My Kitchen Garden with sound effects!

It wasn’t very long after learning I had a passion for cooking that I planted my first kitchen garden.  It might have even happened at the same time.  Cooking and gardening go together; gathering herbs and vegetables at their peak of flavor, putting them in a basket, bringing them to the kitchen, fresh-picked and unsprayed from our own small garden has been a giant plus for our “cottage of content.” 

I had always dreamed of having a garden with a gate, surrounded by a picket fence.  So one day Joe dug a spot out of our lawn, and I went shopping for plants!  I didn’t want or need a garden any bigger than I could take care of myself.  I just wanted a fragrant path; a place I could go to listen to the bees while digging in the dirt.

I was so excited while Joe was building this, I had it all planted before the gate was on.  Lined in marigolds to help keep pests away (not to mention looking good), I planted mostly things for salad: lettuces, tomatoes, radishes, basil, garlic, chives, mint, lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, camomile, nasturtiums, peppers, lemon cucumbers and lavender. Oh, and strawberries!  So I can gather a few for our breakfast!  These things are always in our garden.  But sometimes I plant purple potatoes too, and sometimes we plant watermelon or pumpkins, for fun.

The next year, Joe put in raised beds with a path that goes all the way around. I added lots of flowers!  Many flowers, all the roses and berries, and some of the herbs, like the chives and thyme, are perennials and come back every year. This is how our garden would look today if this was June!

These are flowers from our garden I dried last year, between the pages of a huge dictionary.  I put them in my diaries and in letters.

But I’m showing you this now so in case you’d like to have a picket-fence kitchen garden of your own this year, you’ll have plenty of time to plan.  A few years back, we were spending half our time out in California, so we bought this big, weed-infested, gopher conservation area (or so it seemed since there were easily one billion of them on this property).  When it came time to plant the lawn, we realized we had to have another kitchen garden.  So Joe took his shovel out to contemplate the spot we’d chosen for it.

Oh yes, he can dig it.

Only this time he did it with a tractor.  Men building gardens is a well-known aphrodisiac, don’t you think?  Need I even say that my favorite Village Person was the guy wearing the tool belt?  Probably not.

He practically had to dig a swimming pool to get the hole deep enough — so that he could line it in hardware cloth to keep the gophers out, and then refill it with dirt.  He is my hero.

And who is the happiest girl?  Me.

And in a very short time, with a little sunshine, fresh air, and water, it looked like this.  A garden is about as close to heaven as you can get on earth.  It’s like church. Breezes blowing, birds singing, sun shining, bee’s buzzing, butterflies fluttering, hummingbirds humming, tomatoes ripening, roses emitting, all done in perfect quiet.

The fence hides the mess inside, because sometimes it’s a wreck in there; there have also been years when we’ve been traveling that I haven’t planted at all.  But the perennials keep it looking nice no matter what.

March is when I like to start planning.  I get out my old garden books and my diary, to see what I did last year.  I look at old photos.  I call my garden “My Toy” because it’s like a toy.  I play with it, redecorate with different flowers every year, try out new things.

This is last year’s basket of bulbs and seeds to plant.  I love gladiolus against a picket fence; I put them in every year. When I was younger, I lived in second floor apartment that had no garden.  I hung a window box outside the window in the kitchen eating area, and filled it with garden soil.  With a  tiny kid’s trowel; I planted a little salad garden that included nasturtiums, lemon thyme, three heads of leaf lettuce (I picked one leaf at a time and left the rest growing); and pansies for the little vase on the table. That’s all there was room for but it was just enough; I could open my window, and voila! There was my garden, practically in the kitchen!

Picket fences also look very nice in the snow.

We don’t cut everything back on purpose, because even stick-dead things look pretty with snow on them!

So if you have a garden like this in mind, here’s the plan:

You can find this drawing on page ten of the Summer Book, if you need it.  And one last little tidbit of information:  Paint your fence with white stain rather than using oil based paint.  Your paint job will last much longer; when it gets old, it will fade rather than chip and you’ll be able to repaint a lot easier.

From my art table, this is the view I have of the garden. I was just looking out there, through the storm windows, past trees with no leaves, and I can picture it just like this, soon, rhododendrons in bloom and May breezes fluttering the curtains.  My toy is gearing up for the season!  OK girls, have a wonderful day! 

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392 Responses to

  1. Terri from Swansboro, NC says:

    Oh how I adore your white picket fence garden(s)! Do you do anything special to keep your dried flowers with beautiful color and not brown clobs? I can’t get mine to look like yours! I have tried many ways, and they still don’t turn out as pretty as yours!! Spring is in just a few short days isn’t it? Have a marvelous first Monday in March! Here in Coastal NC she is coming in like a lioness! LOL!!

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t do anything special to them, just put them between the pages of a book…. but I know the worst thing for them is humidity. That will turn them brown. Enjoy Terri!

      • Carol from Connecticut says:

        I know how to do this. To dry flowers and preserve the colors right away, use your microwave! I learned how from a book that I think is called, “Flower Drying with a Microwave”. It’s so easy that I did the project with kids in school. (I operated the mic oven.) Place 2-3 paper towels on a glass or paper dinner plate. Lay the blossoms on the paper towels with some space in between for water absorption . Place 2-3 paper towels on top of the flowers. Lay a heavy dinner plate on top of the paper towels. Place this ‘sculpture’ in the mic. Lay something heavy on top. A large glass bowl will do. (This is the pressing part…use pressure.) Close the door and mic (low – medium high) for one minute. Check the flowers. Continue to mic at short intervals until the moisture has transferred from the blossoms to the paper towels. The color stays unless you ‘overcook’ and burn the blossoms. After cooking, the plate and flowers will be hot; the flowers flat and in a weakened state. Gently slide the towels with the flowers still on them off the plate and on to the counter. Remove towels that are on the top. Allow the beautiful blossoms to dry thoroughly. Voila! My students and I made a tablecloth using dried Queen Anne’s Lace flowers glued to paper. It was huge. Had a wow factor.

      • Terri from Swansboro, NC says:

        Thanks Susan!!

  2. Marianne from Peoria IL says:

    Oh, what a treat on a cold, snowy March morning…LOVE the musica!!

    Thank you for this Susan.

  3. Lin says:

    Sweet Susan, you have brought a huge smile to my face today! LOVE the birdsong and I’ve always loved seeing your gardens…….thanks for starting my week with a smile! I’ve posted this over on the discussion area of our flickr group for Hero Arts stamps, so hopefully you’ll get some new followers today! BIG hugs to you!

  4. dottie says:

    Lovely, just lovely!

  5. Lesley Baker says:

    Morning Susan! I LOVE your garden.My flowers on the deck are looking lovely at the moment (it’s very early autumn here)..we didn’t have a great summer,but the lack of lots of hot sunshine hours was better for plants in pots…….there’s always a bright side!!!!(sing along now…you gotta ac-centuate the positive,e-liminate the negative….)
    best wishes from Tauranga, NZ.

  6. Oh Susan, I’m so inspired! I’ve always admired your garden with the white picket fence in your photos and have always loved it. We put in a small garden last year, but outlined it with old leftover railroad ties! Not quite a fence but a start. I’ve missed having a garden and I wanted my kids to grow up with the same love of gardening as I have. Admittedly, late summer gets very hot and humid in Southern IL and there are days when I would rather LOOK at the garden from the window than actually WORK out there, but how beautiful it would be with the fence and flowers vining through! Thanks again!

    • sbranch says:

      We have that same problem too, but June is heavenly and most of July too. Not to mention May!

    • Michelle, I learned at a local Mountain Gardener class that you shouldn’t use railroad ties in a garden of edibles do to the chemicals that are in the treated wood. Thought I’d pass on this important info, cause that is exactly what I wanted to use until I found out!
      Happy gardening!

  7. Sandy Richmond says:

    Your garden is just perfect! Thanks for sharing the step by step process with all of us. One side of my house gets alot of shade (the porch side-yay!), but it doesn;t leave me much room for growing things.. I started container gardening last year, just tomatoes and peppers. They were a success so I will plant more things this year. The people that lived there before us (the house is 102 years old) planted alot of bulbs, so something is usually popping up! So fun. I want to try and get a few hydrangea plants going this year too.. My dad always had beautiful gardens. (I always figured he just wanted to get away from us kids. : ) ) Now that I am growing things too, I realize what joy he must have got from it. Once my parents retired into a condo, he took on one gardening “job”, just to keep his hands in the dirt I think!

    • sbranch says:

      My dad is a great gardener too, he especially loves roses, but is always trying something new. Last thing was blueberries in Arizona.

