Anne of Green Gables

I just LOVE Autumn! It’s my favorite season, and I especially love the beautiful colors this time of year!
Instead of just using pumpkins, I like to use all of the things that “speak autumn”, mix them together.

Enjoy every moment of this gorgeous season!

“I’m so glad I live in a world with Octobers”
Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

Jack In The Pulpit


It’s amazing what surprises you’ll see when you’re looking for them!

Needing a little break from work, I decided to take a walk down one of our woodland paths. I always expect to find some little treasure, so I keep my eyes open for them. I was inspecting the progress of the lilies of the valley in front of an old stone wall, when right there in front of me, my eyes caught this gorgeous green & purple “Jack in the pulpit”! I’ve never seen them in our forest before, and I was definitely not expecting to find one so beautiful!

Jack In The Pulpit

Native Americans gathered the fleshy taproots, dried them to eliminate the poisonous qualities, & then used them as a vegetable. I’m not big on poison, so I think I’ll just stick to enjoying their beauty 😉

Jack In The Pulpit

I plan to keep my eyes open for the seed pods in the fall, so I can plant them & expect to see many more covering our woodland floor!

Take a few minutes for yourself today… you never know what surprises await!

Violets Are Blue

Violet Bouquet

After a long hard winter with snowbanks over our heads, it was such a delight to see the snow melt away, and masses of tiny violets begin to unfurl their leaves. I know from experience, that in what seems like a blink of an eye, the violets will be sending up their precious deep purple blossoms. And this year, like every other before it, the violets haven’t let me down!

To some, these sweet little plants can be considered an unwelcome guest. And although I do admit to having more than expected pop up in the cottage gardens, each spring I welcome them like the arrival of a long awaited friend.

Violets in Spring

With their heart shaped leaves, and sweet little faces, how can you not love these little gems?

Garden Violets

And just look at that gorgeous deep color!!

Deep purple violets

I think I must be a kindred spirit to the Victorians, as they too had a deep love for violets. They used them for perfume, ate them in salads, candied them & used them to adorn their cakes & pastries, pressed them for use in their crafts, & used them as an ingredient in many of their toiletries.

People called “violet-sellers” would have baskets filled with nosegays and tussie-mussies, and sell them from the street corners. And it wasn’t just the women buying them to pin to their dresses, but the men also had a love for violets & tucked them into their lapels & the brims of their hats.

Violet Tussie-Mussies

Violets could be seen on everything from china, jewelry, home decor, & ladies stationary.

Violet Bouquet

The Victorians also felt that different flowers had different meanings, and that they could be given as a “silent message” that actually spoke volumes to the recipient.

If you received a violet, the giver was giving you a message of affection.
The white violet meant deep affection, while the blue violet spoke of faithful love.

Violet Bouquet

I gathered several bouquets for our home, and here is one that I put in a vintage inkwell that belonged to my grandfather. He loved flowers, and I think he helped pass that love on to me. So here are some blue violets in honor of my love for him … until we meet again.

Violets in Vintage Inkwell

If you don’t have any sweet violets in your yard, I’m sure a friend would be willing to share a plant or 3 😉

Nest – a hope for the future


Bird Nest

I’ve always loved nests, eggs, & birds! My earliest memories of life in the nest, was on my great grandmother Pearl’s farm. She had lots of trees in her orchard, and she would encourage us to explore & peek at the developing homes among the branches. I’ve always loved everything to do with birds ever since. We even raised different types of parrots for many years, and each baby was a joy for our family to watch hatch & grow.

Recently, my husband & I were exploring the forest & the little stream that runs through it, when all of the sudden, a tiny bird flew up from in front of our feet. I think she was as startled as we were! As we looked down, there in the green leaves was a tiny little nest… filled with 3 very tiny blue eggs.

My heart still sings every time I see a momma bird filled with hope & preparing for her future, and today was no different.

To me, a nest resembles our lives … a place to gather your family, and call home.

