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. Susan Simon (in Illinois) says:

    Good morning, Susan and everyone! I adored the trip through your garden, your diary and absolutely loved the idea of a “bird motel” with all your made up words that perfectly described the wonderfully musical conversations that birds give us. I am just beginning to learn about gardening, and your notebook idea is a perfect place for me to start. Thank you so much again, Susan, your ideas and thoughts are always such an inspiration and so much fun to read and think about. Have a great day… I am going to go outside (now that our rain has finally stopped for a bit after days of it!) and think about what I can do with our wee garden. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Ahhh, egads, my goodness sakes you are amazing, a plethora of creativity! Golly, I would even BUY this little journal, it’s wonderful! I kept a journal when we went to England, typed it all up (that’s what I used to do – type!) & love reading it over now & then & looking at the photo album, BUT it never occurred to me to combine the two & keep the handwritten notes!! I guess I must have known, my little journal wouldn’t have been as wonderful as yours! Now, I’m thinkin’ my family may have had fun decipherin’ my scribbles! Great music, spectacular blog my dear! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure it’s come in handy no matter what it looks like – right? My poor little burnt up journal!

  3. Nellie says:

    You have done so much to capitalize on each day you have on this earth, Susan! What ideas and beauty you share with us!

    Vegetable growing is much the same way as with flowers. As the years progress, and our experience with planting vegetables expands, we begin to realize why certain veggies are “standbys” in our area, and others don’t do as well. When I was growing up, I sometimes wondered why the same things were always on the table at mealtimes! Now I realize it was because those were the things that grew well around our area.

    A new month is almost upon us! We are already having temperatures akin to the heat of the summer!

    Enjoy this day! It is a beautiful one here!

    xo Nellie

  4. susie says:

    Doesn’t take long to learn there’s more to gardening than digging a hole and putting a plant in it. I have journals on the house, for repairs, installations, etc. I keep a medical journal on my drs. visits, tests , and anything to do with my health. But why haven’t I started a journal just for gardening? In my journal for the house, I have included lawn care. So dear Susan you have given me an idea today , oh yes, I am going to have a plant journal. Thank you. xoxo,Susie

  5. Julia says:

    OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I got out early this morning and worked in my
    little garden and came in to find this beautiful post. Now I know why I
    was out there working so hard. I can’t wait until I’m settled in one place
    so I can plant some of those flowering trees and make a picket fence
    garden. Thanks for the lovely post. I’ll go back now and finish reading.
    I love the garden journal and the burned corner!

  6. Mary says:

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your garden diary. I’m always drooling over plants and then promptly forgetting their names. The nursery folks don’t always know what I’m talking about when I say, “tall spiky stems with tiny purple flowers” or some-such. From today, I vow never to visit another garden without a little notebook and pencil. One thing that has helped me a lot in my own garden is my camera. I’m much more mindful of foliage and its many shades and textures, now that I take so many photos. Happy gardening!!

  7. Pat Stansel says:

    Ooooooh, my that journal is priceless! Your garden pictures touches my heart.
    I really had to savor every detail in this blog. What a delightful way to start the day!!!

    • Pat Stansel says:

      No wonder you were so inspired —-I just clicked on the shaped shrubs
      And the English gardens. It’s beyond magical ! I see why you can’t get
      enough .

  8. mary spring says:

    wooo hooo !!…a new post from you and about gardens !! 4 year old friend and I just got back from our favorite morning excursion…to our local Botanical Garden of the O.Z…. he’s still “wild” with excitement…so I can’t obviously be very long here…’just wanted to tell you “thank you Susan…for all you do for everyone…”..(I just couldn’t wait..I’ll joyfully savor this post when he is napping.. and then again and again !!!…take care and with love !!

  9. Karen P - Wisconsin says:

    This is EXACTLY what I need to be doing! Things will be coming up in my flower gardens and Greg will say, “What’s coming up here?” And I cannot remember until it’s well on its way because I don’t keep track of things! And everywhere we go, I take tons of pics but never keep a journal! We have a gorgeous botanical garden here that we joined again this year. I take pics of things I want to have in my garden but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your little notebook idea! Must do that! And isn’t it irritating beyond words that the garden centers even THINK of selling things that are not for your zone?! Over the years, until we became a bit more knowledgable about plants, etc, we make mistake after mistake planting things that never returned because they weren’t for our zone! Thank you, sweetheart :-), for sharing your creativity with us. Seriously! You have no idea the impact in the creative lives of all of us you are making! xoxo…Karen

  10. Bev says:

    I’ve been reading about your gardens and those of other bloggers. I became inspired and did some planting and decorating. I added a birdbath and some feeders. They were very popular with the birds and several very clever squirrels. And the birds and squirrels are very popular with several feral cats and a huge hawk. I’ve inadvertently created a “killing ground”. Does anyone else have this problem? Yesterday, I saw a possum (although I don’t think he kills things). I live in an urban area and never knew I had so many “critters”. Wow. What have I done? sigh……


    • sbranch says:

      Wow! We do have cats that hang out under our bird feeders, but the birds are too smart for them!

    • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

      Bev, possums are dangerous critters they will kill birds, I know they kill chickens so I keep a bb gun handy to keep them out of my gardens and yard, at night we have a “whomping stick” to whomp the dickens out of the possums, my husband chases them around the yard and whomps on them good to get rid of them. we keep that “whomping stick” or to be more precise, that old axe handle handy by the front door, they are coming around now as it is their time of year for having baby possums and we don’t want those around either.

      • Julia says:

        Pat, if I had a husband I’d surely get whomping stick!
        Made me laugh out loud. I don’t want to be the “whomper!”
        But I will get a BB gun. Don’t want anything messing
        with my birds!

      • Terrie from Atlanta says:

        Pat, you are hilly-airy-us! I am laughing SO hard at this mental picture ~ sounds like the woodsy, farming area of Georgia where I grew up back in the ’60s before we all became suburbs of the City of Atlanta. Everyone’s mama knew how to use a shotgun (how else would you get the mistletoe down from the trees in December?) and all the boys / men kept a baseball bat behind the back door. Critters just came out at night . . . that’s what metal trash cans were for!

    • Lisa Jorgensen says:

      The squirrels and the possums will not hurt the birds. The cats and the hawks will. I have feeders in my backyard and am constantly chasing the hawks away. It’s awful, I wish I knew a way to keep them away.

    • Oh Beth, it is the same here. For a while all was well, but the last few years a Sparrow Hawk has learned that we (and many others) feed the birds. It is very distressing to see the small birds flee. Squirrels are also known for predating the nests and taking eggs. At this time of year, my garden is full of recently fledged birds that are still ‘in training’ and I am always on the alert so as soon as I hear Mamma birdie squawking I rush out to shoo away the predator if I am able. Nature is equally as sad as it is beautiful, but I will still feed the birds all the same.

    • Barb says:

      Hi Bev,

      One thing you can do to protect the birds… if you have more tree cover. Such as putting the birdfeeder under branches…so the birds can still get in but keep the hawks and cats out. I no oh so well about this. My husband and I lived in MA in a beautiful wooded area and we had some of the prettiest type of birds ever. Well our Red Bellied Woodpecker which we named Big Red was in the claws of a big Hawk. I tried shooing the hawk away and just saw feathers everywhere. I was in tears at this point. However the Hawk dropped the prey and thankfully Big Red survived minus a few feathers. Therefore the birdfeeders were moved and this solved our problems. Hope this helps you out. Have a good day.
      Barb, EW, CT

      • Barb says:

        oops……mispelled meant to say : I know

      • sbranch says:

        Good end to terrible story! Our bird feeders hang from an arbor covered with wisteria, so you are right — they are protected, at least while they eat. It’s their nests I worry about, with the babies and the eggs — but we are not in charge.

  11. Noël Holly says:

    How NICE it was to check your blog this morning and see your charming journal – burn mark and all! Makes it even more unique! I so enjoy a second spring so to speak as here on the West Coast many of the plants you are enjoying have already had their ” glory day” here. Not that there aren’t still many garden delights to enjoy here as well! I too recently discovered all those limey-green and purple combos and have incorporated them into my small border in front of my duplex. How did I miss this combo all these years?
    Thanks for letting us see your ” not as pretty” journal Susan- it looks wonderful to ME!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m told so often that people can’t make a journal because their “handwriting is bad” — or “they can’t draw” — so I like to show my everyday diaries so everyone knows it isn’t about that. That a work of art comes simply from the personal expression.

