Last week I hosted a Q+A and there were two topics people asked about that I didn’t even get to talk about; gardening and writing. 

So, this week I thought I’d give a few thoughts on gardening, and next week I’ll touch on writing.  

I feel much more confident talking about writing than I do plants but, I’m really happy with the progress I’m making in our own yard so I figured it’s worth sharing what I’ve learned so far. 

Here goes, three tips for your outdoor plants, plans and gardens, based one what I’ve learned.

not my house, this photo is from cottage and vine

1. find inspiration 

It’s not enough to simply know you aren’t happy with what you have, you need to get really clear on what its is you want.  

Then you can make informed decisions. 

Create a dedicated Pinterest board for the exterior of your house, read flower books, watch gardening shows, follow landscapers on Instagram and save the photos that make your heart soar, all of these will help you clearly know what you don’t like and what you love.

Plus, along the way you’ll pick up tips and tricks to apply to your own yard.

Nine years ago, this very image from Cottage and Vine struck a deep cord with me and although we didn’t even own a house, a door we could paint nor did I know if I could grow that particular plant in my zone, I knew this was the welcoming look and feel I wanted for our house.  

I found out that the plant was an evergreen vine: Clematis Armandii. Bonus, it was growing here in my actual planting zone!  

I want you to know that this very image of that charming vine has kept me going for NINE years.  

Two years ago I finally planted my first Clematis Armandii. 

I planted two, one died. Neither was at our front door because living in a fixer upper means one project at a time and we didn’t get to figuring out what we wanted for our front porch until last summer.

Last summer, we finally added new front doors and painted them to work with our green metal roof (I just in this moment realized that my door color is also similar to the inspiration door–look at that!). 

After widening the steps, adding a new house skirt, creating boundaries for beds, putting in the walkway and giving everything a fresh coat of paint I finally planted Clematis Armandii that will eventually grow over the front door. 

FYI, for the photo above I had to plant one vine in a container on the porch to help speed the process for a photo shoot, but, I also planted two vines in the ground and I’m happy to report they are growing like crazy.

summer 2019
fall 2019
photo from this morning, sorry for the harsh lighting but you get the idea

2. Plant for joy and beauty both now and in the future 

This is our 14th house and I’ve planted something in the ground at every place we lived, even if it was a temporary rental. 

The key is to not plant with only the future in mind “in 10 years this tree will finally grow, bloom and look great”. Yes, plant with the future in mind, but I want you to love what you planted NOW, not once it fills in next decade. That might mean investing in more mature plants, but for me that’s worth it, to get joy now. Plus, bigger plants mean I need to buy less plants to get the full garden look I love. 

Two years ago we paid $50 for a few peony plants full of buds from a local landscape nursery. Fifty dollars? I can find them for $16 at Lowes! 

But, guess which plants already have 20-40 blooms every year? Yep, the peonies we paid more for were older and have brought me three times as much joy because they have ten times more flowers than the younger, less expensive plants.  

This also means I avoid most annuals because I don’t want to only get to enjoy flowers for one year. I focus on perennials so I can plant once and get joy, annually ?. 

3. One (outdoor) room at a time 

As a Cozy Minimalist, I approach my house one room at a time, and when I’m outside, I approach my landscaping beds/areas one at a time too.  

Since we bought a house with a 30 year old in ground pool, the backyard was our first outdoor project. Naturally, any area that needed landscaping around the new pool project was where I focused my energy first. 

Then I moved onto the bed by the back door (where everyone comes in) and just last year I finally got to focus on the front door. 

The entire time, the front of our house sat patiently like this:

We’ve been working on outside projects for three years now and we still have one side and half the front of our house left to get landscaping attention. 

That’s okay with me because what’s done looks great.  

Seeing progress and some finished areas gives me tons of motivation to keep going. 

Personally, if all the areas were half done, I’d be annoyed and want to give up. So creating outdoor ‘rooms’ and boundaries that I can focus on and finish (or finish ‘for now”) is key.

April 13 above
May 11 below

A few places I find inspiration beyond Pinterest

Monty Don (although his Instagram is mostly dogs, WHY?!): last spring I watched every episode of Big Dreams Small Spaces and it was the most inspired and motivated I’ve ever been to garden. 

Floret: if you want flower how to and inspiration, Erin is your gal, along with her books, and y’all she’s gonna have her own show on the Magnolia network this fall

Gardenary: if you are ready for raised bed kitchen garden help: Nichole is the best mentor out there. 

Oh and if you are wondering what that big sphere is in our front yard, it’s a round fountain we bought at Costco years ago // similar here

Bed on the right side of the house is done (yes I want 100 more flowers there but it’s done enough for now), bed on the left side of the house is just begun (six months later).

Those are my simple tips for outdoor plants and flowers, I have never regretted planting anything, even if a plant died, I got to learn what I was bad at growing! 

Happy planting!

PS, don’t forget, when you preorder ANY version of the new Welcome Home book from ANY retailer ANY time before September 15th, you’ll qualify to receive the free, new course: WELCOME HOME PREP SCHOOL that releases August 4th. Just hold on to your receipt until then.

I’ll email you all the reminders ?.  

Click below to preorder from your favorite retailer: 

Target / BAM / Indiebound 
Barnes and Noble / / Amazon