plants & gardening

Favorite Garden Inspiration

Good day, design friends! Peggi here. How are you? Anybody else psyched to welcome spring in 96 hours? I am definitely ready to bid winter adieu. Despite still-chilly temperatures and wind, wind, wind, this time of year always has me garden-obsessed. Vegetables, herbs, flowers! I love them all. In an effort to share my enthusiasm in the most useful fashion, I created a compilation of gardening resources. For easy reference, I divided them into three categories: in person, in print, internet. Click through to read more about where I seek garden inspiration and guidance. Whether you’re a novice gardener or an experienced one (or just a plant appreciator!), I hope you’ll find something beautiful, fresh and informative.

Probably the most accessible (and enjoyable!) means of gathering ideas and learning about plants is seeing (smelling! touching!) them in person. Start by taking regular walks around town. What better way to find the plants best-suited to your growing conditions? Seeing full-sized specimens, successful companion plantings and seasonal changes offer invaluable insights. You may even score a cutting or a bucket of free plants if you enjoy a stop and chat! Most gardeners I’ve met dig sharing their insider knowledge and leafy bounty. Although not as convenient as a stroll through the neighborhood, I heartily encourage a botanical garden visit. They’re a must-see whenever I travel. Even if I can’t replicate schemes due to zone differences, I note hardscapes, color palettes and unique materials. Botanical gardens also host interesting classes, special exhibits and annual plant sales. They’re amazing! 

Speaking of buying plants, free inspiration and education awaits at your local nursery. Staff knowledge and seedling selection vary by location. Your independent outlets likely have the best of both. That doesn’t stop me from spending at the big box stores though. Every spring, I hit all six nearby garden shops…I’m thorough. One other in person resource I want to mention is your county extension office. They offer workshops, trouble-shooting and expert advice geared to your exact area. Local, mostly free inspiration abounds. So lace up those sneakers and head out to peep what flowers and flourishes near you!

Now let’s talk about books!

Click right on the images to be redirected to the source, or use the numbered links below to shop my finds… not all are clickable.

01: the vegetable gardener’s bible // 02: western garden book // 03: the well-tended perennial garden // 04: perennial combinations // 05: encyclopedia of plants & flowers // 06: gardening for everyone // 07: encyclopedia of landscape design // 08: the layered garden // 09: new naturalism // 10: in bloom // 11: the naturally beautiful garden // 12: flower // 13: cultivated // 14: a year at clove brook farm // 15: the new shade garden // 16: scent magic // 17: beyond wild // 18: peonies // 19: the hidden life of trees // 20: dreamscapes // 21: garden lust // 22: adventures in eden // 23: english gardens // 24: garden inspirations

When I get home from my inspiration tours, I hit the books for detailed information. Picture me surrounded by stacks, messy notes, graph paper and colored pencils. Ridiculous. With that in mind, I included quite a few instructional texts in this roundup. My edition of #1 is from 2000, and I would definitely buy it again! No one would confuse it with a coffee table book, but it’s packed with useful information, logically organized and accessible. Both new and seasoned vegetable gardeners will find it helpful. When I first began gardening (in AZ), I bought #2. It’s a must-have for western gardeners, but don’t expect pretty pictures or flowery prose. This is a giant encyclopedia of plants, cultivars and their uses. I would suggest #3 if you’re just getting started with perennial beds and want the basics on pests, pruning and plant selection. If you’re in the market for some advanced reading, might I propose #9? I’m interested in a more natural approach to the garden, so this one caught my eye. I’ve just started it, but I think I’ll learn a lot! I can also personally recommend #15. I purchased the original version when I was struggling with my forested Willamette Valley yard, and it helped me embrace the dark side. If you’re just here for the pretty, I got you! Books #10-24 focus on stunning photography and swoon-worthy gardens! 

Here’s a friendly tip for fellow frugal folks. Visit your public library! Even my small local establishment had a half dozen of the titles in my roundup. You can preview books before you decide to purchase. Most libraries also subscribe to a wide variety of magazines. More garden inspiration just waiting for you!

For my last set of resources, I scoured the internet! First, I searched for podcasts. These are just a few that I enjoyed. Do you have any we should add to the list? 

