I inherited my love of gardening (and porches) from my mother. I recently visited my parents at their home near Livingston, Texas, and my mother’s garden was in full-bloom. I thought you might enjoy a tour, seeing some new plants, and learning a few stories behind her decorations.
My mother describes her garden style as “Southern Victorian Cottage.” She likes cottage gardening because she can buy anything she wants that fits into her garden’s zone 8b climate. Also, any gift or donation fits in, regardless of color or size.
My parents’ home is yellow and white, so my mom repeated those colors in her garden, especially with Shasta Daisies that appear repeatedly in their large yard. Mature trees provide a lot of dappled shade throughout the day.
When people comment, “It looks like a lot of work,” Mom replies, “not if you love gardening. It’s a challenge, and you share yourself and meet people through it.” She never thought she’d have such an extensive garden, but the space allowed for it, and living in the same place for a longer length of time helped, too.
My parents’ home has a wrap-around porch which was a key selling point. They enjoy starting their days with coffee on it. During my visit, I was happy to join them in that ritual. As soon as my eyes opened in the morning, my first thought was, “Coffee on the porch!” We also played a game of Scrabble and got caught up on all of our news while sitting out there. I often caught the peachy scent of Mimosa trees which were flowering nearby. Porch-sitting runs in my family. (Oh, and I also wrote this blog post while sitting there at the table.)
My mother loves ferns and has them hanging all around her porches. She moves them into her garage during the winter months and carefully tends them until she can return them to their home on the porch in spring.
As if the wrap-around porch wasn’t enough, my mother had another little porch added to the back of the garage near her gardening area where she could sit and enjoy the view of the back yard.
Mom had a unique idea. She studied their large back yard for over a year and finally had the idea of designing a drive-thru garden. They live in a small neighborhood where many of the neighbors zip around in golf carts and she wanted them to be able to take a drive-thru tour of her garden.
She made five flower beds in a circle and then used their golf cart to drive around and around among them to create the paths.
She then started looking for ceramic animals to add, which she tucked in among the plants. She wanted her grandchildren to have fun finding them. As they got older they rearranged them to play hide and seek.
Mom told me a funny story: Years ago she had left some of the nursery tags on her plants so that she could remember what they were. During one of their visits, the granddaughters collected all of those tags for her. Mom graciously thanked them for their labor of love, and the tags never made it back out to the plants.
Once, after establishing the drive-thru garden, my parents hired a man to mow the yard for them. Afterwards, he said that he didn’t want to come back because she had too many flowers. We laughingly agreed that we didn’t want someone like that in our yards anyway!
Once, many years ago, mom admired a neighbor’s flowers. The neighbor offered to give her some, but mom said she didn’t want to take her plants. The neighbor insisted, saying that her plants did better when she shared them. Mom said that she’s always remembered that and tried to share hers as well.
Mom has received several plants from neighbors. She used to work at a church where they had a tradition of “flowering the cross” where they removed the blossoms of Easter Lilies and attached them to a cross, but then planned to discard the plants. She asked if she might have them and they were given to her so she added them to her garden.
She has some rose bushes that began as a cutting from another gardener. Mom admired her rose bushes so she stopped one day to ask about them. The woman gave her some cuttings and Mom was able to start some plants for her own garden. She said the woman called them “Seven Sisters.”
In addition to acquiring plants from friends and neighbors, Mom tries to save money by regularly scouring the clearance racks at garden centers for bargains. She’s not afraid to nurse leggy and droopy plants back to health.
The Shasta Daisies multiplied quickly, so she has been able to spread them around her yard by dividing them. Not only did they help to fill her beds, but they gave her garden some continuity. I envied how healthy and beautiful her daisies were. They don’t grow that well for me.
Mom focuses on buying perennials for the long-term so that she doesn’t have to keep rebuying plants, and fills in with bedding plants (annuals) to add some immediate color while the perennials mature.
Like me, Mom likes to repurpose. She found these discarded bi-fold doors and asked my dad to hang them at one end of her porch. She has all sorts of found treasures that she has used to decorate her gardens and porches.
Mom has a plant addiction. She visits garden centers and nurseries often and just can’t help herself if she finds something new. This yellow Spray of Gold (Galphimia Gracillis) is one example. She came across it one day while shopping and had to add it to her collection. It looks lovely among the daisies, doesn’t it?!
