Your plant story!  Plant Timeline --record its growing story! Share your plants with friends!  FRIENDS --build your personal network of flower lovers! Sweet assistant  Reminder --never forget the things to do! Confused about growing flowers.   HELP --Ask for help!
  • Your plant story!  Plant Timeline --record its growing story!
  • Share your plants with friends!  FRIENDS --build your personal network of flower lovers!
  • Sweet assistant  Reminder --never forget the things to do!
  • Confused about growing flowers.   HELP --Ask for help!


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 Concrete, or cinder block, is an inexpensive and organic building material for the garden. Easily picked up at your local home improvement store, with a little creativity you can use it to create garden hardscaping that will last. It combines well with other elements such as wood, and is easy for even the beginning DIY’er to work with. What are five ways to use it in the garden?

From ‘J Peterson Garden Design’, this cinder block succulent planter is a scaled down (read : easier) version of a planter that made it’s way across the internet last year. We understand the appeal, we created our own mini version of this with our DIY cinder block vertical planter. But we love the large scale this project is done on, and the steps are easy!
Here is another version of a cinder block succulent planter by ‘Zack Benson Photography’…

From ‘Step by Step’, these DIY concrete block stairs are so much better than using wood… they won’t rot away in a couple years! I like the idea of planting them with a stepable ground cover… Really complete tutorial with TONS of step by step pics…
Another example, this inspirational photo of concrete block steps is from ‘Sustainable Urban Living‘… Love how they just seamlessly merge into the side of the hill!

Fire Pit
What is nature, and therefore a garden, without fire? Fire is a necessary element in the world of nature and should be respected in the garden. Many trees cannot even release their seeds without the heat of a fire. This simple DIY fire pit by ‘Must Add Fabric Softener’ is another good example of the simplicity of using concrete block. And for all of you who have heard these fire pits are dangerous, read their take on this… which I happen to agree with.
This easy fire pit was done by ‘The Dirty Loft’, and he also addresses the “concrete block will explode” controversy… BTW… Lowe’s themselves list these blocks as fire resistant.

This DIY cinder block bench was created by ‘Decoist’ during their front porch makeover, and has a complete tutorial. They also show several different variations of adding the planter sections.
From a Pinterest user, this bench follows the same principles…
Another Pinterest find, this bench incorporates stacked cinder block. You can use exterior landscaping adhesive to secure the blocks together if you wish.
This cinder block potting bench is a great idea, and is a much more stylish version college bookshelves!
Privacy wall

From ‘The Info Mine’, I love the Southwest look of this DIY cinder block planter wall… They used ‘Deck Restore’ to seal and add the color.
Here is the unpainted version.
This inspirational photo from ‘Houzz‘ shows you that even in an upscale design, like with this Eichler home, cinder block is a great building material!
 We all have those little trinkets around our home, to personalize our space, remind us of memories, or simply to showcase our creativity. But did you ever think of having garden trinkets? You know, cute decorative things that just make you smile? After all, the garden is an extension of the home. (At least it always should be!) So we searched the blogosphere and found you some great ideas for DIY garden trinkets, to add some jewelry to your garden!

From ‘Birds and Blooms’, this DIY dragonfly garden art is the perfect little sparkle for containers, beds, or just for a little whimsy in an unexpected corner. I don’t own a mini torch, but a soldering gun works just as well, and you can find one at the craft store for just a few dollars.
‘Crown Hill’ has a tutorial for these DIY concrete mushrooms that are so cute and easy! I can see a whole tiny field of these in a shade garden…
These DIY rock animals from ‘Your Livable Garden’ are really cute, and as they mention, an easy project to do with the kids. I like this project, because it’s simple, but gets you out working with nature itself, creating possibilities with shapes and textures… then all it takes is a little glue to seal the deal! Check out their site to see which glue they recommend…
We found these garden ornaments on Pinterest… if anyone knows the source, please share! But these insulators are easily found at antique and thrift shops, and can be glued onto copper pipe segments, and then insert them into the soil. Easy idea!
This great idea is from ‘Paradis Express‘… Chicken wire globes with spray paint. The site is in French, but the idea is amazing!
I LOVE these DIY garden things from ‘Instructables‘! So amazingly cute!
From ‘Art Drops’, these DIY golf ball buggies are a quick and creative project for anyone. This site is not in english, but you can either use Google translate, or just follow the photos, which are really self explanatory.
These bowling ball bugs are the same idea as the golf ball ladybugs, but if you don’t want to DIY them, you can purchase these adorable ones from ‘Recycled Smiles‘.
From ‘Gardening Help’, these spoon butterfly ornaments are made from recycled flatware. Easy and short tutorial!
Make something very similar to these garden spheres from West Elm, with the directions from ‘Metropolitan Hip’!
 So decorate your garden with these DIY trinkets!
 I would love to have my patio encircled with built in planters. Hardscape is central to any good garden design, and frankly, I can’t think of a better project than a garden element that is a constantly changing landscape! Built in planters would make it easy to change your container plants with the season, experiment with new types of plants, and  even grow edibles close enough to the house to make it an easy harvest. All without having to haul out all the pots in the spring, and store them in the winter…

