Chasing a Monarch

One of my favorite things in life is a monarch butterfly.

They are magical to me, as are all butterflies really. And their survival is in jeopardy which makes them feel even more precious to me.

They can be hard to capture with my camera because they are always on the move, like most butterflies. So it was a joy to chase one in my garden this week and to photograph it while it explored the new coneflowers I added to my garden last summer. Note to self: plant more coneflowers!

A patch of milkweed appeared near my mailbox a couple years ago and it keeps getting bigger and bigger each year. It’s not the ideal spot but I’m afraid if I move it when it first comes up in spring, it might not be a successful move and then I won’t have any milkweed. So I’m just going to appreciate it no matter where it decides to flourish.

It’s always a treasure hunt to find a monarch caterpillar on the milkweed. And how amazing to realize that yellow, black and white striped caterpillar turns into a beautiful orange, black and white monarch!

It’s magic and magical! And it brings me great joy!

Signs of Spring: Buds, Birds and More

Spring is my favorite season because everything comes back to life revealing so many cheerful pops of color. More and more signs of spring are popping up after our 6-day marathon of clouds, cold and rain finally moved on.

Weekend Postcard digging in the dirt
lone crocus

first dandelion

There are buds on the trees and birds gathering for their nests and combing the grass for bugs and seeds.

tree buds

grackles combing the grass

robin combing the grass

robin and tree buds

birds next

I was finally able to dig in the dirt, plant a few cool-weather annuals, and make our first trip to the garden center. Very relaxing and energizing!

first trip to the garden center

pansies at garden center

pansy planterHope you are enjoying spring too!


Garden Tour: June

I can’t remember the last time I showed you around our yard and garden, so I thought it would be fun to show you what it looks like in June.

Yes, things really are this green around here these days. (I swear, I didn’t do any adjustments in Photoshop to these pictures.)

June backyard1
June backyard2

June backyard3

Our rose shrubs are growing and blooming like crazy, due to all the rain we’ve had lately.


This rose shrub has more flowers on it than I’ve ever seen in all the 8 years we’ve lived in this house.


It’s producing the most beautiful cherry red roses.


Our raspberry patch is about to burst with lots of raspberries. I’m so excited! I planted a couple blackberry bushes too, so hopefully we will get a crop next year.

raspberries are coming

Our daisy patch just started to bloom. Happy to see my favorites come back each year.

June daisies

Our new pale pink peonies are doing very well too. This variety smells even better than the traditional and more common hot pink peonies.

June pale peony

Our new butterfly garden is doing very well too. I planted black-eyed susans, which are about to bloom, coreopsis, which are blooming, foxglove, which are done blooming, Indian feathers, bee balms and more. There are lots of baby bunnies running around our neighborhood these days, so I’m happy we still have the fence around this raised bed or nothing would survive the bunnies’ ravenous appetites.

butterfly garden

There’s always lots going on and changing in our gardens over the summer, so it’s fun to pick a few highlights to share every now and then. Thanks for stopping by!


Herb Garden

Do you grow herbs in your garden or containers? I was inspired to see so many herbs still available at the farmer’s market this past weekend. I didn’t buy any, though, because my hands were sticky from eating a cinnamon roll!

I have always wanted to grow more herbs in my garden to have fresh pickings available for cooking, drying and preserving in winter.

(photo from

I have also wanted to try growing a small kitchen herb garden in the window sill, but I’ve never taken the time to find the right size containers that would work in our kitchen. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a small kitchen garden to tend over winter? Do you grow an indoor herb garden in the winter months?

(photo from

I grew basil this past summer, which we used a lot. My cilantro didn’t make it because of the heat and drought we had. I think I would like to grow parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and chives.

Herbs are on my list to illustrate as a new collection of stationery and paper products, so now I’m even more motivated to grow a successful herb garden.

Thanks for stopping by!

September Garden Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a garden update. Due to the heat and drought we had this past summer, there hasn’t been much excitement in our gardens.

The Japanese beetles have been devouring two of our four rose bushes, so it’s nice to see a little left over for us to enjoy.

Patches of grass died, which is fine because we’ve decided to do a little landscaping in those areas with fresh mulch and more ornamental grasses.

The baskets we have hanging on our fence gates continue to do well, which makes me happy.

Our dying birch tree continues to grow more fungus and expand this little fairy environment.