From the time I was a little girl, the thing I prayed for the most, was a man who loved God & loved me, and many children to share our lives with. When Daniel & I started dating & talking about our dream of children, we both had been praying for exactly the same thing – 4 children of our own, then possibly adopt 2. Well…God has answered our prayers, and He blessed us beyond measure. And the blessings keep coming!

Our little nest started out with just the two of us. Then one by one, we were blessed with four little ones. Now, those little ones have grown into beautiful young adults, who are some of the most wonderful people you’d ever want to meet. They have found loves, and now our nest is bursting at the seems with wonderful children!

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” Ps 127:3-5

Our oldest son Daniel married his love SarahAnne a little over a year ago.
Daniel & SarahAnne

Our baby girl Casey Chere’ married her love Zack back in April!
Our Baby Girl Casey Chere'

Our youngest son Ryne & his love Hannah got engaged last month!
Ryne & Hannah

Our son Cameron is waiting for his love – she’s coming soon we can feel it!

And just last week, our baby girl Casey & her love Zack announced to the world… that they are starting a nest of their own & will be having their first little one next winter!
Casey & Zack

With Spring all around us, and life bursting forth in every direction, I can’t help but stop & thank God for His blessings in our lives! Thank You Lord for our little nest, & those of us who have already started to build nests of their own.

What a wonderful journey this life is…when you take time to feather your nest <3

Garden Center Secrets – 10 Tips for getting the best price at your garden center


Cottage garden
My beautiful cottage garden, filled with bargains from my local garden center!

One of my favorite things to watch for in the spring, besides my garden coming alive, is… the opening up of local garden centers.

I get such joy, when I see the workers pulling out bags of fertilizer, soil mixes, and potted trees & shrubs, and I know that the center is almost ready to be open for business.

I’ve learned alot while shopping at these places, and I have also learned some secrets along the way!

You know how I am… I love to find ways that I can still have exactly what I love, while finding it for the best deal possible, if not for free. And, although that may seem impossible to some people, I see the process as an adventure!

The local place that you buy your garden plants might be called a landscape center (or centre – depending on where you live), plant center, nursery center, farm center, or a garden center, but whatever your center is called, the following 10 tips will still apply to you.

Tip #1: ALWAYS grab a cart as you walk in
Not only will it be holding your new found treasures, but it also speaks “I am here to buy” to the those that you might be speaking to.

Tip #2: Don’t get distracted
When you are shopping for the best deal, there are a few “best practices” that you want to go by. One of them is, go for the best deals first, then take your time to browse around. If you don’t do this, you stand the chance of someone else walking out with your deal!

Tip #3: ALWAYS smile & be truly friendly to the staff
You are most likely going to be making frequent stops to the center throughout the season, and you want as many friends as possible on the inside. Besides, they deal with enough grumpy people throughout the day, so your kindness will be a welcomed treat. I always ask myself…how can someone come into a place filled with such beauty and still be Mr/Mrs grumpy pants? Somehow some people still find a way…ugh! Do you think the staff looks forward to helping people like that? I think not!

Tip #4: Look for ripped bags
Because garden centers sell so many bags of soil, fertilizer, grass seed, and other bagged items, many times these bags get ripped. Instead of just throwing them away, many times they will put them in a plastic bag and sell them at a very deep discounted price! I’ve seen bags of product that might have originally cost $50, get marked down to $5! So, if you are in the market for grass seed, fertilizer, compost, or other bagged products, this is a great way to get the best deal!

Tip #5: Head for the clearance racks!
Unlike stores that sell other types of merchandise, garden centers have the challenge of dealing with living products, that are constantly moving through different stages of their life cycle. Unfortunately for the center, it is much harder to sell a flowering plant that is not yet in flower, or a perennial that has just finished flowering. Fortunately for us, we know that this is only a stage in the life cycle, and that this little plant will once again come into bloom!

Terrace Garden Cobblestone Steps
Ivy that I got for $2 per flat – 12 plants per flat!