  8. Dolores says:

    Many years ago I handed my sweet husband your book with the garden plan and said “Please, it’s my dream garden, gate and all”. He built it just as you had instructed in your beautiful way and after all these years it is still my favorite place in the yard. Doesn’t matter what season or whats growing it always brings me joy.
    Thank you for my lovely garden!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh you are making tears in my eyes! I have to say, I love mine so much, it makes my day to hear that from you! I love your husband!!!

  9. Priscilla says:

    How romantic! We plant tomatoes, strawberries, herbs, lettuce and zucchini here in Sioux Falls. This old house has a picket gate between the hedges in the back yard that I refuse to take down and replace with a new one.

    Priscilla in SF from CA

  10. jeannine leonard says:

    We must have e.s.p. since I am also getting the gardening fever. I cannot wait to get out and play in the dirt. Veggies and flowers. This year my goal is planting roses, lilies, and a little herb garden, along with my usual veggie garden. Hopefully no bunnies or groundhogs find my treasures. Pretty soon we will be planting peas and radishes and spring onions. I am going to use your garden plan also this year, thank you for helping my creative juices flowing.

    • sbranch says:

      Ahhh lilies and roses; if you live where you can have lavender, it’s so pretty with roses and lilies!

      • jeannine leonard says:

        yes, I did order some, thank you for reminding me that they would like to all be planted together.

  11. Debi says:

    Thank you ! Thank you, thank you. I love the little garden and am so grateful for this post. It’s hard to find plans for a cute small garden (which is all we can do in our yard) but I am super excited to start this project. I’ve made so many sketches – this will be a big help. I have rather a “brown thumb” which is rather sad, but I never stop trying. I’m so happy you were kind enough to share this with us! Have a wonderful day.

  12. Linda says:

    Oh my, your garden makes my heart sing. I have had a picture of it taped inside my kitched cabinet for quite while now, just waiting and waiting for my retirement, Which Is Now! I am soooo going to have a garden like that. I am so happy you have all the steps on the blog today. That’s what I’ve been contemplating, the “How To”. Is Joe available for hire in six weeks or so.! : ))Thanks, for being You, Linda

  13. Gail Buss says:

    Susan, Just absolutely love this and I can’t write much right now since I’m going to run and get my Joe and tell him that this blog was written for him! He has been telling me since we moved here (Fl) that he is making a garden and this is just what he needs to get started. Thanks again. Hugs, Gail & Joe Buss, Beverly Hills, Fl

  14. Martha Ellen says:

    Gardening is where my soul finds peace. I simply adore yours! It’s so charming and just the right size! I think sometimes I tend to go whole hog and overdo it with my intentions in the garden—this is just the right size! There is something about picket fences that is so romantic. Thanks again Susan for brightening my day! ♥

  15. Wendy says:

    So wonderful! And the birdies singing makes me SMILE….there is no music as beautiful as the music that birds make. We have a small forest preserve in our backyard and the birds and squirrels are constant companions. LOVE it!

    Your garden is so perfect. Since we live in a townhome, we aren’t allowed to dig in the yard much – we’d get in trouble if we dug a garden. 🙁 However, I would LOVE to have a container garden with some basics – tomaters, lettuce, carrots, etc. Maybe this summer!

    • sbranch says:

      The littlest thing, if gardening is your cup of tea, makes a big difference!

    • Pat Mofjeld says:

      Wendy, we live in a townhouse and have the same issue: No planting in the ground. But I’ll tell you, we container-garden to the max! We plant tomatoes 2 or 3 to a pot in huge pots. You don’t have to fill the large pots fully wth soil (making them too heavy for the deck)–we flattened gallon water bottles and stacked them in the bottom of the pots and then we put in the soil which makes for good drainage, anyway! We sometimes have at least 28 tomato plants. I love to can tomatoes and make salsa so the tomatoes come in handy plus the folliage gives us a “privacy fence”! One year I planted bush beans in a huge pot, also. Didn’t get a lot of beans–not more than several meals’ worth, but it was fun to watch them grow and really fun to eat! 🙂 This summer I’m planning to try a “salad garden”–plan to plant lettuce, radishes, etc. Seeds don’t cost that much and it is so much fun to garden, even with constraints! 🙂

      • sbranch says:

        Love that Pat, yes, you can do so much with pots! I have an apple tree in a pot! It’s a little one!

        • Sandy Richmond says:

          And Pat failed to mention that she grows beautiful flowers on her deck as well. Stepping out her sliding door, you feel like you are in a secret garden.

  16. Gail Buss says:

    Oh my gosh……………..I will and just reread your blog…………enjoy your “cottage of content”! Gail & Joe

  17. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good Afternnon~
    I cannot wait to get my hands in the dirt!
    We are re-building our garden this year with raised beds and taking the old wire fence down.
    Maybe I should show hubby your picket fence~ wonder if he will change his mind?
    I have been pouring over my Burpee seed catalog and my Weeks rose catalog as well~ imagining what my yard will look like without all that snow!
    My favorite addition to the garden last year was an old white pedestal sink that I filled with water and rocks I collected at the lake. Cannot wait to look for driftwood and beach glass again! Thanks for the winter get~a~way!

  18. Nina says:

    O Susan what a lovely blog again today! You made me laugh when you talked about “your favorite” with the tool belt! lol. About three years ago we moved out of our old house into the one we’re in now and I left behind 3 beautiful blossom trees and one magnolia and a maple tree. We had been in that house quite a long time but with the children growing we moved to a bigger place up the road. I wanted to take ALL the tree’s with me but my hubby would only let me bring one!! I often walk by the old house and the tree’s look beautiful in the spring I know the exact order in which they bloom! Anyway my point is in my new garden it’s more pots than anything so any ideas would be very much appreciated (although I’m thinking I wonder if I could make a little picket fence garden! lol)xx

    • sbranch says:

      As long as the pots are big enough, veggies and herbs will grow very well in them!

      • Nina says:

        I have grown Stawberries & tomato’s I think I’ll try something more adventuerous this year! Thanks Susan for the inspiration. xx

  19. Patricia from Philly says:

    Susan – I’ve just gone to heaven on my lunch hour! Oh, so breathtakingly beautiful!
    Thank you, thank you, for this bit-of-bliss on a day filled with news stories of
    mother nature gone wild.
    What is the name of the pink climbing roses?

    • sbranch says:

      The ones weaving in and out of the picket fence are actually clematis. So happy you liked it!!

      • Patricia from Philly says:

        The 11th picture from the top – the pink roses … what is the name, if you know, please share!

        • sbranch says:

          I would love to tell you, I was looking for the card, I usually keep them, but can’t find it and don’t remember!!

  20. Kim says:

    I just love seeing your garden. I always love spring and summer with the flowers coming and giving their surroundings just that bit of color that makes a person happy. Unfortunately I only have a balcony, but have a couple of hanging baskets for flowers. Last year we had raspberries and tomatoes as well. Things from your own garden/ balcony just somehow taste so much better then the store bought stuff. It is definately time to start at it again soon!
    Have a good day.

  21. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Hello Sweetest Sue! Gorgeous Blog Today! I Love all Your Photos! You are so Cute in Your Garden My Dear! & Oh How I Love Your Snow~Photos! We went to The Strawberry Festival over The Weekend…so Much Fun! I actually Made Fresh Strawberry Smoothies for Breakfast This Morning… Yummy! 🙂 & All Day Sunday Herbster & I worked in The Garden….Temps went down so it was a Gorgeous Cool Springtime Day for Gardening…Flowers Flowers Everywhere! & I Bought these Two Tiny Garden Gnomes…I Love Them! Yay! Wishing You a Glorious Afternoon Sweet Sue…xoxo Poof! 🙂

  22. Pam says:

    Very pretty.

  23. Sherry Svoboda from Abingdon MD says:

    I Love your Garden and you just gave me spring fever, cant wait to get out and
    get dirt under my fingernails. I too am happiest in the garden and it is wonderful therapy for me, All cares and troubles seem to disappear when I am in the garden and nothing thrills me more than to see the happy faces of the flowers
    smiling back at me. Thank you so much for the pictures they are so beautiful its as if I am standing at the gate to your garden waiting to go inside and see everything and enjoy. The birds and listening to them sing are just an added

  24. Barb says:

    Thanks to Lin, I was able to enjoy your beautiful post today, Susan! Your gardens are amazing! I live in Minnesota, so don’t get to plant until May, but I’ll just come back and visit here when I’m in that “I can’t wait for spring” mindset! (which is quite often lately.) Thank you so much for making my day even happier! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Thanks to Lin, I get to meet you Barb! Glad you could stop by. Normally I don’t plant my garden until June 1, but this is such a different year, I think we’ll be able to do it by May for sure!

