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gardening frees your soul and broadens your mind

I am not a blogger type of gardener who spends more time in garden centers and  making posts about plants rather than actually growing plants. Growing things keeps me connected to what matters in life.
I prefer to source things for as little investment as possible and reuse and upcycle. Rather than buy expensive plants I start with seed. Beauty comes more often from cherished and nurtured things rather than purchased products in gardening and in life. 
For a client I can just throw money at a new garden but I prefer to encourage frugality. I have found the results of clever frugal investment with both time and money far more rewarding. Also I get better results than more expensive gardening methods.

Motivations for Gardening

I love the effects beautiful flora have on my senses. I really am obsessively interested in plants so naturally I'm a gardener. Of course, I love eating the herbs and food I harvest each year. No meal fills someone with more pride than one brought from seed to table. I think gardening is a bit subversive too- especially if you are able to produce enough food independently to survive.The added benefits of exercise, pride of place and creative output also seduce me into back breaking work it can be to maintain a healthy organic garden. 
All of the photos on this site are from gardens I created, plants I grew, and places I personally maintained. The photos are also my work. I really dislike so many blogs about gardening not written by actual gardeners and using stock photos. I've lived in six states and two continents working as a gardener so I have extensive experience with many different sorts of gardens. My focus is organic hybrid gardening using a mixture of the principles of English cottage gardening, pollinator gardening, native plants and some principles of permaculture. Combining different sorts of approaches lends to useful discovery about what works best and what does not.I am comfortable with most gardening and farming techniques from experience. The landscaping/big lawn approach-popular in America until very recently, isn't the best or even most enjoyable use of the magnificent land all over the country. Thankfully, in the modern era many gardeners have turned back to seeing nature as a guide rather than social norms based on inherited European misconceptions about nature from bygone eras.

Help Monarchs

I grow a patch of milkweed in a corner of every pollinator garden I can for many years so these beautiful regents have a place to lay eggs, turn to munching caterpillars and eventually the undeniably beautiful butterflies they become. It's fascinating to watch the process and then to see so many monarchs flitting about in my garden is just a delight like no other.

Pollinator gardens are a good choice for people who are seeking a relatively low maintenance approach to gardening while support biodiversity rather than a boring hard to maintain lawn.

Swallowtails too

Swallow tails, bees, humming birds and all manner of little birds and creatures visit my gardens. The habitat I create gives me a feeling of belonging to the world and often my neighbors have gone out of their way to tell me how much the garden cheers them on their daily walks by. 

If you are looking for a spot to begin as a new gardener I suggest begin with focusing on a pollinator garden. There are endless blogs, videos and books on how to get started for free and many places have seeds for free to help you get started! Some places have even gone as far as financially incentivizing gardeners.

Taking time to appreciate the gifts of nature will improve your health


Gardening is an attempt to borrow bits of nature and put them together likely in ways nature did not intend. Alan Titchmarsh covers this well in is wonderful BBC series "How to be a Gardener" which I highly recommend. 

Most of us want a beautiful often dramatic blooms and verdant spaces to grow incredible plants. Most of the plants grown in most gardens would never meet up in nature. 

Try to remember the beauty of a garden is a creative work of art even if you are approaching in as a permaculturist, or using only native plants. 

We lived in an era blessed with information and instant access to good resources so gardening is much easier to learn and source.

The sky literally is the limit.


Nature is filled with plants, animals, insects, fungi and elements that can harm and even kill you. When you are gardening or simply walking in nature don't forget to learn whether or not the seemingly harmless plant, animal, mushroom, or bug is actually dangerous. 

Most people know toad stools like Amanita Muscaria aka Fly agaric are poisonous but most don't know about the far more dangerous Death Cap that can appear in your garden after lying dormant for years.

Similarly common beautiful bloomers like Datura, Larkspur, Hydrangea, Daffodil, Tansy Rhododendron, and Foxglove are poisonous as well but prized by gardeners for their dramatic beauty. 

Wolf's Bane for example is supposedly deadly to werewolves but actually it's an extremely dangerous bloom to handle for those not cursed by the moon.  Also called Monk's Hood it plays a staring role in quite a few murder mysteries- my favorites are "Monk's Hood"  from Ellis Peters. (a Cadfael episode too) and "Raisins and Almonds"  by Kerry Greenwood (also an episode of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.) 

A rather consistent trope within classic murder mysteries is the use of mushrooms, flowers, plants and seemingly harmless natural things as the method of killing a victim. Learn a much as you can about any plants you intend to grow because your pets and children can come in contact with some dreadful consequences. 


Why I don't have chickens anymore: a short explainer. 

Having some hens is all the rage in the gardening world these days. Everyone raves about the advantages of fresh eggs, good garden manure, etc. But in truth, buying fresh eggs from a farmer is cheaper and a lot less hassle- unless your garden is an actual farm. 

If you live anywhere with raccoons or other predators the chicken shed you need to build is an expensive fortress which  if your chickens have any freedom, might not be enough to save them from death by sneaky clever raccoons. 

Keeping hens, ducks, or goats is much like having pets it means you can't travel without arranging care,  there is always work and care taking involved, and many people will find it difficult to slaughter their own chickens when it's time. 

However, if you are committed it can be very rewarding but it requires both a financial investment and lots of your time in the beginning- time I find better spent with my plants. I also enjoy supporting local market folks who sell great eggs. 

Spring Harvest

Strawberries are the one fruit that signal to me that planting and sewing seeds is done. Plant everything you have and get it in the ground fast whether you live in Michigan, Washington State, or in California if you are picking strawberries you can plant everything. Usually, by this time, I have planted almost all the plants I intend to harvest. Many are already producing edible treats like my many greens and herbs but some are just getting established. 

I also take time to plant more seeds to have a longer staggered season for fruit and vegetables so I will have food until the last day before the frost. 

Lemon Balm 

Lemon Balm is one of the best herbs to grow at home because it's an unlikely find in a store, almost never sold fresh. It makes a great tea and is wonderful for making homemade soaps and cleaning supplies!

It's not realistic to imagine that everyone who wants a garden has the time, space, or capacity to create and maintain a success patch of earth. Container gardening and starting small then  building up  and branching out over time is rewarding  approach and successful for most gardeners without a huge all encompassing commitment.

Red Poppy best planted in fall from seed

Sweet Willams, a type of pink that is technically biannual but seeds itself

Blooms of sage bush

Pussy Willow in Spring

Tree Blossoms

When trees begin the show I am always in awe of how the blooms give way to budding fruit. This tree in my back yard in Portland Oregon would cover the street in "blossom snow" each year when March winds gave way to spring rains.

Columbine's early beauty

How wonderful the structured blooms of the columbine-with over 60 species of the plant it's still instantly recognized by it's unusual flower shape and vivid colors beginning in Spring each year. Kept dead headed it will bloom for several months in many climate zones.

Pallets for raised beds

Raised beds and containers really can give you a low maintenance vegetable garden free of weeds. Import to planting seeds then cover with branches to prevent cats from thinking it's a litter box.

This is our Detroit house garden in March

So much will change in just one month!

This is the first week of April in Detroit with planned perennials and tomatoes from starts

Fence line planting

View from garden bench in my "yarden"

one of 5 small rows of corn plants

Greens already ready to harvest by May 1st

Detroit Michigan May Day 2020

Back yarden in Detroit June 2020 combination pollinator garden and cottage herb garden

This is what this what the house looked like when we bought it.

This is a quick shot of last year's garden in June

Original side lot

on part of side lot in March

side lot in April as warmth returns 

Side lot in late June- as you see new areas have been cleared to plant fall harvest crops.