garden inspiration.

I’ve got a few painting projects underway at the moment, but nothing is ready to share here yet so I thought I might just provide you guys with a little garden inspiration this morning.

These days I’m getting the majority of my garden inspiration from a fabulous British gardening show called Gardeners’ World.

gardeners world

I only discovered this show last year when I found it on BritBox, which is a paid channel on Amazon Prime (the show has has been around since 1968, we just haven’t been able to get it here in the U.S.).  Personally I think it’s worth every penny of the $6.99 per month subscription just for this one show (although we do watch a few other shows on BritBox too).  If you really don’t want to subscribe to BritBox, American viewers can potentially find older episodes on YouTube.

I was originally drawn to Gardener’s World because it’s filmed (at least partially) in fairly current time.  In other words, on the show they were dealing with COVID shut downs last summer just like we were.  It felt so relatable, and it really helped me feel like we really were all in this together.  And of course, gardening was one of the few things we could safely do last summer.

And then there is Monty.  He’s just so mesmerizing.  Even Mr. Q is drawn in by his soothing voice and calm demeanor.

And those dogs of his!  How did he get them to be so well behaved?  Are all British dogs so well-mannered?

I’m also fascinated by both the similarities and the differences between our two climates.  Did you know that the U.K. is actually further north than Minnesota?  London is at 51.5074° N, and Minneapolis is at 44.9778° N.  Monty’s garden, Longmeadow, is in Herefordshire at 52.0765° N.  So how is it that they have early spring bulbs blooming in February and we are lucky if ours are blooming by April?

Longmeadow in spring

  It all has to do with moderating influence of the Gulf Stream, I know, but it still boggles my mind when Monty says stuff like “today I’m planting winter cabbage.”  Huh?  Stuff grows over the winter there?  That’s crazy.

Anyway, if I’ve accomplished nothing more than introducing a few of my American readers to this gardening show, I feel like my work here is done.  But what I really want to do in this post is re-visit some of the garden tours I’ve posted here over the years starting with my friend Sue’s garden.

sue's arbor

Sue’s garden features a monochromatic theme of mainly white.  It’s very soothing and peaceful.

sues garden 1

Sue gardens mostly in shade, and I am a big fan of shade gardens.  They tend to be more subtle than gardens in full sun.  Not only that, but it’s also much more pleasant to work in a shady garden rather than a hot, sunny one.  You can see more of Sue’s garden in this post and this post.

Then there is Jackie’s scented garden.


Jackie’s garden is filled with color, and it’s also filled with scent.

She definitely embraces a bit of whimsy in her garden as well.

You can check out more of Jackie’s garden here and here.

Way back in 2014 I shared my neighbor nnK’s water garden.

A water garden is not for the faint of heart.  nnK puts in a fair amount of work maintaining this garden including having to remove all of the fish for the winter and keep them safe in tanks inside the house (I wonder if Monty has to do that? or if fish can survive winter in a very small pond in the U.K.?)

nnks garden 1

You can see my post about nnK’s garden here.

Not only have I shared a few local gardens here on my blog, but I’ve also had the good fortune to visit a few fantastic gardens in my travels.

Venice isn’t usually thought of as the place to find amazing gardens (they don’t actually have a lot of … like … um, ground?), but on our last trip there we asked our tour guide if there were any pretty gardens to be toured and she took us to Fortuny.

Isn’t that thing amazing?  I can’t decide if it’s scary, or beautiful.  I certainly wouldn’t want to encounter it after dark.

Le jardin exotique d’Eze is probably not everyone’s cup of tea with all of the cacti, but you can’t beat the location in Eze, France.

garden 3

The gardens at Dunrobin Castle in Scotland were definitely impressive, in a formal sort of way.

blog dunrobin 3

But if you prefer a more manageable garden, the garden at Pockerly Old Hall at the Beamish in County Durham, England is equally as formal but on a slightly more practical scale.

If I had a magic wand I would wave it and make my backyard look exactly like that.

The Jardin de Saint-Martin in Monaco was a lovely spot.

When money is no object, you can have public gardens that look like that!

I’ll wrap up this post with my own garden, which you can ‘tour’ here.