We did some major trimming on a blue spruce tree and our juniper shrubs, leaving us with a big pile to take to the community compost dump. My husband insisted the pile would fit in his trunk.

I think I held my breath the entire way; I was so worried that tarp was going to explode and spill branches all over the road. Luckily, we made it!

While trimming the juniper shrubs, I found this wild marigold blooming. What a wonderful surprise.

After all that yardwork and a lot of homework on my part, one of the last things we had time for over the weekend was a bike ride on one of my favorite trails. I love biking through the woods. Next weekend, I hope we have time to do a little hiking too.

Hope you enjoyed a nice weekend! Thanks for stopping by.

Garden Update – Early June

It seems like it’s been awhile since I’ve done a garden update.

Since it’s early June, I thought it would be fun to share what’s been growing around here.

We have quite a few rose shrubs around here that seem to be doing better and better each year, meaning more blooms. Luckily, roses are easy to grow and require little maintenance.

Our clematis continues to amaze me with that bright blue-violet color and star shape.

We’ve lucked out with warm gardening weather about a month earlier than normal, which has been very nice. That means some of the flowers that usually bloom in early July are starting to open now, like our coneflowers, one of my favorites.

My favorite part of our garden is the entrance gate to our fence on both sides of the house. I love how this hanging basket looks, so charming and inviting. I’m so happy we planted them this year because last year we were too lazy.

Hope you’re out enjoying the summer beauty too. Thanks for stopping by!

From My Inspiration File: First Bulbs to Bloom

I’m here today to share with you the start of another new column I am going to be doing. Today, I am introducing “From My Inspiration File,”  where I hope to share  everyday things I’m passionate about, such as treasures discovered in our yard and gardens, time spent on a trail, a visit to the botanical gardens, a morning at the farmers market, an afternoon at the zoo, a day on the beach or on the trails.

These are things in life that bring me peace and require unplugging from social networking as a way to find my own voice, to be more original, and to create my own muse. (how ironic, I know) I’m hoping you might be inspired too or simply uplifted by some of the shapes, textures, and colors I hope to share.

* * * * *

We’ve had an streak of unusually warm weather around here lately. In fact, it feels like summer already, rather than the cold, damp days we usually have in March. So I spent a lot of time cleaning up our yard and gardens over my spring break.

Spring is my favorite season, so I’ve started my daily treasure hunt. Right now, the crocuses are opening.

They are the tiniest, most subtle flower that could easily be missed if you don’t know where to look.

Our daffodils started to open too! They are such a cheerful flower.

Stay tuned for lots more garden updates as everything around here comes out of dormancy and back to life. Thanks for stopping by!

PS – in case you missed the release of my first sewing pattern (yippee!) over the weekend, click here for more information. More patterns to be released soon!

Autumn in the Garden

We didn’t plant any fall flowers in our garden this year, so it’s been nice to see our roses continuing to bloom.

The flowers on our hydrangea trees have changed from white to rose – so lovely!

It’s also nice to continue to see green on the trees while we still have leaves.

Some of the leaves have started to fall to the ground, dotting the green grass with a confetti of colors.

I’m starting to see flocks of geese flying in formations as they prepare to migrate south, and our birdhouses are quiet.

The quietness of Autumn is starting to settle in.

Garden Revival

One thing I am most passionate about is the outdoors, especially spending time in my own garden these days. I’m happy to share a few more discoveries from our gardens lately.

First up, our primroses are coming back to life. They typically bloom in spring, when the temperatures are cool.

They got fried by the hot sun in July, so seeing them bloom again now makes me realize our temps have been cooling off enough for these plants to revive.

My favorite discovery was finding our woodland poppy blooming again. Also a spring-blooming flower, I was happy to find a few new blooms shining through these beautiful ground-cover leaves.

Our dwarf hydrangea trees bloom in late summer.

They are such cute little trees, only about 4-5 feet tall with dainty blossoms that bounce in the fall breeze.

This is also the time of year when our ornamental grasses really start to take off and get huge!

The best thing about making these particular discoveries is that these are from low-maintenance plants, requiring no work from me for them to continue to thrive like this. This late in the summer season as we move into Fall, I tend to get a little burned out on gardening, so it’s nice to sit back and watch everything go through the seasonal changes and revive on their own.