  25. Jan says:

    Always enjoy the pictures of your garden and flowers, so charming! Yes, I wish Spring would hurry up and get here. Am receiving all those gardening catalogs in the mail. There is nothing like working with your hands in the warm soil. I have a small raised two level garden box my husband built me and we too, enjoy the fresh vegetables from it. Would love to have a picket fence like yours, and the idea of the paths between and around areas would be great! Sun is shining brightly here today and is suppose to warm up later in the week. Yay!

  26. Georgie says:

    Oh Susan! You read my mind! I was browsing through the Summer Book this weekend and fell in love with the “Kitchen Garden” And, today, here it is in your blog!!! I have a spot all picked out in my back yard to create one! We have Day Lilies, Soldier’s Caps, Hostas, and Sweet Lily of the Valleys I would love to naturalize with! Your blog has spurned me forward towards my dream. I also need to have a Yard Sale (and would have loved to come to yours… all of those filled tables looked so inviting…)

    Do you still have the Bee Skep Basket in your store? Oh I must check! That looks like a fun item to have! I do hope your girlfriend had a wonderful stay with you last week! My goodness… When do you have any time for you? Blogs… Recipes… Pictures… Painting… Writing Books… Designing Calendars, Fabrics, Cupcake Toppers… Planting Gardens… Playing with Jack and Girl Kitty… Dreaming…

    Thanks for bringing us along as you Seize the Day!
    P.S. What is the cute pink flowering vine on your white fence?

    • Georgie says:

      Just saw the answer to my question in an earlier post… clematis! Thanks!

    • sbranch says:

      The last I heard, and we were all screaming because of this, was that the bee skeps aren’t being made anymore!!!! They’ve been discontinued. It took me forever to find that source, but I will try again — they are such lovely things to have in a garden.

      • Georgie says:

        I found them in your store!!! YIPEE!

        Now I’ve got to work on getting the garden to go with it!

  27. Laura Croyle says:

    Of all your beautiful and wonderful posts, this has to be one of my favorites! Thanks for sharing all the details of your adorable garden! I love growing things and have a veggie garden, but it is fenced with just plain ol’ field fencing. We have lots of critters here in semi-rural Western Washington. The moles like to burrow through the garden just after I’ve planted my veggie seeds!! (the stinkers!) Then there’s rabbits and the deer. Sometimes the rabbits get through the fence and eat my lettuce and bush bean tops. We have apple trees and have caught the deer nibbling on, not only the apples, but the tender new leaves on the lower branches. Then they jumped the fence into the garden and started nibbling the carrot tops last year! I love wildlife but sometimes it can be a challenge to deter them! However, I look forward to planting my veggie garden every year. I call it my excuse to dig in the dirt! 🙂 It’s pouring down rain here today (lumpy rain mixed with snow!) so this was truly a Delight for the senses!

  28. Tora says:

    Reading your blog as I sit looking out my kitchen window at snow on the deck rail. “Sigh,” spring is coming to Chagrin Falls, Ohio but it’s taking it’s good ole’ time! Tomorrow it’s exected to be 51 degrees and in the 60’s on Wednesday. I can almost smell the loamy soil and hear those robins and cardinals chirping now!

    I love your blog. New England, to me, is pure heaven, and I think Martha’s Vineyard is it’s heart!

    Thanks for your post.

  29. Fran Sigdestad says:

    Good Afternoon girlfriend. Love, love your garden. Wish we could sit there and have a cup of tea. I also love the smell of the earth as you turn the soil. You just know something good will come from it. There is nothing better than a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich from the first tomatoes. Have fun planning. Hugs, Fran

  30. Pam T. says:

    Your garden is so lovely. Sadly, I am not blessed with a “green thumb”, but my husband and younger son have been and also have inherited my Dad’s and my husband’s grandmother’s passion for gardening. When I was little, finding the first vine-ripened tomatoes on the kitchen counter ready for slicing was so exciting. You just can’t get tomatoes in a grocery store that taste like that. Thank you, today for the lovely birdsongs. There are many things I miss about the midwest, and the riotous bird songs in spring time is among them. We do have a few song birds here from time to time, but nothing like I remember from childhood in KS. It was a little trip down memory lane listening to them today. 🙂

  31. peg says:

    Totally dig it!!! Moving the roses off of the driveway a week from Saturday (St. Pat’s day) and reworking the soil for veggies! Can’t wait!!! Sunflowers, zuchinis, pumpkins and tomatos. Time to pull out the Summer book (even though it’s just almost spring!). Thanks, Sue…great post! ♥

  32. Holly says:

    Ahhhh…. more photos for the soul. I could look all day at photos of flowers, gardens, and birdhouses. For the last 2 years, we’ve turned a warehouse built in 1839 into our home, studios, business place, etc… But all along, we’ve reserved one giant 30 yard x 200 yard spot for raised bed gardens, crushed stone pathways, a chicken coup, a rabbit hutch, and lots of roses! It’s finally time to start building it! I’ve been taking notes from your kitchen garden postings. We do have two problems though, a huge behive discovered in one of our garden side wall, and a fat groundhog that has dug under our loading dock, and has his front door where the chickens should be! How do you evict a groundhog? I don’t mind the bees. I think they could be relocated to hives… ummmm… free honey!

  33. barb bussell says:

    Susan, you’re such a generous girl, to share so much with the rest of us. Photos, thoughts, plans, even the view from your art table window. Everything makes me feel like I could just reach out and hand you a cup of coffee, or tea. Thanks for everything. You’ve got me smiling and daydreaming.
    Always a fan,

  34. Kimi says:

    Hi Susan

    I can only come up with this thought! {JUST BEAUTIFUL}”Oh Yes One more thing one can almost see Peter Rabbit…xo

  35. Carol from Connecticut says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you so, so much for the birdie songs. I play and play and play the birdies over and over and over. Is there any sweeter music on earth? It is evident that your skillful, creative, artful eye carries right over into your garden design. Your garden is like a work of art on canvas and the frame is the white picket fence. Your ‘painting’ hangs on your museum wall called your yard and home. The artist in you jumps off the canvas and continues out into your world and ours. You send so much cheer and -eye and ear candy- to all of us every time you hit ‘send’. Thank-you! P.S. So happy to see the pink clematis montana weaving in and out of your fence. I love its scent! I’m a real fan of the scented clematis plants…especially ‘sweet autumn’. Cheerio!

    • sbranch says:

      Me too, love clematis — this is my first time growing it!

      • Carol from Connecticut says:

        If you love clematis then you will love pairing it with “New Dawn” climbing rose. Pink “New Dawn” LOVES to have clematis climbing all over and through it. A blue clematis looks spectacular all winding through this rose. Here’s a picture of “New Dawn”:

        • sbranch says:

          New Dawn is what climbs over our arbor. LOVE IT. Pure romance! Love your idea to put it with blue, how gorgeous that would be!

          • Carol from Connecticut says:

            So sorry I missed this the first time around. WFF has a picture of New Dawn with blue clematis as a paired planting…..
            I once saw a planting of clematis meandering through evergreen bushes in someone’s front yard. Gorgeous! I love using ‘sweet autumn’ clematis as a ground cover rather than a climber. I could blab on and on about clematis I love it so much. Tra-la-la !

          • sbranch says:

            I fell in love with roses climbing an apple tree!!! I saw it in England, so pretty!

      • Becky says:

        I have a Montana clematis too. It has been growing on our deck railing for about seven years. It completely covers one side and forms a veil all the way to the ground. It has a sweet vanilla scent when it blooms. I have read that it’s name is Elizabeth.

        • sbranch says:

          Aren’t they heaven? I learned about them in England. They don’t want to grow everywhere.

  36. Carol W. says:

    Every day I enjoy your latest blog better than the previous one. Today tops them all!! Everything is just lovely. Thank you for taking the time to ‘enrich’ our lives!!

    Carol (Daisy) S.E. Wisconsin

  37. beebarbs says:

    Thank you, Susan — we’re just sooo hungry for the smell of the dirt and your lovely blog today helped a lot! Here in the Pac Northwest, we can plant peas now and violets, camellias and early rhododendrons are blooming — I will live! Great tip on painting (staining) the fence too!

  38. Karen Saunders says:

    i can remember growing up in Grants Pass where every year they had a Gladiolus Parade. all the floats were covered in Gladiolus and it was just beautiful. out of town were huge fields of gladiolus of different colors. they shipped the bulbs all over the world. now the fields are gone but when i see them planted here and there it immediately takes me back to my sweet childhood. (nice tip on fence- paint) also…what are those big green bushes inside your garden. i love boxwood hedges….i have them in pots sitting all around and i experience great joy in cutting them as round as i can get them…..i’m a lover of round anything!!

