I thought I might show you my Garden Diary today with a background of Garden Diary Musica!  Chair dance!

I’m a big diary keeper, which I know you know.  I have them for all reasons and in all seasons.  They help me keep track of the days, but there was definitely a purpose for the garden diary I kept when we went to England in 2004.  It’s turned out to be quite handy — I refer to it all the time, so I thought I’d show it to you, in case this is something you might like to do.

Here it is.  This narrow little spiral book fit perfectly into my purse and went everywhere I went for the two months we were garden hopping along the country roads of England.  The burn mark?  That is actually from a candle when we returned home — it happened during a dinner party when we were looking at this diary at the table.  So although it’s not pretty, I kind of don’t mind it.  Candlelight burns from a wonderful dinner party are relatively acceptable.

I did not make this diary as pretty as the one I made for you.  This one was just for me, the handwriting is fast, the diary was almost all written while standing up.  I jotted down everything I saw that I loved.  Day after day, as we visited garden after garden (we went to twenty-six of them), I remarked on river walks, wild gardens, woodland gardens and knot gardens, (even Prince Charles’s garden at Highgrove) and wrote down the latin names for flowers and plants.  I wanted to go home having learned something.

If I saw something I fell in love with, I wrote about it, as much information as I could garner.  I would hunt down the grounds-people if I really needed to know the name of something.  I would photograph it too, so I could see it all later.  In our Martha’s Vineyard garden now, we have alpine strawberries, rhododendron, sweet woodruff, white bleeding hearts, golden yew, and lots of other things just because of this little diary and what we learned in the beautiful amazing gardens in England where every single day Joe and I GASPED at the beauty of what we were seeing.

If I saw a big flowering tree, a long walkway, or a homemade fence that I liked, I would write it down, or maybe sketch it in case we wanted to try to do it at home.  When I saw little photos or garden ideas in magazines (I would read them in pubs), I cut them out and put them in my book.

English people are crazy for gardening.  Even where there is no soil in front of a stone house, the house will be covered in flowered baskets.  They have the perfect sky, water, sun, soil for every growing thing.

We learned how important plant shapes are in a beautiful garden ~ something I’d never thought much about.

Right there ↑ … that’s the best advice I ever learned and could pass on when it comes to gardening:  Grow things that are naturally happy in your area.  (Above that National Trust sticker you see in this photo I wrote this notation: “Here I am, lying on the lawn with Joe in the rose garden at Lanhydrock, thinking (because I just came out of their tea shop) how much I love being called ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling’ — by the sweethearts and darlings who work in the tea shops — makes me think of my grandma.” ♥  

So there is more in this garden diary than gardens — little moments are recorded too, as they happened.

I have practically a library of garden books I’ve collected over the years — old ones with wonderful pictures I found in used bookstores, and new ones too.  But my own little diary has given me the very best information and inspiration of them all, because I already know I love everything in it.

I didn’t just put garden advice in it either, although that’s what 90% of it is — but if I heard a quote or saw something in a house that I liked, I wrote it down or sketched that too.  (I even sketched a farmers market/coffee shop layout we saw just in case someday we wanted to have a farmer’s market/coffee shop — I figured I would be ready 🙂  — it was the perfect shop ~ I had to do it!)

You know my girlfriend Rachel who lives in England, is famous for her brownies, who started out as my pen pal and then we became really dear friends?  Above is a quick sketch I did while standing in her Mom’s bathroom in her house in England.  I loved that bathroom — the house was very old and the bathroom was filled with hints of the years of family farm life … I stood there for a few moments sketching it into my book.  It was so old-fashioned and real.  So now, in our bathroom here on the island, instead of hunting guns, there are fishing poles in the corner next to the sink, and our Wellies, Joe’s big black ones, my smaller colorful ones, are lined up, complete with dried mud on the soles, on the black and white checked linoleum floor under the sink.  This little diary, which I brought home with me, has turned out to be a minefield of inspiration.

Nepeta, a wonderful gorgeous purple plant with sage colored leaves that grows like crazy in our garden … we have it!  I discovered what the birds loved, what would make the bees and butterflies happiest.  Here was a little painting idea I loved — an oil on small unframed canvases, to set on a shelf.   So what did we walk away with — did we use any of this at home?   Oh yes.

We put everything we learned to work.  I learned that flowers aren’t all there are to a garden.  That was a shock.  They are the delicious sweet frosting with sprinkles on top, but the cake matters too!  Before this trip, my gardening life was almost all about flowers ~ like a kid eating the frosting off a cake as the sole provider of his nourishment. But bushes and shrubs are just as important, and when I began to understand how it all came together, they became just as beautiful to me.   They bring the foundation to a garden in a way that a bunch of pansies, even a whole stand of pansies, could never do.  And I found out that the shapes of plants matter, whether they sit like a giant ball or block, climb up a wall, weep, grow skinny and tall like a post, or crawl along the ground.  It’s the contrast that makes things interesting.  (I know what I know now, which is a drop in the bucket, but in a few years, I will know more.  This is a work in progress.) 

I particularly fell in love with the idea of limey yellow-gold and purple colors together.  And texture, that was new to me too; I started noticing how interesting tiny leaves looked next to really big ones, how spiky leaves looked next to soft leaves, how a long green narrow leaf looks next to a short round yellowish one.  I’d never read that in my garden books (or maybe I just didn’t know what they were trying to say).

Here’s another color mix … lime, and purple with spots of orange.   And see the contrast between leaf colors and shapes? I used to wonder why my potted porch plants didn’t look interesting together — but now I know it was because the plants I chose all had the same basic shape, color and size of leaf and flowers.

I learned to see things differently … learned about shape and texture and planned new gardens that reflected it.  I also began to appreciate hedges in a new way.  There are hedgerows all over England (I wrote more about them in our new book); some are wildly untended, draped in wild May flower or spirea, and some are clipped to the nth degree in amazing shapes, into mazes, ball-shapes, pyramids, animals and squares.  Some of them are cut into tall teetering fanciful indescribable shapes with no name at all.  Every house, castle and tearoom has a hedge. But for us and our more modest garden, we found that even the simplest round bush in a loose and flowing flower garden is the perfect thing and makes a wonderful contrast.

Our little clumps of boxwood — they are just green and pretty but they get no discernible flowers at all.