I like to keep my garden fairly low maintenance, after all I hardly have time for gardening because I’m too busy painting furniture.  I have mostly perennials that require minimal care.  I mulch in the spring, do a little pruning here and there, and that’s about it.  If a plant is high maintenance it doesn’t make the cut.

If you’re really into small scale gardening, give a fairy garden a try.

You don’t need much space, and it’s super easy to move plants around.

My fairy garden is in an old cracked bird bath that no longer held water which allowed it to drain properly for plants (see it in the photo below).  I bury it in a pile of leaves next to the house over the winter to protect the miniature hostas and I’m super bummed to report that we just dug it out last weekend and it had completely cracked in half.  Drat!  I’m still contemplating what to do about that little problem.  Maybe I can repair it well enough to continue using it.

Quite a few of my plants are from garage sales, although recently Jackie told me that there is concern locally about spreading jumping worms by exchanging plants (read more about that here on the U of M extension site).  Be sure to look into that if you are a local gardener.

Funny enough, I think what I most look forward to in gardening season is having a nice backdrop for my outdoor furniture photos.

So thank goodness spring is here.  I think COVID made winter even more isolating than normal this year in Minnesota.  I hope I’ve inspired some of my fellow gardeners with this post.  I can’t wait to get out in the garden, how about you?

12 thoughts on “garden inspiration.

  1. I love British shows! I’ll have to look for this one. Have you seen Escape to the Chateau (HGTV)? So so good. Or Grand Designs (Netflix)? They all have a similar soothing formula of playing calm and classical music. The American HGTV shows think somehow that electric guitar solos complement good design???!!! hahaha it’s so annoying when you start to notice the difference! I was thinking about your Monaco tour at the beginning of the post, so beautiful. And thanks for the heads up about the jumping worms. I used to buy a lot of plants from garage sales, but when I checked the DNR map, they’re very close to home so I think I’ll refrain! Did you watch the video? Yuck! They are really invasive and harmful to soil, plants and trees so not really worth a risk. Good Q-Tip! 😉


    1. So many of my plants have come from garage sales, or garden club sales where gardener’s are selling divisions from their own plants. Bummer that we have to be cautious about that now too!


  2. Monty is indeed a legend in the gardening world. He’s written a number of books too which are well worth checking out. 👍


  3. I love Monty Don! I became a big fan from his show Big Dreams, Small Spaces. It was so funny when I realized that all the British ladies think he is to die for! LOL! Love his gardening style & techniques, he is very knowledgeable. Love all the pictures you posted in this issue. I love to garden and visit gardens when we travel.
    Thanks so much for sharing 🙂


  4. I’m so smitten with your hosta garden. Apparently I have voles that find them a delicacy. I also love Sue’s garden particularly her collection of watering cans. I purchased Amazon Prime just to be able to view Britbox. My favorite tv shows are Father Brown and As Time Goes By. For those who enjoy gardening there is a show on YouTube called “Garden Answer” – Laura LeBoutillier who’s parents on a nursery so she grew up in the gardening world and her husband Aaron, a videographer are a charming couple who are constantly doing projects in their gardens.


    1. I love Father Brown too. Although I was horribly disappointed when Lady Felicia left the show 😦 I’ll have to check out your YouTube recommendation!


  5. Garden tours are not just for old ladies anymore Miss Quandie! I grew up with aunts who were southern ladies and conversations murmuring about camellias and azaleas and how they were faring were part of the backdrop surrounding my childhood……..who knew that I, too, would one day care about having a pretty yard! (-: Osmosis is powerful (-: Though I did spend a couple of years in France, I am ALL about Great Britain, a true Anglophile. The French like themselves enough already!!! I love cottage gardens and I love white and green gardens (-: I enjoyed this post very much and I’m sorry about your broken fairy garden…….that is such a pretty bird bath and I bet you could put it back together with one of the industrial-strength glues out there today!


    1. I’m fairly certain that I must have lived in England in a previous life. If I could pick anywhere at all in the world to live, I think I would choose a little cottage in the countryside of England. And of course, it would have a pretty little cottage garden. I’d love to even just spend a summer there traveling around to all of the amazing gardens they have. Maybe one day!


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