  39. Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

    Hi, Susan and girlfriends~
    What a pretty garden you have! I, too, love gardening and I agree- cooking and gardening go so well together.
    We have about an acre of property and when my grandparents lived here, they had fruit trees, berry bushes, a small vegetable garden and lots of roses, peonies, lillies and spirea bushes. Well, when my family moved in (7 kids, ages nb-10), the landscape began to change. One by one, the fruit trees had to be cut down from disease or lightning strikes. My dad didn’t like the mess under the trees so before long they were all gone. My mom suffered from asthma and couldn’t be outside much and around flowers so they weren’t tended to. And my 3 little brothers, along with the rest of the neighborhood boys, turned the backyard into a baseball diamond! The front yard became a dirt track for their matchbox cars! By the time everyone had grown up, the place looked pretty run down to say the least.
    Then my husband and I bought it and we’ve been restoring and beautifying the property for the past 30+ years! Every year, I add something new to my gardens…yes, gardens. Sometimes, I think we’ve created a monster but most days I think it’s like living in heaven on earth. With so many flowers, we’ve attracted butterflies, bees, dragonflies and all kinds of beautiful birds. Someday, I’ll tell you about my herb garden…it’s awesome.
    I do want to share my favorite gardening quote as you were so kind to share so many lovely quotes with us: “Everything that slows us down and forces patience; everything that sets us back into the slow cycles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” -May Sarton
    The sun is shining but the air is very cold here today….we’re expecting record heat (in the 60s) on Wednesday! Spring is on it’s way!
    Have a wonderful week ahead…I’ll talk to you soon…

    • Charlene Hisayasu says:

      Debbie…I love your family story of living on the same property for three generations! What a wonderful heritage! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

      • Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

        Hi, Charleen~
        I often wonder, if this old house could talk, what would it have to say?
        Our property was the site of the first Catholic church in Weedsport in the late 1800’s. The church was destroyed when a bigger one was built across town. Our home, which was the church rectory, remained. My grandmother told me that the priest lived here as well as a monument maker (grave stones). That would explain the many chunks of granite that we dug up as we cultivated our gardens! My grandparents bought it around 1940.
        After many additions and bump-outs and other structural changes (Grandpa told me that he removed 5 doorways to open up the floor plan!), this old house became the home where we raised our family. It is VERY old and a bit of a “money pit” but filled with such character and charm. I can feel it’s breath and heartbeat as I go about my daily rounds. Even though we’re approaching a time in our lives when we think about down-sizing and maybe moving…I know in my heart, I never could! This is a case where the sentimental value far outweighs any practical thinking!

  40. I love your garden! I was finally able to get my picket fence around my veggie garden last year 🙂 Went out and bought the fencing and dh put it in, finally!

    It’s nothing like yours… I love the raised bed idea 🙂

    Nice happy pictures 🙂

  41. Debbie Anderson says:

    I’m like you – I can’t wait to get my hands dirty each spring. We just enlarged our veggie garden and I’m waiting for a truck load of compost. Got my seeds ready to go! Thanks for all your wonderful pictures.

  42. April Anderson says:

    Enjoyed seeing your kitchen garden pics! What a great guy you have, too! Would you please tell me the name of the large purple-flowering mound outside the top left corner of your garden’s fence in the first photo? It’s really beautiful!

  43. Deborah Winter says:

    Hi Susan!

    Love your garden and thanks for the tip to use white stain! I was wondering if you ever considered having birdhouses available for sale (you sure have some adorable ones) and if you could recreate that cute shelf with hearts that someone made for you long ago and is in the Peter Rabbit room? I collect hearts and it would be a perfect place to showcase my collection. Just a thought . . .

    • sbranch says:

      I would love to do that! Wait till I get the chance to show you my pantry shelves. They are only 3″ deep but they hold a ton of stuff!

  44. Jacquelyn Wirthlin .... Las Vegas, Nevada says:

    I’ve always loved your garden so this post was icing on the cake! My garden has mostly herbs, lavender, and hydrangias … things that are rabbit proof and deer resistant. Some large containers on the decks with “color” but the deer are so fond of geraniums that I had to stop supplying them with dessert! I love to dry cut hydrangias over the winter and use them in arrangements the following year. Your pressed flowers are beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration once again.

    • sbranch says:

      Deer. So cute, and yet, so unacceptable in mixed company. I swear something worked one time for me. A mixture of cayenne, soap suds, water and a little bit of cooking oil. Poured it over the leaves of my roses, and they never came back. Coincidence? I’ll never know.

      • Jacquelyn Wirthlin .... Las Vegas, Nevada says:

        Thank you Sue, I will try that solution! I tried the bar of Irish Spring soap trick and the deer just gained weight on the Geraniums … I think they would come in the house for a good bunch of Sweet Peas or tomato red Geraniums … lol

        • sbranch says:

          I’m sure they would!!!

          • Carol from Connecticut says:

            If you spread human hair in your garden you will probably be able to repel deer. I’ve heard this from a few sources. I’m lucky. My niece is a hairdresser and provided me with a large bag. Powdered coyote urine (find in a garden supply store) will also repel deer and small animals. I’m trying both of these for the first time this year. So far my spring bulbs are still in the ground except for one spot I missed (!) when placing the powder.

          • sbranch says:

            Good advice, never give up!

  45. Joy Pence says:

    Oh Susan…thank you for the beautiful blog today. I was feeling blue; my oldest daughter came to visit from Virginia and left this morning, so I have been blue. I needed to happiness, so I got on your blog and low and behold there it was….your beautiful kitchen garden! So as I was scrolling down looking at the beautiful pictures, something amazing happened…I wasn’t quite as sad anymore. I had recently bought your Summer book and was showing my husband the kitchen garden, so the wheels are turning and plans are being made!!! Thank you for making this sad mom happy today! (Joy from Ohio)

  46. Love your sound effects–especially with the snow flurries we’re having here in Maryland today! Your Foxglove are huge and beautiful! Can you tell us what fertilizer you use? Mine don’t ever look that good! My Hollyhocks don’t ever look like the seed packet picture either 🙁

    • sbranch says:

      I make compost from kitchen refuse. I’ll do a blog on it someday. I’ve done tests on my tomatoes, with it, and without it. It’s night and day!

      • Martha Ellen says:

        I so agree about the compost. It is so easy to make–I have an area out back behind our fence with 3 huge piles. We put all kitchen scraps -veggie peelings , tea leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells—no fat or meat items. We then add all the leaves from the yard in the fall. Magically we get the most gorgeous compost in 3 years. I know you can make it faster by turning it and adding lime and water to it-but we like easy. With 3 piles we have it for use every year. I use it to pot all my urns etc. We also put it all over the flower beds. I like to call it black gold!! No fertilizer needed!!

  47. Julie says:

    Where else-
    can one go, to get a heapin’, helpin’ serving
    of “Gophers, Picket Fences & the Village People” ?

    Love the “Quiet” of Winter-
    seeing the trees, bare bones & lacy branches
    makes one appreciate
    them even more, when in bloom.

    Speaking of good planning-
    Thank God, for gracing us with something green, all year long.
    Evergreens & Pines-
    they stand tall & brave, casting protective shadows
    through the night, like palace guards.

    Your garden is gorgeous in Summer & Winter-
    The winter scene is “Dr. Zhivago” magical,
    looks like everything,
    is covered in powdered sugar,
    just like……your delicious banana fritters.

    Haven’t tried them yet,
    but thanks to you,
    we’re planning to kick off the coming weekend
    with a “Banana Fritter Friday”.

    Got a good “Gopher Fritter” recipe, up your sleeve ?

    Growing up, in a small hometown-
    there was an elderly couple, on the corner,
    named George & Virginia Gopher.

    Mr. & Mrs. Gopher always gave out, the 5-pak of “Chuckles” for Halloween.
    Virginia Gopher wore gingham aprons
    and George Gopher always had an “Eveready” flashlight,
    hanging out of his back pocket.
    Not sure why-
    we thought maybe, he searched for nightcrawlers,
    but that didn’t explain why he carried it,
    all day long, where ever he roamed ?
    Life IS a mystery !

    They were Disney-darlin’ though…..unlike your California gophers.

    Have a wonderful, gopher-free week, Susan !

  48. Cathy Geisler says:

    Hi Susan,

    Once again you’ve set my soul a humming and my mind a dreaming! Loved the Musica too ♥ Thanks!

