This Year’s Personal Flower Garden

Spring came later than normal this year and it has been quite cold and wet. As I discussed in Enjoying My Own Personal Flower Garden, Rebecca has created a beautiful flower garden for me. I go there during the spring, summer, and fall when I need a break from the office. It’s a sign of the most sincere respect of my need for privacy and of her love for me. The garden is quiet, cool, and serene during the hectic summer months. I go there to contemplate life in general and when I need to think about the specifics of a book. Of course, we also enjoy time together there.

Most of the flower garden came back this year. For example, the wild strawberries look just as beautiful as ever.

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We noticed something odd about the flowers this year. Not only are they more plentiful, but they’re also a darker pink than ever before. Some of the flowers almost look light red in color. I looked around online for a reason for the color change, but didn’t find one, so let me know if you have any idea of why they have changed in color this year.

Last year she had also planted some columbine for me. The flowers come in all sorts of colors and I’m delighted to have three beautiful colors to enjoy. The plants are much bigger this year and she has moved them around to provide this tricolor presentation.

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The bishop’s weed returned this year as well. The plant has gotten much bigger and has bloomed profusely.

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I’ve read a number of negative things about bishop’s weed (such as it will take over the garden), but so far we don’t seem to be having any problem with it. We’re either lucky or some condition in our garden, such as those pesky rabbits that eat absolutely everything, is keeping it under control. A few other sites tell of ways to use this plant successfully, but it’s one that you should probably enjoy from afar.

One of my favorite non-flowering plants is silver mound. Rebecca has tried a number of times to get this plant to stick around and she’s had some success, but last year’s plant succumbed to the drought. So, I have three new silver mound plants to enjoy this year (they’re so nice that the garden just doesn’t seem complete without them).

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A new offering this year is the English daisy. It’s quite pretty. Various places I’ve looked online have told me to enjoy it this year because it may not return next year. In England, it’s actually considered a bit of a weed, but something this pretty shouldn’t be called a weed.

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I also received  new color of coral bells (also called coralbells) with a dark pink flower. It’s not just the flower that is a different color, but the leaves as well. Even when these plants aren’t blooming, they present an interesting leaf shape and add to the splendor of the garden.

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Sharing the garden with me for the first time are the chickens. They come by and feed under the bird feeder (picking up all of the seeds the wild birds leave and reducing the weed count as a result). Of course, they’re curious as to why I’m just sitting there when there are so many lovely bugs to eat and wonder whether I might not just serve a purpose by petting them instead of being quiet. They really are funny birds.

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Our friend left behind a pair of his boots to use as planters last summer. Rebecca has made full use of them. We now have boot planters on the patio.

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Enjoying My Own Personal Flower Garden

Every year Rebecca works out a new arrangement and adds plants to her gift to me, a personal flower garden. Every morning I wake to the scene below our bedroom window of Rebecca’s hard work. I know it’s an effort because getting into that rock garden is hard. It’s on a slope that’s taxing even for me; I can’t even imagine how hard Rebecca must have to work to maintain it for me. I talked about my garden a little last year in the Making Self-Sufficiency Relationships Work post.

One of Rebecca’s goals is to make sure that something is always blooming in my rock garden. It’s a little difficult to accomplish, but I know that people in the past performed the same task to ensure that there would always be something pretty to see. I really respect her efforts to make the garden as pretty as possible and to keep it that way all summer. So, the pictures you see in this post are a mere snapshot of my rock garden. Later in the summer, the scene will change and then it will change again for fall.

A favorite new plant is a pincushion flower. The exquisite blue flowers are really hard to capture, but I managed to get a passable picture of them. The real world flower is even more beautiful than the one shown here.

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One of the flowers that came back from last year is the blanket flower. It’s a favorite of mine because the colors change slightly over time and I love the fact that the flowers are bi-colored. This year the blanket flower is paired up with fiber-optic grass. As you can see from the following picture, the combination is really nice.

