A year later…four perennials in the garden


A year ago we plated four deer-proof, beautiful perennials: pulmonary, dianthus, columbine and yarrow. Here’s a quick update on how they are doing:

Pulmonaria – “Shrimp on the barbie”


Ah! How I love to hear Mon Cœur look at this plant and say, “Oh mom, the Shrimp on the Barbie is beautiful!”


I am loving the blooms this year. Of the three pulmonaria, the one that receives the most shade has grown and bloomed the most. We continue to pinch all spent blooms and it has been a consistent bloomer since the beginning of April.

Dianthus – “Romance”


These were a great bloomer last year and were blooming at Mother’s Day. It bloomed a little later this year, and in abundance!


Columbine – “Winky Double Red/White”


This was not the first casualty in our garden, and it certainly won’t be the last. The columbine did not last through the summer despite constant watering and care. I had it in a full sun spot, and believe that is why it didn’t do so well.

In its place, I have planted American Boneset, a native which I found through Good Seeds RVA. It is a sun loving, clay tolerant, deer resistant, perennial that will spread over time. I am looking forward to seeing it grow.

Yarrow – Milly Rock™ Rose


I have spied the Yarrow sprouted throughout the garden, in various places volunteer, although it is a native from our road. Unfortunately this has not come back as vigorously as it was when I planted it last year…



I had originally planned to dig up the canna bulbs for winter, and then life happened…So I was really quite surprised and thrilled to see little sprouts of canna leaves beginning to emerge in mid-April. These babies have really multiplied since the picture above.

What perennials have you had the best luck with?

Millie’s Garden Spring 2022 Additions, Part 5

What did we “add” to the garden that doesn’t need watering? That thrives in full or partial sun?  That won’t need to be weeded?  That just needs a gentle push?

That’s right, a push mower.  Our neighborhood True Value had some in stock. After a few late nights researching electric or gas, contemplating the pros and cons of either, I went to the local hardware store to buy dirt for a school activity.  

And I left with a mower.  The owner took the time to answer all of my questions and concerns, and in the end I walked out with two bags of dirt…and a push mower.  

I’ve made my first cuts of the season and I love how I can easily maneuver around the garden without running into beds, bricks, or cookies.

Read about Part 1 here.

Read about Part 2 here.

Read about Part 3 here.

Read about Part 4 here.


Butterflies are nature’s angels. They remind us what a gift it is to be alive.

— Robyn Nola

This Monday, Memorial Day, our family won’t just be remembering those who have died fighting for our country.

This Monday is 30 May – and we should be celebrating Millie’s third birthday.

It is hard to believe that a few short years ago we were met with a grief and loss that we never expected. It was a time of loss, not just of Millie- it was a crushed hope and expectation of what was to be, a crisis of finding a new purpose, and a journey to find healing by myself, within our couple and for Mon Cœur.

In these three years I have come to accept my reality, hope for a reunion with Millie, and trust that in the end I will be able to look back and understand and connect the dots.

A butterfly symbolizes acceptance of each new phase in life. To keep faith as everything around you changed.

— Lisa Kleypas, Rainshadow Road


Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Finding meaning. These are the six stages of grief, listed out.

Mine was more denial-anger-bargaining on constant loop for the first three months. Then reality sank in. This was real life.

Depression sprinkled throughout and poured on heavier in some seasons (milestones, holidays, firsts).

Then acceptance. And Millie’s Garden allows me to find meaning. To be in nature, a little closer to her. A little closer to God. And remembering our village who continues to love and support us.

Anger still reappears from time to time. But the garden has been a place of comfort and solace, a place to mother her, and a place where she can “show herself” to us in the butterflies, in the blooms, and in the gentle melodies of nature.

…Butterflies are a symbol of hope. It’s said that if you capture one in your hands and whisper your dreams to it, it will carry them up to the heavens so that the wish can be granted.

— Sherrilyn Kenyon, Retribution


I do not pretend to have a strong faith. I’ve always questioned a little. I’m working on this. Always working on this. When Daddy died, I did hope for a Heaven. When Millie died three short months later, I was adamant in my hope, for a reunion to meet her and hold her again.

Do I know without a doubt that there is something beyond death? Absolutely not. Do I think that it is a possibility, that perhaps there is a Heaven where we will all come together again? I sure hope there is, and I think it’s possible. Anything is, and I have to hold on to this hope.

