A Garden Spirit

A Garden Spirit

A story about a novice gardener: Learning, exploring, & discovering          ~ by K. Ivy V.

Keeping track

Most of you won't be surprised when I tell you that I started collecting research on the different plants I have, and of course needed a good place for it all to be kept.  A three ring binder works great to keep my patio plans, research about all of my plants, as well as types of products to remember (for instance, my birds don't really like seed from fred's, but seed from food lion is gone very quickly) By keeping the brand labels and recording where they came from, I can keep track of what to get from birdfeed, to soil, to anything really.  All in one place.




Backyard overhaul

Our deck is great. I mean, it used to be great.  I don't believe it has ever been treated, just painted over and over.  We have painted it twice since owning the house, and the wood is in bad shape.  No barefeet on the deck or you will be in danger of getting major splinters.  So, we have decided to redo the space, get rid of the deck and begin plans for a patio instead.

Throughout the past few weeks, I have been finding and pricing patio stone, possible furniture as well as storage ideas for the yard overhaul.

These are a few finds so far, for the list of possibilities:

(products found at various locations including Lowes, Antique Mall in Donalds, Ragpicker,and a Greenville Main street cupcake shop) the hammock and swing pics are from online.


Top row: privacy fence section, and possibilities for stone patio

Second row: old church bench, vintage patio chairs, lowes bench and table, rocking chairs (classic south), possibilities for table and chairs cast iron

Third row: green house possibility, small plants could go on a bakers rack.., small shed for garden supplies, storage bench for garden supplies (option), hammock!!! yeah!, and definitely some kind of swing in the yard is a must.

This week, my husbands family and I have been vacationing in Hawaii!!! It has been spectacular, and one of the coolest things is that my brother agreed to demolish our deck and haul the wood off, while we are in Hawaii relaxing on the beach! :)

My mother was nice enough to water all of my plants.  Thanks so much mom!! We are getting on the plane shortly to head back home, and it will be nice to see my garden again, I miss it a little like a pet.

My brother sent a picture of his progress:


He has done a great job so far, and this week, it will take all of us to get the rest out of the ground.


Luckily, Lee and I are thinking that we may be able to use the holes that the deck poles come out of; in making a pergula.

I have found a few plans online that are neat, I like some parts of them.  Of course, measuring and working up a budget will change things around a bit, but I am excited to get a plan started this coming week!!

Here are a few ideas found online:



Also, we visited a beautiful park here on Maui this week.  I loved the pergula and garden surrounding the grounds. It is inspiring and parts of the design may make it into my master plan...

Here is the pergula and garden in Hawaii.






Korean Group cookout

Our friends from Korea were able to come over for a summer cookout.  My yard was ready for a set up of tables, chairs and games.  We were able to enjoy the yard for about half an hour before the rain began.  It all worked out fine to eat inside and come back out after it had passed.

I wasn't too disappointed that it rained, since I have hoped for a good rain for days.  The garden loved it!




A bench (for bird watching and drinking lemonade)

I have been busy in the yard as well as have been on a wonderful vacation (which I will tell you about shortly).  Here is what is new in the garden:



Top left: rope outline plan, clockwise: hanging plant, brick outline, brick path to bench, ready for planting a little bed around it to enjoy.

I was able to use all of the bricks from Nana and Grandaddys house, as well as about 30 bricks found underneath the deck to finish the edge of the yard.  Its starting to shape up, I think adding a curved outline helps counter the square yard, making it much more peaceful.

Input and Suggestions from you


I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for reading my blog!  I am very excited about learning how to garden and I am quickly falling in love with it.

If you have any great tips to add to my general categories list to consider or if you have suggestions or comments at all, I would love to hear from you!


The categories to ask myself about a plant (so far):

1.) Water-how much water does it like?

2.) Sun-How much sunlight does it need?

3.) Drainage-What kind of drainage does the soil need to have?

4.) Soil-what kind of soil is the best for it?

5.) Fertilizer-What fertilizer does it need and how often?

6.) Pruning-What is the best pruning method and what time of year for pruning?

