Searching For Spring Garden Inspiration

Seeking Spring in the Mix of winter

In the mix of this weird winter and rainfall that’s been continuous since September, it was time to get out of town and search for Spring.

Many folks seek spring inspiration by going to home and garden shows this time of year but I’m not much for crowds anymore.  Then somewhere in my memory log I remember years ago visiting a fantastic nursery named Calloways. 

They offer 21 locations in Texas and if you’ve never been well, I hope a peak into one of their Fort Worth nurseries may spark your interest.

If you’re not in Texas that’s okay because I bet there’s a place where you live that is just as spectacular and I highly recommend seeking that little dose of Spring inspiration.

Pretty kalancho and mini carnations

From the moment I walked through the door I knew my decision to visit was grand.

I was first greeted with a fun display of cyclamen and the sound of water. Then I came across this neat spread of mini carnations and kalanchoe, that combination of bright orange and shades of pink was breath taking.

For whatever reason I ended up bringing home one of those mini carnations because it was just so cute.  I’m not even a fan of carnations but for whatever reason these were speaking to me.

Beautiful Gerbera Daisy

There was this amazing batch of gerbera daisies, a favorite flower that offers so much wonderful color.

The indoor nursery was loaded with blooming plants and these daisies reminded me they may be a neat option in terracotta planters I want to establish this year.

The spicy scent of stock also caught my attention, I just wish it lasted longer down south because I might have picked up a few of those as well. Maybe later when our temperatures decide to settle.

Taking pictures as I walked around was the best ever and they didn’t even mind.  Which was so nice because I’ve been seeking an opportunity to take random flower photos.

Most people zoom to the Dallas Arboretum for flower photo shoots but again I’m not big on crowds and because we’re in the off season Calloway’s was peaceful and needless to say full of inspiration.

Amazing colors of Purple and Pink

About halfway through the outing I started to think about my book Startle Garden and how these tables of colorful plants resemble what energized that book.  I love color because it adds detail to the gardening experience.

These plants combined with the Startle Garden system you just can’t go wrong.

But when I came across the color combo of vibrant purple and pink my heart melted.  I love these bright tones together and back when I was a floral designer the majority of my arrangements consisted of this combination using cut flowers of all varieties.

Come to think of it our wedding flowers were also in this color pattern.  If you could just see these two colors in real life your heart would melt too.

Orchids and Merchandise galore at Calloways nursery

Aside from their amazing indoor and outdoor areas Calloway’s Nursery also offers several fantastic product lines.  They have everything to occupy your gardening needs and wants, including seeds.

Their orchid display was also very tempting but I’ve decided to wait until later because I need to learn more about caring for those wonderful plants prior to diving in.

Orchids are one plant that I’ve always wanted to incorporate indoors but put off because I was always busy with something else.  Which is why I love our new simplified lifestyle because now I have more time for some of those things.

Stargazer lilies at Calloways nursery

It was this row of Stargazers that really stopped me in my tracks, realizing that not only did I find my spring inspiration I also uncovered a glimpse into summer.

This beauty has always been my favorite, Robert knows it because it was the center of our wedding flowers and whenever he spots then, he pulls my attention in that direction and normally buys me a bundle.

If the winter weather is getting to you then I’d like to encourage you to get a change of scenery where ever you live and search for a little bit of spring garden happiness.

But please skip the big box store’s find a place that gets it right and actually cares about what they have to offer.  This little trip to Calloway’s Nursery was just what I needed to lift my spirits.  Their stores are top notch!

When Winter drags on the search for spring garden inspiration is necessary. Get these tips for cruising through winter when spring is on the brain. #Gardentips, #SpringInspiration

Creating a Planting Space

Finished Garden Box

Creating a planting space sometimes involves moving a few pieces of outdoor furniture then finding something that possibly needs an update.

That’s what I did last week when the clouds covered but the temperatures still felt pretty great.

Do you remember that funky farmhouse table with buffalo check from last September?  Well, I moved it near the creek to use as a potting table because it offered a little more space than what I was currently using.

That idea triggered a moment of renew for my tired looking garden box.

