Gardens hold more than dirt and plants. They hold power. They heal.

Gardens foster community and relationships and awaken the senses while they provide hope and teach patience and fortitude.

Gardens contribute to our quality of life whether we're working in them or sitting back and taking them in.

Here we will dig deep and expose what all gardens hold, teach and reveal.


by Maria Rodale
Maria Rodale is the CEO and Chairman of Rodale Inc., the largest independent book publisher in the U.S. and a leader in multimedia dealing with environment and health issues. She has written an article entitled, Blossoming, which we wanted to share with you. Please click the title and enjoy!
Have a lovely rest of June! We'll write again soon!
Take care,
Heather Ford-Helgeson

The Big Overhaul

by Heather Ford-Helgeson

As promised in a previous post, I have been working on my landscaping and recording my progress, and despite my neck aches, my back aches, and (oddly enough) my hamstring aches, I am having a blast. This is my second home and the last had a yard the size of a parking space. Now, I have a large front and back yard with landscape and garden possibilities galore. There are a few things keeping me from leaps and bounds of changes, however; all-be-it part-time, I do have a job, I am a mom of a ten-month-old whose new-found mobility and desire to go-go-go keeps me on the run, and every time I do get out in the yard to work, I find more invasive plants I need to remove.
Some gardeners have a love for self-propagating native plants for their city lots. I am not of that group. Though I love wild flowers I believe they work best, well, in the wild. According to my neighbor to the north, one of the previous owners of my house loved native and wild flowers so she was the beginning of all the creeping crawling plants that abound in my yard. Those that are the largest problems include creeping charlie (also known as ground ivy), creeping bell flower, and snow-on-the-mountain.

Creeping charlie and creeping bell flowers (both pictured above, the bell flowers are the ones with the larger leaves) are not natives, both coming from Euro
pe and proved to flourish quickly and got away from their original handlers. Though these plants are pretty and provide a way to cover areas in a short amount of time, you need to be diligent in your maintenance of them because they spread. Fast! And though you may not care if they get all over your yard and into every garden bed, you can bet your booty that your neighbors don’t appreciate them coming into their yard. That is exactly what has happened in my case. My neighbor to the south has a beautiful lawn, but for the part that meets up with our lawn. There is a chain link fence between us that does nothing to keep out the creeping invaders. Therefore, ridding my lawn and gardens of all invasive plants has been priority one and it is intense work. Due to the root systems of the creeping charlie and bell-flower, this will be an on-going job.

To the right is a before picture of a hosta garden the former owners created. They had some flagstone laid in a semi-circle around the tree, hostas throughout, and then let the creeping charlie grow as ground cover. There was no defined separation between this area and the lawn so the creeping charlie took up residence in the grass as well. I started digging and in a short time I made a great deal of progress.
In a couple of days, I was very happy with the changes I'd made and here's what it looks like now.
I still have work to do on this section. I want to add annuals for color and add mulch and perhaps some sort of edging. But I'm getting there and it feels great!

The beauty of this make-over is that it has cost me nothing. Well, there’s been a bit of a physical toll, but my pocket book is not any lighter. Eventually I will purchase mulch, some annuals, and I’m hitting garage sales looking for chairs or a bench for a comfy little sitting area, but that is minimal money. This is something that Tami and I work hard in conveying to our Home Sown Garden clients; we are great at make-over projects because we know that large budgeted landscaping creations are not always possible. A tight budget does not mean you can’t have a beautiful yard. It just means you have to have someone with vision and know-how and, in my case, weeding due-diligence in order to keep up with all the creepers.

I’ll keep up with the work and the postings on what I accomplish. Please let me know of any projects you are working on and if you have any questions or comments and good luck with your gardening adventures.

Expose Yourself to the Weeds and Grow!

by Tami Gallagher

Weed Barrier - looks so harmless here doesn't it?
I have had some serious fights with weed barrier lately.  I think instead of barrier, it should be called bully-er.  It is a tyrant that torments me to no end, especially the industrial strength kind that you can’t even stomp a shovel through.

In most instances, I believe weed barrier is unnecessary.  Especially with mulch on top and/or perennials planted in it.  It may help to keep weeds at bay for a season or two, but after that it starts to do more harm than good. 

Leaves and other debris start settling on top; that and the mulch begin to decompose.  All of a sudden you have a great medium for weeds to start growing - on top of the weed barrier!  They send their roots down through the weed barrier and now it becomes even harder to weed.

Weeds coming through weed barrier
Then there's the choking.  If perennials were planted through the barrier, and not enough berth was given around the base, the plant cannot expand.  In some cases they die.  In other cases, they are hell-bent on expanding and start to grow on top of the weed barrier where they tend to become root bound or the roots girdle.  I've literally had to cut some perennials loose from the weed barrier, where they looked like they had just eaten up their enemy.

And, since I'm on a roll here with my weed-barrier trash-talking, it can stop moisture from getting to the soil, it can trap in heat, and, finally, it's not very environmentally friendly to dispose of.

As I was cutting out a Siberian Iris today that had swallowed up its opponent, I was thinking about what barriers we put up in our lives.  Although some of those walls may serve a temporary purpose, what harm are they doing us in the long run?  What walls do we put up, becoming a part of us and our identity? We no longer see who we really are without that particular wall in place.  What barriers do we put up to protect ourselves that end up keeping us prisoner?  What walls can we take down in our lives that might leave us a little more vulnerable (to the weeds in our lives), but ultimately leave us healthier over time?
Who or what are we trying to keep out, preventing us from growing and expanding?

My take away lessons for the day: Expose yourself.  Remove the weed barrier.  Tear down the walls.  Be vulnerable.  Breathe.  Loosen up.  Be receptive and open.  Be porous.  So you need to do a little maintenance now and then; you’ll grow in the long run.