So until I get a built in planter project on mine and Steve’s calendar, here are some inspiring ideas, and a DIY project or two to get you going on creating a permanent, but always changing container garden – built in! Our feature photo, above, is from ‘Garden Club London’.

‘HGTV‘ brings us this inspiring built in planter bench from the book, ‘How to Grow Practically Anything’.
From ‘Family Handyman‘ the deck of your dreams includes, of course, built in planters!
‘Thomas Tree Carpentry‘ made these built in planters following the steps of a newly constructed deck.
‘Green Haven Designs‘ knows what you put into your built in can make a big difference in style.
‘900 House‘ brings us this contemporary garden… I like how the built in planter separates different areas – good design!
These planters are made from rail ties, from ‘Garden Gurus‘…
From ‘Dwell‘, these built in planters are simply part of the poured concrete patio.
Finally, we have a DIY project for you! This Park Avenue bench and planter by ‘Concrete Exchange’ has detailed instructions. This is a high end detail for your garden, and the instructions are very thorough.
 If you want to make a dramatic statement in your garden, without a lot of maintenence, a DIY dry creek bed is the way to go. It gives your yard a natural feel, without having to manage a real water feature. And they are surprisingly easy to DIY, but still have a professional look to the finished project.  They are great options for an area that doesn’t drain well, has poor soil, or perhaps has an easement. A few tips to keep in mind?

The creek or stream bed should meander naturally, never in a straight line.

Add larger boulders at turns in the creek bed for drama.

Vary the size of the rock in your creek bed.

Anchor the “banks” of your creek bed with plants.

Choose rock that looks natural for your region.

Let’s start with a tutorial on the basics, how to build a dry creek bed, by BHG.
Fine Gardening also has a great tutorial on making a dry stream bed, but to get to the actual directions, you need to go to page 3 in their post. The first two pages has good information though, so take a peek.
‘Pink and Green Mama’ did an entire backyard makeover, and they have a DIY dry river bed to cover a drainage problem… Read about how they did it!
‘My Weeds are Very Sorry‘ has a lot of great tips on stone placement, and how much is enough. (And what is too much!) Good advice on getting a professional look.
Ok, now on to the inspiration. These don’t have tutorials, (you don’t need them now anyway, you got the basics above!) but they have great ideas for us to.. ahem… steal. :) This dry stream bed by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools was brought to us by ‘Serenity in the Garden‘.
Again from ‘Serenity’, this is a dry stream bed in the backyard of Jan Johnsen… Love the black rocks! This was done in a small backyard for all of you who think you don’t have enough space.
Lastly, from ‘Sharons Scrapbook’, this dry creek bed is a great example of lining the “bank” with plants.
 One of the most popular theme gardens is a butterfly garden. Who can resist those delicate, magical creatures that float through the air, and can bring a smile to the face of the most grizzled old hermit? Let’s face it, everyone loves the butterflies. It isn’t hard to create a garden that is more friendly to butterflies visiting, and spending some time with you. Fall is a great time to put in butterfly plants and habitats, so that they are ready to bloom in the spring and summer, when butterfly sightings are at their peak. But you can plan a butterfly garden any time of year, and plant one in all seasons except the cold of winter. Heres what you need to know to bring in the butterflies!

