood. There was nothing surrounding the house but weeds, rocks, clay, and construction debris. I thought about hiring a professional landscape designer, as the glaring nudity of the foundation was daunting. Then I thought about what I really wanted my home to look, to feel, and I decided it would be MY responsibility to dress her.

So, I started laying out the shape of my around-the-house beds. Then, I added some island beds that looked HUGE at that moment but proved to just be starter-size and have continued to grow over the years. I shopped for interesting (not what the neighbors were growing) trees and then I filled in – allowing (what I thought was) plenty of room to grow – with shrubs and perennials.

yard 2

One of my favorite shrubs, pinus thunbergii ‘Yatsubusa’ is the little fellow with the long golden candles rising up, planted in 2003, at the right of this image.

Then I added more perennials . . .

and more shrubs . . .

and more . . .

and the beds grew and grew with every passing planting season.


The “little fellow” I planted 15 years ago is that big boy that covers my view of the neighbor’s house to the second story, now.

Now, some eighteen years into this adventure, it’s fun to hear folks exclaim over my green thumb-y artistry. I am happy to know that my landscape brings them joy and inspiration – and I am always glad to give advice when asked. I always encourage folks to accept that their dream landscape won’t materialize, in full glory, overnight – and that’s perfectly wonderful.

As with all living things, there are changes that only time can make. Some of them are sad, like losing my show-stopping redbud ‘Forest Pansy’ after a too-brief eight-year love affair. Others are irksome, like finding that your neighbor’s cut down the trees that had been perfectly shading your favorite too-big-to-move-now rhododendron. Most are just wonderful, though, as if the seasons are turning an enormous kaleidoscope whose colors have been selected just for me.

under styrax from 2nd floor 6s0 am 7-11 (1)



A beautiful landscape is not hard. All you need are is:

Planning, which is fun.

Planting (in my case, over 200 different kinds of plants, including multiples of at least half of them), which is really fun.

Perspiration, which is good for you.

Patience, which gardening has finally taught me.

There’s one more word that’s most important in this alliterative little landscape list:


May your gardens bring it to you, but if you have no gardens, please feel free to visit mine. Peace.





6 responses

13 07 2016
elaine haag

You are one talented girl and I know Ken appreciates the beauty you have achieved. I admire anyone who has a green thumb and the skill to use it, something not in my gene pool. As David says: there are people who do this for a living and we gladly pay them. Happy gardening, Paula.

14 07 2016

Elaine, Ken does not have a clue about what goes on out of the air-conditioned comfort of the indoors! As for David’s philosophy, I agree, I just hire a housekeeper instead of a gardener. It’s all a matter of personal preference. 🙂

14 07 2016

so awesome! Will need to hire you soon 🙂
you are so talented!

14 07 2016

I am at your service!

15 07 2016

Was your rhody able to survive? My neighbors cut down all of the trees between our houses about a month ago. I’ve lost a lot of shade and even some part shade perenniels. 😦 The only upside might be that my burning bushes will finally burn for the first time in 28 years.

15 07 2016

Sandra, the rhodie is alive, but she’s certainly not happy with the full sun she’s endured the last two years. I think I might try moving her as a last resort. She’s pretty shabby, although she bloomed this spring.

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