Don’t waste your time chasing butterflies. Mend your garden, and the butterflies will come.

— Mario Quintana


The only reason I could find for this tremendous loss was that she was needed. Daddy needed her, God needed her. There were bigger, more immediate plans where she would be needed and they were not here on Earth with us.

I trust that for whatever reason, God had one, and in the end, I will know. I am blind to it now, but one day I’ll be able to look back and connect the dots.

For now, I will accept my reality, hope for a reunion with Millie, and trust that in the end I will understand.

For now, we have plans to make blueberry pound cake for Millie. We will acknowledge her heavenversary tomorrow. Mon Cœur has declared, “I will put three candles in the cake. And then I’ll blow them out for her. Because she isn’t here to do it.”

For now, we will find meaning working in the garden- tending to the flowers, pulling the weeds, and continuing to mulch.

We will be with her in the garden. We will delight in new flowers, appreciate the fluttering butterflies, and welcome the whispering chimes.

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.

— Rabindranath Tagore

Remembering Millie 2021

Remembering Millie 2020

Millie’s Garden Spring 2022 Additions, Part 4

Where to start?

As people come and visit our garden and walk it for the first time, it is not obvious where to enter and exit.  We have pillars up at our two entrances and exit, although it’s not very clear to everybody.  I wanted to make it a little more prominent with a walkway entrance.  Nothing fancy. Nothing “complete.”  Just a little something to whisper, “this way.”  

Follow the recycled brick road

I looked at our brick inventory, a stash of reclaimed ones, and decided we had plenty to do both sets of pillars.  I wanted to do a herringbone pattern and I wanted to have it look organic, as in not square or any shape, but irregular, as if it had always been there, but over time had been overgrown and forgotten in places.

Final touches

As I began excavating, I noticed the mint that was being pulled up. It is really popping up and spreading around and between one set of pillars.  I thought how lovely it would be if the mint, as it has over time, overgrew around and between the bricks. I hope that this will be the case over time.

Read about Part 1 here.

Read about Part 2 here.

Read about Part 3 here.

Millie’s Garden Spring 2022 Additions, Part 2

One of our goals as we continue to plant in Millie’s Garden, is to fill in any gaps, mulch in the edges, and make it look more cohesive. The last post outlined a hill fill in, which helped to make that area of the garden look more complete.

As we add each plant, we go by the planting guidelines and leave at least as much space as they say the plant requires for growth. When I look back to the first pictures taken after any plant is planted, it always looks sparse and empty. I have to remember that it’s not empty space, it’s room for each plant to grow.


Mon Amour’s favorite plant.

And many plants, like our first year phlox, have gently crept into the space given them to grow. Our pink and purple phlox has really spread and bloomed and has provided a bountiful food source for the first butterflies of the season.

I wanted to add phlox in a few more of our beds, since the first phlox we planted has done so well.

I found a broad leaf phlox that we planted that in the azalea hill- it should be happier in the partial sun on that hill. This particular phlox will reach slightly taller than the narrow leaf phlox and it will bloom late spring into early summer.

Peekaboo and Azaleas

We’ve come a long way since 2019.

The peekaboo rock has been a segmented piece of the garden, with early spring daffodils in front of the rock and a camellia behind it, fall flowering mums and rudbeckia to the left side, and a petite butterfly bush that blooms a moody, dark purple all summer long on the right side.

As we work to blend all of these “segments” along the sides- a gladiolus strip, sprinkled rudbeckia, dots of daisies, meandering milkflower- I wondered what other flowers would be good to add.

Blaauw’s Pink Azalea

As I wandered through the Southern States inventory, Mon Cœur found a beautiful salmon colored azalea. In true MC fashion, she picked up her plant and brought it to me to add to the cart. How could I say no?

Bee balm

Bee balm… it’s not just for bees!

Bee balm has been a height of summer heat bee and butterfly food source, and I found one that has reddish blooms.

Our purple bee balm has spread quickly and abundantly over just a few years, so I am looking forward to seeing how this new, red bee balm will do.

I added two to the side of the garden where we had transplanted milkweed, as I know it will fill in that area nicely over time. It spreads pretty prolifically (almost as well as our mint spreads!), and I think it will mingle well with the milkweed.

Read about Part 1 here.