Cottage garden
This gaura filled in so nicely & became a large focal point of my cottage garden – great deal for $1.50!

Of course, this is only one reason why plants are put into the clearance section. Maybe the plants aren’t selling, or perhaps they don’t look as fresh as they once did? Whatever the reason, many GREAT deals are to be had in this section. I have purchased many .50, $1, $2.50 plants, that were normally $10, $15, or $40! The only plants that I do not buy in this section, are annuals that have already spent all of their blooms.

Tip #6: Do a quick scan for sale signs
Each store has a particular color that they use for their “sale” signs. Learn what color your garden center uses, then do a quick scan down the isles to catch a glimpse of where the sales might be.

Tip #7: Ask for help
Many people that work in the plant center are full of knowledge, and want to help you succeed with your garden. Ask lots of questions, so that you can gain as much knowledge as possible about the plants you are about to purchase. This is free help, that will be very valuable to you!

Tip #8: Try to find a male employee to work with, when you’re looking for a deal 😉
I’m sorry guys, but it’s SO true! Maybe they were put in the plant section because it was the only job opening in the store? Maybe they want to keep things less cluttered? Maybe they have different taste about what plants are attractive? I’m not exactly sure of the reason, but in my experience, they try to “get rid” of things as quick as possible…especially at the end of the season!

Tip #9: Ask for the deal (my favorite secret!)
You have no idea how many times I was able to get a great deal, just because I asked! You may need to speak with a manager to get a better deal, but after you spend enough time at your garden center, you will come to know the staff and who you might need to talk to.

Here are a few examples of “deal starter questions” to ask.

– Is this the best price available?
– It looks like you have alot of these could I help you move them quicker?
– This plant looks a little tired, maybe there is a better price you could give me?
– If I were to buy several of these, what kind of deal could you give me?

True Story:
I sent a friend of mine to go pick up some large pots of flowers for the church. I described the ones I wanted to her, as I had fallen in love with them over the past week. They were very LARGE pots of ivy planted in a ring. The center opening of the ring was the size of an average pot of flowers. This opening made it possible to remove the current flowers, and replace them with different ones to match each season. They were so beautiful & I knew that we could do so much with them at the church.

I knew that they were currently priced at $19, and for the huge amount of ivy and the beautiful burgundy mums that were currently placed in the center, I thought that was a great deal. I told her to talk to a manager, and say… “we would like to purchase some of these pots for the church. I see that they are on sale. Is this the best price today?” When she found the manager and asked him, he said to her… “Well, I think that those plants are so ugly & I want them out of here! You can have them for $2.50 each!”

We purchased them in the fall, so we left the beautiful mums in the center until Christmas, then we replaced them with poinsettias. We were able to use spring flowers for a while, but because the ivy is an outdoor variety, it is now looking a bit tired…so I will plant it outside so we can continue to enjoy it! So much enjoyment for SO LITTLE money…all because we asked!

True Story:
I went into one of my favorite garden centers, and as I walked through the doors, I noticed a pallet of roses that had a sale tag of $5 each. Needless to say, I grabbed a long flat plant cart instead of the regular shopping cart. I looked at all of the roses in the store, not just the ones on the sale pallet. I found a male employee/manager, and said…”I see that there are some roses that are marked $5 here on the pallet, but how much are the similar roses over there in the back?” He said… “hmmm, well, I guess you can have any of the roses for $5”!

Quickly thinking about my new gardens that need plants, I said…”Well, you see that I have already this large plant cart with me, and that I am prepared to buy. So, if I bought several roses, what kind of deal could you give me today?” He thought for a second and said…”If you buy several, you can have them for $2.50 each” Trying not to act to crazy with excitement, I said with a smile… “ok you have a deal”. Then, I proceeded to quickly find the most beautiful, most healthy, and biggest plants in the store! I was able to quickly set aside $600 of gorgeous roses… for which I only paid $37.50!

Cottage garden
My beautiful CHEAP roses!

