My Potting Shed

All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.” ~Helen Hayes

This photo was taken of me with my potting shed shortly after we had it all done... I was so happy- I finally had the perfect spot to put my garden bike!

This photo was taken of me with my potting shed shortly after we had it all done… I was so happy- I finally had the perfect spot to put my garden bike!

If ever a quote expressed my hearts deepest yearning, this would be as close to perfect as I can imagine. The days are promising to grow warmer, so my heart languishes and pines more earnestly for them… Yes, all to soon…. all too soon there will be that earthy smell I love… the trees will begin to bud and then finally burst forth into heavenly blooms and wispy leaves. Spring… come and fill this dead winter world with awe and inspire me.

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I’ve got big plans this year that include repainting my potting shed along with a new bed to wrap around it. A lovely, cheerful aqua blue with white trim will give her an all new look… a more cottage look. Currently the back has several antique garden tools, a shelf and a french door on it (see photo). I am planning on making a bed around one side wrapping around the back. My cut flower raised bed garden is on the other side… so excited to finish that up this year. I’m going to plant two different pink climbing roses at each corner around back. The beds will be planted up primarily with perennials from what I split off my other plants this spring. I’m dreaming of my antique white hydrangea, purple cone flowers, Shasta daisies and pink peonies with several purple bell flowers dancing around them. Of course there will be lavenders, creeping phlox and thyme cascading over the rock border. Dreams… oh waiting for them to come to fruition is such a lesson in patience for me. I will share lots of ‘in progress’ photo’s with all of you, along with all the other projects that are on my list this year! Next post: making your spring garden ‘to-do’ list!

Today’s post is going to be a little bit different… I’m going to tell you the story of how my potting shed came to be.

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The story of my potting shed is quite interesting… at least to me. About six years ago a lady I knew was getting rid of there mini-barn because they were planning on purchasing a larger new one. She went on to explain that they were going to tear it down and burn it. I couldn’t believe it… I thought, “What’s wrong with it?”… so then I asked. Well, they wanted something bigger, there wasn’t really anything wrong with it. “Why?”, she asked, “You want it?” DO I WANT IT! Of course I wanted it! Soooo, as I was driving home elated as a purring cat, I started thinking about how we’d get this 8’x10′ mini-barn home…. hmm, well surely Neil would figure it out, after all, it was free! Dreaming all the way home, I just couldn’t believe it… I was finally going to have a potting shed!

When Neil got home that evening I told him the exciting news and of course, he wasn’t quite as excited and he was thinking more along the lines of a ‘mini-barn’ to store the yard tools, mower and tillers…. and hey, it was free. Neil figured out what we needed to get it home and made arrangements with a friend to help and borrow their skid steer and trailer. Overjoyed is an understatement as to how I felt.

Once the ‘building’ arrived, they put it over on a concrete slab that’s located beside our vegetable garden… perfect ‘temporary’ spot I told him… he didn’t get what I meant, but shrugged it off. I’m sure he was thinking, “Temporary nothing, I’m never moving that beast again.”

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Two years later with tow straps and chains wrapped around it, my potting shed was being dragged across and down the driveway to her ‘permanent’ location… so I thought. Neil stopped for a moment to check something and the strap fell off. He told our daughter, then just thirteen, to get in the truck and when he said to go, lightly give it a bit of gas to tighten it up and move forward s-l-o-w-l-y. There wasn’t much further to go, and it ‘should’ have been fine. Well, Taylor being a bit nervous accidentally put the truck into reverse… In the meantime, Neil was standing between the truck and shed… he later told me he thought for some reason it would be smarter to move out from between and then suddenly… Rrrummmmm! SMASH!!!! right into the front corner of the potting shed. She knocked the frame right off its skid! I was inside… not watching, but I heard the smash and went to the window and looked… oh to my dismay! Neil was ready to burn it in the driveway (remember, we live in the country). Of course I wasn’t about to allow that to happen! Being the optimist I am, I said it would be fine, lets finish taking it to the spot and access the damages and what repairs would need to be made. So, Neil calmed down and took care of it….

After some tucks and band-aids, we resided the outside, put a new floor and walls on the inside- all with boards that Neil milled on our sawmill- it was a whole new building… my Potting Shed! Now it was time to paint the inside and out and then decorate it…

And today, I have a beautiful potting shed that adorns my yard. The sad part to this story is I didn’t take any photos of it before we fixed it up! I had recently been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and had been quite sick before they found out what was wrong with me… shortly after I had a baby… so no photos. This is a perfect example of why I always encourage my readers to take photos and document your projects. I am so disappointed that I don’t have before and after photos.