  12. pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

    hello everyone, love the trip through the garden diary, i sort of keep one, more like a logbook than a diary, not a lot of sketches or pictures but plenty of descriptions and details. i keep logs on the chickens as well, when they are egg sitterin’ and not, how many eggs were produced on any day and how many did i sell, plus the breeds and names of the chickens, turkeys and ducks. my husband is surprised i know each hen by name, and the roosters… each critter has a name here. i keep track of the batches of peeps (chicks) hatched and when and so on. just for my information. just keeps things organized and that makes life around here simple. off to go feed the barnyard bunch and then get the sheets out to dry on the line, the rain has stopped finally so time to get the sheets dried. i love my clothesline, saves me money on my electric bill by not using the dryer. have a great day everyone, enjoy the sunshine today. hugs…. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      You too Pat! Maybe one or two tiny drawings of chickens in that little book of yours!

      • Julia says:

        Pat, I keep a little journal on shell collecting. What kinds
        I find at a certain time. I started it hoping to see if
        certain shells are cyclical. They seem to be but not as
        much as I thought. Also, I love my clothesline.
        Especially when I’ve had a lot of company and 5 sets of
        sheets to dry.

        • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

          hello Julia, I love seashells, unfortunately whn we moved to Oregon, they got “lost” or destroyed, never could find out. I love that clothesline, its a money saver out here. I can dry the clothes on the line all summer long ( and battle the turkeys who think its fun to yank them all down) and the savings are quite big, but I love the smell of sun dried sheets and clothes, and yes if I can keep the turkeys away from the clothesline, everything just smells so fresh and good. thanks Susan, but I can’t draw very well, so those chickens would look like some kind of stick birds. but I can try, thanks!!!! hugs….. 🙂

        • Janet [in Rochester] says:

          Oh, Julia – I’ll bet that shell journal is so pretty! I love shells too though I don’t have too many – most are childhood finds that I put out in my bathroom in a basket each Summer. :>)

          • Julia says:

            Oh, girls. If I had your addresses I’d send
            you a box of shells. I keep picking them up
            and every time I have company I tell them to
            take what they want. Then I don’t feel greedy
            when I share them and it gives me a job to
            keep looking!!!!!!!!!

      • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

        Hi Pat~~ I got the instructions on how to find your home and have printed it out. We just got back from Washington and plan on going back up this summer for my husband to help a friend finish up renovating their bathroom. He said that he would just drop me off so that I can see the twins again while he worked. Works for me!! LOL I’ll let you know when we plan on going again. Would be so fun to stop by and say ‘hi’. Until then…..

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Hi Pat,
      I have a chicken, well really an egg question. Couldn’t think of who to ask and then, wa la…I have a Girlfriend who is an expert!! You! My BFF recently got chickens and she has been giving me eggs. More than one of the eggs have had bloody whites. I used to get eggs from my dear egg lady, Mrs. Hobbs, when she was living, and while there could be an ocassional blood spot, I never saw the whites bloody. Do you know why?
      Hope you can help.

      • Barb says:

        Hi Chris,
        I read your post and was also curious as to why this happens to the egg… I found this site for you:
        and then click on where it says: Egg Safety FAQ’s and there is good information. Although I cannot wait to hear what Pat has to say as well. Hope this helps out. Have a good day. Barb, EW, CT

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Yes, Susan, in case you guessed it, you are RIGHT! I read this and I’m gagging just imagining those eggs in the fry pan…ugh…enough to put me off eggs! 🙂 LOL!

  13. Lisa R (northern Az) says:

    Good morning Susan!! All of your diary’s are wonderful! I love them so much!! Thank you for sharing this purse sized adorable garden one. What a treat for the soul. Every time you put your pen to paper, (stickers and drawings, etc.) beauty always shines through. You have inspired me again to keep being creative and journal! Today is my birthday, and you just gave me a wonderful, joyful gift to start my day. Thank you! ….and the burned corner….at first glance, before reading your story, I thought it was a side view of a little mouse. See his little tan ear. lol

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Birthday! Love the tan ear! Maybe I should add some whiskers to it and make it a real mouse.

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        it does look like a mouse, egads I don’t need another mouse in the house, I have enough. and they ate my make-up bag and chewed up my toilet paper…the lil rodents.

        • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

          We’ve got rodents as well. Occasionaly we hear them in the attic right by our heads while we’re in bed. Obviously, they are in the walls. They come in mostly during the winter months when it’s the rainiest time. A couple times we’ve set traps in our food drawer and under the sink (we think that’s how they are getting into the kitchen). My husband looks the next morning before I get up and takes care of them if there are any to be had.

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        So funny, I thought the burnt corner was a black lamb, I could even see an eye & the laid back tan ear!!! We your readers, see art in everything you do now dear sweet Sue! xo

      • Lisa R (northern Az) says:

        LOL~ you really could turn it into a cute little critter!

  14. Dolores says:

    I am always so inspired by you and your diaries! What a wonderful idea. I am always seeing plants I love out and about and also in magazines, but can never remember their names when time to buy. Perfect and lovely solution the notebook for my purse! Of course if only mine would look as lovely as yours I would really be happy! But at least I have yours to inspire me to me more creative with my notebook and my garden! And I love the idea of my children finding it one day to know a little more about me. I will add this to the 1000 other little things that you have given me to make my life more joyful!

  15. {sigh} such beauty in your garden! It made my afternoon, dipping in here for a quick peek to find a new entry about your garden diary. I have recently started an online record on my own garden, not that it is up to much, and it is my way (for in no way can I draw well enough to record anything) of recording my misadventures, and partly to shame myself into doing something about the mess of which I seem to be in charge!

    I can sit and look at gardening books all day long, and what bliss there is in the plethora of seed catalogues that plop on my door mat in the winter! I can sit and look at your paintings and words for even longer! Large mug of tea, pile of ‘Susan’ books, a copy or ten of the UK Country Living . . oh, and now there is ‘The Simple Things’ to add to that list . . always a new magazine to sample, although I don’t like anything as well as CL.

    This morning I woke to the acid pop of next door’s laburnum tree singing loud and singing clear against the steel~grey morning sky and marveling at the contrast, and how inspiring it is to any colourist, to see everything magical in nature. A good way to meditate, or refocus yourself, is to sit quietly and try to count the shades of green you see. I love purple in the garden, and yellow . . lavender and sunflowers are my two favourites . . although I never met a flower that I didn’t love . .

    I love your little picket fence. I like a picket fence with lots of low shrubby bushes on the garden side, in a little border, much better than hedges or brick walls. I do like my Pembrokeshire stone hedge though, and I am trying to find out how old it is. We think it is at least two hundred years, maybe more, and it is a case of researching old records and maps.

    Would you look at that . . why, it seems like yesterday we turned over into May and here we are preparing for June . . My July Country Living arrived today, and what really shocked me was reading the page that tells me when the August copy will be out! Still feels like March outside . . how time flies when we’re having fun!

    Deb C♥ xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      It goes too fast! I could use three more weeks of May!

    • Deborah, what a great idea to start an on-line record of your garden! I enjoyed looking through it. I need all the encouragement to get out into mine and keep it cleaned up. I have too many native vines I’m constantly ripping out. If I were to go away for a year I think my property would disappear under all the wild plants just waiting to take over my yard!

    • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

      I, too, started to keep track of the plants and flowers on the computer years ago. A few years ago, I deleted it all and will start over with the new property whenever we move. The reason why I deleted it all was the fact that I didn’t have but a couple of the original plants left. Over the years, I switched them out for new ones. Got to find a better way to keep track of them all.

      Carol M

  16. Linda Pintarell says:

    What a lovely way to start the day…your garden journal is so special and I appreciate your sharing it with us. It’s been a beautiful week in San Diego; unfortunately I’ve had a head cold and not been able to enjoy it as much as I would like…but starting today it’s OUTSIDE for me, enjoying the beauty of God’s creations. Thanks for being the beautiful person you are and sharing your life with us.