For years Mom had been pulling up a “weed.” This year she finally decided she liked it and let it stay. After an unusual two-night freeze, it became a filler, filling in while her other plants revived. Dad did some research and found out that it’s called “Jewels of Opar,” is a member of the Purslane family, and that it’s edible. Most of the day it’s closed, but late in the afternoon the flowers open, similar to Four O’Clocks. Here are two photos, showing them closed, and then open. The buds and flowers are so small and dainty that it was challenging to get a good picture of them.
She didn’t know what a pretty blue wildflower in her yard was so she took a picture of it and used a garden app to identify it as Spider Wort. She decided she liked it, so she started digging it up and adding it to her flower beds, where it has multiplied.
Caterpillars decimated Mom’s Knock-out roses earlier this spring. A certified Rosarian from her garden club advised not to cut roses back like a hedge, that it was preferable to remove individual stalks to thin out, and not to cut out more than a third. Mom noted that it took them about six weeks to come back out. They were blooming beautifully when I was there.
My mother’s favorite gardening tool, the one that she uses most often, is a weeder hoe. She says that it goes under the weed and cuts it off, and is easy to use.
Her other favorite tools are Black & Decker power tools – the battery-powered leaf blower and battery-powered trimmer because they’re light-weight.
Mom’s favorite gardening book is Trowel and Error.
Other tips that she shares are:
- Do a little bit of maintenance every day. Then it’s not so overwhelming.
- Walk the garden every day and talk to your plants. You’ll see if a squirrel has dug up your newly planted plant. You’ll see something new and different. Carry a pair of scissors or pruners with you to do a little deadheading as you go.
- Learn when to transplant and share, don’t move plants at the wrong time. For example, if you try to transplant a blooming Shasta Daisy, it’ll be gone from your garden and might not survive the move to the new garden. Wait until it’s done blooming, and transplant young (small) specimens.
- Know how much water plants need. Soaker and irrigation systems don’t account for different needs. Hand watering allows a closer look at plants.
- Use “anchor plants” – have shrubs or trees in each bed so that when annuals die or perennials go dormant, you still have something in the bed.
- Take pictures of your plants so that later on you can remember where they are.
Thank You for Coming!
I hope you enjoyed touring my parents’ yard as much as they enjoyed sharing it. I think it’s fun to talk with other gardeners and learn about their style. Somewhere, I saw gardening referred to as the slowest of the performing arts, and it truly is an art form and a labor of love.
What a compliment. Such a joy for me when others enjoy my gardens. – mom
Thank you for sharing it!
Your Mum, my dear friend Melissa, has a heart of gold. The plants feel her love and caring.
Oh, that’s so sweet! And you’re so right! Thank you!
What a delightful place! Your mothers style seems similar to mine. How I miss having prches, though! Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed it very much!
Thank you for visiting. I’m sorry if you don’t have a porch. That’s sad.
What a wonderful story! There is nothing better than to return to your roots and share some memories! Thanks for sharing!
I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
Loved seeing my sister’s garden. Her love for flowers shows with all the work she does to show God’s beauty in this world.
Yes, it really does. It’s so nice to share that beauty with others, too, so I’m glad I was able to visit at a good time to help her do that.
Very pretty! Thanks for sharing. Very informative and interesting. ❤️❤️❤️
Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I know Mom loves to enjoy it with you.
Gorgeous! Beautiful! I love your mother’s garden! I also love Shasta Daisies. In fact, I had them with white baby roses in my bridal bouquet! The Spray of Gold is just lovely in amongst the daisies. Thank you for sharing your mother’s garden.
Your bouquet sounds so beautiful and fresh! Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment!
Very nice article about Melissa’s gardens. Good photographs, and well written. I am very proud of Melissa and Michelle.
Thank you, Dad!
Oh I love all of it!! Your mom is quite the gardener. Love her gardening style! We are building a new house right now and planning the gardens is my favorite part. I’ll be spending a little more time reading this.
Congratulations on your new home! All of that planning and designing is so much fun. Thank you for visiting my mother’s garden.
Marvelous garden and I envy those porches. I giggled when I read that she drove around their golf cart to mark the beds. I drove our riding mower around to mark my flower beds so my husband couldn’t complain that he couldn’t get around with the mower. Over the years some paths have become more narrow though. I am like your Mom, a plant addict. Keep on gardening Mom!
That was a good idea to check the mow-ability of your garden layouts. Thank you for visiting, and commenting.
