How My Garden Grows

It seems that spring has finally arrived in Chicagoland. I did alot of work last year to the garden, and I’ve been eager to see how everything would look now. How big will the plants be? Will everything come back, or will some plants not make it? Well, so far things are looking good.



Karen Azalea:
Karen Azalea

Ivory Halo Dogwood:
Ivory Halo Dogwood

Hostas, boxwood, and tulips:
Hostas, Boxwood, & Tulips

I’m not sure how much gardening I’ll be doing this summer, but I did buy two giant green planters from IKEA and a sky pencil holly from Sprout Home.

Sky Pencil Holly

I think I’ll put the holly against the back of the house (seen here, last summer):
Another Little Garden

I wanted to put the planters on the front porch, flanking the door, but Brandon thinks they’ll be too heavy once they’re filled with dirt. Our porch is pretty old, and he may be right… I’m not sure if it could support the weight. I like them though, so I’m sure I can find a spot for them somewhere.

Hooray for spring and all its renewed greenery!

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  • Allison
    May 14, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Instead of filling those tall planters with dirt, you could place something in the bottom to make a surface so that you could set a smaller pot inside. That might be lighter if you’re set on the idea of flanking your door.

  • Heidi
    May 14, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Everything looks beautiful, I was touring a house yesterday and the garden reminded me so much of you!

  • Christina
    May 14, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Autum is in the air here, so it is lovely to see your plants blooming and healthy. I am waiting for my peach tree to loose its leaves and produce its’ beautiful pink blossoms. :)

  • Heather
    May 14, 2009 at 6:59 am

    So cute! I love your little gnome. Watch the anemones – I have them, and they’ve spread everywhere. I call them my enemies!

  • John at This Young House
    May 14, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Love that you snagged those tall IKEA planters. We were eyeing them a few weeks ago but couldn’t figure out where they’d go next to our stumpy house. We did pick up those same hanging planters you show in the background (in brown though)… but returned them once the BHG thing hit and we had to find solutions from Home Depot instead. So I’m looking forward to seeing yours in action!

    Hope you’re getting some nice, springy weather too!


  • myfavoriteandmybest
    May 14, 2009 at 7:28 am

    hey! looks great! i have seen on a gardening show a similar dilemma solved. and that is to fill the large planters with styrofoam and fill the dirt on top then plant the plant. you will use far less dirt therefore it will be far lighter!

  • Lorri
    May 14, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Everything looks great! We live in the Chicago burbs and hopefully it will be a nice sunny day today for gardening fun! Yesterday… not so much.

  • Jess
    May 14, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Everything looks beautiful! Make sure to plant the sky pencil holly away from the eves of your house, where it can get plenty of water. We lost 4 of them alongside the house- they need lots to drink!

  • Kim
    May 14, 2009 at 8:15 am

    It all looks great. I love all the pink.

    And ditto Heather on the anemone. Be sure to deadhead them when they form their feathery seeds after bloom, or they’ll spread all over. Unless that’s what you want.

  • Tracey
    May 14, 2009 at 8:24 am

    I was going to offer the suggest about filling the planters with a lighter material on the bottom but they beat me to it! I love those planters, though! And your garden looks quite pretty.

  • Amanda
    May 14, 2009 at 8:53 am

    The azalea looks great! I’m surprised they grow that well that far north. Here in Southeast Missouri, we have an annual Dogwood/Azalea Festival. It looks like your azalea ranks right up there with the best of them :-)

  • kim
    May 14, 2009 at 8:57 am

    We fill our planters with styrofoam peanuts.

  • Fiona
    May 14, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Beautiful! Love the planters! Who the heck won the contest? I can’t figure it out. Doesn’t seem to be posted anywhere on their site.

  • ashley morgan
    May 14, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Beautiful, and I love those Ikea planters. I’ll have to see if they’re at my Ikea!

  • Alissa
    May 14, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I would not necessarily put light stuff in the bottom of the planters because they might get tipped over if they are top heavy.