  17. Susan on Bainbridge Island in Wa. state says:

    No matter where we go, making a journal or a diary of the adventure is so worth doing. I also journal in a sketch book…with my watercolor images….Fun to do BUT the best part is going back, much much later and remembering all the parts you have forgotten about…It’s all there, forever! It truly is a parting of the cobwebs in our minds! I love this blog……You always fill my day with sunshine, when I find a new note from you…..A beautiful way to start my day…. xoxox

  18. Susan Martin says:

    Just coming to your blog everyday makes me happy. I could spend hours looking through all of the posts againandagainandagain. I love the garden diary! I have that notebook, too, and I will slip it in my purse for when we are on vacation and I have an “I want to remember this moment” moment! You always inspire me, Susan. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us girlfriends!

  19. Nicki from Ojai, CA says:

    Great Garden/Journal Post. I have a favorite burn memory story. I had put a new backing on my young son’s blankie. So soft, he enjoyed it so much. Then we went for a walk in the stroller, and the blankie got caught in the wheels. So when I got home I noticed that nice new backing was now smeared in black grease. So I washed that corner, it came out well. Having no dryer, I laid in in the rack of the oven. Who hasn’t done that before. When I returned back to check it. That corner of the blankie was burned. Just the backing. I of course turned into a heap of tears over ruining my son’s favorite thing in the world. Then he came up to me, 2 years old. Patted me on the back, saying, “its ok Mommy, its Boo Boo Blanket” So Mom was soothed with the “new and improved” Boo Boo Blanket. Ah my favorite burn.
    We have a list of plants that the gophers DON’T eat. Other wise we get very frustrated here in CA. 🙂 I was so happy to learn that daffodils are on the list.

  20. sandy says:

    oh what a loverly tour of English gardens! how wonderful to learn so much by direct experience. Susan you are such an inspiration! I have a little “adventure” notebook I carry with me on excursions. I draw something, like a lighthouse or bridge or tea house, and pick some kind of flower to dry in the pages. Such a fun record–thanks, as always, xox sandy 🙂

  21. carolynn says:

    Loved the flower ideas but most of all I’d never heard Michael Buble! What a mistake that has been. Thanks Susan

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      Isn’t he great?? Michael Buble – the closest thing to Frank Sinatra that we have now – wonderful! Just downloaded 2 of his songs from iTunes this past weekend. :>)

  22. ChiChi says:

    Hi Darling Sue, As usual, you have inspired me. I will be looking closer to shapes as well as colors.
    Just looked outside and I have been doing a little of this unconsciously I guess. I will be
    more aware going forward. Thank you. ChiChi in Florida

  23. Ruth E. Rupp says:

    Hi Susan, Once again your wonderful words and illustrations warm the soul and give me a million ideas. I had never seen the word nepeta – – looked it up and discovered it was catmint or catnip – – then smiled and thought “pet” is in the middle of the word – – and cats are our adorable, fun-loving pets who really love catnip!! ☺ Funny how the mind works!! I always kept diaries of my travels throughout the world, and yours inspired me to go find mine today and read through some of them. Isn’t it wonderful how the words can bring back wonderful memories, and you can “relive your trip”? Thanks again for all the wonderful information and ideas. Hugs from Minnesota!

  24. Martha Ellen of VA says:

    Dear Susan, I love your glorious ideas about gardening. I have gardened at our home for 40 years now and still learn something new every season. I was so happy you included your tips about planting what is happy to your area. This is the key to a healthy, happy garden. We have all made the mistake of trying to grow non-natives. I enjoy visiting gardens in our area to soak up all the knowledge that make them special. Thank you for sharing your journal from your special trip. xoxo ♥

  25. stephanie says:

    Inspirational post as always! I love keeping diaries like this – I have a gardening journal where I keep all my dreams (rhubarb, cherry trees, moonflowers and on it goes…) for when I’m a homeowner.

    The journal you shared with us – I own. I use it for inspirational thoughts. Which brings me to my request… we need journals in the store! A few of my diaries are your books and that one you are showing today is amazing – an amazing size, it’s just perfection. However, you don’t have any for sale! You have some pads, but we need spiral journals for inspiration journals such as you’ve described here today. Please, please, please!?? This time I’ll buy 10 in case I can’t find them again. (I’m a little desperate, can you tell??)

    So happy visiting your blog as always! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I will work on it. We really do need them.

      • stephanie says:

        We do need these! I have one for collecting favorite quotes, one for gardening, one for home ideas, and used a few as diaries – there are endless uses. Also now you’ve given us great ideas – one for travel is fantastic. I also have one for collecting holiday ideas – everytime I see something that would be cute for a holiday – I put it in the book so when the holiday rolls around I have all my ideas in one place!

        • Janet [in Rochester] says:

          Excellent idea, Stephanie! I use them for many of the same reasons and would love being able to get them in Sue’s store. They make really nice gifts too.

  26. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~ Good Afternoon~
    I do the same thing~ have my little journal that I carry in my purse and jot things down~ anything that pops into my brain has to get wrote down before its forgotten!
    Did you know that Nepeta~catmint~ can be dried and put into cat toys~ or they can eat it fresh?~ When we had a kitty she use to roll around in it ~ it’s like an aphrodisiac to them!
    Off to my garden again before it storms~ Happy Gardening!~

  27. Lynn B says:

    Thank you for sharing that sweet journal. I love how blessed you are to be living a life so suited to you and that you are so aware of and grateful for your blessings, that might be why this blog is my favorite. And that is my FAVORITE bird drawing ever…..

  28. Christine Anderson says:

    I just love your little diary! What delights you included. I need to start one for our little jaunts around the country!

  29. Love this post…love flowers…AND I’ll trade you our gardenias for a jug full of lilacs, something that just won’t grow here in FL at all. I had dozens of lilac bushes when I lived in CT, but now they exist only in my memory of living in New England. I have an old notebook of my first attempts at gardening from years ago- you’ve inspired me to find it, read through it and start a new one. Love you Susan! xoxo Jacqui

  30. Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

    Glorious garden inspiration, Susan! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful Garden Diary with all of us. Just this morning, I bought a new Garden Journal… and now we have a chance to peek at yours! Such perfect timing! I’m so inspired to keep a more detailed journal. I have tried keeping notes on a pretty calendar, but needed more space for the all of the daily changes in my garden. So, I’m ready to fill my new journal! For the past few years, I have been photographing the details of my garden every week {almost daily, now that everything is beginning to bloom). By the end of the year, I have a beautiful “Walk Through My Garden” slideshow, with musica. It begins with snowy “shadow gardens” in January and highlights all of the lovely, little changes throughout the year. It’s lovely to share with faraway friends. Thank you for teaching me how important a little Garden Inspiration notebook can be! I already have two wonderful ideas to make note of… I just love your stone birdbath encircled by flowers. Your beauty bush is amazing!! I wonder if it would be happy in Zone 5? It’s such fun to think about all of the Girlfriends enjoying our gardens.
    Warm, sunny wishes everyone!

  31. Laura Jenkins says:

    My mother has photos of me in the summer, playing in my little paddling pool, with floating gardenia blossoms…it is my favorite scent to this day…and they grow well here, thank goodness. My signature perfume is by Estee Lauder…Tuberose and Gardenia. Have your beloved gift you with a small bottle~you can enjoy that gorgeous gardenia scent all day…xoxo Lovely post. 😉 Thank you for whetting our whistle with another sneak peek of our book…

    • sbranch says:

      My pleasure and I will go smell that perfume at the next Department Store counter I get to!

      • Laura Jenkins says:

        Do you have a “signature” cologne/perfume~one you wear every day? Scents can allow us to time travel and remind us of people, places…my dear friend has worn Aromatics by Clinique her entire adulthood. When I smell someone wearing it, I scan the room looking for her! I love the power of scents…the good ones, lol! 😉

        • sbranch says:

          I have worn Channel No5 my whole life. Joe wears my favorite, Old Spice. We are tradition personified. When we put on our fragrances, we know we’re in for a good time! That’s what those smells are to us after all these years, celebration and fun.

          • Laura says:

            Me, too! Chanel no. 5 is delicious….smells a little like baby powder! I love Joy, too.