Inspired by England, we planted this long hedge/bird motel down the driveway of our property in California.  There’s a bird motel next to our Post Office on the island too, and for all the years I’ve lived here, through generations of birds really, the music you hear going into the post office (or down our driveway) is bird song —  every spring they’re in there, twittering, skiffering, canucking, kaboodling and chippering, all the things that birds do that make us love them so much.  (. . . all words made up, do not look for meaning).  If you would like to make a bird motel at your house, the earth will thank you. 

I still love my pink sugar frosting.

But now I get some of it from shrubs, that’s beauty bush above (kolkwitzia amabilis).  I hope this post inspires you to get a little book of your own (especially if you are planning a trip where you will be visiting lots of gardens).  Put your book in your purse so that when you see a plant, flower, bush, hedge, rose you like, you can jot it down.  Let it be a book of inspiration; add other things that catch your fancy, scribble a picture, add a photo, sketch a pathway.  Keep the book for one season, and forever you will know what plants to choose for your garden.  (And btw, I turned my garden diary over, started from the other end, and that’s where I wrote about the restaurants we visited and food we loved.)

As I mentioned, the most important thing I learned: unless a plant grows well in our area, in our soil, in our zone, with our weather, I force myself to forget about it.  I try not to torture myself with an unhappy plant that doesn’t want to live here.  No gardenias on Martha’s Vineyard even tho’ they sell them in the nurseries.  I just take a huge breath of that delicious flower fragrance and move on.  I can no longer be tricked.  But it’s still not easy!  I just remind myself that there are many wonderful things that love it here, thrive, and come back every year.

This is the time of year when so many beautiful things are blooming, you’ll fill your book  in no time with notes and inspiration for your next year’s garden, even when driving around your own neighborhood.  Or, maybe you’ll plan the garden of your dreams, the one you hope to have someday.  Nothing happens unless first we dream . . . so dream on girlfriends. Until we meet again . . . XOXO

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409 Responses to MY GARDEN DIARY

  1. Sherry Palla says:

    Happy June Susan! Love your garden shots! Just read that bees like yellow, violet, orange, and blue flowers. They need short flowers as they have short tongues and cannot get much food from trumpet shaped flowers. The honey bee population, as Prevention magazine writes, since 2006, has diminished! “Mysterious worker bee mass exoduses”, and scientists are trying to find the cause of the problem, called “colony collapse disorder, or CCD”. “Our health really does rely and fly on the wings of honeybees, says Jeff Pettis, research leader at the USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory. The one-third of our diet that relies on bees’ cross-pollination is the fruits, nuts, and vegebables that enrich our diet and and allow us to thrive.” So this is good to know for our gardens girlfriends!!!!!!!!! The article also suggests putting small pebbles in your birdbath until they reach just above the waterline, so bees can drink water and not drown! Happy summer! xoxo

    • Hello Sherry, I remember as a young child running through the grass barefoot and it was almost a given that one of us would get stung by one of those “sweet” honeybees!!! Over the past few years we noticed that the bees were not on the sweet clover in the grass and then I saw a piece on 60 minutes about their decline and the possible causes. The one possible cause was of all things cell phone towers!!! I was thinking how terrible that a modern invention could upset the balance of our ecology and at the end of the story they asked if we would be willing to give up our phones for nature?? Oh my, I’m a big champion for causes to protect our environment but to give up our cell phones?? I’m sorry to say to date I have not given up mine and so do hope that the bees come back which hasn’t happened to date. You are so right about how important they are to our food supply, and we can only pray that in spite of modern technology nature will find a way to win this battle.

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      Hi~ Another way to bring native bees into your yard is to put up a Mason bee house~
      (nesting block) there are many instructions/websites out there that will help you get started~ Good Luck!

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        ~I forgot to add Madonna bees have no stingers!~

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          Mason bees! Where the heck did Madonna come from?!

          • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

            Oh Lynn, that is so funny! I do stuff like that all the time. Sometimes I think if George Burns was still alive, I could audition to play “Gracie” for him…LOL! 🙂

          • HA Lynn, you were thinking “DIVA” BEES!!! LOL you would be shocked what words come up when I’m texting on a phone smarter than me?? I told Angela I know what I want to say why does this Galaxy phone try to tutor me and speak for me?? haha I always proofread any text because I don’t want anyone thinking I am trying to be obscene!! Heaven Forbid :O

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            You are right Deborah~ I should know better than to post anything after 6 p.m. ~Ha ha~! I even proof read ~ but I guess if the powers that be on my iPad don’t correct me I assume it’s a word~ big mistake!

  2. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Oh wow, I have got to get a beauty bush. That is gorgeous!! How old is yours? I read about it that it needs filtered light, do you find that to be true? Thank you for the inspiration! Hugs.

    • sbranch says:

      Ours was here in 1989 when we moved in. It’s so set in its ways I really haven’t had to pay attention to what it needs, it’s always happy, blooms every year. The bottom of the plant is shaded because there are so many bushes around it, but the top is in the sun. I’m sorry I can’t give you better information, but at least you know that if you find a good place for it, it will be around for a very long time.

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        You are lucky to be living in one house since 1989. We’ve now lived in 5 different places and I’m still holding out hope for a house instead of this townhouse!!! LOL! 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          I hope you get it Pat. Yes, I do feel lucky — but I wrote it down in my diary, I wanted a long-time house.

        • Pat, bless your heart longing for the wide open spaces to plant trees, flowers, let your “girls” run free. I have a 35 acre farm just waiting for your arrival?? Now, you will have to build your dream house; but, the land is there which is just lovely….have I tempted you to move Southeast yet….we can forge out a deal because you wouldn’t want to pay what land is going for now…it would make your “Townhouse” seem like Paradise. You and I have talked and my dear it’s like the saying “Love the One Your With” well be happy where you are and I know how you feel we left all that space and now have a “cozy little place” which seems claustrophobic until it’s time to clean and BAM makes me feel content and happy with where we are. Dreams make the impossible seem within reach….so, anything is possible and hopefully one day you will have the house of your dreams!!! 🙂

  3. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh ‘dream’..yes, to dream of having a yard and garden like yours! So beautiful…I could almost smell them! smile…

    I was outside sitting today (yeah!) and was looking all over for something that was in bloom! I finally noticed our Lily of the Valley’s…bridal wreath bushes…and a few other ones! Love your idea of carrying a notebook…it really helps doesn’t it?

    Enjoy your ‘summer’!