So one of the most obvious and effective ways to lure butterflies in, is by planting flowers that supply the nectar they prefer. While certain butterflies prefer particular flowers, (and that varies on area) there are some that are pretty safe bets for a good butterfly garden. The bonus here is that not only are all these plants gorgeous, some of them attract hummingbirds as well! Here are our top favs…

Butterfly Bush – One of our favorites, easy to grow (too easy in some places, it can be invasive!)  We have a whole post on how to grow butterfly bush!
Coneflower – Technically a wildflower that has become hot in gardens today, there are more types of coneflower than I can count now! Drought resistant and loves sun, these beauties can bloom mid summer to frost. They also make good cut flowers as well.
Black Eyed Susan – Grown in similar conditions to coneflower, another prairie plant that has a lot of hybrids these days, small to large, yellow to orange! Perfect for a late summer garden!
 Sedums – Popular indoors and out, garden sedums flower in clusters in the late summer and fall, and butterflies love the broad blooms.
Hollyhocks – Hollyhocks are tall, old fashioned, and perfectly charming… And the double ones are especially preferred by butterflies.
Butterfly Weed – Also called milkweed, this is the flowering plant butterflies adore… However, if you plant it, be aware larva may make a meal of some of your plants early in the season.
Joe Pye Weed – Tall, towering plants that love moist soil. There are dwarf varieties, so ask at your local nursery what they recommend.
Aster – Another butterfly favorite, this fall blooming perennial comes in sizes from creepers, to 4 feet tall.
If that isn’t enough to get you started, try this list of butterfly plants from ‘Kids Growing Strong‘…

Don’t want to wait for the flowers to bloom? Make a DIY butterfly feeder with these instruction from ‘Gnowfglins’.
Butterflies like protection from the wind, and a warm place to sun themselves. You can do this as simply as planting a tall tree that faces south, laying large flat rocks in protected areas of the garden, or going as far as building a butterfly house. ‘Woodlogger’ has a step by step tutorial on how to make a butterfly house…
Butterflies need water too, but will usually drink from mud puddles or off leaves. They won’t usually risk drinking from a bird bath or deep water source. Provide a shallow saucer filled with wet sand… May not sound like a good cool drink to you, but works great for them!

Baby Food
Butterflies not only need flowers for nectar, if you want them to lay eggs and have a family right there in your yard, you need to provide a food the larva like to eat. Milkweed is a fav of Monarchs,  parsley is a fav of the swallowtail… Research butterflies for your area.

That’s all there is to bringing butterflies to your garden… One last tip – Have your camera ready!
 The garden season is upon us, and what better way to spend time in a garden than in a DIY garden swing? Make it yourself and save money, but better still, customize it to your style and needs. Many of these projects repurpose supplies, and most are easy even for a beginner DIY’er with these instructions and tutorials. So get out your basic tools and let’s get to it!

Our featured project, above, is from A Beautiful Mess. Find out how to make their DIY tree swing! So cute!

From Sheryl Salisbury Photography, this DIY pallet swing looks easy, and I love this for a front porch! She even tackles some FAQ’s on her tutorial page.
Looking for something different, and a little organic looking? Oh, and it’s repurposed! Try the instructions for this laced pallet chair swing.
From The Rustic Pig, any country garden will love this back porch headboard swing! Great instructions too!
This DIY chair swing from This DIY Life is really fun, and inventive! Full tutorial with photos!
From Ana White, our fav DIY woodworking plan source, this large modern porch swing has a complete plan at the site. What would this be like painted a delicate pink?
From Julie at Life at Fire Lake Camp, this dreamy DIY hanging bed swing is exactly where I want to spend many long hours this summer reading novels and sipping lemonade. Ok, red wine, who am I kidding?
Download complete plans for this DIY garden swing from Sunset magazine for free. Amazing!
Relive your childhood with this DIY tire swing from Live Dan 330…
Lastly, a super simple DIY rope swing from Dukes and Duchesses. Not just for kids!
 Spring is just around the corner, and indoor seed starting is even closer… Many of us are looking for ways to mark out flats, pots and rows without using those ugly plastic sticks… The garden should not be treated just as a utilitarian space! Here are some easy DIY plant marker projects that will get you excited about popping those first seedlings into newly warmed earth…and actually remembering what you planted there! Our featured project from Our Little Coop (above) uses chalkboard paint to make garden marker signs… easy tutorial!