        • Janet [in Rochester] says:

          I love the idea of “signature” scents too. I read something about this during high school and decided to choose a signature scent for myself. It took a little while but I finally landed on sandalwood – even though a few people have commented “oh, isn’t that a man’s scent?” But I’ve always liked the woodsy notes. Besides, in junior high I read the “Cherry Ames, Student Nurse” books… and Cherry always used her special sandalwood soap when primping for a date or special occasion!! :>) So I think sandalwood is the perfect unisex fragrance. :>)

          • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

            Oh, my goodness, Janet! Were/are you a Cherry Ames fan?? I was all through my growing up years. I’ve kept her books and now I am working on completing my set. I’ve never become a nurse, but love those books!

    • Terrie from Atlanta says:

      Laura, what a wonderfully creative mother you had, floating gardenia blossoms in your little wading pool ~ I love it! As the oldest daughter in a family with lots of little BOYS, there was always something floating in our kiddie pool, too . . . but it wasn’t flowers. (Sue, can you dig?)

  32. Sara D NW Georgia says:

    A delightful post! Thank you for sharing your journal with us 🙂

  33. Ann Y. Adamstown, PA says:

    Susan…how beautiful everything looks. I can’t wait for the book to come out ! I love the way you give us so many ideas and the mix of color is so beautiful. I have yellow and purple around my front light post, and then a pinkish clematis on the post…it is just coming into it’s best time and I just have to stop everyday and go…WOW. Love that you got ideas for more than gardens, too….and as always, love the quotes. We have a little boy ( 4) next door who we just love to bits….the Easter Bunny left a basket here with some candy for him, but also little gardening gloves, a watering can, little trowel and shovel, and some seeds ( sunflower and zinnia)…and with the cold and rain we have not been “out to play”. On Monday as I was having my coffee on the screen porch I heard a voice say ” Mom, she’s up…I hear her!” and these little feet came running across the lawn, through a break in the abrovitae, carrying all the gardening stuff while still in his pajamas. After breakfast and clothes and shoes and a hat…we set out to plant. OH, what joy ! He was so excited. We planted all the seeds and this weekend I am going to get some little bedding plants for us to put in, because when you are 4 you want to see something grow right away. We talked about how we can look each day to see the seedlings sprout….but little boys like to see things grow so I am thinking we can plant some more “stuff”. But it made me think of you and your garden….hope I am spreading the garden bug to him, just as you are to all of us !

    • When my boys were little my neighbor left Easter Baskets on our front porch for them one year. What was so funny, though, is we’d all just sat down to eat breakfast. Our table looked out on the front porch. I don’t know how she timed it, but when we opened our eyes after saying Grace the baskets were there!

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      Amy, that is THE cutest story! What memories you are making for that little guy! When he’s 80 and in his rocking chair, he’ll remember how excited he was that morning, running over to your house, and he’ll be smiling! :>

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Oops!! So sorry, Ann [not Amy]. Duh. Time for Janet to get a new eye prescription. :>)

  34. sondra fox says:

    Susan, your wonderful ideas keep flowing from that creative mind of yours. I’m a garden lover who attempts to provide a variety of interesting plants in our garden, not just the tried & true. There’s a nursery nearby that caters to gardeners like me. I sort of coddle plants that I think will be hard to grow, such as the Columbine that’s now growing outside our kitchen door. I planted it in the shade of another plant, sort of like the Columbine has a “buddy.” I’ve observed the Columbine growing well in mountain climates, enjoying chilly days in the early spring, but rarely growing in our hot climate of So. CA. Funny how we often have similar thoughts. I’ve been sitting on our patio, thinking of where I could plant a row of hedge. I totally agree that variety is the way to go when planting a garden. I always thought that Orchids were difficult to grow, until I put two plants hanging from a tree. They’re doing wonderfully well. I give them plenty of water, sometimes soaking them in a bucket of water for about fifteen minutes. So interesting to grow. Two of my plant loving, Orchid loving friends & myself, go to an Orchid show in Santa Barbara, at the Earl Warren Fairgrounds, each spring. What a sight. I’ve found that what I thought to be an extremely delicate flower, the Orchid, is very easy to grow. All it takes is water. The results are outstanding. Happy gardening everyone.

    When I was a child, my garden loving Grandma always let me plant Pansies. I never put a Pansy into the ground without thinking of my Gram. That was “my job,” planting the Pansies. Pansies are to this day, one of my favorite flowers. You notice I said “one” of my favorite flowers, as I seem to love them all.

    Our grandson Cody, is graduating from HS tonight. Our family is all in a flutter. So very proud of him. We rented a wheelchair for my husband, in order that he could see Cody graduate. My husband is too weak to walk all the way from our car to the site of the graduation. He’s so happy that he’ll be able to see Cody’s graduation. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      I am sure the family will be thrilled he can be there. Congratulations to Cody! Loved your ‘flower talk.’

      • Hello Sondra, Congrats to Cody and so happy your hubby gets to go and see him Graduate!!! Now, we have been taken over by a lovely purple Columbine from all the seeds evidently to the point that we probably had 30 plants!!! Yikes…so we are thinning them out and I wish I could send you some. Enjoy your evening.

        • sondra fox says:

          Oh Deborah, how I’d love to see all of your Columbine plants. I think the flower is so delicate looking. When we’re up in the mountains (near Lake Tahoe, or in the Sierras), I’m tempted to pick some of the Columbines to put into a vase. Then I think, “no, don’t pick them, let others who walk by here see them in their natural beauty.” There’s also a wonderful surprise that can be found in the same vicinity, called Snow Flowers. They pop up in one bright red stalk, near the end of the winter, going into spring. Right up out of the snow, as though alerting everyone that they are strong enough to bloom, AND, soon other flowers will soon appear, as soon as the sun warms the earth & the snow goes away. When our grandchildren were little ones, we’d take walks in the snow, looking for Snow Flowers. They’d get so excited when they’d see the beautiful red stalks. They knew the name of them year after year. Right now the Jackaranda (no doubt misspelled) trees are all abloom in So. CA. Each year I’d ask our boys what the name of the tree was when we’d see one with it’s faint purple blooms. It was so cute hearing them try to pronounce the name of the tree. But, they learned the name of the tree & the Snow Flower for sure. Also Deborah & Susan, thanks for your congrats to Cody. I’ll tell him what you said. He was very proud that his Peepaw (my husband) got to come to his graduation. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      With my grandma it was Bleeding Hearts & Lemon Lilies~ I now have 2 dedicated
      ~ Memory Gardens~ they are full of the favorite flowers of my family & friends who have left this Earth~ but some are favorites from those still with me~bleeding hearts, lilies~ rosemary ~ forget ~ me~ nots as well as a Forget~ me ~Not rose bush~ praying hands hostas~ hydrangeas~ lamb’s ears~ purple iris ~ sunflowers~ the list goes on… When each one blooms I remember that special someone~ also lots of bird feeders and a butterfly feeder too ~ my dad and in~laws loved birds and my mom loved butterflies
      So when I see them it’s like they are letting me know they are always with me!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        What a wonderful idea, Lynn. :>)

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          Thanks Janet~ I love having them~ such good memories~this year I am adding little stone feet with my grandchildren’s names on them ~We gathered a bunch of small stones/ rocks at the lake last year and made a little rock garden they play with every time they come~ I am going to have the older kids pick out their own
          “feet” from the garden and assemble them~ Then I’ll write their names on them~ the new baby can have mom or dad make his~ good thing they aren’t like real feet~ I am not a foot person!

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Gosh but I wish we could SEE all the wonderful garden spaces we’re hearing about in the comments…. Sue, your blog is a wonderful throwback to the Golden Age of Radio – when folks had to imagine what they were hearing about! Almost more fun this way too actually! :>)

          • sbranch says:

            LOL, the golden age of radio!

        • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

          The Golden Age of Radio! Susan, you have created the interactive/Internet version of Lake Wobegon, if Garrison Keillor won’t mind the comparison! “Where all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

          • sbranch says:

            You know what, if I wasn’t doing what I do, I’ve always wanted to be him — to do a radio show like that. The old songs, the feelings about home, his radio program is my favorite.

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            I love his radio show and have almost all his books~ We listen to his show and saw him twice!~ my son was almost lucky enough to have him for a teacher at the
            U of M but he was having health issues at the time and could not do it~ that would have been such an awesome experience~ he truly is a gifted story teller!