    It would be neat to put them on either side of the path in your back yard leading from the house to the “entertaining” area.

  • Manda
    May 14, 2009 at 10:04 am

    It all looks amazing! I’ve been waiting to see a garden post. I’m currently working on my own version of your garden book as I’m planning our (Aussie) garden before next spring. If it turns out half as nice as yours I’ll be very proud.

  • Lucy
    May 14, 2009 at 10:15 am

    love it!!! keep up the great work and hope you can show more pictures of your garden…

  • jbhat
    May 14, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I have one of those gorgeous planters too, a black one, next to my front door. Fill it 2/3 with packing peanuts before you put your soil and plant in (or less, depending on how big your plant is). That’s a Martha Stewart tip, that one.

    Your garden does grow nicely indeed.

  • Lucitebox
    May 14, 2009 at 10:32 am

    My mother is an amazing container gardener. The styrofoam trick is something she taught me years ago. It’s a great thing to add to pots that you plan to move around, too.

  • Kerry
    May 14, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I have the exact same Ikea planters (tall ones) on my porch. To reduce the weight, put a small bit of mesh over the drain hole at the bottom, then fill it halfway with styrofoam (popcorn bits or I used leftovers from a TV box all chopped up). Top the rest up with soil and away you go!

  • Jenny Sun
    May 14, 2009 at 10:55 am

    All your effort is paying off so nicely! I love hostas, I wish they would stick around all year. They’ll get bigger and bigger every year, and their variegated leaves are so wonderful. You’re inspiring me for a future yard!

  • Making it Lovely
    May 14, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Aren’t the planters top heavy though if the bottom is filled with styrofoam? Our porch, in addition to being old and somewhat weak, is also noticeably slanted downward (gotta love old houses). I suggested that trick to Brandon and he thought the planters might just topple over with the slightest bump.

  • ClistyB
    May 14, 2009 at 11:26 am

    just wanted to say that I think you did the BEST job using the MOST amount of space for the BH&G project. While the others are fine and all, their projects cover so little ground, and yours is a whole porch.

    Ok, I would write more, but I will remain tasteful. But it will be hard.

  • ashleyD
    May 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    there’s a name for the plant on our front porch!! it’s Hosta! thank you so very much! i love how you can’t kill them and the multiply!

  • Mackenzi
    May 14, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Those planters are totally nice- I have two from last year, but they have NO drainage and mine quickly became totally icky and filled with water. I did use the peanuts, but think that this year I’m going with larger pebbles in the bottom too- Maybe that’ll help with your tipping issue! Good luck!

  • Pinny
    May 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Do you happen to know what type of Hosta that you have? I love the look of yours!

  • robin
    May 14, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    those tall green planters are great! and the teenie garden gnome made me giggle. how lovely to have such a beautiful garden outside and a happy little baby inside :O)

  • ellen
    May 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Your garden looks lovely!

    I adore those sky pencil hollys … I recently saw them planted in huge planters, and they looked great. May ponder something similar at our house – otherwise considering them along our fence.

  • Nuit
    May 14, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Your garden is Divine… wish mine looked anywhere near… looking forward to seeing baby girl again! :)

  • Mandy
    May 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    We put empty pop cans in our large planters. They take up space without weighing anything (well, hardly anything). The dirt then filters down around it so there is some weight at the base but, since most of the volume is occupied by the cans, there’s less total weight.

  • Crystal
    May 14, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Oooo, your flowers look so pretty!!

  • amy
    May 14, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Gotta have that pillow…where is it from? Garden looks great…nice plant combos.

  • Yard Sale Mama
    May 14, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I haven’t read to see if someone has suggested this but when I use large or very deep planters, I put empty pop bottles or styrofoam in the bottom to take up space. I cover them with a large square of landscaping fabric to keep the dirt from sinking but to promote drainage. That way, the planters don’t become too cumbersome. Because the planters are so tall and may become top heavy, I would add a little weight in the bottom with a rock or a few bricks. They won’t be nearly as heavy that way and the water will run right through keeping it light. Best part? You save $$$ on potting soil!