    Take care,

  49. Susan says:

    I’m so jealous! I live in the CO mountains now, and while it’s gorgeous here too we cant plant flowers or plants of any kind because it’s deer and elk “Candy” and they’ll eat it all over night. There are some people here who put up 8′ fences to keep the critters out but that seems a little crazy to me, I mean, this was their house first!
    But oh, how I miss my flower garden! I still get that “spring fever” when I go to the valley and see the outdoor flower shops spring up in the parking lots of all the stores, I want to buy one of everything! I miss terribly going to my grandma’s house and picking lilly of the valley, and smelling all the roses.

    • Chris Wells says:

      Okay, so roses are deer food! But there are lots and lots of plants, with flowers, that are deer resistant! I live in West Texas and fed the deer MANY expensive plants until I figured it out. If I may mention High Country Gardens in Sante Fe. Google it. Everything has symbols as to watering requirements, attracts hummingbirds, butterfies, deer or rabbit resistant. I could hardly garden without them! They SHIP. And they are perfect for the western states. Everything I plant here must be drought tolerant and deer resistant, those are my criteria. Then I have to surround it in little wire cages to keep the armadillos from digging it up (the groundhog of the west!) until it is established and I can take down the fences. Where there’s a will there’s a way! I have something blooming from March thru Oct, if God sends the rains! I would love an old fashion English Garden with the plants of my childhood, but I have also learned to love these new hardy plants that seem to survive harsh western weather, extreme heat, drought, hail and extreme cold! I get my English garden fix from Susan when she posts those beautiful pictures. It makes my heart sing. But I have beautiful blooms too, they are just different! Happy Gardening Chris

      • sbranch says:

        The biggest trick to happy gardening is to get the plants that like it where you live!! There is something for everyone!

      • Pam T. says:

        Thanks for the tip, Chris! Although deer aren’t an issue for us in So. California, bunnies definitely are! They seem to particularly enjoy our pansies and Gerbera daisies. *sigh* I’ve ordered a catalog so I can find some new favorites that the bunnies will ignore and won’t require so much water! I’m so glad I happened to read your post! 🙂

  50. Carla says:

    What a beautiful post for a cold March day (although it IS sunny here in Michigan today). I am in love with the musica…..would never have thought to look up such beautiful sounds on youtube. I’m on my way to see if they have ocean waves too!
    Have an absolutely awesome day !!


  51. Ann says:

    A great post for a cold dreary Monday. It is almost like “Gardening 101”. You teach us so much here. Thanks.

  52. Lynn B says:

    Love the matching picket fence on the bird house… can’t wait for those May breezes… thank you for the inspiration!

  53. pat addison says:

    good morning susan, everyone, how are you all this march afternoon??? ahhhh gardens, yes its time to get busy and plan for the summer veggie garden, first have to rototill the ground a couple of times (after all the snows and rain are gone), then get rid mr molr and miss gopher, and repair the fence and make the fence higher so the chickens stay out of the garden. must getting towards that time of year, hubby is drooling already for fresh tomatoes from the garden, he loves his tomatoes and refuses to buy store tomatoes. can’t really blame him there. they have no smell and no taste. also time to get the ground ready for my pumpkin patch, for the what i call my kitchen garden which has lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, beans, and herbs like parsley, and thyme and a few others. also time to start thinking about spring cleaning the house, the henhouse and the yard!!!!! busy time of year around here, and i can’t wait for the farmer’s market to start up again, love going there for shopping and selling. have a wonderful day. hugs…… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I know how your husband feels, there is nothing like a warm from the garden summer tomato!!!

      • pat addison says:

        LOL!! he loves his tomatoes, but he plants so many plants each summer that we practically give away most of them, this year i plan to put up salsa, fresh salsa. oh and we hang our strawberries in a basket out by the kitchen porch, they get the best of the sunshine there and its easy to get some strawberries in the morning for breakfast, or to add in a dessert, yogurt or cereal. i have to be careful as i am allergic to tomatoes and strawberries and it kills me as i love strawberries.

        • Charlene Hisayasu says:

          Pat…you are a jewel to be allergic and still support your husband’s love of tomatoes! =) I, too, love/grow tomatoes and, last summer, found a fresh tomato sauce recipe that can be frozen. In January, my husband and I still had the thrill of fresh tomatoes with veggies/pasta! I found it on Christopher Kimball’s Cooks Illustrated website. Thanks for sharing…

  54. Kim says:

    I have been enjoying your charming drawing in the Summer book for a few years. To see it now in photographs is so fun and even more fun to hear all of the delicious details from you. I’m still giggling over your favorite Village People choice. :-).

    • sbranch says:

      Didn’t everyone have a favorite? Have I given away to much?

      • Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

        Every year @ our local high school, the senior government classes put on an old-fashioned USO show for part of the Memorial Day celebration; complete with “Bob Hope” and several other musical acts. A couple of years ago, when my youngest was a senior, he and several of his friends were the “Village People”. It was so funny but so good! My son was the guy with the hard hat and tool belt! They were so well-received by all the veterans, they were asked to ride on a float in full costume for our annual Firemen’s Parade later in June! Of course, they sang YMCA! So fun!

  55. Sarah Powell says:

    Ahhhh…… Sigh……one more l o n g Sigh.
    And a single loud, WAAAAAAA!
    Green, Pink, Crispy White, with a splash of Blue makes my heart sing. Not sure picture I loved the most, Joe on a tractor, the dried flowers, or the snowy picket fence.
    Thanks again for yet another lovely-romantic-inspirational-informational posting! Clever you.
    xoxox Sarah

    • sbranch says:

      Have I told you lately that I love you? xoxo Sarah! Girls, this is my dear BFF Sarah who has lived on her boat for several years and is sailing down the coast of Mexico taking beautiful pictures and telling wonderful stories, if you’d like to see, visit her blog

  56. Country Gal says:

    Your gardens are beautiful ! Funny thing, Papa and I have been discussing white picket fencing for a corner garden, he is a wood worker and will be making my white picket garden fence ! I cant wait to get my hands dirty in my flower gardens ! I might try my hands at a veggie garden next spring , Papa and I will build it and prepare it this summer . It is spring like here grass is greening up buds are busting at the seems and our migrating birds are all coming back like the Robin my favorite bird I saw and heard him last week and this morning as the sun was rising ! Have a good day !

  57. marilyn williams says:

    Thank you so much for a fun break in my day. Makes me want to get some lettuce in the ground , perhaps Thursday. I have to hide my veggies from the deer, so alas no picket fence for us on this property – only in my imagination : ).

    • Joy Pence says:

      Marilyn: We are in Ohio, and we have lettuce coming up right now!! In a flower planter in our kitchen my husband has planted black seeded simpson and it is up, in another couple weeks I will have wilted lettuce! So get your hands dirty even before you can get outside. We just keep it in front of our sliding glass windows. Give it a try…the deer won’t even get to nibble on this lettuce!

  58. JoEllen says:

    Your Summer Book was my first. I knew I loved you immediately. And I love u still. Have toured my roses and they are faithfully sending out little pink buds, even tho they look dead, dead, dead. The iris r up, peeking thro snow this morning, but it’s melting. Indiana is gearing up for spring! xoxo (alicesroses)

  59. Debra V. says:

    Hello Susan,
    Absolutely loved the music and the garden tour. I love that picture in the Summer book of the garden plans. I leave it open on a book stand so I can view it often for inspiration each year. I haven’t actually been able to make a large garden in my backyard. So I slip Tomato plants on the side of my front yard near a Rosemary bush. I plant Basil, Parsley, Lemon Thyme, and English Thyme inbetween plants throughout my front flowerbeds. Then when I need herbs or tomatoes I walk out the front door and within a couple of minutes I’m able to bring in “fresh produce”. I absolutely love it! This year I hope to actually make an area using your plans complete with a picket fence to grow some of the bigger stuff, like squash, purple potatoes, cucumbers and melons. Thanks for always being so inspirational!

  60. LindaH says:

    Thank you for this very refreshing post! It was amazingly pleasant hearing the outdoor sound effects while viewing your little plot of heaven. Pretty soon, now!

  61. Nancy M. says:

    love the bird songs!

  62. Heartsdesire says:

    This is definitely the time of year to be dreaming of a garden, looking through magazines for ideas on what to plant. I like your idea of a kitchen garden inside the fence and flowers outside. I love having both. This year, I’m having raised beds built and maybe a white picket fence to surround them. My knees aren’t very good, so raised beds are definitely the answer. Here on the west (wet) coast, snow peas are starting to poke up even though it is still quite chilly. A must on my list of flowers are sweet peas and I think they can be planted very soon now. The smell is intoxicating. Thanks for the plan of your beautiful garden. It’s so inspiring. And I look forward to a detailed post when the planting starts.