Oh my, this was such a treat to see on this rainy day in Virginia. You and your mom are so very much like myself and my mom. Daisies are my favorite flower in the whole world. Your mom’s are absolutely beautiful. The bifold door hung on the porch just took my breathe away. Thank you so much for this awesome tour.
How fun! It’s so nice to hear that you enjoy some of the same things!
I love the drive-thru garden idea and the repurposed bi-fold doors! And I love it that so many areas of her gardens truly have a story to tell. I can see why she is your inspiration, Michelle!
I’m glad you enjoyed the stories behind her garden. Gardens are all so unique, that’s what makes it fun to visit them.
I truly enjoyed this beautiful tour of your mom’s flower garden and yard. It’s absolutely gorgeous!
Thank you for coming!
loved this post…the photo of you and your mom is so sweet!
Thank you very much!
Oh I wish I had a golf cart! I’d love to go zipping around your mom’s garden. Some many fun things to look at. I especially love the glass doors hung on the end of the porch and that beautiful orange rug!
I’ve never heard of another drive-thru garden, so I thought that was clever. Thank you for reading and commenting!
very nice story and enjoyed viewing the garden however I do not think that is seven sisters rose, it does not have rose leaves, I believe it is a camillia she might ask someone maybe the Rosarian.
Well, your comment caused me to do some research and take a closer look. I’ll have to ask my mother because I’m not there anymore to go look, but I’m wondering if there are two plants right together. If I enlarge the photo, I can see some other rose leaves in the background, as well as thorns, and the buds look like roses. Interesting! Thank you for your comment.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to your mom’s lovely garden. I enjoyed your descriptions and names of the plants. Thank you for the tour. I’ve got several garden and pond tours on my blog that you might enjoy. My husband is the gardener at our house. I’m forbidden to touch the plants. 🙁
I’ll have to check them out! Thank you!
What a lovely garden! I’d love to sit in the middle of it all sipping coffee and reading my Bible!
That’s a lovely thought!
What a beautiful post! I enjoyed this trip to your mother’s garden. I just finished a blog series on gardens, and your post was like revisiting those gardens again!
Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it!
So beautiful! I can’t even keep herbs alive in my house! I was not blessed with a “green thumb”
I’m glad you were able to enjoy Mom’s then. Thank you for visiting!
What a beautiful yard! I look forward to the day that my flower beds overflow so nicely 🙂
Thank you! Waiting is hard, isn’t it?! Gardening teaches patience.
Lovely article. How lucky your mom is to have a passion for something that helps to make the world more beautiful. We have moved into the country and are slowly carving gardens from the ground. I love the shasta daisy and daylily combo- will have to copy!
Thank you for reading about Mom’s gardens. Starting from scratch is a lot of work, but it’s fun to watch it transform. Congratulations on your new place. I love country life!
Thank you so much for sharing your mother’s garden through words and photo’s!!! It was lovely to put the two together!
While I was reading and viewing, a great sense of peace came over me! Perhaps things reminded me of dear people from my past; my grandmother’s love of Shasta daisies(They even named a variety after her for our churches plant sale) an elderly neighbors beautiful rose garden, and the general deep love of gardening an elderly friend of mine had. Your mother sounds like a wonderful person! Thank you so much for sharing !
I’m happy that my post had such a positive effect on you and brought back so many happy memories. Thank you for sharing them!
Michelle- I too inherited a love for gardens from my mother. She never can help but stop and see what certain flowers are and now my daughter and I are the same way! And I had to laugh when you said that the kids tried to give you mother the plant tags because as a kid, I did the same for my mom & grandma finding out later, they were there for a reason! Thank you for sharing!
That’s funny! I’m glad you could relate on so many different points. Thank you for sharing that with me!
Sitting here on this cold -14 degree day in Upstate New York reading about your mom’s garden warms my heart. I miss my mom and her garden’s, after she passed away I took care of them until the new owner moved in…it breaks my heart to see them not taken care of anymore. I also had a friend that passed on too that shared so many flowers from her garden to mine so now even though my garden will never compare to neither momma’s or my friends…I have a little of both of them blooming in mine. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your momma. <3
Oh, that’s so sweet! Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you have something from your mother and friend to enjoy in your garden!
Easy to see why you have so many comments here! Lovely piece. Treasure your mom while you can.
Thank you! This post already is a treasure.