    Hope this helps!! Your garden looks lovely, I’ve been wanting some Ivory Halo in my yard for a long time :o)


  • Your Mother
    May 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Love it – your garden looks so pretty. I think the Firewitch is so gorgeous, when we finish adding our foundation plants I think I’ll have to pick up some for color “pop” in our yard. And I love the fact that the Anemone spreads, when you have a lot of space to fill and it’s confined nicely, that’s not such a bad thing.

    I think spring is finally here! There is so much I want to add to my garden. To bad there’s no such thing as a garden beautification “grant”. Oh well, baby steps. Yours is growing nicely!

  • coral
    May 14, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    I always arrange a couple layers of rocks in the bottom of the planters, then add lots of styrofoam, then potting soil on top. It makes the weight balanced but lightened, and it keeps your pots draining properly.
    I’m jealous of all of your pretty blooms. Spring’s had a hard time getting here, even our lilacs haven’t come out yet. All I have so far is two lonely tulips!

  • bethany
    May 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    love the flowers but, from now on, we need baby pics on every post!!!

  • bethany
    May 14, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    oh, and where are those cute, round, woven chairs from? (last pic)

  • Jessibee
    May 14, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    I love the little tiny garden gnome!

  • Amy
    May 14, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I gotta get my butt to Ikea – stat!!!

  • samarahuel
    May 14, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Depending on what you decide to plant in the planters, you may not need to fill them completely with dirt. You could fill some of the space in the bottoms with a cheap plastic pot placed upside-down, then fill the rest of the space at the top with dirt. I haven’t tried this myself, but it sounds good in theory.

  • D
    May 15, 2009 at 2:13 am

    It’s summer in India and I miss the blooms in my garden!

  • Charla @ For the Sake of Time
    May 15, 2009 at 7:40 am

    I love the green planters. Could you fill the bottom with those “packing peanuts” and then set a pot down in the top to use for planting your flowers. I think they would be lovely by the front door.

    Good luck.


  • Suzanne
    May 15, 2009 at 7:57 am

    You could fill your planters with an upside down plant pot and in addition to that add styrofoam peanuts (this will help with drainage) and together will fill area without adding much weight.
    Your plantings are awesome!!

  • Sara
    May 15, 2009 at 10:02 am

    What about putting the tall, green planters one on each side in front of the railings leading up to the front porch? That way, you could extend the new look of your porch down to the front stoop.

  • Jeen-Marie
    May 15, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Awesome job! I have an old bungelow as well, I understand your situation. Some readers have suggested the same solution…
    I use bricks in the bottom for stability with reused packing material in the middle, topping the planter off with soil and a short-ish plant.
    Good luck and keep up the great work.
    PS I hope you are able to rest.

  • casquinha
    May 16, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I’ve just saw 2elephants that reminded me of your elephant @ apartment therapy {http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/chicago/bedroom/10-different-ways-to-dress-the-bed-084905} and i thought “they look even better inside” :)
    I love your house and your ideas… :)

  • my little apartment
    May 16, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    I was just in Chicago last week and it was GORGEOUS! walks to the Field Museum, through the zoo, and around the lake were absolutely perfect.

    also, congrats on your tiny one. she’s precious and I’m looking forward to reading about designing with a wee one in mind!

    oh and lastly…I think I might be your “neighbor” come August! check back with MLA for updates ;)

  • Amanda
    May 18, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Put a brick or two down in the bottom of the planters to make them steady. If you don’t have styrofoam peanuts, I’ve used empty plastic water bottles or coke cans, and the empty plastic pots or 4-packs that you buy annuals and perennials to fill the space. I used this trick to plant in those really tall galvanized french flower buckets and they were very stable.

  • Travelingmama
    May 18, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I love the gnome! He looks like he might be the mischievous type!

  • Amber
    May 20, 2009 at 11:46 am

    gorgeous garden! love all the colors – especially the green Ilea planters. I have them in white both indoors & out, they’re fab.

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