  63. Andrea says:

    Good Afternoon Susan – Your gardens are beautiful! The pictures brightened my day. Thanks for sharing. I’ve always wanted picket fences and I’m sooooooo ready for Spring. Take Care – Andrea – Boyertown, PA

  64. Judy Dow says:

    Oh Susan! You have once again made my day. When moving back home to granger, Indiana after living in Tucson for 7 years, my aunt bought me your summer book. My wonderful husband surprised me by putting our version of your garden in our backyard. I love it from April to October every day. From November to March I love thinking about what to change for next year. This year I need to paint the white picket fence but I will have fun doing that with a girlfriend (Ethel and I’m Lucy. Remember us?). I will have to make one of your recipes that day for our painting lunch break. Guess it best no be the Skip and Go Nakeds! Maybe we can have those when we finish. Please keep us updated on your garden plans this year. Right now I’m planning more veggies. I am giving perennial starts to my daughter for her new home that actually came with a garden spot. Thanks for a spring thought on this snowy March day!

    • sbranch says:

      Do you two really think you are the right pair to be painting a fence?

      • judy dow says:

        Probably not. That is why we can’t have any Skip n Go Nakeds till it’s finished.

        • sbranch says:

          I get it! 🙂

          • Cathy McC. says:

            Okay, girls, Ethel has to get in on this too! I’ve painted many a fence in my day, AND I’ve handled many a Skip and Go Naked, so I think I can handle the task. Seriously, I am so thankful for Lucy’s backyard garden, as our yard is a bit too small for such a treasure. I thank you both for your gifts to me! Are there really lemon cucumbers? Yum! (Thanks for the tip on the white stain:)

          • sbranch says:

            Lucy and Ethel got things done! Yes, lemon cucumbers!

        • Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

          Ok, I’m LOL and visualizing you two in your painter’s hats, brush in one hand and drink in the other! :)Do tell us more about the Skip and Go Naked….it IS a drink, right?

  65. Doreen Strain (from Florida) says:

    Sue you’re cracking me up “even stick-dead looks pretty with snow on them” ! Just too funny. Your garden looks beautiful. Maybe I’ll keep this idea in mind for when I move back up to the New England area in a few years. In the meantime…it doesn’t hurt to dream! Thanks for being an inspiration. FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  66. Mary Cunningham says:

    Hi Susan, I’d love to have a garden, no dirt, we live in Indiana limestone and clay country, we would have to truck in soil and then figure out how to keep the deer from snacking on everything, but I can dream…..we had snow last night, spring again tomorrow!Crazy Indiana weather….listening to the songs of the birds, which I will share on Facebook! Happy seed catalog shopping!

    • sbranch says:

      Do you plant pots. . . you have total control in pots . . . as long as they’re big enough. One large pot can give you quite a little kitchen garden.

  67. Brenda from Saskatchewan, Canada says:

    This was a perfect entry for today, Susan. Here we plant about the 3rd weekend in June, but I have been adding to my seed stash and planning, planning, planning what my garden will look like this year. Your blog entry has added inspiration.

    • Brenda from Saskatchewan, Canada says:

      May, not June. Why did my fingers type June when I was thinking May?

  68. Karen P - Wisconsin says:

    Love the inspiration that comes from seeing your garden! Have I mentioned that there is one that looks like it in the movie “Practical Magic?” Maybe I have….don’t remember. When I recently watched that movie I said to myself, “Self, that’s Susan Branch’s white picket fence garden!” Anyway, it’s simply enchanting. I love that quote by Mirabel Osler…is that someone you know because I’m sure she was talking about you when she said that!? xoxo…kp

    • sbranch says:

      No, I don’t know her, but she was definitely talking about me.

      • Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

        I had never seen this quote but I love it! I think gardeners are happy people! My neighbor often hollers out her kitchen window when she sees me, “There’s the Happy Gardener!” I really do find myself with a smile on my face when I’m playing in my garden!

        • Karen P - Wisconsin says:

          Nancy, I had not heard of Mirabel Osler, either, but I loved that quote so much and thought she must be a sweet soul to write something like that. So, I looked her up online. Found out she’s from England (which, in itself set me up to love her!) and writes many books. So, I have a book on order called “A Gentle Plea for Chaos: The Enchantment of a Garden.” Sounds like the way I garden….nothing too awful neat and organized so I have to check her out!

          • Karen P - Wisconsin says:

            Ooops… sorry, Debbie! I called you Nancy (I was reading something earlier from a Nancy).

  69. Lori C. says:

    Sweetest of Sue’s,
    The first time I saw your Summer Book – I just stared and stared … and then I guess what … stared … at your enchanted little white picket fence garden with your straw hat hanging on the fence … just couldn’t get enough of it! It satisfied some great need/craving/longing inside of me. A feast for the eyes here in Arizona where our landscapes are seer and tawny.
    If in your extremely busy schedule you get the chance, please read Kate Morton’s book, The Enchanted Garden. I think you two will love each other. :o)

  70. Kit says:

    The bird song has me sitting here with the silliest smile on my face. Love it! Your garden is lovely. I especially love the fence. And I agree with you, a man building anything gets my blood surging, but especially my hubby who built me a new garden house 2 years ago. This year he is creating a new front porch for me. Ya gotta love a handy man! Kit

  71. Deb from Dixie says:

    Just loved your post today!
    Both your gardens are beautiful…… the charm of it all is…….just the Bees Knees!
    I love flowers too and give it my best shot every year, take out all my garden books, plan my container gardens ( since I don’t have a lot of luck in southern clay)…..and just when all the flowers look, well scrumptious and yummy……. the deer eat them….wild flowers, roses, pansies, shrubs you name it…ugh!
    So I am glad you shared the tip about the pepper, I am going to try that this year.
    Most years…..I give up and go to the farmers market. But this year, I am going to try a very small raised bed, made from rail road ties…..for just a few veges and hopefully some raspberries. So, I have a question…..
    I noticed that in your gardens, you mix flowers and vegetables, and used the marigolds as a border. Do your veges ever take on the flavor of the flowers? Or are there certain flowers you never plant near veges?
    And like all the girlfriends……..I think Joe is a gem…..!!!!!
    Lemon cucumbers? those sound interesting too, never heard of them…….another new variety to explore….♥ thanks!

    • sbranch says:

      Flowers are fine with vegetables, nothing takes on flavors of other things. They look beautiful too! Lemon cucumbers are round and yellow!

    • Watch out for railroad ties, Master Gardeners teacher told our class that they have chemicals in them! Not safe around edible plants!

      • Deb from Dixie says:

        Hi Jeannie!
        Wow…..Thanks so much for letting me know about the railroad ties…they sell them at our local nursery…and they looked like they would be perfect for a raised bed…..good to know they are not the right choice when planting edible plants…..I will look at another option. ♥

        • Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

          Hi, Deb~
          I’ve seen kits for raised gardens, made from recycled materials, in mail-order catalogues…they’re probably at the bigger home and garden centers, too.
          Just a tip about flowers and veggies..there are many combinations that actually help the veggies. The moth that lays the tomato worm is repelled by the scent of the marigold so I always plant them together. I also heard that cucumbers and nasturtiums go well together….and nasturtiums are edible…so pretty and peppery on a salad!

          • Deb from Dixie says:

            Hi Debbie!
            Thanks so much for the kit idea. I will look for one next time I go to the Home & Garden store….and I really like the “green” aspect too. I noticed Susan used marigolds around the edges of her garden, very pretty…so glad you mentioned they also ward off the dreaded tomato worms…..I will definately be planting them… DEFENSE!
            thanks again!

          • sbranch says:

            You know what else? They are the perfect fall bouquet to bring into the house!!!

  72. Claudia says:

    I love my flower gardens and every year I flirt with the idea of a kitchen garden but we have so many deer and bunnies on this property that I don’t know if it might not be an exercise in frustration! But, oh, I want one.


  73. Lisa R (northern Arizona) says:

    What a treat! I love your kitchen garden Susan! You are right, cooking and gardening just go hand in hand. The simple summer pleasures of walking out to your garden, and picking fresh vegetables for dinner. Often I start the bbq grill, stroll to the chicken coop to gather eggs, then on down to the garden for a basket of veggies. It truly is heaven on earth! I always plant a big patch of zinnias right in the center of my garden. I think they are one of the easiest flowers to grow. You’ve convinced me to put in some gladiolas and hollyhocks this year too. Hope they grow easy! Your garden is very beautiful. Thank you for the inspiration, and also a peek at your garden journal. So cute. I could read a blog post every day about your journaling! Pen to paper, another simple pleasure.♥

    • sbranch says:

      Beautiful comment Lisa, thank you! I love reading everyone’s comments . . . we’re so lucky!