7.) Planting-When to plant and when is the plant ‘in season’

8.) Blooming-When does the plant bloom


My plants: azaleas, nandina, calla lilies, acuba, mondo grass, monkey grass, hosta, clematis, perennial ageratum, crape myrtle, ajuga, lilies, wisteria, dogwood tree, oak tree, various shrubs.

All you have to do is make a comment on the blog, I will read it and might post it on the blog for others to read! ;)

Thanks to all of my readers, stay tuned for more developments in My Gardening Spirit.

Research and Making Lists


Through a little research (google…) and reading (thanks to Lynn for lending me a few wonderful books this week) I have added a few more categories to my list to consider:


Gardening List of Considerations : (categories to ask myself about a plant)

1.) Water-how much water does it like?

2.) Sun-How much sunlight does it need?

3.) Drainage-What kind of drainage does the soil need to have?

4.) Soil-what kind of soil is the best for it?

5.) Fertilizer-What fertilizer does it need and how often?

6.) Pruning-What is the best pruning method and what time of year for pruning?

7.) Planting-When to plant and when is the plant ‘in season’

8.) Blooming-When does the plant bloom


I think pretty soon, I will have to make a chart with all of the types of plants I have.  I am now making lists like:

-What spiders are common in south Carolina? poisonous ones...?

-does the internet have a site that can help me plan a flower garden? (heard about leevalley.com)

Another tid-bit that Lynn told me is that if the leaves are waxy and wide then the plant most likely likes shade, thin leaves are for sun.


Diagnostic for my mother and me (a working progress):


1.) Water-keep moist, room temp. water

2.) Sunlight-lots of morning, but avoid direct afternoon sun

3.) *Drainage-needs good drainage, and thick layer of mulch to control weeds

4.) Soil-acidic, high quality peat-based potting soil

5.) Fertilizer- every 2-3 weeks with water-soluble (require to be fed through spring, summer and autumn with azalea and camellia food)

6.) pruning in early spring? Don’t touch blooms much, or they will brown

7.) …

8.) summer ( I suppose since mine is blooming right now, so pretty and fragrant!


 *Drainage tip for bulbs (found in a handout that Lynn gave me):

Test the drainage before planting.  Fill a foot-deep hole with water.  Next day, fill it again.  If that refill drains away in less than ten hours, most bulbs will thrive there.  If drainage is a problem, consider creating a raised bed-or add organic matter such as composted yard trimmings or composted pine bark to improve drainage.

Two peas in a pod


My mother has gotten up around or before 6am for as long as I can remember.  I have slept late for as long as I can remember, until recently.  Every day, since Saturday June 16th, I have gotten up by 6am.  The inspiration to plant this garden has pushed me to get up each morning and water all of my newly planted friends.  I suppose my mom and I aren’t all that different. 


Me, this week, after a morning of digging around.


My mom years ago, after working on a house.


Colorful Memories


My in-laws were so sweet to plant these flowers while we were out of town.  When we pulled up I was so delighted to see that they had filled the front yard bed with color!  Growing up, my grandparents would take everyones picture in front of my Nanas round flower bed.  My front lawn bed reminds me so much of those wonderful memories.


My front flower bed, the one I came home to after being away.  I love it and water it often!! :) Thanks so much to my wonderful In-law mom and dad!


Me and my doll, in front of Nanas pansies.


Left: my mom and I in front of Nanas front yard flower bed.

Right: my mom as a teenager in front of Nanas front yard flower bed.


top: my mom in 1963 with the side 'rectangle' flower bed (on her birthday).

bottom: me with the side 'rectangle' flower bed in a clogging dress.


New Developments (week of June 18-24)


Cleaning out and trimming : Ben (my brother) came with a chain saw to take down overgrown limbs and trash trees that were too close to other plants or to the fence.  Lee cut the grass for me, and it looks great! Thanks so much sweetie!



Spider plant : My first friend gift for the garden!! My neighbor Brandon has always had such a beautiful yard.  When he learned that I was interested in working in my yard, he lent me a few gardening materials.  So sweet!

