Gardens – Their Looks and Purpose are Related/ Also October pictures

I get a lot of requests from various people who want to visit and see my garden and borders. As much as I would like to have them, most of the time it just doesn’t work for me because there is so much to do with making a living and everything else that has to be done.

But I often think maybe that’s for the best, because perhaps what they expect to see would be a lot different than what they would see.

Gardens at Their Best

Most pictures of gardens you see in magazines and on the internet are picture perfect and taken at the peak of bloom.  After all — they want to show things at their best. (I like mine shown at its best too — but try to show you the worst as well.)

People visit public gardens — for example the Rodale Institute Organic Garden in Pennsylvania or Ginter Gardens in Virginia and see beautifully manicured gardens that are kept perfect by a staff of workers all year long.  It’s a wonderful sight to behold, giving folks lots of ideas on how they can better improve and change their own garden.

One Disadvantage for a few

The only disadvantage I can see is that people come to expect immaculate gardens from everyone who is noted for their gardens — even if the person is someone like me who does the work themselves and does not have a staff (or the time) to keep it perfectly manicured as the ones at the Rodale Institute or Ginter Gardens or other gardens open to the public.

The First Reason for the Garden

I did a lot of thinking when I was outside yesterday about how my garden looks, why it looks that way, and how it would be (or is) perceived by others.

The purpose and the reasoning behind my gardens accounts for how they will look at any particular time.  First and foremost, the garden provides good food for us.

And that means:

I only have so much time to spend on garden duties. Regular readers know that I try to spend at least two hours a day outside. In hot weather it’s usually an hour in the morning and an hour late in the evening.  All of that time (except 10 minutes for pulling weeds if necessary) is spent on harvesting during the months of June and July. Even in August, September and October –  harvesting takes at least 1/2 to 1 hour. So there’s not much— if any — time to spend on manicuring anything.  (— And you’ll recall — we have almost an acre of garden and borders.)

Still nice

In spite of that, my borders stay pretty nice because I took weeds out when they were first created 14 years ago and I have them mulched.  I visit each spot at least twice a year and sometime 4 times a year to do a little care giving and adjusting.

Looking Through the Eyes of Others

When I walked around yesterday to assess the overall condition and look of the garden, I tried to do it through the eyes of someone who is use to seeing gardens like those of Rodale and Ginter.

WOW! I saw every brown leaf, all the horrible looking mildewed dead foliage of perennials that have bloomed out, every bug hole, every bare spot where I’m making changes, and I even found a spot where the wire grass crawled in that I hadn’t noticed before.

And looking through the eyes of this “other” person, I was horrified at the fig bush whose leaves have turned brown and the drought-stressed raspberries that look to the unknowing eye — as if they could never have been lush, beautiful and full of fruit.

So I guess I wouldn’t pass the test for all those folks who are use to seeing perfectly manicured gardens.

Looking Through My Eyes

Looking through their eyes was rather discouraging, so I went back to looking at the borders and garden through my eyes.  I found it BEAUTIFUL beyond words.

I lived the first half of my life without a garden.  It was always in my heart (I get it from my Grandmother), but I never had the space to garden.  I’ve gardened all of the second half of my life —-beginning out of necessity with a food garden.  But the borders and flowers have come from a need and love deep inside of me.

The Second Purpose of my Garden and Borders

That brings me to the second purpose of my garden and borders: I need them to nourish my spirit. I can honestly say that my garden and borders are so much a part of me and I have such an emotional need for them — that if I didn’t have them I would wither and die.

I wanted to show you what I saw through my eyes yesterday.  So Bill stopped what he was doing long enough to take the pictures I wanted.  I am so grateful to him for making it possible to share with you. Hopefully, the pictures will encourage and inspire you in your own gardens.

I wish you beautiful and bountiful gardens and borders always — at least through your eyes.




Late blooming daylilies in the front border.

One of my favorite things in the front borders.  I am just realizing I need to add a few more of these grasses in the front.

Yellow knock out rose with aster in the background.


Front border. Sedum and ornamental grass.


Dahlias are beautiful and one of Bill’s favorite.  The bugs love them and make them look awful by the time they are fully open. Front border.


The red of the sedum is still gorgeous.  I wish it would stay this color when the mums open — but it won’t.


This late bloomer is a welcomed sight in October.


This Datura (moonflower) is in the fence border close to my back door. It opens at night, but remained open this day because it was overcast. I love these, but don’t grow many because they attract the moth whose eggs become the hornworm.


Side border.  This spot has been deeply dug and buckwheat is coming up.  I’ll turn in the buckwheat in the next day or so and plant cereal rye.  A tomato plant will go here next May.