In my next post I will show photos of other potting sheds to give you more inspiration!
Please be sure to visit Dragonflies Facebook page for additional daily photos, links and insprirations that can only be seen there…

Also, check out my weekly post at The Detroit News, The Good Life blog… I post the links on my Facebook page… here is a link to view… these are exclusive post! Be sure to LIKE it!
http://blogs.detroitnews.com/thegoodlife/2013/03/21/starting-seeds-and-homemade-potting-mix-recipe/

Happy Day,
Jean
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Plan Your Perennial Garden Now and Designing Plot Plans

This is a photo of one of my garden journal pages. It shows a section of  my
front porch and gives details on several things purchased!

“If ever I loved thee, my garden ’tis now…” Yes, I am longing for the beauty and relaxation of my gardens in these cold Michigan winter months. The garden is my place of rest… it’s where I go when I feel weary, when I need to wind down, when I long to escape the stresses of life… It is my Eden here on earth. Many people have strolled through my gardens in awe wondering when and how I manage to care for them all with my busy farm and market life. I always say, “This is not work! This is where I come to get away from the work!”  But alas, that is not true for all.  If you are a die hard gardener or someone looking to create your own little Eden, it doesn’t have to be difficult and it surely won’t happen all in one season. My gardens have been born over a period of seven years and they will continue to grow, change and flourish in my tender loving care for many more.  Now is the time to start planning and designing your new dream gardens. You may feel like how do I begin? What plants should I choose? Where am I going to put this bed?  The next couple months will give you ample time to decide on what, where, how and when and whether to order plants or wait for the nurseries. These are all important questions that need to be addressed before the big day of breaking ground. That day is right around the corner…don’t let your dreams sit stagnant and lifeless, start planning now.
     




Here is The Side Garden in early spring. You can see there are several Archi-
tectural elaments- picket fence, antique feed cart, step stones. Notice the thick
mulch cover early in the season. I will not have to worry about the weeds get-
ting a hold on me.  2012

 In the next few posts here I am planning on giving my own ‘renditions’ of my garden’s. I will show all the photo’s of them at my blog spot.  Hope you are inspired, enjoy friends!

There are several factors to take into consideration when you start the process of designing your garden plots.
1. Decide on Location: This is the first step. It will determine what type of plants you will purchase, whether irrigation will be necessary and if so, what type.  Will it be up against a building? In the middle of the yard? An extension of an existing garden?
2. Type of Garden: Do you want a perennial bed/border with a few annuals as fillers? Is this a small bed that you would like to plant up with annuals each year to have it different and versatile? Is it to be a split of both annuals and perennials?
Will it be a formal garden, herb garden, rose garden or kitchen garden?  These are all important factors that need to be made early on.
3. Plant Selection: Once location and type are determined you can start choosing the plants. Take into consideration if this is a shady, part shade/ part sun or direct sun all day location.  This will play a huge factor on plants. Decide whether you will order some and/or purchase at nurseries. What about getting started with plants from family and friends when they split their plants this spring?
For an extensive list of perennials follow this link: http://www.gardenguides.com/perennial-plants-flowers/
4. Architectural Elements: This is very important, but type of garden will determine what those elements will be. My gardens are Cottage Style, so I get to use all kinds of what I feel are cool Garden Junque items! Stone statuary, bird baths, arbors/trellis’, iron work, picket fences, wheel barrow, crates/drawers, buckets and boots… and the list can go on! Determining what you like can help in choosing the type of garden. Will you have walk ways? If so, what will be the stepping stones?
5. Irrigation: will you use sprinklers/hoses, underground sprinkler systems, above ground drip lines, soaker hoses?
6. Mulching: is so important! Mulch will help maintain moisture and hold back weeds. Again what you choose should fit with your garden style.  Mulch- what color, lava rock, white marble stones, bark, etc.


 

Documentation is a key element in helping you along the garden design path. I highly recommend that you Keep a Garden Journal for specific notes on what was planted where, where the plant was purchased, and any other important details.
1. Draw your Garden Plan layouts (see mine attached). This will give you something to work off. It may change from the original design, but having a place to start is so helpful. 
2. Keep all tags and receipts from plants that have a warranty in your journal. This is especially important for large, expensive items such as trees, shrub’s/bushes and fruit bearing plants. It is very frustrating when you loose a year of growth when a plant doesn’t make it through the winter. But if you have that receipt, at least you won’t have to ‘buy’ another one!
     

