Millie’s Garden Spring 2022 Additions, Part 1

It’s only May, and I feel I’ve already added as many plants as I should for the season. And yet, I still have a whole list of plants on my wishlist.

It’s always hard every year – I look at the bare spaces, I look at what has come back and what hasn’t, and I check my wishlist for what we’ve said we want to add.  I try to set a budget, for the monetary as well as the physical expense. 

After the first summer of digging all of those holes, and watering through those hot, rain-less periods of time, I realized how physically taxing it was to try to add too much at one time. We try to add everything early spring or mid-fall now, before the extreme weather comes in…

This spring, as we were preparing to add to the garden, I had three focus areas: one of our hills which has remained pretty much barren, except for weeds, and filling in along the edges of the garden with more plants before mulching in along these borders.

The hill I was looking to fill in has one butterfly bush on one end and daffodil bulbs on the other. Last summer we had a bunch of sedum, a packet of annual butterfly attractor mix, and some lavender.

The sedum got choked out by weeds, the lavender was overgrown by the butterfly mix, and by the end of summer, it was just one big weed patch between the butterfly bush and the daffodils.

This is the last hill we need to fully mulch, and before doing that, I wanted to add some flowers. I found some promising perennials at Glenhaven Greenhouses:

Gaura

According to gardenista, Gaura is Greek for “superb.” These flowers have really settled in the hill well and have added height and begun to set buds too. These are a great full-sun, drought tolerant plant.

Ice plant

According to atozflowers.com, Delosperma…or ice plant…is a symbol of good luck and good fortune. I chose this plant because I was looking for a ground cover and we already had some sedums in the flower bed. Delosperma is a cold hardy succulent and ground cover, native to South Africa.

Tickseed

Petalrepublic shares the symbolism for coreopsis, or tickseed: cheer and love. And don’t we all benefit from a little cheer and love?

The Spruce calls it a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, long-blooming flower. Yay! My kind of plant.

Echinacea

Another plant that is sun loving and drought tolerant, atozflowers.com states echinacea’s symbolism is strength and health.

As I added these new additions in the bed, I rediscovered two sedum that had actually made it through, always a happy discovery.

Finally, I pulled as much of the dang wire grass and weeds as I could. I think of Daddy every time I get a really healthy chunk of that grass- it’s a tenacious grass and far reaching. Daddy always said, “That blame wire grass could grow on the moon.” And I believe him.

Millie’s Garden Spring 2022 Additions, Part 3

Recently a friend and I visited the Maymont Plant Sale where many vendors were selling native plants.  Ever since reading up on planting natives for our area and natural habitat, I’ve had natives on our wishlist.  

When we started the garden, “natives” was not a buzzword. In the beginning, we were just trying to fill the garden with aesthetically pleasing butterfly attracting perennials, and I didn’t pay much attention to its origin or whether it was considered invasive (Our butterfly bushes are!).

Now we see the word “native” stamped on many plants, it’s trendy. But it’s also the right thing to do to attract and keep those beneficial insects that are naturally your backyard buddies.

It’s funny because some of the natives that were being sold, we might consider a weed in our yard. The violet springing up as a cover crop in Millie’s garden? Guilty- I was pulling it out last summer. And at the plant sale, it was being sold for $7.50 in a quart sized pot!

As I’m learning more and more, the word “native” is a general term (all plants are native to someplace!), however there are many facets and considerations to what a native is and how it is grown. Is it grown from seed (preferable) or propagated? Is it grown from a seed specific to the geographical location where it is being offered (preferable), or is it a native in California as well, and the plant you are buying is a native from California? So many layers of information to uncover as we continue to add to Millie’s garden.

Good Seed Natives

They had some great buys, and I am especially excited for these new additions. The ladies were very knowledgeable, and the plants I purchased were started from seed from a plant that is native to the Virginia area, so even though the prices were higher, I knew I was getting “the real deal.” They are all full sun, clay tolerant, and deer resistant perennials – a triple win for us.

-New England aster. We added two of these in the garden along the edges, and I can’t wait until August when they begin to bloom. As I write this, I realize I have no idea what color the blooms might be, I just assumed blue. I’ll update y’all in August!