          • sbranch says:

            He certainly is. Just love him. We saw him once too. Nothing better than getting in the car on a Saturday afternoon and going for a ride while listening to Garrison Keillor.

  35. Deb says:

    What a lot of inspiring ideas! I’ve had my eye on white bleeding hearts for a while – I guess now’s the time. Whenever my husband and I go to a nursery we find so many great plants, but our garden’s tiny! If you followed us around you’d hear our favorite garden phrase – “We’ll find a place.”

  36. Mary Pat says:

    Thank you again, Susan, for another inspiring visit with you! Love the diary! How amazingly creative you are, and how amazingly generous to share yourself so freely with all of us! You lifted my spirits today for sure! Have you ever seen the books: ” In and Out of the Garden” or “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady”? Both are quite interesting, somewhat like your diary, but also somewhat different. Thank goodness for each of us being “somewhat different”. How boring if we were all exact copies of each other! Happy gardening!

  37. Ridgely says:

    Oh my gosh, I just want to fall into all the amazing photos of your English gardens tour. Thanks so much for sharing them! I don’t have any garden “beds”, but I do have containers and also the perfect “English” climate to grow things in here in the Pacific Northwest. We’re having a pretty soggy spring, but everything is so LUSH right now and GREEN! We could do with a bit of heat, though, everything is just holding its breath right now. I so enjoy your blog, thanks for being so faithful to let us sojourn with you!

    • sbranch says:

      I wandered through your area once, many years ago, and was astounded by the green and the flowers!

  38. Your blog posts always make me happy.

    I started keeping a garden diary as part of my scrapbook journal a few years ago to remember where everything was planted, what worked… and what did NOT. Everything I’ve learned came from what died!

    I felt terrible until Sharon (Lovejoy) told me that is the way all gardeners learn. Although a trip to England to learn would be lovely, too. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I got more from the trip to England than from all the dead things I ever created! Because I never put two and two together before, never realized what was causing it. I still never know when a bug will attack, but things are better now that I am trying to work with locally happy plants.

  39. Joan S says:

    Hyperventilating after all those gorgeous photos and your own lovely garden and advice. I have a bird motel – star jasmine lines the back fence. Been noisy lately, lots of singing.

  40. Christine Morgan says:

    I so needed this post today. Working so hard on a job that I really do not enjoy anymore but taking a minute to look at your blog and realizing it was about gardening made my day. Gardening means so much to me. I helped my Grandmother and my mother garden and learned so much from them through the years. I have a little story to tell–something that happened to me yesterday. A year ago I purchased a 6 pack of Strawberry plants to place in a container garden I was putting together. When I wanted to change it out I placed the strawberry plants in the ground and kind of forgot about them till yesterday. I was having a group of my friends over yesterday evening and cleaning some strawberries for some flavored water and for a tray and all of the sudden I remembered MY strawberries. I went out to the backyard and what did I see? Bushy strawberry plants with a huge amount of berries. I felt like a kid. I was so excited I picked them all and they are in a bowl on my windowsill to admire before they get eaten. Gardening is so fulfilling. I am going to expand my strawberry patch this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed this little 6 pack of strawberry plants!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s so fun to find them waiting for you. Your own crop!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Is there ANYTHING more delicious than fresh roadside-stand June strawberries? I know we can have them year-round now. But it’s not the same. I think the extra ingredient in the yumminess is waiting for the real seasonal berries. :>)

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          Yes~ fresh raspberries fom my bushes! If I’m lucky I will get 2 pickings!

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            “From” my bushes ~ it must be past my bedtime with all these darn typos! ~ darn spell check too!

  41. Becky says:

    What a post!!! Just invigorating to read about all of these GORGEOUS plants. Since you are in love with lime colored shrubs, do you have a Lime Glow Barberry? It is one of my new favs. Thanks so much for the continued inspiration. oxoxoox!

  42. Ozark Mountain Moma says:

    What a wealth of beautiful information. I have a corner of my yard that I am leaving to its own devices, well, ok, I did plant 50,000 wildflower seeds and paint a birdhouse or two…but otherwise it is critter corner and I am hoarding ideas of things to add to it next spring, while the snakes are still asleep 🙂 I want the critters to enjoy living there and I want to enjoy looking at it. Thank you for sharing your diary! It was great to enjoy while the rain comes down in buckets and the weather radio is blaring out warnings 🙂

  43. Nancy B says:

    Lovely post today, Susan. I am enjoying the hydrangea plant I put in a couple of years ago. It has several big pink blooms on it now and the Lily of the Nile plants are about to shoot off their fireworks! (btw, my daughter received her graduate degree at Harvard today. Sadly, we couldn’t be there, but we saw her receive her diploma via Live Feed. Aren’t computers wonderful?)

    Happy Day!
    Nancy (from Bakersfield)

  44. Marianne from Peoria IL says:

    So inspiring! While reading your latest blog, my mind was racing! My daughter has just been engaged, and while reading this, I felt a surge of inspiration! The feel of an English garden as you describe for her reception!

  45. miss winnie says:

    Hi Susan,
    I so enjoyed your garden notebook and the photos of your beautiful plantings! Here in Kansas we deal with summers that can get so hot you can’t expect anything to thrive and also the threat of hail that pummels the plants or high wind storms/tornadoes that can destroy everything! We have many potted flowers in our courtyard that often get taken into our carriage house when the weather is threatening. Like you, I have learned that no matter how much I may desire a particular plant in my garden, if it isn’t suitable for our climate there is no point in wasting money and time on it!
    I once heard a very diplomatic actress who had worked with a young Pamela Anderson respond to a question about Ms. Anderson’s talents as an actress with the following: “I think she has a real desire to be a good actress.” That’s kind of how I view myself as a gardener! — definitely not that adept, but with a desire to continually be better! 🙂

  46. Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

    Thanks for the inspiration of having a “Garden book”–great idea for future reference but also just plain fun to put together and dream of a future garden! And, incidentally, we are again planting our Tango geraniums on our deck of the townhouse and many pots of tomatoes to eat and make salsa of in the fall! We did learn our lesson–planting only 1 plant in a large pot is more effective and productive than planting 2 or 3 tomatoes in the same large pot as they compete for light and their energy goes more to growth and leaves than the actual tomatoes! So there is a hint for any of the girlfriends who want to try growing tomato plants in pots on their decks… 🙂

  47. judi says:

    Your garden(s) are so lovely. One can tell a lot of thought and experience:) and hard work has gone into them. The garden book is spot on – just the right size to tuck in the pocketbook. (An early “smash” book 🙂

    I had a couple of girlfriends over today to help themselves to some stamps I have decided need to move on so I can make room for new ones:) One of the things I shared with them is my 8 – 10 little notebooks with spiral binders I picked up for $1 – $1.50. Approximately 5″ x 7″ just right for jotting down a little poem, idea or sketch. I tape sayings, pictures, ideas, inspirations, little punched thingies, – “stuff” that would otherwise get misplaced. They too said they tear things out of magazines, etc. and have piles that they never get back too – so they will now tape them in a little notebook. Enjoyed seeing yours sweetie:) xxxooo judi

  48. Amy says:

    I love the idea of keeping a diary during travel. Have you seen “Smash Books”? They’re notebook/journals where you can write about products, or just about anything you love, inspiration for decorating etc. Michael’s (the craft store ) has their own version as well. Here is a link if you want to check them out. I think they stole your idea of keeping pictures and clippings along with notes and ideas! A “Susan Branch” smash book would be awesome!

  49. Jack says:

    They sell those Gardenias to folks who grow them inside , ina bright sunny room or with a Gro-lite —control the Ph and temp to get nice big flowers …….do it with night blooming Jasmine also :- /.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve tried to do that, more than once, before finally figuring out that I am just not meant to grow gardenias.

  50. Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

    As always, such a lovely post! Loved everything about it. Thank you for sharing your garden diary filled with so many wonderful tips! Your garden is so beautiful! And the picture of the June page from your 2013 Susan Branch Blotter Calendar made me want to tear off my May page right now. 😉 I’m really sad you won’t have this type of calendar for 2014, it’s my absolute favorite. Hope you had a wonderful time with your weekend friends! ♥

    • sbranch says:

      I think I might have some better news about the blotter calendar coming soon. I’ll let you know when I know. xoxo

      • Laura Jenkins says:

        If you do the blotter calendar, please, larger squares…if not too late in the design phase…xo

        • sbranch says:

          The people I’m talking to want it to be MUCH bigger — a real-sized blotter — 17 x 22. I’m supposed to get a sample for it today. Our only problem is how late it is — whether we can get it done in time.

      • Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

        I’m giddy with anticipation and my fingers are crossed! Love the music by the way… nothing like Michael Buble. 🙂

        • Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

          Susan, I just wanted you to know I loved the size of your blotter just the way it was! But I’ll be happy with any size, if you can get it done in time. Thank you so much for trying! 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            I loved it too, but as always, the people I license to are the ones who get to decide the size. I’m just thrilled we have this possible opportunity to have one at all.

  51. Victoria Miller says:

    Susan, your notebook is so inspiring! For birthday 67 last month, my kids got me a bike, and this post made me think what a great idea to get a little notebook to take with me on my bike adventures (the camera already occurred to me!) And your photos provide me with thoughts about ways to use a notebook which would never have occurred to me. Also, I have a tiny watercolor book and some paints I’d forgotten about! Your garden is so lovely, I think if I had a garden like that, I’d live in it! A very joyous summer to everyone, and yes, let us dream!

  52. Jack says:

    PS — I should add that the berries that follow after blooming on the Jasmine are “Extreamly” poisonous if eaten but the flower smell is delicious !

  53. I’ve been in love with Highgrove for decades; it’s so beautiful and a working farm…perfect! What a treat to have visited there and am hoping it’s in “The Book”.

  54. Kathy from Iowa says:

    Love your made-up words! Thanks for the links to beauty. And your creative charm.

  55. Randi Bault says:

    I love your little white picket fence garden…but here in Reno – the desert- it is so hard to grow pretty things. Heaven knows I’ve tried. Just tomatoes and zukes is about all I have luck with. And weeds, lots and lots of weeds and sagebrush. I gave up after summers and summers of roasted plants and windblown bleached fences…. my dream is to someday move to better weather areas. But I enjoy our huge skies and fabulous sunsets! Someday though, I’ll be living near the ocean….——<–@ Randi and Walter (the Wonderful Weenie Dog)

    • sbranch says:

      I love that you are making that plan. It sounds like just the right thing for you!

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Dear Randi,
      I understand your frustration. I have many of the same problems in Texas and don’t have water to waste. Maybe we need to learn to embrace cacti and succulents! I so long for a white picket fence English Garden. Oh well we always have Susan’s to enjoy!
      Take care and rub Walter behind the ears for me!

  56. Betty B. Koger says:

    I so enjoy all you do and that you share it with all of us. Makes my life a little more interesting. Bless you Susan. Xoxoxo

  57. Carol C says:

    What a great day! I just finished a quilt that I’ve been hand quilting for 2 years! It is bound and labeled with an SB quilt label!!! Yay!! Then I found your inspiring blog about gardens. I am a bit behind due to much traveling the last couple of months, but am ready to dig in (no pun intended). A friend who is a fantastic gardener pulled in my driveway the other day with a trunk load of plants from her yard. She lives in a home similar in age and style to ours with huge old growth shade trees so everything should work wonderfully! Now I have the time, the plants, and the inspiration. Thanks!

  58. Carol C says:

    Almost forgot….I haven’t seen a post from Rhonda in a while and was wondering how she is doing. Please let her know that she is still in my prayers.

    • sbranch says:

      Mine too, hopefully she is busy with something fun. xoxo

      • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

        Oh, I hope that she is also. She is such a courageous lady! My prayers go out to her.

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      You know,Carol, the other day her name came to mind while I was praying and I was hoping that other Girlfriends remembered and were praying for her, too. Does anyone know how she is doing? If you are reading this, Rhonda, I haven’t forgotten you! I’m rooting for you! And we all are cheering you on in your road to recovery! Rest in God’s love and care for you!

  59. Linda Petersen says:

    Thank you for the lovely post & inspiration! It’s a treat to have two posts so close together. I bought a super cute pink purse to use for the summer & I will definitely add a little journal to record things along the way. Never did that before & I’m excited! BTW~~how are the Susan Branch charms coming along?
    Everyone have a great weekend coming up.

    XO, Linda

    • sbranch says:

      We are working on them, they are coming. Takes a while to get them engraved and so forth.

  60. Julie Marie says:

    Hello Susan… love your little garden notepad!… I have always kept a garden journal (and a Nature journal) but I love your idea of a little pad in my purse… I am going to put one in tonight!… I have another great idea… why don’t YOU come out with a Susan Branch little garden journal to put in our purses?… one with your beautiful sketches, notes, gardening tips… maybe a picture of Jack and Girl Kitty… I have all of your calendars, day book and little pocket planner… I think I MUST have a Susan Branch garden notebook!!!… hmmm?… xoxo Julie Marie

    • sbranch says:

      Hmmmm is right, I will have to contemplate that!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Great idea! I was just thinking what a good purse size that little notepad would be for all us GFs to be carrying around (and, of course, we’d need a cute pen too)! xo

  61. Debbie says:

    I love your little garden diary! Choosing plants that are natural to your area is good advice. The previous owners of my home planted a hedge of burning bush, which is not native and is considered invasive here in IL. Well, it didn’t survive last years drought. I just met with our local garden shop and have chosen some native shrubs to plant in its place…I can’t wait to see the new back drop to my little flower bed!

  62. Teri says:

    I started what I call my “Nature Journal” a few years ago. It’s very casual with pictures of my own yard and of parks and gardens I’ve been too. I just add a little more to it every year and love looking at it over and over again. It even has a bird feather or two. ☺ It’s the little things in life that are the biggest. ☺ I love your little diary idea too. I think I should just keep one in my purse, you never know when inspiration will strike.

  63. Michelle says:

    I love to garden, and I try really hard, but things don’t always work the way I want them to. I can’t wait to visit England! I’m starting to plan, and I’m really looking forward to your book. I loved the blog posts about your trip, so the diary will be so much better. Tea and gardens! I’m so looking forward to it! I will have to take a garden journal…Now, if I could only draw.

  64. Anne says:

    What a wonderful post! Thanks for all the good gardening tips and a peek inside your pocket-size English garden diary 🙂 It’s soooo cute!! I love all your detailing. I’ve been out in my little patch of heaven all week. It’s not much but I do tend to get obsessed with it. Just looking at pictures of English gardens is to die for. It must be something to see them in person!

    • sbranch says:

      Gasping. You just can’t help it! I never realized what we were getting into when we first decided to do this … a wonderful surprise that never got old.

  65. Linda P. Bak, CA says:

    I loved all the information. I agree totally with you about planting what grow best in your area. With our heat here in Bakersfield you can’t grow delphiniums (they have them at the nursery teasing you) but you can grow larkspur and they reseed for years. Also tell friends to look what is planted in parking lots – if it grows there in the heat it will grow in your yard. The diary is a great idea. Thanks again for a great post.

    • sbranch says:

      You are so right — plant those freeway bushes. I bet you can have oleander? I never appreciated how gorgeous it is until I moved here where we can’t have it.

      • mary spring says:

        you are so fun, Susan…”plant those freeway bushes”…’love this post on garden diaries or journals..thanks for this inspiration..once again….. I used to journal years ago and after being reminded by you, I’m going to do this again…for garden ideas, dreams, sketching, or what have we…sounds also to be a little treasure to be had…could be…..thanks for being here !!!!!!

      • Linda P. Bak. CA says:

        Yes we can. I have three in large pots – need to keep them under control. Right now they are in full bloom.

  66. Barbara (WA) says:

    Just a beautiful post, thank you! Looking forward to getting back out in my garden after an unknown pain that took me by ambulance to ER. My firefighter son was on duty ~ I wouldn’t want anyone else but him to care for me, he was awesome! Doing fine now.

    • sbranch says:

      Well, good, we seem to be having a spout of surprises here lately, that was the third I’ve read today, so I hope no more. Please take care Barbara.

  67. Karen Saunders says:

    my dad died Wed. made me very sad. (he was 88) a friend of mine brought over a beautiful boquet of white roses and lilies….they were so elegant and smelled wonderful. made me happy every time i looked at them or walked by. i think it’s grand that every celebration we have people always include flowers, and if you can’t plant them at your own house you can enjoy everyone else’s!! i think your garden diary is a great idea.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Karen, poor baby. Makes me sad to hear it. xoxo

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Dear Karen,
      I am so sorry for the loss of your dad. Mine is gone from this earth also, but I always feel he is with me. I just miss the great conversations we used to have.