  4. lani nelson says:

    I too have a journal- but about MY yard. So now that I am retiring after teaching mostly first graders for 30 years- I will now take your lead and start a whole new journal for my travels to other yards. I new it was time to retire when I was perfectly happy to be at home for the weekend and garden and putter in our home or spend both days in my classroom. I no longer had the stamina to do both.
    Besides, I’m 65 and I ( like all grandmothers) have two of the most wonderful sets of grandchildren on both coasts that we want to enjoy.
    I have purchased a Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie book for each of my students as a year-in present and was wondering if you make a bookplate. (Do you know about this wonderful author- He is a joy)
    You have inspired, motivated, and filled me with such joy these past years- I would like you to be a part of my gift to them. (A lot of years ago a friend gave me your Heart of Home book – I went to our local art center and purchased water colors and actually thought I could do water coloring!) You see I was a french horn player and never took an art class!)
    So-do you make bookplates?

  5. Susie on LI says:

    Oh I so enjoyed all the garden pictures in England. A nice sight before bedtime around here. I keep little “jottings” too but mine are for things that inspire me one way or another. I love this time of year when every day brings forth new blooms that I forgot about. I think of it as God’s amazing gift to us. One surprise after another as a way to help us forget about Winter a bit.

  6. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    A blog about my new passion. It sure helps to keep a garden diary! While I was gone my sailor mowed the lawn, trimmed the front hedge, and watered my flowers! SEXY!!!

  7. judi says:

    Rabbit, Rabbit and a joyful weekend to all. xxxooo judi

  8. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    I flipped my SB calendar page over to June this morning and was delighted with the book you’d tucked with the picnic basket 🙂 🙂 Serendipity at its finest!
    This post made me think of the lime and lavender scarf you’ve been working on. That is not a color combination that I had thought about before, but, by golly, it is so pretty! Love those colors in your garden.

  9. Cheryl says:

    Good Morning Sue!
    I have been up since 5:30 am writing in my garden diary! We put in 2 4×8 raised beds that are full of vegetables and herbs with a few companion flowers to keep pests away. I am going totally organic. Hopefully, I will be able to keep pests and critters away. Yesterday I sprayed our peach tree and the garden with an organic pest control. At first, I made the mistake of hanging a bird feeder in the midst if the garden. Yikes! Bird seed was everywhere and birds were in the garden. That had to be moved promptly. We have not added the fence yet so I hope the bunnies don’t eat everything flat. I am getting ready to venture out to play in a few minutes, but wanted you to know that you inspire me in some way EVERY day.
    God Bless You. You are a dear soul. Enjoy this beautiful day! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Cheryl, the garden sounds wonderful and alive. We put foot-high chicken wire around the bottom of the inside of the picket fence — no bunnies can get in! So you can check that off your list! Is today not the most perfect Saturday June 1st in the world? You on the Cape, me on the Island, and it’s just GORGEOUS. Every window open, curtains fluttering, and perhaps 73 degrees today. Heaven!

  10. Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Rabbit! Rabbit! Girlfriends!

  11. Marcia A. Sherman says:

    June 1, 2013 9:05 a.m. eastern time –

    Susan, I bet you have been awake and up for hours.

    We are experiencing a mini heat wave here in South Jersey.
    Watered the back gardens this morning at 5:30 ish, but no major yard work this weekend – just too darn hot for me.
    I began a collection of old, (and some new), gardening books after reading Michael Pollan’s “Second Nature”.
    Two most recent finds: “Color In My Garden” by Louise Beebe Wilder, illustrated by Anna Winegar, first printing 1918, this edition 1990 –
    lovely color plates throughout, too much info to relate here;
    but even better – The New Garden Encyclopedia, Copyright 1936,
    edited by E.L.D. Seymour, B.S.A.
    Handwritten on the flyleaf “Received 1938”.
    Small penciled note tucked in it reads “Calcarcia, calceolaria, (113) 698, 791 From Peru”.
    Such treasures, and best of all – they cost only $1.00 each at my local library.

    Now a question off topic from gardening:
    A few weeks ago I purchased an entire set of 12 books from my library, only $6.00 for all, titled “My Book House”. Each volumn contains nursery rhymes and fairy tales for infant through young adult. Anyone ever heard of it? I never had…would love to hear if anyone owns a set and their memories.

    Marcia in Sewell, NJ

    • We have the same here in MD….90 degrees for 3 days straight. My Basil has bleached spots on it! But relief is in sight next week…in the 70’s starting Monday.

    • Laura Ann in Vermont says:

      Marcia, I own a set of those “My Book House” books. I only picked them up a few years ago when my kids were younger, so I don’t have memories of growing up with them myself, but we have had lots of fun with them and even now still read them from time to time. I love the twenties-style illustrations! You got a great price and I think you were lucky to find them. Have fun!

    • Carol C says:

      Marcia, my mother bought a set of My Book House books from a door to door salesman in 1953. Money was hard to come by then, but it was the best investment she could have made. She read to us daily from those books and we nearly wore out the first 3 volumes. My brother and sister have both used them with their kids and they are now with one of my nieces who is reading them to her kids. We loved those stories and poems and never tired of hearing them over and over. They paid off in a big way because all three of us are avid readers to this day!

  12. Janet [in Rochester] says:

    Every time there’s a new post I think, “well this has GOT to finally be one that I don’t get all wrapped in and enthusiastic about…” I mean it’s just not mathematically-possible for EVERY single post to be interesting, is it?? But I start reading and before I know it, I identify with the topic – or learn something new – or get whisked back on a laser beam to the pleasantest of memories. So YES, it IS possible – and it is also AMAZING. You could write about cleaning the lint trap in your clothes dryer – and you’d have me and most if not all the GFs following along with interest. How I don’t know, but it is your particular magic. You are one of those rare and lucky people who found their exact perfect niche in this world – and all of us are the better for it. Thank you.

    OK enuff of the mush – ♡ Wow, I completely understand when you say that you & Joe were staggered by the beauty of the English gardens you visited – I had the same reaction when I clicked on the link you had there and browsed through the Google images for “English gardens.” BREATHTAKING is not quite good enough a word to describe what I saw, but it’ll have to do – it’s the closest word we have. Also loved learning that so many of us keep journals – for all kinds of different things! Gardens, decorating, houses, wine, cooking, shells, chickens, travel, books, health, restaurants, favorite quotations, movies, poetry, cookbooks. The possibilities are endless! Just about any hobby or interest can easily become a journal! And how much fun are they to look at months or years later? You can learn so much about a person from the journals they keep [consider Leonardo daVinci for example]. It’s a bit like writing an autobiography. Only more fun for the writer… and usually prettier too. I’ve kept what I just called my “lists” and photos, clippings etc for years in empty books but after this, it’s beginning to dawn on me that I guess I’ve actually been “journaling.”