      • Lisa R (northern Arizona) says:

        I too love all the comments Susan, and I’m very sincere when I say you have the most wonderful blog on the entire web! I’ve looked at a lot of blogs, and now just keep up with a handful I enjoy, but there is something so special about yours. It’s so warm, welcoming, and personal. You make us feel like we are right there having a conversation with you. That is a beautiful gift that you have. Thank you for sharing it with us!

        • sbranch says:

          Thank you Lisa, I think it’s the magic of the internet . . . here we both are! Amazing!

  74. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Nice surprise – the chirping birds & the beautiful you & your gardens! I just came in from having lunch outside & reading, so lovely. Now, it’s supposed to rain & be windy tomorrow! Good thing I took advantage today! Hugs!

  75. Linda P says:

    I’m in envy of anyone that plants – I do only enough to get by. I don’t have a green thumb nor probably the patience. I love flowers but can hardly wait. I’d rather be sewing. Isn’t it wonderful there is something for all of us?! We have a tiny plot for flowers and bulbs, and is lined with rocks from all over our property when we bought it. The yard sort of slopes so higher on one side.
    The roses and lavendar are beautiful in your photos!!

  76. Christie Ray says:

    Now I am sure, when you see my name pop up, that you say to yourself…oh, good’s the girl that rambles on and on…;) but my goodness, dear Sue…were you reading my mind..again?? Husband and I have been thinking on our kitchen garden plans, saw some antique iron fencing, debated, and at last I just had to tell him my heart has been set on a white picket fence..he said right away..”me too”! So thank you for the picture tutorial…tytyty!!! To make this day even better…my teapot arrived, on all it’s pink heart glory!! It is sitting next to my antique rose colored tea kettle and cast iron muffin pan on the stove! Too precious for words!! My Love book, I love!! The stickers, oh my! And the hanky pillow cases are darling on the bed with the new/old Dresden plate quilt. Love love love the sweet girls who packed it all up with tissue paper and cute stickers…felt like Christmas!
    Much love,

    • sbranch says:

      I’ll be sure to tell Kellee and Judy, they do such a good job of making everything look special!

      • Christie Ray says:

        …and for being such patient dears, on the phone;). And now, as if the day could not get any better…Gladys came in the mail…”it is so cozy to come into a brightly burning fire on the hearth.”. Our fireplace is aglow as well…temps dropped last night…and how wonderful to read and ‘meet’ new friends through this delightful newsletter!
        Happy evening, dear!

  77. Cathy in Golden, CO says:

    That is the most beautiful garden. Haven’t seen one close to your beauty since the 1950’s in a little small town in Iowa – at Grandma’s!!!! Your’s is the best – Paradise remembered! I love the pink and green against the white, the hat on the gate, the bird house – all of it. The pictures have made my day!!!!

    • Cathy in Golden, CO says:

      I am reading a biography, “Sisters of Fortune” – takes place in the late 1700’s – to about the mid-1800’s or so. There are many descriptions of English gardens in the story. It’s a facsinating read about 4 well-to-do sisters. Anyway, your garden makes me think of another place and time. Absolutely beautfully romantic.

      • Cathy in Golden, CO says:

        Oops – I forgot to say I love the “sound effects” 🙂 Goes with the garden perfectly 🙂 🙂 🙂 Sweet birdies xxxooo

  78. Marcia in Brazil says:

    Your garden is lovely, Susan!

  79. Pat M. says:

    Hi Susan: I already have my garden list ready, can’t wait for the garden centers to open. Probably another month. Have to wait for the last frost, which in Indiana is around May 15th. It may be earlier this year due to the light winter we had. Always enjoy your blog, it’s the best. Pat in South Bend, IN

  80. Carol C says:

    Well, I have the birdhouse and a bee skep on and old bench with cone flowers, daisies, and black-eyed susans growing around. I even bought a garden gate weight that swings the gate closed….but no picket fence yet. Our yard slopes down hill sideways so we have been building a stone wall so we can have a garden level enough for the fence to look good. We started a couple of years ago and still aren’t ready. We did put in a waterfall that tumbles down by our stone patio. This is bird heaven because of all the huge old growth trees and they love the waterfall! It’s people heaven, too.

    There’s an adorable shop in Seaside FL called Pickets. It’s in a cute little house that has a beautiful yard. The owner has a picket fenced in garden in the yard and her husband made the corner posts flat. She put little bunny statues on each one. Very cute. She,like you, has so many clever ideas.

  81. jane zamudio says:

    This is kismet! I just bought a little greenhouse and made an order thru my Baker Creek seed magazine today!!! women really are the gatherers of this earth!!! Happy growing everyone!

  82. Terry says:

    Hi, Susan!

    Several years ago I handed my husband my “Days from the Heart of the Home” opened to the page with your picket fence garden. He built me one right outside my kitchen door. I love it! It’s not as big as yours, but it serves the purpose. Hmmm, maybe I should hand him my laptop with your blog post. 🙂

    By the way, yesterday I made your Orange Chocolate Chip Tea Biscuits. Yum! My husband almost ate the whole batch. I was glad when I came home from work today and found a few left. I will be making those a lot! Thank you for the recipe.

    Happy Monday,

  83. Perfect!
    If only I had a yard instead of sand…

    lizzy at gone to the beach [ny]

  84. Wendy Louise says:

    This is too funny, my wonderful husband Paul asked me this weekend what I wanted for my Birthday. I said,” A Kitchen Garden just like Susan Branch’s”. I showed him the picture in your book and he said,” OK” ! We will start as soon as the snow leaves, which maybe this weekend. I am so amazed that your wonderful, marvelous self and blog appeared like magic with all this information. My girlfriend who also follows your blog called me and said,” did you see Susan’s blog today” ? I said,” no not yet”, and she said,” you are in for a great big surprise “! Right she was and I thank-you from my tickled little pink heart, I am soooooo happy I will be dreaming and drawing plans until it is done and then more after that. You don’t know how much this just thrills me, I too love working outside, with nature. What a wonderful world ! Thank-you soooo much, OOXX

    • sbranch says:

      Tell Paul what a hero he is! Happy Birthday Wendy Louise! I love seeing little dreams come true (big ones too for that matter! :-))

      • Wendy Louise says:

        Thank-you sweet Susan, can’t believe I’m gonna be 53 ;), Paul is a big hero just like your Joe! We are so blessed.

  85. It’s taken me so long to get through this post! Reading all the garden stuff! Love it! I so want a garden with a fence! Susan, how do you fit the watermelon plants in with all the herbs and flowers! Don’t watermelons take up alot of space? Course, we don’t pinch them back like I think we’re supposed to. Are raised beds better? I always question and wonder what I should do the next year. Thanks for the idea of the white stain!
    I didn’t get on line all week-end so read both posts at once, love the little peeps on the cupcakes! and the banana fritters, oh my! I do corn fritters, but never tried banana! Can’t wait!
    Love your blogs, hugs to kitties, hi to Joe, have a great week!
    xoxoxo peep peep!

    • sbranch says:

      They do, we just let them curl around and go wherever they want, and we only have one. Have a great week Jeannie!

  86. oh! I forgot! I switched my background to your 1st picture of your beautiful spring garden! I love that I can just right click and click on background to change my pictures, I do it all the time!
    xoxoxo Peep Peep

    • Cathy in Golden, CO says:

      Oh thank you so much for the great info/idea! I didn’t know I could do that. I tried it – too easy! I will be changing pictures often now!

      • dottie says:

        My husband says I make him dizzy changing the desk top wallpaper so often. I cycle through favorites and new ones ALL the time.

  87. MJ Smith from Concord, CA says:

    First of all, I love your comment on which Village People you like! Teehee! I have a couple questions about your garden. The photo of your California garden does not look like the picture in your Summer Book. Could you tell me some of the other plants you have in CA garden? And should this garden be in full sun, morning sun or afternoon sun? Your gardens are just so pretty!

    • sbranch says:

      The garden in the Summer Book is my Martha’s Vineyard garden. That was the first one we did. Vegetables and many flowers, such as roses, need full sun, at least six hours a day. So it’s in full sun, but because of larger plants in the garden, like the rose bush, for instance, in the California garden, you can plant shade things under it. The fence also gives some relief from the sun for at least part of the day. Hope this helps.