Updating a Garden Box

Choosing Furniture Pieces

If you’re thinking about creating an outdoor planting space choose an area not too far from your garden. Then see if you already have pieces of furniture you can use to establish this location even if it means they may need a little sprucing up.

Best advice is to keep it simple and if garden supplies are overflowing then maybe it’s time to downsize some of those things.

It might surprise you but I don’t really use a lot of garden supplies.  I have this outdoor box handy where things can be stored because I don’t like clutter.

It appears I’m just as simplistic outdoors as we are in the home.

I also don’t believe you need a lot of stuff to garden.  So, this box holds a few recycled pots, garden tools, terracotta pots, bag of potting soil and some jars.

It was looking pretty sad which made me think updating it to match the table would be a neat idea. Both pieces sort of fit together and also help keep my clutter to a minimum.

To update I started with paint from Dixie Belle using colors – Coffee Bean and Farmhouse Green.

Painting and Stenciling

This post contains affiliate links for Dixie Belle Paint and Cutting Edge Stencils, Click here to read site terms.

Updating with Paint

The base of the box was painted with coffee bean first and it covered perfectly using those awesome chip brushes.  If you haven’t had a chance to try Dixie Belle’s brushes you must.

The paint strokes onto the wood perfectly without leaving bristles behind, which makes me happy!

I applied one thick coat of the coffee bean before moving onto farmhouse green that was used for trim and stenciling.

That is such a fun color and it really brightens up a space in a subtle way.

Stenciling Hydrangea stencil

More Paint and Stencils

Once the word stencils were added I used Dixie Belles neat Hydrangea stencil next.  I love this one because it’s light and pretty.

I’ve used this stencil a couple times and I kept things simple by transferring the entire design with farmhouse green, then added the color, plum crazy on a few blossoms to resemble an actual hydrangea flower.

Get my stencil tips here and my how to clean stencils right here.

Finished Garden Box

This update was quick, easy and a fun way to pull this planting area together.  Once completely dry I covered the entire box with a clear coat to protect from the weather.

Material Recap

  • Dixie Belle Paint Colors – Farmhouse Green, Coffee Bean and Plum Crazy
  • Dixie Belle Clear Coat
  • Dixie Belle Chip Brush
  • Dixie Belle Hydrangea stencil
  • Word Stencil came from Studio R12 on Etsy

All Dixie Belle products and stencil can be purchased here.

Dixie Belle

Planting Space Completed

A Finished Planting Space

A finished planting space means I’m just about ready to start seeds for spring.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed because I did notice cooler temperatures and rain is headed our way.

If the weather is making you antsy then perhaps it’s time to create an area where you can plant because every gardener should have a fun place for transplanting or starting seeds.

Get tips for creating a space near the garden for a planting table. Jazz up furniture you may already have to make it unique and a fun place to plant. #GardenSpace, #PlantingTable

No Dig Garden Using Raised Beds

There’s this idea that no dig gardening with raised beds is an easier system.  When it comes to maintenance, I would absolutely agree it’s less difficult.

However, setting things up from scratch is where the real work happens.

Bottom line there is no easy way to begin a garden but you can do things in a manner that makes it less difficult as time goes on; this begins with how your space is set up.

Grandma's Shovel

So, what is no dig gardening anyways?  This method is exactly as stated, there’s no traditional digging or tilling like in field gardens.

On our farm the first few years we had an open plot garden that was tilled prior to planting, tilled to remove weeds and tilled again after harvest. We chose this route because we were planting large crops to sell.

It was difficult to maintain and keeping up with the weeds was non-stop.  Basically, it was a lot of work but when it was in full growing capacity it was impressive.

The tilling was never ending and I knew if gardening was going to be in my future for a long time it had to look different.  I wanted to enjoy this activity without being concerned with traditional methods of hard labor each season.

I also remember when my grandma closed off her vegetable garden because it became to much work.  It was a sad time and even though she continued to incorporate her favorite veggies in flower beds it just wasn’t the same.

Nor was she and eventually family encouraged her to hang up her garden shovel and that’s when a piece of her just withered away.  I still have that shovel and it’s a reminder that nobody will ever, I mean ever take my garden shovel away.

So, I decided to make a change early on beginning with this idea of no digging through raised beds.