    PS – if anyone’s interested, iTunes Univ has a FREE lecture [45 min] in the Art & Architecture section on “English Romantic Gardens.” Look for the #2 course in that section – Ohio State professor Jacqueline Gargus. Happy weekend everyone!

    • sbranch says:

      You are a dear person to say that Janet — I am so happy to have you here — and thank you for the good info!

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      You lead us to the coolest finds! Haven’t mess with I Tunes very much, I had no idea!
      Luckily, I am here in Ft Worth and my teenage granddaughter found it all for me and downloaded what I needed. She said as she skipped out of the room, “Yah, there are some very cool lectures on I Tunes U”
      Once again, thanks for the discovery.

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        I’m just discovering iTunes U too Chris – since getting a Mac in March. A wealth of information for sure – one of the things Al Gore must have had in mind when he dreamed up the Internet! :>)

        • Janet [in Rochester] says:

          PS – this lecture actually turns out to be more architecture than garden [naturally enough, the course is History of Architecture] but still very interesting. :>)

          • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

            I did a quick overview and I am anxious to settle in some evening with it. Being a Buckeye…..makes it extra special.:)

  13. Me again! It is June! Missing my ‘big’ Susan calendar this year, but I have the smaller one. Love the green watering can full of gentle summer blooms . . Summer *has* to be on it’s way . . for I have spent the day preparing for the harvest by emptying my freezer and making jam with the last of the soft fruits I’ve stored there. There are new strawberry plants freshly potted in today, and a crunchy top lemon cake to feed me after my labours! That cake is particularly good served with syrupy sugared sliced strawberries later in the year . . so hurry along little berries and grow!
    p.s. there is also a big vanilla sponge waiting for the raspberry jam to cool so I can fill it! 😀

    • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

      Deborah ~~~ Let nothing stop you from getting ready for summer! I, too, feel the same way, as we are STILL in the throws of what seems like winter. Here on the coast of Northern California, we get lots of fog during the summer months. Actually, our summer (what feels like summer) starts in September most years. It’s when the inland cities become cool once again. The fog goes away from us and we get the warmer temperatures. Took me a few years, after moving here, to get used to it. I’m not really used to the fog and coolness (our highs are 65-68 degrees)….. that’s why I’m looking forward to moving back up to Washington. I need to buy some strawberry plants still, but our raspberry plants have little tiny raspberries on them. Not hot enough to alot of berries to ripen, but oh so good for the ones we do have.

      Happy gardening,

      • Hello Carol
        I remember that coastal fog well from the year I spent in Ferndale, and being told that the giant redwoods need it for survival, and the cycle of creation of the fog and how they get all their moisture from it. Fascinating stuff. I used to pick berries on my bicycle rides and walks . . I think they were called ‘salmon berries’ ’twas a long time ago, and my memory is not brilliant now. I loved northern California!
        Deb xo

  14. Clairellen says:

    Hi Susan, I just came across this quote and immediately thought of you, and me! You may already know it, but just the same, it is delightful:

    “We who live in quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

  15. Sandy Richmond says:

    I love this post. I am fascinated by your journals, and your discipline in keeping them. I think I need to start some journaling. Well, I did start my dinner/guests/menu journal after you wrote about that, and I am happy to have that. I need to share- after not swimming all last summer due to my surgeries, I swam in a friends pool today! That is the good life to me.. I must have been a mermaid in a former life.. 🙂 I haven’t planted anything in my yard yet this year. I need to get busy….! The past people that owned our house did a wonderful job of planting.. Something is always blooming in my yard.. Loving summer…

  16. Laurel Young says:

    A tip I learned from a “professional gardener”, plant sweet peas around the base of shrubs and such that don’t flower. The sweet peas will use the shrub as a trellis and flowers will appear all over. I’ve tried it and it looks really good and surprises people who wonder what type of shrub it is!

  17. Pam Fortune says:

    Hi Susan
    Your blog today brought back memories of my early teens because just like you had a pen pal in England, I had one in America. I eventually found a photograph of her and her name was Dianne Johnson and which part of America she came from I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be funny if she is one of the girl friends. Over the years her letters have disappeared to I know not where, so now I am fascinated to think where are you Dianne? maybe you will have a different surname. I had numerous pen pals dotted around the world and sadly I lost touch with them all, but I still have some of their photos in an album I bought in the Netherlands in 1955. I loved all your diary details of ideas you liked in England I am fascinated with your observations.

    • sbranch says:

      Dianne Johnson is probably too common a name, but I was just thinking, you can sometimes find people by Googling. Wouldn’t that be fun!

    • this sounds so familiar. As Susan suggests, try Googling her. It is surprising and I found my dearest friend with whom I’d lost touch. You never know until you try!

      • Pam Fortune says:

        Thanks girls I have been trying all day, you would be amazed how many Dianne Johnsons there are out there but I haven’t had any success. Maybe one day somone may read the Blog and think my friend Dianne used to be called Johnson. You never know!

  18. Hi Susan! Love your garden diary. I’ve been keeping them for years. I have three, one for each home we’ve lived in during our marriage. It’s fun to take them out occasionally and visit the gardens once again – they are like old friends. Speaking of garden journals do you or the girlfriends remember an HGTV show called A Gardeners Diary? It was so beautifully produced and so informative. I wish HGTV would get back to that type of programming. Most of their current shows just don’t hold my interest.

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Hi Deb,
      I think you can watch some past episodes on You Tube. They definitely took the garden out of HGTV! It used to be my favorite television channel. Now I don’t watch it anymore. I record Ina Garten on the food network, and don’t even bother to turn the TV on, except to watch one of her new episodes.

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Agree completely. They should call HGTV the “Real Estate Channel” now… :>)

  19. Jo says:

    Thanks, as always, thanks.