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Sending deepest condolences, Karen. My dad is gone too & not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, see things he would like, things I’d like to ask him etc. And you can still do those things too – whenever you remember. God bless. :>)

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Karen, my heart goes out to you. It is really hard to lose your dad. I know, my dad died almost 10 years ago and there are times that my heart just aches because I miss him so. Cling to the great memories you have of him.

      • Karen Saunders says:

        thank you girlfriends, you always help a ‘gf’ in need. my dad always used to call around dinner time and every phone call around that time i still think it’s him… no one loves you like your parents… and it’s really hard to lose that.

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          That is true ~ both my parents are gone~ thank God for my wonderful memories~sending prayers your way

  68. Gail says:

    Hello from Sunny California…….Loved all the gorgeous pictures of your fabulous garden!!!! It is certainly inspiring!!!!! Makes a chick want to get out in the dirt and play!!!!

    Your journal pages are terrific……I cannot wait to receive my copy of your new book!!!!

    Blessings To All

  69. Linda says:

    Instead of journals. I have always clipped things from magazines and organized them into ring binder notebooks. But alas, with the ease of the computer I have started tossing out my beloved books–4 this week. They are all done according to topic…ie. gardening, bedroom decor, parties, seasonal decor etc. but time to let all that go when it is so much easier to just pin it on one of my boards. Now this has me rethinking whether to throw out all those clippings from the last 40 years. You are much wiser to make it more personal with a journal but I hate to write… even struggle with letters as I hate my penmanship . I took your advice about my Lilac and had 3 trees surrounding it trimmed today…..I am sure you are right about them needing sun and they were not getting any. So maybe next year? Thanks for taking the time to answer my post. Has been rainy all week and cold (50’s ) here and have had my heat back on all week here in Idaho. Linda from Idaho

  70. Marge says:

    I am reading LIFE AFTER LIFE, a novel by Kate Atkinson. Susan, I think of you as I read it because it is set in England and the author does an excellent job of describing life there in the early twentieth century. Run to the library to borrow a copy. You won’t be disappointed.

  71. leslie susan says:

    I love your wandering journal…an artsy way to remember a wonderful life experience and reinspire when needed! I wander with my cell phone, taking pictures of everything too interesting to forget….which I do when I don’t! Thanks for sharing your journal and encouraging creativity!

    • Jack says:

      Got to be better than “don’t when ya do” …..

    • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

      Leslie, I just love the name “wandering journal.” It sounds like the perfect way to remember all those little inspirations we encounter each day! ♡♡

  72. Anna from Herefordshire says:

    I loved this post Susan. I have a garden Journal too and it’s been invaluable. When I first came to England, I had to learn which were the weeds and which were the garden flowers. It sounds really silly but some of the weeds and wildflowers were so pretty I just couldn’t tell. As time goes on, I learn. I recognized so many of the plants in your journal. When we finish restoring the house we will turn our attentions to the gardens but until then I use my journal to record colour combinations I like, different flowers, shrubs and small trees that I think would go nice together and because it is a big garden, themes. I’m going to plant a bluebell wood along our drive and I’d love to have a Physic Garden, among other things. I love my garden, it’s my haven.

    • sbranch says:

      One of my favorite things over there, how they allow their lawns, which are apparently filled with wildflowers, grow wild for the first couple of months of spring, just mowing a little path up the middle. It looks so wonderful! A bluebell wood. How lucky you are!

  73. Sreekala says:

    Dear Susan,

    That little spiral notebook is a nifty idea – i have a small notebook that I carry everywhere and write down all sorts of things in, but I have never jotted gardening ideas in it.

    Grow things that are happy growing in my garden – that would mean clumps of thorny touch-me-nots and a sort of grass that grows more than waist high :(. Our yard was landscaped to make it level and all the top soil is unfertile subsoil. About 80% of my gardening efforts of the last 3 years is weed-control and trying to regenerate the soil with organic fertilizers and mulching etc. Tough, but slowly my garden is responding.

    And today I woke up to grey skies and a morning shower that the earth and I drank up! The monsoons are here! My veggie garden is already sprouting up. Hurrah for a new growing season!

    • sbranch says:

      Are you making your own compost? Because you could just start in a little corner, make a perfect small spot, to grow one little thing to make your day and fill your little vases with flowers. xoxo All you do is keep a pot under your sink — put all the coffee grounds, used tea leaves, egg shells, and all peels and cores from fruits and veggies in it. Mix it with dead leaves or grass cuttings, keep turning it over and it will turn to the most delicious compost you could ever hope for.

      • Sreekala says:

        Thanks for the compost idea. We do have a biogas plant that recycles most of our waste food stuff except for tea grounds, onion skin, eggshells etc. I put most of that beneath my roses. I think try my hand at composting with it. Yes, I have been wondering what to do with the weeds and dried leaves – used to let them dry up before burning them till now. Thanks a (compost) heap 🙂 !

  74. Angie(Tink!) says:

    ✻✿✿¸.*✻Garden Diaries….Brilliant Sweet Sue…Love The Musica! 😉 I Know You’ve Been Having The Most Fun with Your Friends….Can’t wait for The Photos! I Love Everything about Your Garden….I Love that Birdbath! Herbster Made Me a Birdbath & in Sits in Our Little Courtyard Our Birdies sip from it washing down The Bird Seed…as Our Neighbor’s Cat Sits Hides & Waits…But You are Right The Birdies are tooo Smart for Mr Cat…. 😉 Whew! All Our Flowers are in Full Bloom I swear I Can Hear Them Sing in The Rain & they always say “Thank~You Angie” when I water Them….Pure Magic Sweet Sue…. ✻✿✿¸.*✻so Today is The Last Day of May where did This Month Go? & Now We Shall Welcome In The Joyful Month of June! Twirling into The Weekend! Yay! Love & Ice~Cream & Lots of June Pixie~Dust for All! 🙂 xoxo Poof!✻✿✿¸.*✻✻✿✿¸.*✻✻✿✿¸.*✻ Thank~You Sweet Sue! 🙂 ✻✿✿¸.*✻

    • sbranch says:

      My girlfriend is still here, but she leaves tomorrow! 🙁 Going out to “Saltwater” — a restaurant — tonight. 🙂 Your (distant) relatives, the June Bugs, should be spreading their light soon!

      • Angie(Tink!) says:

        ✻✿✿¸.*✻✻✿✿¸.*✻✻✿✿Have Fun with Your Friend at “Saltwater” Sounds Yummy Sweet Sue! 🙂 Enjoy! I’m so Ready for The June~Bugs & Their Bright~Light! 😉 Twirling into June! Yay! xoxo Poof!✻✿✿¸.*✻✻✿✿¸.*✻✻✿✿

        • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

          Angie (Tink!) ~~~ How do you get all those cute little symbols? I always enjoy seeing them.

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Carol, if you’re an Apple user, they’re SPECIAL CHARACTERS – found in the EDIT menu. I just found out about them myself from another of the smart GFs here.

          • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

            Janet,sad to say, I’m not an Apple user. Oh well 🙂

  75. Frances Fowler says:

    Aren’t garden books wonderful? They’re like cookbooks to me — love to collect them, peruse, study, and just read them for fun. (And you’re totally correct in the belief that, if it produces just one “recipe for life,” then the cookbook is totally worth it, and this is what I’ve always told my daughter.) I especially love the gardening book you have pictured; it looks old and wise. I found the lime/orange by accident when my calendula dropped some seed by a raised bed of lavender, and they look beautiful together! I wish that Lady’s Mantle, a plant I see frequently used in English borders, would do well in the South, but I’ve read it’s tricky and that it will melt under the summer sun. Maybe I’ll give part shade a try. Certain roses down here can be the dickens also, as the heat and humidity can cause all sorts of problems. Thank goodness for hardy types! Love your pink flowers! What is the variety on the left? Thanks for a tour of your beautiful garden. Between the two climates in California and Martha’s Vineyard, you must have a wonderful array of plants that grow well in your gardens!