Yard Art : Lee and I love to go to Greenville for day trips.  Tuesday the 19th, we decided to check out a few stores and have lunch with a friend.  I found a few possible products for consideration for the yard.  I would love to make a greenhouse/hospital corner and a bakers rack may be an option for that…

Birds : I have found 2 nests in bushes, and have hopefully been careful enough not to disturb them.  So cute!!! I also have one inhabitant in my first birdhouse in the trees. I have added two more homes in my ‘bird neighborhood’ corner.  We will see if they like those also.  The birds seem to like the birdseed from Food Lion the best, I bought and filled up the feeder on Monday, and by Sunday it is almost all gone!  I bought an additional one today to put closer to the kitchen door.  Hopefully we can see a few local birds while we visit in our kitchen, like Barry and Judy in North Carolina.  If I start seeing them, I will take pictures and let you know what kind we have.

Gardenia : My mother mentioned that she would like a Gardenia for her yard.  I thought I would look into it for her.  I have discovered the sweetest scent!! I was able to find a pretty one from the Hobby and Garden center.  It was just about to bloom!  In order to help my mom with where to place it, she is checking her yard for hours of sunlight while I gather information.

Breezy Quarters : At the vendors market event in Abbeville, I came across a great booth full of aromatherapy, soaps, and more.  All made locally, and they had gardenia and lavender scented body wash among other scents!! It’s called ‘Breezy Quarters’. You can find it at the Abbeville Farmers market on Thursday evenings and Friday mornings in the Livery Stables on Trinity Street, Abbeville, SC.



Inheritance #2: Nana's yard


My maternal grandparents lived in Abbeville, just about 15 minutes from my house in Due West.  It was always inviting, and my ‘Nana’ Beck would offer all the grandkids peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as well as a comfortable place to visit, inside or out.  The house is about to leave the family so my aunts, uncle, mom and I went to the house to look around for possible trans ‘plants’. 

We found a clematis, a perennial ageratum, crape myrtles, more ajuga, lily bulbs, and a wisteria vine.  I now have them in temporary planted boxes, ready for me to do research and find a spot for them in the garden.


I take a break from the garden for some watermelon and a sandwich for lunch.  My Nana (grandmother) would serve watermelon to my cousins and me in her front yard.  She loved watermelon…and so do I!!



My cousin Josh Fernandez and me eating watermelon on Nana and Grandaddy's front lawn.  I look to be about 12 years old.


Nana's front lawn/garden over the years. Above: my mom in 1963, and below, my mom in the 90's (i think).


Getting started



The official 'before' picture of the deck and yard facing the house.

On June 16th( the very next morning) I woke up at 5am.  I wanted to study my yard for sunlight (I know that sun is one of the main things to keep in mind when planting).  After spending all morning in the yard, I had taken inventory, cleaned, watered and planned out beds for 1 full straight edge of my square backyard.  For lunch, my brother and I had ourselves (what I like to call) a ‘southern lunch’.  A southern lunch: a phrase that describes a long visit lunch at a local place with the probability of drop-into a store or two (preferably antique, thrift or yard sale).  From time to time we like to take southern lunches, especially on a nice summer day.


A few of my favorite local places to eat (that you should check out):

-Grits and Groceries (on the route toward Anderson from Due West)

-Lou and Perrys (Donalds and Honea Path) *this one is where we went the 16th.

-The Dutch Kitchen (on 72 near Abbeville)

-The Dutch Oven (on the square in Abbeville)

-Cold Springs Café (between Abbeville and Due West)

-Howards on Main Deli (Uptown Greenwood)

-Kickers (Uptown Greenwood on Maxwell Avenue)

-The Chicago Grill (Montague Avenue, Greenwood)



I have started a list of categories/ questions to ask myself when considering a plant for my garden.

1.) Water- how much water does it like?

2.) Sun-How much sunlight does it need?


Since I need a home for the hosta, mondo, ferns and acuba plants from Irenes garden, I hurry to work on a few flower beds within the yard.

This is the our wedding reception on October 10th, 2009.  You can see the calla lilies as centerpieces. 


Picture of Calla lily bed this year. (above) Including a nandina, and 2 hosta from Irenes. 