  • Let’s Argue About Plants- A couple of editors at Fine Gardening magazine chatting all things gardening!
  • Spoken Garden- A Pacific Northwest couple with tons of knowledge and experience
  • Grow It Minnesota-For all you cold climate gardeners!
  • The Joe Gardener Show-Organic vegetable gardening and more!
  • A Way to Garden- Margaret Roach, former garden editor for Martha.

We probably all have our favorite Instagram plant people. Since gardening is so climate specific, a gardener in your zone will be most helpful. I’m fortunate that Garden Answer is my local expert! Epic Gardening, in California, is also a fun follow. Most of everyone mentioned here also has a website, blog and Youtube channel. Finally, I would like to note Seed Savers Exchange. They have a comprehensive website and a worthy mission. The volume of excellent gardening content online is really staggering!

No post about gardening would be complete without some favorites from Sarah! Whether you garden in pots on the patio, a few perennial beds or a giant vegetable patch, you’re my people. Tell me what you’re excited to grow this year. Maybe you’ve already started seeds?! Have I missed some vital resource? Let me know in the comments. Until next time, friends!

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  • Reply
    Lauren
    March 16, 2022 at 7:43 am

    Good morning my green thumbed friend! I share in the love of all things garden, despite having nothing notable in the yard to speak of, haha! I’m on a mission to change that this year. I’m actually starting off my kitchen herb garden this week, along with starting seeds for the vegetable garden. This year will be a mix of rejuvenating landscape around the front and back yards, establishing the vegetable garden, and making plans for future projects. It’s long overdue, and I’ll admit, slightly overwhelming. Typically I turn to online resources, but lately have desired print varieties. I’m so glad you included a roundup of those! I’m adding #1, 2 and 5 to my list of must-buys; do you happen to know of any great print resources for Mediterranean landscape design or inspiration? This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m anxiously awaiting the spring weather-and I think it’s just around the bend this weekend. I’m curious Peggi, do you compost? Or have you in the past? If you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have a wonderful Wednesday my friend! And as a side note, hackers got to my Instagram account, so please be aware that any messages you might receive from there are definitely not coming from me. My new handle is @lmichele0612, so expect a new request from me! See you there! Xo

    • Reply
      Peggi
      March 16, 2022 at 8:35 am

      Good morning, Lauren! Happy almost spring! It sounds like you will be gloriously busy outside. I hope you will find those books helpful; #1 should be super handy for your vegetable garden planning. As for mediterranean style, you might check out this article . My best advice would be to visit the California Botanic Garden, but I don’t know if you’re near Claremont. Also, leash up Rocky and head to your swanky, established neighborhoods. I honestly do find these to be great inspirations! Maybe even some winery visits…for research. California native plants and other arid species definitely suit that style. Ah, composting. We had a miserable failure because we “disagreed” about the water requirement. (Spoiler: it really does need water if you live in the desert.) I’ve got my eye on a compost tumbler rn, but I haven’t settled on a version. It’s criminal I haven’t done it sooner. Unlike vegetable gardening, landscape projects can feel like a long game. It certainly requires more planning, but planting those shrubs and trees are a lovely gift to your future self! I’m excited for all of your fun projects! Definitely share pictures as you get going. Have a lovely day, friend!🌸

  • Reply
    Danna F
    March 16, 2022 at 9:17 am

    Good morning Peggi! These photos alone are making me giddy for Spring! Walking through any of these would just make all the stress melt away! Flower gardens are my favorite but with the Texas heat, it is hard to have fragrant flowers like hydrangeas, peonies, etc. so the grocery store variety will do. Ha!
    We are getting high 70’s today so I am anxious to get out and enjoy the warm temperature. You have a great assortment of books. The library is a good idea for checking them out to see which is a good purchase. I have a collection of gardening books (which I just realized I packed away in storage) but can always use more! Neil Sperry is a Texas native and one most follow for tips, etc. Garden Answer is one I have followed for a while and find her so relaxing. Our new neighborhood has a garden club and they are having their first meeting this Friday to discuss vegetable gardens, spice gardens, etc. Even though we aren’t living out there yet, I am excited to meet other gardeners. ‘Gravel gardening’ is something I want to try. I follow Gardenary on instagram and love their raised beds.
    A visit to my local nursery sounds fabulous even if it is to just visit. Enjoyed your post Peggi. Have a wonderful day!