Keep in mind raised beds are not the only way to incorporate a no dig garden.  You can create what I call mound rows, these rows are lined with cardboard, natural materials and soil.  They stand alone or can be lined with tree trunks.

I personally didn’t like this look because it came across messy.

Raised beds offered a little organization and when I decided on a style that worked full term, everything changed.


What I love most about no dig is that my workload really did decrease and I never dread planting season because the beds are always ready to go.

However I do things a little different than others in that I still dig in my direct compost  year round.  I also don’t lay cardboard down as my liner.  Instead I use debris like sticks, leaves or hay.

The reason for this is because I build my beds higher and smaller than most.   This little transition was a game changer because this also decreased the amount of effort placed on my back.  I’m telling you first hand; 2 x 4 and taller raised beds are amazing!

Even better all this information can be found in my book Startle Garden.  This book will walk you through the entire process of how I garden and how this system allows me to grow my best garden ever.

No Kidding!  I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true.


Setting Up a No Dig Raised Bed

Now I know what you’re thinking, it takes a lot of ingredients and effort to fill those beds.  Yes, it does take a lot to fill them but you don’t have to do it all at once.

I’m currently establishing two new beds that I started back in December.  I’m a little behind schedule but they’re coming along and should be ready for my late spring planting in April.

I like to start new beds in the Fall or Winter giving me several months to get them prepped and settled for Spring.

If it’s too cold outside to work during the cooler months then build beds indoors and when you get a cold break move the beds outside where you want them to go. Then begin filling with winter debris cleanup, soil, direct compost and do so in layers.

By working a little at a time you’ll have a couple beds ready before you know it.

If you have kids or grand kids hanging around get them involved and honestly don’t ask for their help just tell them to do it. Be their mentor through the process so they can learn how to establish a garden.

This is how I learned, my grandma put me to work and we did the same with our kids on our farm.

No dig gardening is a matter of letting nature work for you.  It’s a beautiful thing, in nature the soil doesn’t need to be manually cultivated.  I’ve seen proof of this on our own land as we’ve been clearing.  You can’t believe the underbrush I’ve removed recently.

So, when I’m sharing my outings that involve picking up debris, like leaves, twigs and branches it’s not because I don’t have anything else better to do it’s because all these deposits eventually decompose into amazing soil.

In a forest, organic matter in the form of fallen leaves, twigs and branches, even annual plants at the end of their cycle and other plants at the end of their lives, are all deposited on the forest ground.  When they decompose, they turn the soil into a rich loam or as most of us call soil.

Chickens in No Dig Garden

What holds true in Nature also holds true in the garden.

No dig gardening with raised beds will be easier in the long run, so if you’re looking to decrease your workload then this is the system for you.

Startle Garden will walk you through the entire set up from choosing where to place your garden all the way to harvesting.  Get it here.

Get tips for no dig gardening using raised beds. Increase your efforts and grow an amazing garden with less effort. Learn More here. #NoDigGarden, #GardenTips

Updating Grandma’s Rose Trunk

Updating Grandma's Rose Chest

I’m pretty sure most of us here have received a family treasure at one time?

One of mine was this rose trunk, my grandma had a set of three in different sizes and I was fortunate to receive one years ago after she passed.

As a child I use to sit in her green chair and look at these boxes wondering what was inside each one, but never dared to open.

So, instead I found myself intrigued with the detail that was carved into each trunk.  The style was very meticulous realizing early on that creating beauty was possible with just about anything.

I recently decided to update my trunk because it was originally stained a dark walnut color and to be honest it was ready for an update.

Painting the Trunk with Dixie Belle Stormy Seas

Deciding on a color and painting

Deciding on a paint color took a couple of tries.  The first attempt was gravel road by Dixie Belle Paint, I love this color but it just wasn’t right.  After looking at it for almost a year I finally decided to give their Stormy Seas a try.

It was the perfect match; the exterior of the box was painted this color and the inside was left natural.

Learn how to Wax painted furniture

This post contains affiliate links for Dixie Belle Paint  Click here to read site terms.

Supplies for Waxing Trunk

The next step was to add a protective layer and I decided to give wax a try and you know what happened?  I fell in love with this product and the best part, it’s super easy to apply.