Our first project inspiration comes from The Micro Gardner, and we love this idea! How cool is this? Terra Cotta Plant Markers – Sharpie and broken terra cotta pots…
Scissors and Spatulas has a great tutorial on using chalkboard paint and pots… and you know we’ve been into the chalkboard paint lately! This is great because when you change plants in each pot, you just erase and write the new name!
42 Things on Etsy has these garden plant markers that are natural, clever and cool…
Or create similar plant markers yourself…
Learn how to make these charming wooden spoon plant markers from DIY Adventures.
Create these brick style garden markers with a thick sharpie or paint. Great for marking rows, you don’t have to worry about losing your markers in the wind and forgetting which row is which!
Aunt Peaches created these aluminum tape garden markers for less than $5 for 50!
Finally, these DIY wine cork garden markers by Happier Homemaker are perfect for me! I knew I save all those wine corks for a reason!
 So get some seeds planted, but first pick one of these great DIY plant markers projects and get crafting for the garden!
 If you are looking for an indoor gardening project that is cool, easy and just a little bit trendy, cactus and succulent projects are for you! Here we found for you some great inspiration and tutorials to help you bring the modern vibe to any room of your home. Did we mention, they are really easy to take care of, too? So if your thumb is brown, that’s ok… these plants and projects are just for you! Our featured project above and below, is from Cassidy at ‘Succulents and Sunshine’. Oh my, these are cute! These DIY painted planters are perfect little accents, and the succulents are really easy to grow. While you are there checking out her tutorial, be sure to check out her e-book, “How to Grow Succulents Indoors“. Then you will be an expert too!
From Brittni Mehlhoff via ‘Curbly’, these DIY metallic planters took her 5 minutes to make. Cactus and succulents always look better when displayed in a  cool pot… Simple, fast, easy!
Want to do a project that is a bit more traditional? Learn how to make an indoor succulent dish garden from Manuela at ‘A Cultivated Nest’. Pretty way to use those dishes that aren’t very practical, but too gorgeous to get rid of!
Again from Cassidy at ‘Succulents and Sunshine’, these miniature succulent bird cages look like so much fun to put together, and can be whimsical or traditional… Ok, and they are just so sweet! Find out just how to make them.
Looking for a simple cacti garden? Elsie at ‘A Beautiful Mess’ has you covered, and teaches  you all about getting it done. Pretty colors on these desert plants!
Need a little “Zen”? Put down those adult coloring books, and try out this bright and cheerful Zen garden from Allison at ‘Dream a Little Bigger’. Step by step photos, and you gotta love that color! Perfect for your desk, right? That’s what I was thinking’…
Don’t want to figure it all out yourself? We found this Zen terrarium kit at the Etsy shop ‘Wendiland’… When we checked, this wasn’t available, but others like it were!
From ‘East Coast Creative’ learn how to make a DIY garden wall, from start to end! Great tutorial with step by step photos… depending on how large you make yours, this could be a major focal piece in a room. Love!
Make this DIY wire plant stand with this tutorial from ‘The Merry Thought’ to make  your cacti stand out above the rest. Want to guess what she used?
I love these DIY mid century plant stands by ‘Sugar and Cloth’… they are perfect for the vibe of any cactus, don’t you think? These Christmas cacti will look amazing when they bloom! Yes, cacti bloom!
That isn’t enough? You need more ideas? Try this planted vintage dump truck from ‘The Potted Store’…
 And if that wasn’t enough, jump on over to our post on sedum and succulent planters, for outdoors!
 Most of us gardeners are thinking about what we want to plant this year, but the choices can be daunting! Whether you are a new gardener or are an expert, with all the new plant choices each year, how do you choose what to plant? I have three guidelines to choosing what to plant, and also our recommendations for the Best New Plants.

1. You can’t have it all, so pick one or two new plants to try. I, too, have been guilty of excitedly filling my cart at the nursery with every new plant I find. Restraint is key for two reason…first, you could very well go broke. Second, incorporating too many new plants each year will make your garden appear disconnected and haphazard.

2. Make sure you choose for the sites you have. I LOVE all the new Hosta varieties out today, but the plain truth is, 99% of my gardens in full sun. Yes, I did try to cheat and make a shady “enough” garden on the side of a fenced area… it was NOT shady “enough”.