    • Reply
      Peggi
      March 16, 2022 at 10:48 am

      Good morning, Danna! I well remember missing lilacs and other water-loving plants when I gardened in AZ. Now I pine for the beauty of a bougainvillea! Ha. My more mature self is trying to embrace my area’s natural (or at least suitable) beauty! A garden club sounds like the most fun!! How exciting to get a jumpstart on your new community. I definitely will give Gardenary a follow, and now I must google “gravel gardening!” Thanks for chatting and have the most lovely day!

  • Reply
    colleen
    March 16, 2022 at 10:14 am

    Hello Peggi, my husband knows a way to my heart is fresh flowers, he is a smart man😁 We have been up to our eyeballs here in Florida trying to whip our beds back in shape after a 20-month long hiatus. Unfortunately, the landscapers neglected our property, so we had a poorly managed overgrown mess we have been nurturing over the past couple of months. Good thing we like getting our hands dirty and enjoy garden work. Your post is quite timely as I will have more garden work when we return to Ontario and our cottage in Quebec will need some pretty flowers too. You have offered some fabulous resources here as gardening can be a bit daunting for a beginner. I have plentiful perennial beds but other than a few patio containers I have never had a cut garden of annuals which I may try this year if I can find the time. Floret Flower farm is currently offering a 3 part video series for anyone interested in starting a cut garden from seed and its free. There are so many wonderful options to get started and I find gardening so rewarding. It’s pure therapy for me and I love seeing everything bloom and grow. Not to mention the joy when you gift a beautiful bouquet. I think I missed my calling; I would love to own a garden center or Flower shop. Lol. The crystal bud vase on your last post from Sarah’s shop is gorgeous. I wanted to mention I purchased it for a gift as you know I really shouldn’t buy any more vases for myself. Haha! Hope you have the rosiest of days friend 🌹💐🌻🌼🌸 Wishing spring for you soon 💖

    • Reply
      Peggi
      March 16, 2022 at 10:59 am

      Good morning, Colleen! Fresh flowers are always a good idea! What a shame that your landscapers fell down on the job. Recovering from lengthy neglect is no some task. I’ve only visited Florida once, so my knowledge of the garden scene there is minimal, but I’ve always been intrigued by tropicals like alocasia and cannas. The colors! I’m sure your landscape will be back better than ever when you’re finished! I don’t currently have the space, but a cutting garden has been on my wishlist for ages. I also follow Floret Farm. Hello dreamy dahlias! How lovely that you gifted the beautiful crystal vase; it definitely is a stunner. Although I don’t have cut flowers for sharing, I adore bringing friends baskets of fresh vegetables. I also love spreading the joy when I divide my perennials. Gardening really is a gift! Happiest of almost spring days to you, friend!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    March 17, 2022 at 7:53 am

    This post has me so excited for gardening, Peggi! Best of all? It’s filled with awesome information. You have me eagerly awaiting a trip to my local greenhouse & nursery next month. I think we’re going to switch up our garden this year to include some flowers as well, so I’m definitely going to grab a couple of those books. Thank you again for sharing :) Happy almost spring!!

    • Reply
      Peggi
      March 18, 2022 at 5:21 am

      Good morning! Sorry I missed you yesterday; I took the day off to celebrate our anniversary! I am so ready for gardening! The temps are warming here, so I’m just noting what maybe didn’t survive the winter…and dreaming of what I can put in its place. HA! I’m excited to see what flowers you’ll be adding to the garden this year! Your landscaping is already so dreamy, but there’s always room for more flowers.😉 Happy Pizza Friday, friend!!!

      • Reply
        Sarah
        March 21, 2022 at 12:07 pm

        Happy belated anniversary!! I hope you have the most wonderful time celebrating into the weekend :) I’m SO ready for gardening, too. We got 3-4 more inches of snow over the weekend, but no complaints. We need the water. We spent the weekend in Park City with friends skiing and celebrating Emmett’s birthday. It was so fun! Emmett has requested less vegetables and more flowers in the garden because he thinks they’ll take less water, but I’m not convinced. I love plucking veggies and berries straight from the plant and having fresh produce to eat and share. I’m not sure what we’ll do. It probably depends on water restrictions (thanks to the drought) as we start planning. xox

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