-American boneset. This plant is not on our wishlist, although its relative, Joe Pye Weed, is. This plant spreads through rhizomes underground. If it’s anything like the hop rhizomes we have planted at my mom’s then this will be a vigorous plant! I added this along the edge, close to our hopping rocks, and where our columbine failed to thrive last year. It’s a super sunny spot, which explains why the columbine may have failed and is also a promising home for the sun-loving plant. So far this plant has not made that initial “I’m home” jump, but I hope with this recent rain it will begin growing.

-Evening primrose. This is an interesting add- it’s a plant whose flower opens at dusk and closes in the morning, providing a food source to night moths. After buying a few of these, and doing research, it is labelled “invasive” and the ladies did inform…forewarn?…me that this plant will reseed vigorously throughout the entire yard. This also, was not on the wishlist. Well, maybe? I did have the general umbrella of “natives” on my wishlist.

RVA homegrown natives

-Virginia mountain mint. We love mint in our garden, and it’s quick to spread. I hope this mint will, too. It likes wet feet, and apparently partial shade according to wildflowers.org. I planted it right in front of one of our garden stones, and it gets full sun. The bugle carpet, which prefers shadier locations has seems to survive, even if it’s not thriving. It was a welcome surprise to find as I weeded and prepped this area.

-potentilla canadensis. This is another easy growing, easy going native and should thrive in the full sun. It will attract bees, bunnies, and birds according to North Carolina’s Gardener Extension. It should spread and cover the ground well over time, which would be lovely!

I can’t afford to add only natives to the garden, although I am happy that in some small way we are adding plants that will benefit native pollinators.

What is your favorite plant that attracts pollinators?

Read about Part 1 here.

Read about Part 2 here.

A proverb to ponder…

I am a house with four rooms.

“There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.”

Rumer Godden

It is an interesting thought that I will continue to ponder throughout the week.

I have not been visiting this “room” for a long time now, instead trying to do more off screen, keeping up with housework, my job, my family.

However, I have also had this nagging thought at the back of my mind that I haven’t sat down to write for me. I haven’t (since February) dedicated time daily for my so-called “Unicorn Space” to blog, to journal, to be inspired and breathe life into those little things that make my soul smile.

I will be searching to find for me, how can I visit each room, even if briefly, on the daily. What does each room hold?

What does it mean to visit my spiritual room- prayer? Meditation? Millie’s garden?

What does a visit to my emotional room look like- sitting with my feelings? Being more mindful of my emotions and labeling them?

And what about the physical and mental rooms? What lies behind their doors? A walk in nature? Quiet time to read a book or listen to a podcast?

Let’s continue the discussion :

What are in your rooms, and how can you take care to go into each room every day?

Five a day

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denials into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melody Beattie

Part of my new morning ritual is to read daily a book I discovered quite serendipitously: Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

She shared the quote above – so beautiful, so true- and a challenge to note five reasons to be grateful each day.

Some mornings I can be in solitude to read my book and note the previous days gratitudes, although this morning, Mon Cœur was up with me. First she scribbled her gratitudes in my journal, then I reminded her about her journal and she noted her gratitudes there.

This week, I was grateful for:

  • A snow day with the kids
  • Dinner as a family
  • Beautiful sunrises and sunsets
  • A walk through Millie’s garden
  • Hugs & snugs
  • Thirty minutes to sleep in bed alone
  • Beautiful full moon
  • Brisk afternoon walks
  • Dance parties with Mon Amour
  • Help with housework
  • Mon Cœur’s laugh when playing with Chou Chou

Mon Cœur was grateful for:

  • Unicorns
  • Sunrises and sunsets
  • Ice horses

How do you maintain a spirit of gratefulness?

Word of the year

For 2022, my word of the year is less.

Less is more

less words, better chosen ones

less screen time, more life time

less money spent, more saved

less junk, more order

less hoping, more intentional planning and doing

less stuff, less clutter, more simple, open spaces

less waiting, more action

less multitasking, more prioritizing and focusing on one thing at a time.

less trying to do everything for everyone and more trying to do something for me.

In 2022, I will aspire to be less. Sounds counterintuitive. I have realized that I try to overcomplicate …well, everything. By doing less complicated things, I can focus more on the simple, wonderful gifts that are found all around me.


I can not take credit for this idea of word of the year… this comes from Gretchen Rubin, who co-hosts the Happier podcast. Hear more about the word of the year at her podcast here. Gretchen is the author of The Happiness Project and Outer Order, Inner Calm, among others.

What’s your word for 2022?