3. Do your research. New plant choices can sometimes cost a little more, or have to be ordered online. Make sure the variety you love isn’t a high maintenance plant, when you are a low maintenance gardener. Trust me, love dies quickly when the hope you had for that gorgeous rare poppy has you out in the garden for two hours a day in the hot sun staking and watering and fussing, or picking slugs off those Hosta plants every day of the year!

We have made our choices based on awards, ease of care and beauty. Let us know in the comments which are your favorites!

Our featured plant, above – “Plum Pudding” Poppy – This is one of the most gorgeous poppies I’ve seen. Easy to grow, this poppy blooms in June, lasts longer than most other poppies, and many times will re-bloom in the fall! You have to grow it for this color alone! Hardy to zone 3, highly recommended.

“Bloomerang” Lilac – This selection is the winner of the Green Thumb award, and it’s a fragrant lilac hardy down to zone 3. What is different about this lilac is that it blooms in the spring, then it re-blooms midsummer to fall! Growing 4-6 feet and dark purple in flower, it is a strong grower that is deer and compact. Frankly I personally have my reservations about traditionally spring blooming plants being bred to re-bloom, but I’m including it because I know many of you readers will love this plant.
Coneflower “Supreme Cantaloupe” – Coneflowers have had new plant elections every year for awhile now, but we love this new one! Like all coneflowers, they are drought resistant and love the sun, and flower all summer. About 2 1/2 feet high, this one opens looking like a gerber daisy, then expands to a full coneflower’s look with orange petals and a brown eye that turns orange as it matures. Hummingbirds and butterflies love this plant, hardy to zone 4.

The Perennial Plant Association just named an ornamental grass as plant of the year 2014… Panicum “Northwind”. We are big fans of grasses, and this Switchgrass has a wonderful blue green color which turns yellow in the fall. A strong upright grower, it withstands windy areas and blooms in September. Tolerates wet soil, but is also drought tolerant once established. Very low care, just cut back in early spring. Hardy to zone 2!
Russian Sage “Peek a Blue”- We grow a lot of Russian Sage in the high desert, but this new variety is a compact form growing just 2 feet tall, with bright blue spires all summer. Drought and heat resistant, this is a great choice for a full sun garden to zone 4.
We have bought into the sedum craze, and although our fav is still “Angelina”, a new variety called “Lime Zinger” has caught the attention of garden writers. Hardy to zone 4, these tough plants spread quickly to 18 inches, then bloom in summer with rosy pink clusters. Ideal for hot, dry spots and poor soil. Great in containers.
Our final choice for plants we want to try, “Sugarberry Ruffles” Lavender. This is not a hardy plant, best suited to containers in most parts of the country. It’s hardy to zone 8, but might be worth a try in  a protected zone 7 garden. More resistant to heat and humidity than most lavender, its unique color of pink and lavender blooms and it’s tendency to re-bloom in the fall make it a great choice for your patio… Oh, and did I mention it’s heavenly fragrance? Already selling out, look quickly for this wonderful plant before it’s gone!

Try our choices for the best new plants for 2014, and remember it’s about the gardening journey!
 With every new growing season comes the need for outdoor planters… and we’ve rounded up some unique planter tutorials for every gardener, whether you want a traditional window box, or an up-cycled art piece. Most of these outdoor planter projects have complete instructions, so check them out, pick one or two, and plan some garden projects for the weekend! Our featured project, above, comes to us from Popular Mechanics. Learn how to make this simple DIY wood planter with this great tutorial and lots of step by step photos.