  20. Barbara T, Wolverine Lake MI says:

    This entry SO reminds me of my mother!! Whenever we would begin a trip, once we got into the car, my mother would hand each of us kids a little spiral notebook (probably the same size as yours) with the spiral at the top, a new pen, a package of Juicyfruit gum, and a package of Necco wafers! we could “take notes” at museums, we could play hangman as we drove, keep track of all the different state license plates we saw on the road. How funny I had forgotten that. I always threw away the black Necco wafers eeeuw! 🙂 Mom would ask a million questions at the museums and take notes so she could remember. I remember going to Jamestown and Williamsburg thinking we would never get out of there because she always had more questions. 🙂

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      We used to keep track of licenses plates too – and at night the older kids would count all the houses we saw with lighted doorbells [or Christmas lights at that time of year]. :>)

  21. Pat C. says:

    It’s Sunday morning and I just have to tell you, Susan, what a delight it was to read about your garden diary. It puts me in such a happy frame of mind. With everything else that is happening in the world, it is such a relief that I can read what you’ve written and feel upbeat and happy. Thank you for infusing your blog with your lovely, cheerful, and positive personality. It shines through and makes so many of us so happy and uplifted.

  22. Brenda Caldwell says:

    Thank you for the glimpse of your garden diary! I am an avid gardener and believe it or not, I have never kept a diary or notebook on my garden and plants. Shame on me, I know! But as usual (lol) you have given me the inspiration to start one 🙂 Thank you…

  23. Love your little carry along diary! I need to do that when we take our visits to Biltmore Estate instead of relying on little pieces of paper that I stick in my wallet/purse. It is raining like crazy today here in WNC, hope all the seeds I planted last week don’t float away,even before I get over my back ache!
    Hugs an blessings,
    Tweet Tweet!

  24. Tam says:

    Hi Susan!
    Up here in NH, I have sandy soil in my yard and apparently the lupines love it. We just had one or two that we had started growing in front of the retaining wall that’s about 3 feet high. And the other day I started finding little tiny lupines up above the wall. The seeds must’ve blown over and decided they were happy there. I found a johnny jump-up growing under a clump tree (I have no idea what this tree is – when we moved here it just looked like a small bush!). I’ve got irises growing in my yard in odd places and they keep multiplying! This may or may not have something to do with when the retaining wall was dug out and replaced. But some didn’t show up for years so I can’t help but think they had to have come from seeds.
    Did you know creeping bellflower is edible? It’s also a noxious weed that’s just about impossible to get rid of!

  25. Vickie in Olympia says:

    Lovely, lovely post today. You mentioned some of my most loved perennial plants. In fact I don’t do annuals anymore, just let the perennials come up and try to keep them happy. Many of my plants weren’t “chosen” by me. Twin neighbor girls gifted me with wild violets, johnny jump ups, forget me nots and many un-named flowers when they were tots. Now these girls are all grown up and geneticists mapping out plant genes! Every year when I see these plants bloom I smile with good memories. After all a “weed” is just an unwanted flower. If you want them, they can’t be weeds. 🙂

  26. Hi Susan! I love seeing your garden journals, and can’t wait to see more about the gardens you saw in England in your new book! I was wondering if you have discovered the blog, “Flutterby Patch”? A knitter in the Lake District has this most wonderful and charming blog! Her latest post is about how the Red Squirrel (illustrated by Beatrix Potter in her little books) is nearly extinct in Britain due to the American Gray Squirrel. So sad! These red squirrels are so adorable! Squirrel Nutkin is one of them. There is a group in the UK to save the Red squirrel so I hope they can do it. I think Beatrix would have been so sad to find her squirrels have almost disappeared. 🙁 Just thought you and all of the girlfriends would like to know, and those who are knitters can purchase a special knitting pattern soon from Flutterby Patch and all of the proceeds will go to saving the Red Squirrel. Together, we can help save all of Squirrel Nutkin’s descendants!! OK. I’ve done my good deed for today so now I can go to bed!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I do know about the red squirrel — I think it’s been going on for a few years. Devastating losses.

  27. Heather says:

    We fell in love with red valarian when we were in England, also. I have some growing happily in my garden (Pacific northwest). I’m surprised more people haven’t discovered it.

    • sbranch says:

      I did too, I kept saying to Joe, what is that red flower — it was everywhere. Then I found out — wonderful thing that grows well here too.

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Yesterday, my dear GF across the street was unloading a huge (she’s very strong for 82) plant, loaded with blooms, from her car into her wheelbarrow. I got there just in time to NOT help! Her daughter had helped her dig it up (she had 2 more) from her garden, sharing with her Mom. Today, I’m reading this blog & looking at the pics with the pretty red flowers – egads – it’s my GFs plant! I ran over & told her, she can hardly wait to tell her daughter the name of the plants! That was fun (am I pathetic or what – that was fun!)!! xoxo

  28. Cindy Tuning says:

    It’s funny how our tastes change over time as far as the perfect garden goes. When I moved into our home 27 yrs ago there were only shrubs and trees in the backyard. The previous homeowner showed me the yard and was so happy “Look how green it is back there. Isn’t it lovely?” The yard is really more like a courtyard.Brick floor patio with a perimeter on three sides to plant surrounded by a white pickett fence. Within a year of being the new owner I took out the hedges but kept the crabapple tree. I wanted an English Country garden with lots of scent and color. That’s what I have now.Mostly David Austin roses and everything pink,blue, silver, white and lavender. But, as I get older(I can’t believe I’m saying that!!) I can appreciate having mostly shrubs, hedges and trees with very little maintanence. I don’t think I can part with my color and fragrance for a while but sitting in the yard enjoying the scenery without many many hours of work does sound good!

    • sbranch says:

      Perennials, that’s the ticket! You get both, fragrance and color, and return performance for years.

  29. Anne Branco says:

    LOVED this whole garden blog Susan. BEAUTIFUL pictures! Since I am an herbalist and a master gardener, gardening is a huge part of my life. No matter how stressful my day has been at work, I come home and garden and the stress just melts away. Yes, it’s lots of work but such worthwhile work. I too have a garden diary. And even though I can’t draw worth a lick I’ve often sketched interesting gardens, garden structures, etc. And you are ABSOLUTELY right, the best gardening advice of all is to plant plants that will be happy in your area. No sense in making the plant and yourself unhappy. Also, one of the most important pieces of advice I learned in my Master Gardener course is not to be too stressed out trying to replicate gardens you see in magazines, etc. Leave them to the people who have gardening help and just ENJOY and HAVE FUN with your own garden; big, little, even a garden that just consists of pots. Happy gardening Susan!