I found an adorable wooden wagon in the side yard of the antique mall in Donalds, perfect for my garden! It needs a bit of color so I grab some flowers at Hobby and Garden Center. I also found a pile of beautiful bricks at my grandparents old house in Abbeville and decided to use them as a border for the edge of the yard.  Digging the trench is fun, and a great workout!! Good grief… drink water, water, water…



Clematis, potted flowers and small bird feeder.


Putting a rope down first as a guide was very helpful, pulling out the grass was the most time consuming part. Cleaning up the pine needles and adding a bit of red mulch on the bed area made a big difference.  Since my yard is a square, I want the edges of the beds to add a few curves to create more of a flow in the yard. 

I have heard that having a trench is great for drainage for the flower beds. This will work as a trench also I think, but I will keep an eye on the drainage. So, lets add it to the list:


The categories to ask myself about a plant:

1.) Water-how much water does it like?

2.) Sun-How much sunlight does it need?

3.) Drainage-What kind of drainage does the soil need to have?

4.) Soil-what kind of soil is the best for it?



Inheritance: Southern Bulbs

A few days later I spoke with my aunt Margo and learned of a luncheon on the 15th of June.  She invited me to join her, along with the company of my uncle Bob, my maternal grandmothers first cousin Irene and her daughter Jane.  Irene is 93 years old.  She looks as if she could be in her late 60's and still have a spit fire spirit and beautifully glowing smile every time I see her. 

Grits and Groceries was the place; one of my favorite places to eat of all time!  We ate lunch under a trellis structure outside in perfect weather.  The tomato pie was the most delicious thing on the table!!


I ordered the farm plate, same as Irene.  It was great and southern, with corn on the cob, squash casserole, green beans (picked that morning), tomatoes and cornbread, topped off with sweet tea.


After lunch, Margo, Jane, and Irene headed over to Irene's home to visit and share plants from the garden.  I was happy to tag along.  Irene's house is a beautiful brich ranch home on the outscurts of Abbeville.  It has a lucious array of bushes, flowers, and grass all along both the front and back yards.  When I was a little girl, I would visit Irene's and have two distinct memories of the place.  One is that I would always look forward to the bright pink blooms on a huge plant near her garage.  I'm not sure of its name, but the blooms were as large as my hand and I would take one home with me, off of the ground of course.  The other memory is of her brother Mays.  He was over at Irene's for a visit, and picked a few grapes and put them in the palm of his hand.  He sat in the den visiting with his hand cupped out into the air.  After a while, I came over and took a grape and run back off into the other room.  


Irene told me that she and her late husband Harold used to plant 'all kinds' of vegetables in the back.  Tomatoes and cucumbers were among them.  Once I visited with Irene a bit inside, I headed ouside to see what the other ladies were up too.  I quickly discovered how peaceful her yard is this time of year.  I walked around and took a look at the plot of land that Irene and Harold used to plant vegetables.  I imagined one day the land being used for gardening edibles again.  A new chapter for the little plot.  For now, there are memories.


I found Jane and Margo near the side of the house, beside the driveway, digging and bagging things.  I helped a little, fetching bags mostly.  When we made our way to the back area of the house, we found that there were many little sprouting acuba bushes.  They asked me if I wanted one to take home.  I hadn't thought about shared plants from Irenes.  I was delighted to have some plants and found a sense of pretection over the plants in the following minutes; moving them into the shade and carefully bagging them.  In all, I brought home nandina, mondo, acuba, hosta, clemitus and ajuga.  Oh my!! This week already I have learned about a dozen plant names that I now own.  That's quadruple the knowledge I knew last week. I couldn't wait to get home, look at my yard which is full of potential and make a plan, but first things first: lemonade.


We finished up and headed back inside to visit and have a relax.  With drinks in hand, we four chit chatted.  All three women have such wonderfully contagious laughs.  Irene tells us about adventures that she and my Grandmother Nana 'Beck' had when they were younger.  Her memory and cheerful spirit is such a delight to listen to and be around.  She told us that her Grandaddy Baughman was sweet on them both "anything we done, was okay with him." she said.  It reminds me of my grandaddy Bond; I was an apple in his eye!  He would always come by Winn-Dixie when I was in high school and buy some grapes to have for me in their fridge when I got off work.