Lowes has a nice contemporary indoor outdoor planter project with step by step photos and a video.
This wooden planter box by Family Handyman can be built in less than an hour with their tutorial. I love this because you can easily change out plants, and even combine plants with different watering needs because they are in separate pots.
Tracie over at Cleverly Inspired wanted some large planters that were similar to some that are available at Restoration Hardware.  She came up with these wonderful planters. See how she did it.
Want to make a large DIY planter on wheels? Then head over to Four Generations, One Roof, and find out how Jessica and her dad made this one! They have excellent step by step photos in their tutorial. This is great for small garden spaces… You can create an entire garden in this one planter! Love this!
This is a clever idea we got from Christie on Flickr… Using recycled cans as planters, and drill holes to attach with zip ties! (Also for drainage). Obviously you can cut off the excess zip tie after they are hung, they are left to illustrate the project. Love this! What other kinds of containers could you up cycle?
These low cost drum planters have downloadable instructions, and are made with recycled drums and recycled wood. What a really cool idea for little cash! You could use this idea for a lot of recycled containers!
This Coppice Vertical Planter is sold on a UK website but we think it would be very easily DIY’able! Even better would be to use old wine crates as the boxes.
Gotta love these more modern patio paver planters by Stephanie Lynn we found on Apartment Therapy.  She has a step by step for you, (its easy!) and even some suggested plants!
I like these simple pallet planters, they would look amazing growing small vegetables! From Creative Homemaking.
These Criss Cross Outdoor Planters from Centsational Girl look fantastic. Love them painted white but could look really nice in a natural stained finish as well. See how she made these.
From Kate Was Here, Check out this cool DIY vertical planter.
Learn how to make a garden trough that looks old, but isn’t! From This Old House.
From Ruffles and Truffles, this DIY vertical planter is really easy! Great for awkward corners of your garden. Good tutorial!
 Fragrant plants are really important in the garden, because they appeal to more than one of our senses. Studies show that the sense of smell can be one of the most important in our life memories. Can you smell a turkey roasting and not think of happy holidays gone by? Or sweet vanilla and perhaps you think of learning to bake cookies as a child? Garden fragrance can be just as powerful. I know that I can’t smell honeysuckle without remembering a wonderful vacation spent by the Russian River in northern California… walking along stony lanes filled with it with my kids when they were small… So plant some fragrant flowers in your garden, near your patio where you read, or by a garden path for you to brush by. Or create memories for your children and plant a hedge of lilacs near their play area. Here are TGG’s fav fragrant flowers that flourish in most gardens, and how to grow them!

English Rose – English, or old fashioned roses are among the easiest roses to grow. Disease resistant and fragrant, they have casually shaped flowers and shrub form to 6 feet. Our pick is “Gertrude Jekyll”, a pink variety that is hardy to zone 5. It even tolerates some shade.
Lilac – Lilacs are my favorite flower ever. I once had one large shrub that filled my home with full and fragrant bouquets every spring, and I can still smell them. They come in both purple and white varieties, and love the sun. There are dwarf varieties available, and ones that grow to 20 feet. Hardy to zone 
2, be aware some of the newer bi-colored varieties such as “Sensation” are not as fragrant, but still smell beautiful! There is NOTHING like an ol’ fashioned lilac bush!
Dianthus – Many varieties of this low growing favorite are highly fragrant. Hardy to zone 3, Dianthus are sun lovers that bloom in spring and early summer. They love well drained soil, and will be short lived in heavy soils that don’t drain well.  Shear after flowering for repeat bloom.
Daphne – Daphne is a shrub that fills a yard with fragrance each spring. Our pick is “Carol Mackie” for its bi-colored leaves, but the best part is the pink, highly fragrant flowers. Hardy to zone 4, they will tolerate some shade, as they like their roots cool. Mulch in the sun. Grows to 3 feet.
Peony – Many peonies are fragrant, and gorgeous too! “Gardenia” is one of the most fragrant varieties. Want to learn more about peonies? Read our perfect peonies post.
Hyacinths – Hyacinths are a spring bulb that must be planted in the fall. Highly fragrant, they are often forced as winter indoor plants and gifts. Purples, pinks and whites.
Lavender – Lavender is easy to grow, drought resistant, and both the flowers and leaves are fragrant. When I go out into my garden, often I will pick a sprig of lavender to carry around and inhale the scent… its an immediate pick me up! Find out how to grow lavender.
Lastly, I can’t leave out my memory maker, Honeysuckle! Honeysuckle is the only vine on our list, and will quickly cover a fence or small building. In pink, yellow and red varieties, some types can be invasive in some areas, including Japanese Honeysuckles, which also happen to be one of my favs. (Halls Honeysuckle is a more restrained Japanese variety in soft yellow). Preferring well drained soil, they bloom in summer and are loved by butterflies and hummingbirds. Thrives to zone 
Hande Salcan