  30. Janet [in Rochester] says:

    Reply to Linda in Lancaster: Oh yes Linda – I loved the ‘Cherry Ames’ books. I have 3 girl cousins [sisters] who are 7, 5 and 2 years older than me & they were always sending along clothes, books etc for me and my sisters. Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Cherry Ames. I especially remember a couple of teen magazines they shared that I was probably reading in junior high: “Co-Ed” and “Calling All Girls.” Circa the early 60s I’m guessing. Wish I still had them. They were SO different from the magazines marketed for teen girls now. No glossy paper, no photos, barely any ads at all, lots of fiction, articles on health, beauty, boys/dating, parents, fashion, cooking-sewing-homekeeping skills. Very traditional female-role stuff. Now that I think about I don’t even remember any getting-ready-for-college articles. I guess it was still very much in the mainstream at that time for girls NOT to be on the college track then. After all it had been only about 15 years since the GI Bill made it possible for so many more boys to attend college. Before the end of WWII, if you were able to go to college, your family had to be wealthy or at least comfortably-off. Or had saved like the dickens from the time you were born. :>)

    • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

      Janet–that is how I got and read the Nancy Drew books. I got all of my cousin’s pass-down clothes and books. My uncle was a Dr. and they had a lot more disposable income than my parents did. I used to have so much fun going through the box when we received it! She was into more “girlie-type clothes” than I, as I was a tomboy, so I wasn’t always thrilled with the clothes but I was always excited to find the books at the bottom of the box!!! 🙂

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        It was so much fun poking through the boxes from my cousins too – all the “glamorous” teenage girl things they’d send – especially exciting since I was younger. Their mom [my aunt] was an excellent seamstress and made tons of their clothes – I especially remember this beautiful sapphire blue velvet “formal” that I wore for a candlelight Christmas choral concert in HS. But the books and teen magazines were the best! :>)

  31. Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

    Susan and Girlfriends! Good news!! We accepted an offer on our house Saturday afternoon. I believe that God is letting us know that it is time. Going back up to Washington the end of the week probably to look ONE MORE TIME ( 🙂 ) at houses. Good thing there are a lot of homes for sale there.

    • sbranch says:

      HOoray Carol!! Crossing my fingers for you!

    • sandy says:

      Carol! I used to live in Weaverville, in high school in the 60’s. got out to Eureka often. I now live in WA state, Olympic Peninsula–where are you planning on moving?? xox sandy 🙂

  32. Dear Sue,
    You’re never too old to dream; and, never, ever too old for a playhouse!

    In 1962, my dad surprised me with a water-colored painting of a playhouse, which he planned on having built for me in the back yard where we lived.

    With “Middle Child Syndrome”, I used to dream about my own cottage; far from my older teenaged sister, and my (annoying-lol) younger brother!

    Months turned into years, and Dad had abrubtly quit his job due to politics in the company where he worked. Money was tight because he was starting his own business, and my dream for a playhouse was replaced by a “Dreamboat”, whom I later married!

    Fifty years later, in April of last year, my dreamboat of a husband surprised me with a playhouse identical to the one in my painting! I was over the moon then, and I’m still starry-eyed to this very day! Every time I stroll through my herb garden, where the playhouse sets, I tell myself that if you wait long enough, (and live with a dreamboat), your dreams really will come true!

    Happy Hugs from Ohio!
    Bunny XO

    • sbranch says:

      He is a dreamboat Bunny! What a wonderful thing to do.

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      So funny how life turns out. I believe our dreams REALLY do come true, just not on our time schedule! I dreamed of a horse my whole childhood, and had to wait until I was 31 years old. I then spent the next 26 years of my life with horses and it was really a dream come true!
      So happy for you Bunny.
      Chris…..originally a Buckeye

  33. Rosemary says:

    Susan, do you live in Edgartown?

    • sbranch says:

      No …

      • Rosemary says:

        Where ? or don’t you wanna say. If not, I understand.

        • sbranch says:

          I don’t hide it, but I try not to advertise it specifically on line. It’s close to Edgartown!

          • Rosemary says:

            Ohhh I understand. I was just curious, Edgartown is the only one I’ve heard of on Martha’s Vineyard (I have never been there —- Yet !!).

          • sbranch says:

            There are six towns, three of which, if you blink, you would miss! It’s 100 square miles, not huge, but people do need their cars that’s for sure!

  34. Jan says:

    Lovely post! I need to start a journal on gardening too. I’m always making notes. I draw out my garden on paper each year of what and where I’m planting each thing. I have a series of three raised beds my husband made me. This year I looked into companion gardening – what grows good together and what doesn’t. I have a mixture of mostly veggies and bug preventing flowers. So we’ll see how it goes! I, too, always have to put up bunny proofing fence. Looked out the other morning to see a bunny sitting between the marigolds and the cucumbers. Am trying something new this year also. Have planted my tomatoes scattered in my flower beds. (I only have a few). A friend of mine does this and it seems to work well; plus it gives me more room in my raised beds. Always enjoy seeing and hearing all of your ideas. You’re such an inspiration! Have a great week!

  35. Wendy Louise says:

    Good Morning Susan, Just wanted to check in and say I am exhausted but all for a great cause. Our Pink Baby Shower was wonderful ! All my friends that came and are fans of yours said, you would have been proud of me and just loved it!!! All the flowers were Pink and my gardens cooperated even in the heat wave. One of my most beautiful peonies went in full bloom for a very dramatic appearance ! I sent everyone home with pink cosmos to plant in their gardens and they were tickled pink ! LOL ! Now my wonderful Captain Husband Paul and I are off to RI, to sail our new boat up to NBPT. We will be sailing right by your beautiful island and I will wave and blow you kisses, sometime tomorrow evening. I will be bringing all my journals to take notes and to add my garden journal by drawing all my little garden areas. I have so much going on I am spinning. Catch ya later……….oxoxox

    • sbranch says:

      What a perfect ending for a baby shower, you and your Captain husband on a sailboat! The weather is stunning today, clear and bright. Congratulations!