The day was such an inspiration, and a literal feed of plants to my garden, that I was determined to get started digging dirt soon.  My favorite part of the day was being able to be there with Irene, sittin in her chair, beside her beautiful southern view.


Irene in her chair





Inspiration #3: The Bird Watchers

The weekend of June 8-10th, Lee and I took a little trip to Raliegh North Carolina.  We went to spend time with Lee's uncle Barry and aunt Judy as well as cousins Sally and Leslie and their families.  Barry and Judy live in a lovely neighborhood with lots of gardens!  They especially have a great garden with a play area for the grandchildren.  Most of our stay was spent sitting and visiting at the kitchen table, admiring the outdoors through a large bay window.  They have installed bird feeders near by the window to have a good view of the action and the feeders attract all kinds of birds.  Judy has a long list, at least 50 types, of birds that have been spotted in their yard.  They even have an eagles nest with babies roaming the yard from time to time.  


The Gilbreth family.

Left to Right back row: Mike, Sally, Barry, Judy, Lee

Left to Right front fow: Warren, Lexy, Garrett, Eva



The house and time spent was so peaceful.  I loved playing princess and queen with Eva as well as getting grass stains on my shorts from tug of war with eva and her brothers Garrett and Warren.  It was only after the weekend was over that I realized we hadn't watched an TV.  All of our time was spent doing things like riding the golf cart and talking to neighbors, touring the garden, and visiting while Judy peeling potatoes at the kitchen table.  It felt like my childhood, my grandmothers house, my home.  It was such an inspiration!  


A mural that Lee and I passed by while walking to a concert ('The Clean') in Raleigh, NC.

I also visited my Paternal Grandfather 'Pop' last week to see what he was up to.  He has always had something growing in his yard.  It amazes me what all he has done in his lifetime.  Now he has a few tomato and pepper plants.  He makes a great hot pepper jelly that he eats during breakfast everyday.  He has established muskadine and scupanine vines, but things are eating them up this year.  Last year, he gave me a tomato plant and I keep it growing pretty good but it didn't produce red tomatoes in time.  I believe it was late in the season.  It was exciting to have something growing on the deck.


The tomato plant that Pop gave me last year (he gave it to me about 1 foot tall).  I think I let it out grow the wire and next year I want to make sure that it is in the right spot of the yard.  I was still proud of it.


Pops incubation porch corner with each plant labeled.

I know I want to start a little incubation area for new growth, I will have to keep watch on his tips of the trade.



Inspiration #2: Calla Lily Daycare

My only addition to the overgrown square backyard has been a collection of around 6 (I can't remember the exact number) of Calla Lilies, bought by my mother and used as centerpieces at my wedding reception in Oct. 2009.  I planted them directly after the wedding and was disappointed when they wilted away and disappeared.  They haven't bloomed since the wedding, but 4 of them came back this year.  


My Calla Lilies are a beautifully fresh shade of green, especially directly after watered.  It mesmorizes me for an instant after I water them.  The leaves are a graceful and peaceful form, with curves that flow into a soft arch that leads to the tip.  They haven't bloomed, and of course I would love it if they did, but honestly, I haven't been treating them well, caring for them, nor nursing them.  This years appearance is all due to nature.

Last Week, (around tuesday april 12th I believe) Lynn brought over some Sevin spray (written on the bottle) for my calla lilies; something has been nibbling at the leaves.  She told me to spray the plants after watering or after rain.  For the next few days, I watched the weather and went outside to take a look and spray.  I began to truly notice how small and new the lilies are compared to the very grown and large plants all around the yards edge.  



Inspiration #1: Master Gardeners

A few weeks ago, I believe on April 26th at 5:30, the Greenwood Master Gardeners hosted a 'Diagnostic' Meeting at the home of Mary Woodiwiss; a neighbor of mine.  My mother-in-law, Lynn, told me of it and I was delighted to tag along.  There were many areas of the yard that were discussed.  As I am beginning to gather at this meeting, sometimes plants just get little bumps or holes or ants or something that the gardener has to watch and research about in order to care for the plant.  The meeting was exactly that.  The Master Gardeners had researched about 5 plants that are in Mary's yard and discussed each plants tendencies, likes/dislikes, etc.  These are a few things I remember from the meeting:

-some types of vines: grapevine, ivy vine, wisteria (will strangle a tree if let), honeysuckle..