This white knock out is so gorgeous, but believe it or not I didn’t like it in the spring.  Also – from a distance it takes over attention — but it’s so nice now that I don’t want to move it. (Side border)


Bill is standing at the outside upper corner of our garden and looking back at the side border. The buddleia bush to the left has faded but the sedums are still magnificent and the mums are yet to come.


Bill is still standing at the upper corner of the garden.  He just turned around and took this picture of the  Black Beauty eggplant in the grow-bag through the fence.  It has lots of blooms but the weather will dictate their success.


Bill is only a few steps from the upper corner of the garden.  These are all that’s left of this beautiful stand of echinacia.  The goldfinch love the seed.


A few steps to the right and we’re in front of another spot planned for tomatoes next year. The buckwheat will be incorporated in the next few days.  Then I’ll wait about 7 days and plant rye and field peas.


I’m just getting to the garden — so my baskets are still empty although the one on the left carries a plastic bag, my gloves, and my digger. I’ve put the baskets down to the left of my garden gate

This is to the right of the garden gate.  Mums are getting ready to bloom.


Long years ago I never left peppers on the plant this long.  But now that I know they turn red —- I leave lots of them.  Can’t get enough of those red ones.


This Ace pepper is new variety for me this year.  Love it when it turns red.


As I walk through the garden entrance — this is to my right.  The lower end of the garden.  From left to right you see some tomato foliage, beans, oats and field peas in two beds and blueberry blushes.


A few weeks ago I pulled the buckwheat growing in this bed and laid it on top the bed.  Then covered with straw.  Some remained rooted and is flowering.  I’ll have to cut those so they won’t seed.  This bed will be perfect for anything I want to plant in early spring.  The green plant to the left is a huge echinacia that I don’t have the heart to take out even though it interferes with this bed.  In the upper right of the picture is summer poinsetta that seeds in the garden; and then peppers in the next bed.


Spring onions.  Nothing like them.  One of my backups for winter months.


One of the garden beds with cereal rye coming up.  I forgot to plant the field peas, but I’ll sow some lightly across the already growing rye.


Love Masai beans!  They are so beautiful as well as delicious.



New lettuce will go under a hoop tunnel soon for winter months.


Lots of tomatoes on the vines.  I have over a 100 in the house for eating and roasting to make sauce.


These are my sweetest strawberries in the back side border.  I sowed buckwheat around them and will incorporate it lightly this week to nourish the soil and feed the strawberries in the spring.

Roses on my tree rose on the back side of the garden.


Wild solidago in the back border with sedums and mums.


Another spot in the back side border planned for tomatoes next May.  Buckwheat is ready to incorporate.  I’ll plant rye and field peas in a week or so.


These colors compliment each other perfectly with these sedums being the same color as the eye of the aster.


Organic Gardening is easy, efficient, effective — and it’s a lot healthier.


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  • That was fun seeing your gardens. Thanks Bill and Theresa. Isn’t it wonderful to be cool again.

  • What a Beautiful Blessings of a garden! Enjoy in great health and prosperity…your garden made me smile and yearn for a small patch to garden in even if it’s in raised beds…some day…LOL…

  • Thanks for sharing Theresa. Beautiful in my eyes too. I have the same need for a garden as you do and this post really moved me.


  • Good hearing from you Beppy! And yes — it’s wonderful to have cooler weather.

    JennyA – thank you for your good wishes. I hope you will soon have a patch to garden.

    Carol – I’m so glad you could relate. I appreciate your letting me know.


  • Love this post, Theresa. I find our culture to often rooted in an unrealistic world. We build and surround ourselves with so much adornment that we often forget, neglect, or lose touch with REALITY. You show these truths so well and I get such refreshment when you show this perspective. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:28-29.

  • Theresa, your garden is so BEAUTIFUL that I am at a loss of words – I’m speechless.Thanks for sharing the pictures.

  • Thank you so much Aparana! I am so glad you like. I really have enjoyed it more this year than ever — even though it’s ending and there are many, many imperfections. 🙂

  • So beautiful, Theresa.

    I’ve been discouraged with not being able to deeply dig my new beds in my main garden. Because of so much rain all summer my garden is too wet 2 prepare at all.

    I have enough space unplanted to deeply dig at least 4 nice sized beds.
    These pictures of your beautiful garden & borders nourished my soul.
    Thank you

  • Too much rain can be discouraging. But the time will come Betty.
    So glad you enjoyed the pictures. I’m working right now on a post showing the August garden.

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