  88. Doreen Strain - Florida says:

    Sue, you’re cracking me up, “stick dead even looks good with snow on them”. Your too funny. Your garden is beautiful. Maybe I’ll keep it in mind for when I move back up to the New England area in a few year. Can’t hurt to dream! Thanks for the inspiration. FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  89. Linda Wattier says:

    Love your garden, almost brought tears to my eyes when I saw it from your art table. Could smell the fresh air, and the birds singing! How wonderful. We had 60 some degrees today here in the Black Hills of SD. Going to present the garden idea to my husband. See what he has to say! Wish me luck. Have a great day all girlfriends.

  90. Denise Allen says:

    Dear Susan, What a wonderful blog! I am still soaking it all in! My husband is going to build me a little garden fence, not white picket but grey wooden fencing! I am so excited! You have inspire me even more with this blog!<3 TY! Your garden is so very beautiful!
    Also, I have dried flowers & would like to know what to glue them with, what kind of glue specifically & what kind of paper? Would elmers glue be good enough? Simple & easy is best for me dear Susan! I love you!!! Keep doin' what you're doin! You know that saying…"To the world you may be one person but to one person you are the world…well,there you go!!! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Ohh, that’s so nice. I use Elmer’s glue for everything! Unless you need to be some sort of dried flower professional, Elmer’s just fine.

  91. Bev says:

    Dear Susan, your garden is beautiful. It is wonderful that you have such a special helper. My DH and I have gardened for 51 years this April. Love the quote from Bev Adams. It does say it all! You are such a talented artist, you can draw and paint all those flowers. I have pressed flowers for years. A DF showed me how to make cards. Taking card stock and making either half-fold or quarter-fold using clear contact shelving paper to create an arrangement on the front of the card. She showed me how to take dried Dogwood leaves (when it’s fall, gorgeous colors) and cut out a vase. Any kind of vase your imagination can think of of. Then create a boquet of flowers from the ones that have been dried. You can create some beautiful cards. Your post today give us hope, spring is just around the corner here is northern CA. Our seeds are ready to go. Thank you again for sharing such wonderful pictures.

    • sbranch says:

      The cards sound beautiful! I know a woman who makes collages with dried flowers, photographs them beautifully, and sells the photos in a local gallery!

  92. Gert~Iowa says:

    Wow I just love your garden(s)! Who wouldn’t just love to have one (or two!) like these? smile… I love the raised beds…what a great idea! And putting the sheet down to stop the gophers, we’ve never heard of that..we just have to set out traps

  93. Pamela Jewett says:

    Hi Susan,

    I am eating some of the first strawberries of the season, from California ofcourse. They seem to compliment the musica and the lovely photos of your garden. It is a serene moment. Thank you!
    xoxo Pam

  94. Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

    Hi Susan! I wanted to share my special story, too! I bought my cozy, little house 25 years ago. Since I was single, my dad would ask me each Spring what project I needed help with during my summer vacation. The year your Summer book was published, I told him about your kitchen garden over the phone. So, Dad shipped the tools we would need, from his house in AZ to my house in IL. We spent three weeks leveling the ground, building the picket fence and the raised beds together. Those were such special weeks for both of us!! Ever since, it is my very favorite part of my gardens. It’s filled with herbs for cooking and herbs for tea, with flowers around the inside and outside of the picket fence. I always feel close to my dad when I’m in my herb garden. Last year at Dad’s 80th birthday celebration, everyone shared a favorite “Dad” story… and I told the story about the summer we built the herb garden together. He made my special dream come true and I will always treasure this special place in my heart! It could never have happened without your lovely garden plan so long ago! Warm hugs, Dawn

    • sbranch says:

      Isn’t that wonderful!! My dad lives in Arizona, put all his tools and his dog in his truck and came out here when we bought this house to help Joe fix everything . . .my dad took the doors off my kitchen dishes shelf, made the pantry work. Aren’t they just the most wonderful people? We are very blessed. I know how you love that garden.

      • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

        I can just picture both of our dads helping to make our dreams come true!! Before my parents retired to AZ, they would both come over every weekend to help with projects. We stripped all of the woodwork together and my dad and my brother found a way to build a pantry. My mom taught me about gardening my first few summers here. Although they live so far away, they are always close at heart. Now when they come to visit, we relax on the porch swing and tell the old stories of all of our projects over the years. My little home has truly been a work of “heart” right from the start. We are both truly, truly blessed to have such special parents!

  95. Lucy F. says:


    I just have to know where you got your birdhouse in your Cali garden! I’m a Cal Poly alumni and visit the Central Coast a few times a year. I just have to get one of those for “MyToy!” Please do tell!

    PS: I was hoping for spring and wore my yellow flower skirt today but alas it was overcast and barely 70 degrees here in So. Orange County CA. Desperately Seeking Spring!

    • sbranch says:

      It was one of a kind, second hand (at least); I got it at the Nipomo Flea Market, which is a miracle as that flea market isn’t really the greatest; it was a lucky day! I’m designing a couple of bird houses now … I’ve thought about doing a really big one for the center of a garden, like that one. But with today’s prices for things, I’m afraid it would get really expensive to have made — it could retail for $300, is what it looks like now. I’m still deciding whether or not to try it! SO hard to find big ole bird houses like that.

  96. Edie says:

    When I look at your little garden I sigh and think, “I need one of those”. Thanks for helping me see that I can have one. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Make one little dream come true and the rest will follow, or at least, one little dream will have come true! ♥

  97. Care Kester says:

    Oh man! Anyone know where I can find a “Joe”? Making and painting a picket fence for the perfect garden just made it “perfecter”!!!!!!! Oh, my…looks like a Peter Rabbit garden! I just got my mini Peter Rabbit book….it’s teensy (the size of my thumbnail!)… That’s REALLY little.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s really little. I can’t imagine how she makes them!!! With the words and everything!

  98. Tami says:

    Hi Susan!
    Do you plant all the same things in your California garden as you do in MV? Or are they different to to the difference in climates? I love your garden plans, but wonder if they would work here in California? By the way, I LOVE the Chicken Dance cupcake toppers! One of my favorite wedding memories is watching my mother-in-law and her girlfriends do the Chicken Dance. Her birthday is coming up in May & I think they would be perfect for it! 🙂 You and your creative team are such a blessing. Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      I plant some of the same things — roses for instance actually love California much more than Martha’s Vineyard. And that’s true for lavender, which is so happy in my California garden. For the same look on the island, I use Nepeta, Cat Mint, which goes wild. The very best garden book, everything you ever want to know, is the Western Garden Book . . . Because the west has all climates in it, it really works everywhere. I have one here on the island too. Every plant and what it needs is listed.

      Oh yes, Chicken Dance cupcakes for your mother-in-law! How cute!

      • Tami says:

        Thank you very much for the garden book recommendation, I will definitely have to check it out!:) I’ve got to tell you, I was sooo thrilled the first time you responded to one of my comments… Now here we are, at least 2 or 3 responses later & I’m still excited every time! 😀 Thanks for taking time to do the “little” things like that. You made my day!!

        • sbranch says:

          I can’t always do it, but I always read all the comments, and that’s the problem. It’s SO difficult not to answer everyone!!! 🙂

  99. Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

    I definitely need a Joe.

    • sbranch says:

      I wrote in my diary I wanted a 6’2″ Leo who could cook years before I met him. Write something down.

      • Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

        I wrote that I want a 5’11” millionaire who likes to travel and will let me control the bank account, thermostat, and remote. Don’t think my chances are very good. But the main problem is that at my age, anyone who’d have me, I wouldn’t want. Guess I’ll just struggle along with my black kitty, Tiki, and a naked garden with no pretty white picket fence. Thankfully, I can always fire up the computer and enjoy yours.

  100. Joanie B from San Diego says:

    Thanks, Susan, for the bird calls with today’s blog, it’s a joyful noise when I am working in my garden. I think planning gardens is all about hope and faith. Getting a vision, waiting for it and then seeing it become reality. I have been dreaming lately too. Here in SD, one can garden all year if one can keep up with it!!! I have two garden recommendations. One is butternut squash. It is a hard shell squash so it will keep through the winter. I planted 8 plants last summer, which was a little crazy but I was rewarded with enough squash to give away and I still have 5 in the garage. Love butternut squash steamed, as a soup, used like pumpkin in pies, cakes, etc etc. Second suggestion is my favorite perennial called Convolvulus or Bush Morning Glory. It trails on the ground, but the flowers are a brilliant blue with yellow centers. Lemon cucumbers are yummy. Happy garden dreams!

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