That day I also picked up all of the remaining LARGE rhododendrons for only $6 each, which normally sold for $45 each! I got that deal buy saying…”You saw all of those roses that I just took off your hands, so you know I’m a buyer! I see that there are 8 rhododendrons left on the shelf over there. What price would you give me, if I were to buy them all?” He said… “If you take them all, you can have them for $6 each!” So off I went singing the Hallelujah chorus, and giving thanks all the way to the car!

Rhododendrons in the cottage garden
Gorgeous Rhododendrons!

Cottage garden
Hardy Hibiscus only $10 for a box of 15 LARGE roots!

* At the end of the season you can get SUCH good deals, so I make it a point to go in more often during the last weeks of the season!

Tip #9: Leave your number
Because garden centers have to pay to have dis-guarded plants & un-purchased merchandise hauled away, many times they will be open to having you haul it away for them…for free of course 😉 Just talk to them about their policy, then offer to leave you number, and tell them to feel free to call you when they have items that they can’t sell. If they are of interest to you, this is a way to get them free of charge. Of course the plants will most likely need a little TLC, but hey… you’re a gardener & that’s what you do!

Tip #10: Visit Often!
Not only will this help you to become more familiar with the plants, but you will also be able to develop a better relationship with the staff. You will also start to see the patterns that happen in your stores every week.

For example:

– There are new sales with each new shipment to help make room for new plants.
– There are new sales every week to go with the newspaper ads.
– Clearance mark downs happen on a whim… first come first served!
* Many times employees will be in the process of marking items down, and you can ask “what else is going on sale & can you make a sticker for me?”

If you don’t visit often, you will miss out on all of these great deals!

Of course… the best reason to visit often is… just because you want to 😉

Enjoy your new deals, and making your garden exactly what you want it to be!

What tips or thoughts do you have? Be sure to leave them in the comment section below!

Cottage Gardens and Roses


Three months later…

Cottage garden
From front to back: blue salvia, knockout roses, gaura/chiffon cloud

I wanted to share a pictorial update on one of the brand new cottage gardens, that we created this year.

This coming Spring, we will also add a front cottage courtyard, and a side garden filled with fruit trees and ornamental fragrant shrubs.

For this new cottage/rose garden, what I thought might take three years, has happened in only three months!

Here is the cottage garden just after we built the stacked stone walls & the cobblestone paths this June. It was quite a large task… but oh so worth it!

And as you know… I love to use creative ideas to achieve the look & feel that I want, but for much cheaper than what “normal” people might pay for the same thing! So as you can guess, almost every plant in our garden was purchased at a VERY nice discount price, or given to us by friends!

*** Also…be on the lookout for the next post, as I am excited to share my “top tips for getting your garden filled with plants for pennies on the dollar” with you! These are very easy things things that you can start doing right now to fill your garden with luscious beauty!

My Cottage Garden… at only 3 months old!

Cottage Garden
to the left: boxwood, wooly thyme, gaura/chiffon cloud, knockout roses

Cottage garden
left to right: boxwood, wooly thyme, knockout roses, gaura/chiffon cloud, foxgloves

Cottage garden
foxgloves, knockout roses

Cottage garden
knockout roses

Cottage garden
iris, knockout roses

Cottage garden
left to right: boxwood, White dwarf phlox, sedum, touran rockfoil saxifraga, knockout roses, iberis – tahoe, iris, ajuga

Cottage garden
lobelia, ajuga, armeria, sedum

Cottage garden
Knockout roses

Cottage garden
left to right: wooly thyme between rocks, boxwood, knockout roses, gaura, foxglove

Cottage garden
gaura surrounded by boxwood & pink knockout roses

Cottage garden
left to right: boxwood, gaura, foxglove, knockout carpet roses, dwarf phlox, iris, blue salvia

Cottage garden
lobelia backed up by armeria

Cottage garden
hardy hibiscus

Cottage garden

Cottage garden

Cottage garden

** Share your thoughts in the comment section below… I look forward to hearing from you!