  36. marty kunkis says:

    Good Day Everyone:

    That precious Shakespearean quote on the cup for Paul that is in your notebook came for “the Merchant of Venice”. Shakespeare wrote with such grace and I am only sorry that it has taken many years of my life to really appreciate his words and metaphors.
    I was delighted to see your spiral notebook. I purchased one several years ago that was one that you had designed. It had your fabulous drawing and a quote ” Food tastes best in smal houses–Queen Victoria” (who ought to know). The priceless part was in the parenthesis which I suspect shoul;d be attributed to you. I loved that notebook and carried it with me for years until it was all used up. I could never find one again. Would it be possible in the realm of so many things that you do to bring that (or something similar ) back to your shopping site? I am sure many girlfriends would really appreciate one to use as yu suggested.
    Love your blog and you cannot beleive how much joy there is in seeing a new entry. have a wonderful day-really gorgeouw in NYC Today.

  37. sandy says:

    Hi Susan,,,,my original post got lost, so this is a do-over (hopefully the original isn’t floating around here somewhere!). I keep an adventure journal. I take it with me on outings and draw a picture of something–several lighthouses, a tea house, the view from mountaintops, a bridge, and pick a flower and dry in between the pages and then glue it in. I love carrying it along, and purposely looking for something to draw and that flower. I probably have broken federal laws by picking some in a national park…you have a criminal friend! there’s not a big reward for turning me in, tho! and shamefully, I plan to pick more…xox happy June 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I think that what you are doing in the National Forests is what they are there for! Have fun Sandy!

  38. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! I loved reading about your garden journal and looking over all of your pretty pictures, sketches, and notations!!! I like writing in my simple garden journal after planting or rearranging plantings. But, I really love your idea of taking it with you when traveling to see other gardens…….helping you to remember right then and there what you see at the moment. Documenting while fresh in your mind, on sight. So, in the future I definately will start to throw my garden journal into my purse to have it handy at all times!!!!! Take care and Happy Gardening!!!!

  39. Jody says:

    I really like your thoughts about leaf textures and colors together and how shrubs give the “cupcake” substance and flowers are the sprinkles. Yes! Thank you for sharing your inspiring garden diary.

  40. viv says:

    I’ve been outside all day gardening. While I was working I thought how lovely it would be to keep a garden diary including the things I think about while I’m in the flowers, shrubs and trees. Coming in for lunch, I found your diary. As always, inspiring.

  41. Julie says:

    I am a fellow gardener too, and my tiny little yard is full of all sorts of fun flowers and plants that butterflies, bees & birds just love. It makes me extremely happy to spend time in it. I try hard to discard my perfectionism and simply rejoice in the plants that thrive in my area. I’m in the East Bay near San Francisco; we have very hot, dry summers & cold winters; yet there are plants that love these extremes. It’s the simple things…. : )

  42. Terrie from Atlanta says:

    Nobody commented on your cute ideas for a future powder / bathroom?! One thing you must do now, first off, before all of your summer company appears: add a handrail inside your bathtub or shower area! Go stand in it and pretend just where you would reach if you felt yourself slipping, or how high it should be for both you and Joe (hint: install on an angle, like this \ or / or greater). Measure length you need and just order from hardware store. I had mine put in after knee surgery, and still use it years later. Bathtubs are slippery! (Wise idea to swap out the guns for fishing rods, you good little Girl Scout . . . )

  43. peggy says:

    I did take a note book to the Chelsea Flower show in London, BUT, it was so crowded and so I took a ton of pictures instead, many of the plants had name plates, so I took a picture of that too and now I can print them out and add to my, I have so many pictures and so many ideas! I love so many styles of gardens that I saw at the show, I figure when I get my house of my own (not government base housing) I want a garden of “rooms”, an asian meditation garden, a beautiful english graden with potting shed and picket fence, and a rose garden with an arch entrance and bird bath in the center of the garden and what ever else I can come up with. Over here in England they do the coolest thing called “open gardens”. The village people open their gardens up to the public and allow you to explore their gardens, we started at the chapel in the village, paid a small fee for the map, (all the money went to the chapel) then we headed out by foot to the different gardens on the map. Super fun!!! and there is also many people that open their gardens and charge a small fee and then donate their money to organizations and then they serve coffee/tea and home made cakes…. love it! those can be found in the NHS book. any how, now I am enspired to get on my garden book, thank you

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not one for crowds, so I’ve never been to the Chelsea Flower Show — instead, I watched it from the comfort of our rented cottage on TV when I was in England. I just need to breathe in gardens. They should sell timed tickets! Yes, the garden room, brilliant! And also the opening of the small gardens, its amazing how into gardens they are and how it makes the whole country into a beautiful flowery hedged park!

      • peggy says:

        I agree on timed tickets, I think a cut off point would be nice. We went pretty early,8am, we were there when the doors opened and it was a comfortable crowd, but by 1 pm it was so crowded that I had one of my daughters in front of me, I was holding her hand and one behind me holding on my purse, we were scooooting threw the crowd, one elderly lady passed out in front of us and they had to get the emergency crew in!!! that’s when we called it quits and went to Harrods to beat another crowd….lol… it was fun though, so glad I had the chance to go.

        • sbranch says:

          It’s such an important show. I loved that they did the days leading up to it on BBC — they showed each new display as it was being set up. Talked about the sun, the rain, the designers and so forth. What an undertaking!

  44. Georgie Bonsanto says:


    I just love your Gardening Journal. Thanks for sharing your tips with us. Now I just need to jump in and start 🙂

    Counting Blessings Today! Dad is finally HOME from the rehabilitation home. His procedures went wonderfully. Today is the final check up with his Hip surgeon. Yippee!

    Did you hear me screaming yesterday when I read your TWEET about your book being printed with an earlier deadlilne! YIPPEE!!!

    I can’t wait to see the touring schedule!
    XOXO Georgie

    Yardville, NJ

  45. Carrie says:

    Attending “The Chelsea Flower Show” had been a long time dream of mine. I attended in Spring of 2004 and it was heaven on earth. I’m not a fan of big crowds let alone standing in line (i.e., pop concerts, big antique fairs, etc.) and that was not my experience. As Susan mentioned, I took deep breaths on these fresh verdant grounds; it was truly something to behold. Perhaps it was the time of day I arrived but I strolled in, no lines and the grounds are so expansive that I never felt crowded.

    The 2004 show was outstanding and my favorite garden won Best in Show! I took many pictures and was tickled when I saw it the link Susan put up “the beauty of what we were seeing.” It was picture #1 with a thatched cottage with, of course, a gorgeous cottage garden –;client=safari&rls=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=-1inUcrWAerB4AOB9YHACg&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1158&bih=786. Fortunately, my picture had a couple of the Chelsea Pensioners sitting at the picnic table drinking a glass of cider, perfection.

