a cottage garden filled with catmint, grasses, russian sage and yarrow
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It happens every time. I make a quick run to the hardware store and somehow an array of pretty plants make their way into my car. Sadly, they don’t always make it into the garden. I have yet to figure out why they don’t plant themselves.

a cottage garden

I have purchased spring bulbs three years in a row with the best of intentions to plant them in the fall, but have yet to do so. Each spring I feel a little guilt with equal parts regret.

our garden filled with catmint, grasses, russian sage, lambs ear, roses and yarrow

For someone who loves gardening, I’m basically a gardening disaster without enough attention span to make it come to fruition.

garden path

A couple years ago, we tore the garden out and started fresh. It was a bit overwhelming and scary, especially when all the plants appeared so tiny. Was it ever going to look like a cottage garden? I had my fears.

our garden filled with catmint, grasses, russian sage and yarrow

Some things died. Some flourished. I realized that just like life, gardening doesn’t always go according to plan. You have to adapt, fill the void and allow others to fill you every once in a while too. When you surround yourself with beautiful souls, you too, will feel more nourished.

our garden filled with catmint, grasses, russian sage, lambs ear, roses and yarrow

In the next few weeks we’ll be pruning, adding mulch and a few more blooming beauties. When I begin to feel defeated, I reflect on where we started to see how far we’ve come in our journey to make the house our home.

exterior before
our garden filled with catmint, grasses, russian sage, lambs ear, roses and yarrow
outdoor decorating ideas - garage design

And those flowers that go unplanted? I think of them as hope. Hope that life will slow down or that I’ll set my phone aside in favor of embracing a little “me” time. Of course I get rid of the evidence so I don’t feel any guilt! Sometimes you have to grant yourself a little grace and just move on. That’s what this garden is about. As I watch the grasses blowing in the wind, I realize I should too.

garden ideas

We filled the garden with roses, yarrow, blue salvia, lambs ear, grasses, lilacs, butterfly bushes, catmint and lots of love.

large wood tree swing adds character to your home
Landscaping tips and plans from a designer

Oh summer, how you amaze me with your casual days and lack of schedule. It seems the last couple of weeks have passed quickly. I’ve been working to finalize plans on our living room, select hardwood floors, install new lighting and line up contractors for our mudroom. It feels great to be on the cusp of significant change, but it has also been a bit daunting at times. While some things are coming together easily, others have been a bit more challenging. I know it will be worth every moment of effort!

Landscaping tips and plans from a designer

I’m excited that we finally have landscaping. I started working with a local landscaping company in March, sharing my vision for an English country garden. I wanted a soft, colorful palette filled with lush plants to soften the harsh lines of the Tudor. Given that we live in the midwest where half of the year we do not have blooms, it was also important to incorporate some year round shrubs that will remain green {and not disappear like so many plants do}. I found a lot of my inspiration from the coasts that doesn’t always translate well for our extreme winters and summers. Other stipulations we have to work with is that it will be somewhat low maintenance and deer resistant. I wanted to share our landscaping plans along with landscaping tips from a designer that I found to be extremely helpful.

Landscaping tips and plans from a designer

We have a couple of existing trees that we integrated into the plan and shade beautiful hydrangeas. I’d love a hydrangea garden, but it wouldn’t last a week in front of our home. We also included a few limelight hydrangea in sunnier spots. Classic hydrangea require a lot of water and plenty of shade. I love how their hue changes with the acidity in the soil. From the first picture to the second we had a week of rain, which made the blooms significantly softer in color.

Landscaping ideas

To conceal the air conditioning units on the side of our home and our water meter near the porch, we used variegated maiden grasses. Pink spirea lines the area by my office window, while butterfly bushes were added in front of the living room window. Hopefully it will attract a few friends for the girls to watch! Near the garage we be incorporated viburnum and duplicated them on the opposite side to tie it all together. All of these plants provide a year round foundation for our garden.

Landscaping tips and plans from a designer

After seeing the recent issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I had to have Lamb’s Ear. The soft, silvery color creates a beautiful edge. I reluctantly added a few pink knockout roses for color. The front of the garden is lined with bouts of Russian sage, salvia, lavender and yellow yarrow. Basically, I’m beyond excited to get my hands dirty!

Landscaping tips and plans from a designer

Working with a landscaper has been an excellent experience so that I can maintain our garden long-term. Chris, our landscaper taught me that:

roses are great for long-term color because of their lengthy bloom time

add height in 3-4 areas, including both ends

think about your foundation first – year round shrubs that will always offer green

fill with shorter grasses or ground cover

hide eyesores with tall grasses

consider your neighbors {like deer and bunnies}

Landscaping ideas

The beautiful rocks just give Isla another place to order her big sisters around. I can’t wait to share more photos with you when I catch a little sun, but all of this rain is sure to make our landscaping grow bright and beautiful!

Our landscaping plan has been altered slightly since this, but all of the same concepts apply. It’s been fun seeing it come to fruition and I look forward to watching it grow to its full potential!

Midwest landscaping plan that is deer resistant and tolerant of harsh summers and winters
Free printable garden journal | track what you plant & sketch your garden plans to obtain your long-term goals

I created 4 free printables to include in your garden journal:

  • the garden journal – designed to keep record of what you have planted, whether it requires sun or shade, water requirements, the height it will reach, when it will bloom & care it requires
  • garden guide – a sketch of what you have planted that correlates with your journal
  • garden plans – a place to sketch your overall design
  • notes – detailed care, changes you may want to make in the future, etc

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  1. Thank you for your sensible approach. Having just moved into a new home and trying to establish the yard, it can be overwhelming. I ordered a lot of bare root perinneals for the first time. Their initial appearance is certainly not hope inspiring. The reminder to “grant myself some grace” was powerful and spirit lifting. Thanks!

  2. I had to laugh! You’ve described me (and my plant purchases) perfectly! Thank you for helping alleviate my guilt!! This year I pre-ordered nearly $200 in plants from a church fundraiser and had hand surgery 2 days before the pick up – lol, like those will ever get planted…sigh!

    1. At least you have a good excuse! You’re filled with hope. I hope you have a speedy recovery and a beautiful weekend!

  3. So pretty Julie! And we have a love of the same plants- we have been adding many of those this year as well.