-a crate murtle needs 6-8 hours of sun

-japanese maple dappled shade

-circling roots: open the roots, make hole as large as roots will extend, to encourage growth outward

-mulch around a tree, lay like a bagel or donut but not like a volcano (that might overweight the tree too much)

-dealing with Fire ants: be proactive, dealing sooner rather than later is better, fresh bait, draught makes fireants burrow, therefore it may not be a mound

-the nutritional value of non-native plants are lower than native for the local wildlife (birds)





I especially listened when we gathered around a nandina bush.  I have 3 in my yard and love them.  Apparently it is from the orient; not a native plant. Therefore, the berries may not be quite as nutritious.  Bummer. 


After the meeting around the garden, Mary and her husband were such sweet hosts to provide homemade snacks.  It was an inspiring meeting, and apparently I was one of the few non-master gardeners to attend, but I learned a ton and gained some friends. :)  Thank you to the Master Gardeners for teaching me, Thank you Mary Woodiwiss for hosting such a wonderful event and special thanks to my lovely and wonderful mother-in-law Lynn Bornemann for inviting me.




Step 1: Research and inventory of my yard

My backyard is an inherited assortment of plants in the shape of a square.  It is bordered with trees, overgrown 'bushes' of some kind, a few *azalea bushes that bloomed last year but not this year, and a corner 'tree structure' that blooms a ton of gorgeous white blooms (no idea of the name of it yet).


*Truth be told, I only learned the name of the azaleas due to having so many in the south, you can barely take a successful stroll around our neighborhood without admiring at least half a dozen of them.


My husband Lee bought the house in 2006.  Before we met, he and his parents (Len and Lynn) had taken out bushes in the front, filled out trees in the back, removed ivy vines on the side of the house that were trying to take over they say.  Lynn: "It hadn't been trimmed in a long time when he moved in; it needed some attention." They also planted 3 small bushes in the front as well as a funny huge leaf plant that Lee picked out. It has done very well beside our door and I think it adds great personality to the front.


Since I have moved in, two trees have died.  Well...Theres a great statistic rooting against the potential for my green thumb, but I believe it was years in the making for them both and had little to do with me ( what I tell myself).  A large oak tree in the back yard and a medium sized japanese maple in the front yard. Both dead and gone.  Lynn believes that the japanese maple just had "too many dry years, and it just gave up." How sad...


Over the years, Lynn and Len have helped prune and lay pine straw in the yard.  They recently (right in time for my birthday) planted small flowers in the front flower bed where the japanese maple used to be.  I was so surprised and delighted!!!  


In the front yard is a large 'water oak' tree (as far as I know) in which almost all of the ground underneath is covered with moss.  It's all a pretty green color moss so we have done nothing to it but leave it and enjoy.  In fact, that's pretty much what my motto has been:  Leave it and enjoy.  Until this week.




My name is Ivy.  I am not a gardener. At least I have always considered myself having the farthest thing from a green thumb there is.  Recent events have given me interest in testing this out.  My name is Ivy after all, and I have green eyes, so maybe there is a 'gardener' seed within me that just hasn't been nurished yet.


I grew up cutting grass with a push lawnmower, and occationally watched my dad mow with the tractor.  That is about the extent of 'gardening' experience I have (which is none).  My ignorance in this arena intrigues me.  I love nature. I have always loved being outdoors, in the woods and creeks in Due West, SC as a kid.  My brothers and I would play in the woods all the time, but I never became curious enough to really check out what it was all about, plants that is, until now.


This blog is, and will be, a story about me, a novice gardener, discovering gardening. I will share the learning experiences I come across, the influences toward my growing passion, as well as all of the wonderful terminology / dos & don'ts / Gardening 101 tidbits that maybe you (the readers) can help me out with.  I will ask for suggestions about specific situations throughout, so feel free to send me a response on this blog.  I'll let you know how to respond on a later date, but for now, lets get our hands in some dirt!!!

Blog Stats

  • Total posts(17)
  • Total comments(9)

Forgot your password?