    Meandering both the grounds to see all the various gardens was like wandering Oz, as in “The Wizard of…” The indoor exhibits were outstanding and I remember the sheer delight in striking up conversations with avid English gardeners-bliss.

    When I felt a bit peckish, I grabbed an inexpensive lunch and ate under the trees and again, on my day, there was no sense of crowds or being in a throng.

    Alan Titchmarsh, or the “Titch,” is usually a commentator for the beebs and to me, he is the noblest of men. Ground Force was a tremendously fun program to watch and glean inspiration.

    Part of the inherent beauty to this wonderful celebration, for me, is that it is held on the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital for Pensioners. The hospital was built some 300 years or so ago as a home for those in the military displaced after serving their country. Both men, and now I understand women, live in berths that used to be 6’X6′ and now I’m told have been enlarged. They are lovely, despite the dimensions – something to be seen. The camaderie and support is ubiquitous and palpable. The Great Dining Hall is stunning as is the Chapel. Sir Christophher Wren, better known for St Paul’s Cathedral, was the architect for some of the structures for this exquisitely charitable but ever so noble institution. I had the good fortune of visiting this hospital and speaking with a couple of the pensioners, it was priceless.

    I’m making plans to hopefully return in the next year or so.

  46. Hello Susan and Girlfriends, I received an email from Benjamin Moore Paints to vote daily for “Mainstreets Matters” and wanted to share it with all of you. You go to this site everyday and a map of the U.S. comes up and you click on your State and vote for the City that comes up for a revitilization to the Mainstreet in your State!!! I believe 32,000 votes to date have been cast and what a wonderful project for Benjamin Moore to sponsor. The instructions on the site are easy to follow and you can sign up to receive updates once they choose the 22 cities to make beautiful!!!

  47. Carol at Pink Rose Cottage says:

    Good morning, Susan. Just a quick note. One of my daughter’s dear friends has just become engaged (what a blessing to watch these dear girls grow into lovely young ladies. They were radiant last night as they talked of wedding plans) and I am sending her one of your Count Your Blessings day books to record her thoughts and blessings over the next year as she prepares for her big day. I know that your special thoughts and cozy artwork will be an inspiration and comfort to her. Thank you for all you do to bring beauty and joy into our lives.

  48. Update: 20 main streets will be chosen and the site is:

  49. suzk says:

    thank you for sharing your thoughts and notes on gardening. I live in the city and have 2 porches, so I grow what works best on covered porches in southern NH. I also try to have plants I can bring in to the house in the fall. I have the best success with impatients, swedish ivy and herbs. I love watching your gardens – they are so refreshing! I never realized what I love about them most is the contrast in shape and color until you mentioned it. Then I realized that’s what draws me to them the most.

  50. doris minear says:

    I love that box, I have one just like it, it was my mother’s. It brings back such great memories, just the feel of it. I also have all most all of your books, including “Girlfriends”, which my best friend gave me. You and our fellow bloggers are truly soul sisters.

  51. judy says:

    I’ve seen this answer before but would love to know the pattern of the china on the table with black accessories. Pardon me if it’s been asked too many times already! Thanks so much, Judy

  52. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    Did anyone see the segment on CBS Sunday Morning today about newlywed Cynthia Riggs, an 81 year old mystery writer who lives on Marthas Vineyard with her husband Howard, who is 90? Howard first met her 60 years ago, and even though their lives went in different directions he never stopped loving her. They reconnected and were married last month. Such a beautiful story…and a beautiful couple!!

    • sbranch says:

      The island is abuzz with this wonderful story! ♥

      • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

        “Love is a great place to spend the rest of your life” said Howard. Oh my goodness, I think I’m in love with that dear man!! :). I am not a great fan of mystery novels, but I am going to purchase one of Cynthia’s…maybe the Bee Balm Mystery. Hubby is a hobby beekeeper:). Amazons review says her descriptions of Marthas Vineyard are delightful. If I can’t get I to the mystery, I’ll surely enjoy the travelogue!!!!

  53. Hi Susan! I spy a note about a Horse Chestnut tree, and couldn’t help but mention that Tasha has a beautiful large Horse Chestnut at the bottom of the herb garden, over the path down to the vegetable garden. It’s lovely and a great conversation piece…everyone asks about it. What a lovely little notebook just chock-full of fun things! ~Best, Natalie

  54. Lisa Nelson-Jones says:

    I can’t believe I missed this post!! What a special Saturday treat for me! I so love a journal. I suppose I do journal- but my “journal” are my pretty little binders that I have categorized into “home”, “outside/floral”, and “craft/ craft room” ideas. I’ve been collecting magazine articles on just anything I love since I was 12. I pull things out, make my notes, and insert into my binders. I did purchase one of those little “Olaf” round cutters you carry in your purse, Susan. I now carry it in mine just in case I see something that strikes my fancy while I’m out and I want to add it to my binder 🙂 these binders also serve as my dream journals for things I want to do later- I think it’s good to keep my dreams close at hand 😉 I can’t wait to one day have my own little cottage and flower gardens to take my tea into…I was wondering, after reading this post several times, which trip did you enjoy more? I would love to know what your favorite places were, and what you suggest more: the garden tours or “places”? The reason I ask is because I would love to add these to my own dream journal for my own “someday” trip. I definitely know I want some peah-cidah!! Thanks as always for your beautiful, meaningful inspiration!!

    • sbranch says:

      The fabulous thing is that every garden comes with a house! Originally we went just to look at the gardens, not realizing we would get houses and castles and the history of England too! I put all my favorite places in the new book, from both of our trips. I also did an Appendix for the book that I’m adding to “I LOVE ENGLAND” on the blog. It will have links to everything, cottage rentals, gardens, everything. You can plan your own trip. Love your binders, you’ll always be glad you kept them.

      • Lisa Nelson-Jones says:

        I was so hoping that was the case with the book!! I’m so excited to get it I can’t stand it!! What’s so interesting about my journals is the fact that it wasn’t until about a year ago that I looked through them in their entirety. My basic taste hasn’t changed in 20 years! Almost everything I like is either all white or linen! Such a wonderful revelation- makes it easy for future furniture shopping! I also love pops of black- I have pictures of Lincoln and Washington in black frames… I agree it’s a special pop of “color” 🙂

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