This was one of my first plot plans. At our first farm I had decided to tear up the entire front yard and design a 9 part garden with a pond in the center.  I then drew up each of the nine sub gardens as well with details.  This helped in all my planning.


3.Photograph your gardens. I suggest doing this in the early and late parts of each season (spring-fall). Each year you will have a wonderful and accurate account of how things grew.  If you really liked a particular planting or arrangement you created with annuals, be sure to include the tags with a photo of the bed, along with where you purchased the plants. It is very difficult to remember the varieties and where you got them. Not all nurseries/catalog’s carry the same items. 
4. Keep Ideas: I often see planting designs and architectural items in other gardens that I would like to replicate in my own. I take photo’s to put in my journal otherwise I would never remember everything. I also photocopy ideas out of gardening mag.’s and store them there as well- I don’t like to rip pages out!

My garden journals have been such a help to me over
the years.  They are not just helpful, but a lot of fun to
go back and look through.

When we purchased our farm seven years ago, it was an empty, foreclosed mess with not a flower bed to be found. Just one bare patch of dirt stared me in the face every time we walked into the back door.  This was the first bed I planted and I foolishly did so without a long term goal.  I wanted color and I wanted it now.  After the first year and the war against me from the quack grass, I was forced to dig up all the plants and do it again.  This time I did it right! We laid black ground cover over the dirt, set  rocks around the perimeter and then filled in with rich soil. I was able to replant most of what I had there while adding several new plants.


Here is my rendition of The Side Garden as it appears now. No longer a bare patch of dirt, but a work of art. Legend For “The Side Garden” please see attached drawing. This bed is just under 200 square feet.


The Side Garden is lined on both sides and the front with boiling ball size rocks. The back side is sloped down with pieces of slate about the size of a sheet of paper.
1. Peony- 3 plants, 2 Varieties- 1 early bloom and 1 mid bloom
2. Hollyhocks- Because these reseed prolifically I only allow about 7 plants. They are single flower pale pink and pale yellow.
3. Iris- Root beer
4. Hosta- 1 ‘Blue’
5. Aster- 3 in back center and 1 behind the antique metal feed cart – all purple
6. Lavender- Hidcotte, 2 plants on each corner
7. Creeping Phlox- 2 plants, both pink
8. Hardy Geranium- 3 plants, all pink
9. Lily- Tiger 1 plant
10. Sweet William- 3 to 5 plants, multi colors
11. Sea Lavender 1 plant
12. Calendula- multiple plants that flow over the side of the rocks along with Sweet Allysum
13. Double Pink Petunia’s are planted each year in this Antique Feed Cart that I pulled out of a junque pile behind a barn several years ago. It has moved three times with me.
14. Jack Mani Clematis growing up an Antique Iron Gate purchased at an Antique shoppe!
15. Several Terra Cotta clay tiles and a Chimney flu are planted each year with different annuals.
16. An old wooden chair has a tin bucket with geraniums planted in it.

Here are several shots of the side garden during different parts of the season.

Early spring in The Side Garden here. In the above photo you can see the tops of the Peony plant and spring tulips.  The photo to the left has a good shot of the Sweet Williams, Hosta, Sedum, Lily, Iris’s and the Terra Cotta clay tiles.  2012 and 2011

Once the Peonies start to bloom this garden gets quickly filled up.  The Hardy Geranium makes a wonderful ground cover across the front.  2012                 

Side and corner views show the growth of the gardens.
These two shots were from 2011. Photo to the right shows Lavender starting to bloom and Sweet William in bloom.

Above below left photo shows the bed nicely. Along the front corner under the Lavender you can see Alysum growing. I planted it the first year and have never had to again. It is a prolific reseeder. I have it through all my walkways and cascading over just about all the gardens. 

 Here we go in the fall! This is one of the Asters that is planted behind the Antique Feed Cart. Last year I planted Zinnias in it… but never again! I love Zinnias, but they have near the impact that I usually have with the double Petunias. The orange in the background are both Calendula (up front) and Nasturtiums in the back.

Here’s a sneak peak of the next garden I will show you all… The Bistro Garden!
Happy Day,
Jean