“Inside the gardener is the spirit of the garden outside.”

Michael P. Garofalo

I live in a suburb of Kansas City and, like many of you,I have a diligent Home Owner”s Association. I applaud their efforts to keep my neighborhood a delight to live in but regret the monotony that many of the rules create. We allow only certain exterior colors, types of fencing and roofing materials. At one time the board tried to forbid basketball goals as unsightly. That was “way over the top” for me and fortunately was not approved.

However in our gardens, diversity reigns. Depending on our personalities, we have created formal, informal and just plain eclectic gardens. You can tell lots about each of us from the welcome we extend at the entrance to these special spots.

Often it is as simple as the sign on the gate

Or a pot in which the plantings change with the season. In this shallow container, the owner will soon be placing a fall display of dried bittersweet and evergreens.

My neighbor next door loves bright colors and pansies welcome us in the spring. In the summer she replaces these with herbs that are resistant to our Kansas Heat. Small containers like this are difficult to keep up because they need a lot of water. I tend to use large fiberglass pots by my front door. They are lightweight and are left out in our freezing winter weather. The terra-cotta pot above is brought in.  I also like to use potting soils with additives that hold more water. I find I can leave my pots for a week even in the hottest weather.

This creative neighbor lives in my second neighborhood in Carmel, Ca. Although they too have strict rules, they allow a little more creativity in front and side gardens. This garden welcomes its visitors all the way down the driveway that leads to the front door at the bottom of a hill.

Let the exterior of your garden “live a little” and express a bit a who you are.

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Butterfly Visitors


“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”  ~Hans Christian Anderson

These last two weeks, my garden has played host to the migrating Monarchs seeking nourishment on their long journey south

If you enjoy these visitors as much as I do, you can plan to plant their favorites.

I plant perennial asters in purple and pink shades and “Autumn Joy” Sedum with its reliable blooms.

I also plant annual Zinnia. I prefer the small “Gold Star” zinnia which can be tucked in the front of the border. They pair nicely with annual “Firecracker” red Salvia and perennial purple Phlox to give a burst of color in late summer and then serve as “butterfly magnets”.

If you have room for several shrubs, I recommend a white butterfly bush and a blue mist Spiraea.  Butterfly bush takes up some room. I have used it in large pots as a decorative accent. It loves the sun. Blue Mist Spiraea is a mid size shrub and fits nicely into the back of the border.

Monarch Butterflies

In September, sit back and enjoy the show!

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