When Dixie Belle says they have the “best darn wax” they’re not joking.

They’re paint brushes are the best darn brushes too, they make painting a breeze and I recommend trying them because finding a good paint brush is no easy task.

Their blue sponges were also great, I used it dry for buffing.

Supplies for this step included

  • Clear and white wax
  • Blue Sponge
  • Chip Brush
  • Synthetic brush – all of which can be purchased online at Dixie Belle Paint right here.

Dixie Belle

Using a clear wax to project painted project

Applying Clear Waxing

The clear wax was applied first with the chip brush.  After letting that sit for 10 minutes, the blue sponge was used for buffing to get that nice soft finish.

I was pleased with that little step but this trunk has so much engraved detail I wanted to see if I could make it stand out using the white wax.

I chose white because I wanted that Stormy Seas color to remain the focus.

Using White Wax to bring out the Detail

Adding White Wax for Details

The white wax was applied with a brush over the engraved areas, let it sit and buffed with the blue sponge.  It worked perfectly and when finished this trunk felt like it was brought back to life.

It also looks great in our office area with our gardenia plant.  See that here.

I think Grandma would like it as well and some where there’s two more boxes out there just like this but in different sizes.  Perhaps whomever has them in my family may be inspired to update like I did.

Updating Grandmas Rose Trunk with Dixie Belle Paint Products. Learn how we made that engrave wood pop. #PaintingFurniture, #StorageTrunk

Gardenia Growing Tips for Indoors

Gardenia Planting Tips for indoors

The gardenia was introduced to me when I was kid.  We almost always had a plant in our home because it was and still is my mother’s favorite flower.

She would get so excited when they bloomed which also led to my own excitement because they smell heavenly.  They’re a peaceful and very graceful flower that is often overlooked for house plants.

They’re actually pretty easy to care for and you don’t have to live in the south to enjoy these beauties either.  You should know they’re a tropical plant; if you do live in cooler climates this plant will need to remain indoors because they will not survive in temperatures below 55 degrees.

I’ve decided to keep mine inside because after years of living in a home with no plants I decided to change that just a little.

Lighting for Gardenias

Gardenia Lighting and Basic Care Tips

Lighting and temperature are going to be the first area of importance.  Place in a location where the light is the brightest, for me this would be our office as the light shines in this room perfectly.

Temperatures of 60 – 80 degrees are ideal and avoid direct hot or cold drafts.

  • Watering Gardenias is an avenue that often gets confused.  Water so the soil stays moist but don’t let it dry out. If the plant becomes too dry it will react by dropping its foliage and buds.
  • Fertilizing is required to keep your plant healthy and blooming. Gardenia’s thrive in acidic soil with an ideal PH between 5 and 6. Fertilize with a simple fish fertilizer, this is an all-natural option.  Follow the instructions for indoors plants, boost once a month and skip when blooming.
  • Repotting isn’t as necessary as you might think.  They actually like to be snug in their containers.  When plants begin to dry out rather quickly this is when you’ll know its time to go up about an inch or two in container size.  Remove the plant without disturbing the roots, place in new container and fill with potting soil around the edges.
  • Pests always check your plant for pests especially if you take it outdoors during the summer months.  It’s just a good rule to check monthly and treat naturally when needed.

The Blooming cycle of a Gardenia

Gardenia Blooming Cycle

I love the blooming cycle, it was exciting as a kid and still holds true to this day.  From new buds to the spark of a fresh bloom it’s an absolutely beautiful sight.

Blooms stay white for about a week and then begin to fade, turning yellow.  At this stage they still smell amazing but it’s necessary to remove the bud and base stem from the branch.

Perhaps just set them in a dish and continue to enjoy what’s left of their scent because it’s still amazing.

Gardenia’s are sensitive to their environment, which means they’ll let you know when things are out of whack.  This is when you have to fine tune your routine and evaluate the situation.

Many times, it’s something as simple as not enough sunlight which means finding a better location.

Enjoying the beauty of a gardenia

Even when the Gardenia isn’t blooming it offers this wonderful shade of waxy green foliage that is also beautiful.  It’s a shade of green that ignites wisdom.