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A few of the rock garden elements are edible. For example, the chives have some beautiful flowers that are also edible (as are the chives). I’ve always found chives to be a nice addition because they combine color and texture so well.

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Some of the flowers are quite bright. One of the flowers in this category is the coreopsis. Rebecca has them placed where their profusion of bright flowers will show up best. This is another holdover from last year. Immediately below the coreopsis in this picture is bugleweed ‘metallica crispa’, which has already bloomed for the year, but will continue to add its deeply colored foliage to the garden.

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Most of the pictures that I’ve found of wild strawberries online show white flowers. I’ve been assured that the plants in the rock garden are wild strawberries, but they have these dramatic pink flowers. As with many other plants, they’ve come up from last year.

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Another bright pink flower in the garden is seathrift (armeria). This year the seathrift is nestled in with some ferns and a happy looking frog.

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As I said last year, the view from our bedroom is for me alone. When I go out my back door though, I see some amazing beauty—the rock garden, our herb garden, the woods, and bushes surrounding our patio. Most importantly, I see the love my wife has for me in producing something so quiet and peaceful for me to enjoy.

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Making Self-Sufficiency Relationships Work

A comment I regularly receive is that people can’t understand how Rebecca and I can work so closely together and for so many years. (We recently celebrated 31 wonderful years together, 25 of which we’ve worked in business together and 13 of which we’ve been self-sufficient.) Of course, there isn’t any hard and fast answer to this question and what works for us is unlikely to work for anyone else.

However, I think you could boil some of the key elements down to a few words, such as mutual respect. We do odd things like say, “Please” and “Thank you.” I say these things are odd because I don’t know that many couples exercise the option to show each other courtesy. We also expect that we’ll fail and that the other person will also failthat forgiveness is both necessary and desired. If people simply respected each other and employed courtesy freely, I’m sure the divorce rate would decrease. Worrying more about the other person than yourself has gone out of style, unfortunately, so I’m sure the divorce lawyers have nothing to worry about.

Rebecca has a special talent though that’s the topic of today’s post. She makes the mundane seem quite spectacular. Every year she creates a rock garden for me. It’s the first thing I see from the window when I get up in the morning and the last thing I see each night. I won’t share the window view, howeverthat’s exclusively for me. Here is a ground level view of some of the highlights of the garden. One of my current favorites is the Scottish bluebells:

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The purple flowers really show up nicely. They’re getting tall and spiky now. Another colorful member of the rock garden is the blanket flower shown here:

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From a color perspective, they remind me of a larger version of the Indian paintbrush that grows natively around here. We need to plant the blanket flower each year (the Scottish bluebells come back on their own each year).

The rock garden has a lot of shade, so Rebecca plants sedums freely in it. The blue spruce sedum is flowering right now. The yellowish flowers are a contrast to the rest of the plant and make it look quite fancy as shown here:

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The autumn joy sedums are also quite pretty. The variegated version adds some lovely color to the rock garden as shown here:

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At the front of this part of the rock garden is a John Creech sedum. All of these sedums will last through the winter. Rebecca normally covers them with leaves. However, if I ever found them in precisely the same spot for more than two years in a row, I’d be amazed. Rebecca loves to move things around.

A final offering is the Japanese painted fern. it looks a bit metallic in some respects as shown here:

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These are young ferns. As they mature, the center will take on a more reddish hue. I’m looking forward to seeing what they look like later.

The care that Rebecca takes in maintaining this rock garden (and all of our other gardens) tells me a great deal about her love for me. That, in turn, makes it easier to overlook the rocks in the road we take together. I can’t imagine working anywhere without my wife. Together, the two of us make an amazing team.

If you’re going to enjoy your self-sufficiency, you need to come up with a plan to maintain your relationships. Being courteous helps, but taking time to care is better. Can you imagine working with your significant other for 25 years? I certainly hope that you’ve found the same joy that I have. Write me about your best experiences at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.