The Gardenia is clean and fresh making it a fun option for those seeking new ideas for house plants. Gardenia’s are defiantly not a new plant but they sure do make a wonderful addition to the home.  Feels good to bring a little natural green indoors.

Get Gardenia Growing tips fro indoor plants and watch them produce amazing blooms. #GardeniaTips, #PlantingTips, #Houseplants

Make Garden Signs that Inspire

Inspirational Stenciling board finished

It’s no secret that making garden flair for any growing space is my kind of fun.  This sign is no exception and after mixing my two favorite things, flowers and positive words I was inspired.

Let me walk you through the creative process because this is one project, you’ll want to make more than once.

Preparing the board for paint stain and stenciling.

This post contains affiliate links for Dixie Belle Paint and Cutting Edge Stencils Click here to read site terms.

Supplies and Getting Started

Project details begin with Dixie Belle Paint, Cutting Edge Stencils and positive message stencil from Studio R12.

Before we dive right in let’s talk about this piece of wood.  I used 2 ft. of a 2 x 10 pine board, that’s it!  Nothing more and nothing less because this beauty offered the perfect design space.

Wood can be purchased new at any home improvement store and you’ll want to make sure it’s quality, meaning the board isn’t warped.

Most 2 x 8’s come in 8 ft. so it will need to be cut.  I used our table saw; if that isn’t an option then have someone with more experience cut it for you or ask the store attendant. Home depot offers one free cut on all their wood.

One board will give you 4 sign opportunities so you could even make one for a friend.

Supply List

  • One 2 x 10 eight- ft. pine board cut into four 2 ft. pieces.  If you already have a 2 ft. board, then grab and sand it.
  • Saw and Sand Paper
  • Dixie Belle Paint – for this project I used Lemonade and Stormy Seas, purchase here.
  • The floral and wheat sprigs came from Cutting Edge Stencils, purchase here.
  • Life is beautiful came from Studio R12.
  • Stencil brush, rag, tape, and paper plate for staining and stenciling will also be necessary.

Dixie Belle

Get started by sanding the board after it’s cut then follow through with paint staining all sides of the board.

I used stormy seas for this technique which can be found here.  Paint staining is a matter of rubbing the paint into the wood grain leaving behind a light natural appearance. Dixie Belle paint makes this step so easy and they have a wide variety of colors to pick from.

Once the board is dry then arrange your stencils to see how you want things to look.

My best advice is to keep it simple, let the message stand out and complement the flower choice.  Cutting Edge Stencils has a fantastic selection of floral; I used anemone.

Stenciling with Dixie Belle Paint

Transferring Stencils to Board

In keeping things simple I transferred the stencils with one color, lemonade from Dixie Belle.  This is such a fun color because it’s light and crisp.

Working with these lighter colors’ over a basic white adds interest.

Use tape to keep your stencil from moving and if you’re new to stenciling, tips can be found here. 

How to clean your stencils click here;and remember to quality paint, clean right away and your stencils will last a long time.

Two ideas for inspirational stencil signs

Finished Board and How to Use

Once the boards are finished, I recommend using a clear coat to protect for longevity.  Dixie belle has fantastic options my favorite would be their clear coat.

I actually made two boards, the Dream like anything’s possible is used indoors.  I like to place it over the sink allowing me to slide dishes in but not have to wash right away. I call this out of sight out of mind and with limited counter space this pretty addition helps.

But what I really like is to use these boards in the garden because they add a little artistic goodness.  They would even look neat with small clay pots sitting on top.

This is an easy project that doesn’t take but an afternoon to complete and adds so much to the outdoors.

Garden Signs with Inspirational Messages

These boards can be placed in resting or blooming raised beds and sometimes I even like to place them in front of the beds when the growing season is in high gear.

Making inspirational garden flair doesn’t need to be complicated. This is a simple way to personalize your garden and add positive thoughts at the same time.

To learn more about my passion for garden art check out my book, Startle Garden and enjoy the following projects, Bloom Where you are planted and Garden Fresh.

Make your own inspiring garden sign from boards using stencils and positive messages. #Stenciling, #GardenSigns