    • sbranch says:

      The great thing about our garden in California is the absolute months of sweet pea growth! I’ve seen them go from March to August! Pretty amazing for such a delicate flower. Love calendulas and lavender together. Pink roses are also amazing with lavender. And if someone can’t grow lavender, nepeta makes a wonderful substitute.

  76. Cathy McC. says:

    What a great idea, carrying a garden diary! You inspire us so. Even on this misty, sprinkly Indiana morning, I want to go out in my yard and look at the beauty that we have, then dream on to all we COULD have. (Our irises are in full bloom and peonies just opened.) Love the pix of colors and textures, of bird motels — too perfect of a name. And thanks for letting us know that your words to describe bird sounds were made up — I was seriously already thinking of looking them up so I could see what their roots were! Thanks for making my day — I think I’ll go out in a bit and play in the dirt. Hugs, Ethel

  77. Carol (Daisy) says:

    I started keeping a garden journal (well, I should say miscellaneous journal) a couple of years ago before I retired so I could remember all the flowers and ideas I wanted for our home, yard and garden areas. It’s a tremendous help. I have little clippings from magazines and miscellaneous scribbles and very bad drawings throughout which only I can decipher but the book is a tremendous help. It’s the first, and probably will be the only time, I had a great idea before I saw it in your blog! I think you probably have the best blogs on the whole internet and I thank you!

  78. Janie Phillips says:

    This was wonderful, Sue! I pored over every detail. We moved into a new house nine years ago and had to start from scratch. The garden was pretty bleak for the first years we were here, but this spring it’s the prettiest it’s ever been. I feel a little spark of happiness every time I see it — I don’t even have to register it consciously, it’s just there. We’ll be taking our granddaughters to the botanical gardens soon and I’ll remember to bring a notebook. Thank you for keeping all the best things alive in our hearts … xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      It takes a while, but sooner or later, the garden looks like it’s been there forever! Good for you Janie!

  79. Hello Everyone, we are having cool/rainy weather for the next few days so time to work on some “indoor projects”?? Susan, for some reason the “Reply Address is not staying on and I’m having to type it in everytime??” and that is why my comments are not going through. So, for now I will have to type it in everytime and that will be ok. I agree with you about walking away from plants/shrubs not indigenous to your area they have those zones for a good reason. I’m just wondering where in the world did May go…I love this month because normally the humidity is not here like in June/July/August….wishing everyone a wonderful weekend and Happy June!! almost time for Rabbit..Rabbit.

    • sbranch says:

      I wonder if anyone else is having this problem — let me know so I can tell my gremlin wrangler!

      • I’m not sure about anyone else having this problem; but, it stays on while I’m on the site and it’s gone when I come back?? Yes, it is an inconvenience not enough to make me stop commenting though…;)

  80. Millie Ray says:

    Oh, Susan, your journal will be so valuable in years to come. I have kept a Gardening Journal for 15 years. In it I have my successes, and failures, the pictures in it are cut out of Gardening Magazines, or when we plant something, I always keep the little Information ticket and place that in the journal also. I have lists of Gardens to visit, some we have,and some we never will get the pleasure of being there, but enjoy the information about them. I love sitting down and going through my pages, and relive the joy of the Garden, even on days that are not permissable to go out. Keep up the good work, and we will all benefit from your explorations!

    • judi says:

      Great idea Millie of keeping the tag in your journal that comes with the plant. Wonderful ideas here:)

  81. Beth from Virginia says:

    On a Friday weighed down by a stressful work week and heavier yet with more meetings to come today I took a wee break, looked carefully over my shoulder, and logged onto your blog. BEHOLD. My heart is lighter and the sun is out!! Yes I CAN get through today because tomorrow my sweetums and I are going to Williamsburg for a long weekend and I shall take a tiny notebook for a GARDEN JOURNAL to record the wonders I shall see in those Colonial gardens! I have done this in years past but have forgotten the ultimate JOY in it. Thank you for reminding me Susan. I also now have ideas from your links on what to do with the birdbath in the middle of my lawn that is crying for a sweet garden to surround it! LAVENDER! Yes. And something yellow..little leaves and big leaves….Tee hee. Love you Susan! (Now back to work I go!)

  82. jane says:

    Hi Susan! You are SUCH an inspiration! I, too, was so mindful of the gardens in England — and living in Seattle where the climate is so similar, I got lots of fabulous ideas. We went to Beatrix Potter’s house and there was a darling gardener on his kness, surrounded by bunnies, busily pushing his trowel in the ground and stuffing bulbs randomly all over the grass. I would give my eye teeth to be there and see his rewards this spring!

    Have you shared Rachel’s brownie recipe? I don’t recall but am suddenly obsessed — especially if they are the ones pictured in the blog which you shared!
    Happy June tomorrow — doesn’t time absolutely FLY like the birdies!

    • sbranch says:

      I haven’t, because so far, she is keeping that recipe close — I don’t have it. But she gave me another wonderful recipe when I was there visiting her and it’s in the new book!

      • jane says:

        Thank you! I just simply CANNOT wait for this book. I’m so happy it will be fall and the perfect time to curl up with a cuppa. By the sounds of the size of your latest, it may take a whole POT of tea (or several) to make it through. Thank you for your generous spirit.

  83. Rachel Lucas says:

    Hi girlfriends, and the Head Girlfriend in particular!! Just wanted to pop by to say hello…love this post so much…everything is green & gorgeous in England now and somehow Susan manages to make me feel homesick, even though I actually LIVE here!! Also wanted to say (after a lovely comment just posted on my blog by Sharon Calvert) that I am fine…all is well…I have neglected my blogs horribly recently due to pressures of work but I hope to rectify that over the weekend. Sending hugs to the blogosphere…and to the Vineyard especially xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      LOL. You’re homesick — now that’s funny! I know you’ve been busy, but I hope soon it will all be worthwhile with that special surprise you are planning. ♥

  84. Marianne says:

    That’s a nice journal, and your gardens are so beautiful, and it’s so fun to see how you kept notes on your earlier trip to England! Delightful inspiration. We have lots of trees – three are apple trees with beautiful blooms in the spring – we love it. And, along with other flowers in our garden, we have the prettiest purple flowers growing on our sage plants right now. It’s been a happy surprise.

  85. Laurie Walt says:

    Hi Susan! What a great post-I will read it again later over coffee:-) I like to use you “Days” books to journal about my garden progress, ideas, and plantings. Every year we try to plant something in honor of our anniversary. We just started this tradition a few years ago, but writing it in a journal will someday be a good bit of info for our children:-) Has anyone told you lately how fantastic you are? Well, you are! Thank you for being you and sharing yourself with all of us kindred spirits! Love your garden:-)

  86. Thank you for sharing your Garden Journal, Susan. It is so delightful! I love the little sketches and remarks about each garden feature that you discovered on your trip through England. I just admire your persistence in your journal and record keeping. It’s a wonderful gift that you share with all of us. <3
    Your little journal is so inspiring for all of us. In addition, we get a sweet glimpse into your process…:)

  87. Kathy says:

    I have enjoyed your journal so much (though I was disappointed when the pictures cut off the ends of your notes that I was so into… haha) I will have to make my own little notebook to take with me the next time I travel. Which will be soon ~ to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard for the VERY FIRST TIME in June! I am so excited! The fact that it will be my first vacation to the beach with my darling grandchildren doesn’t hurt either… haha!

  88. Sharon from Morro Bay, California says:

    WOW…this post is amazing!! Love your comments and photos. We have turned in our large garden area to live near the beach but still enjoy plants in my wee garden and pots on the decks. Just returned from Europe. Loved the Horse chestnut trees there. I saw them with purple and also white blooms. Many of the same wild flowers there as here such as Queen Anne’s Lace. Traveled from London thru to Rome. In Italy, saw the umbrella pines. So much to see in the world, only takes time and money!!

  89. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Susan, your home gardens are so beautiful and inspiring! What I love also about this post is the idea of a small diary for the purse where one can record important ideas and tidbits for later. This summer we are going to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and I am thinking that a diary in my backpack would be perfect for remembering events and information from park rangers as we hike along and see these national treasures for the first time. Just like you say, something always at the ready to jot down whatever seems important and add brochure pics or postcards for illustration. Thanks for sharing how you use this practical idea for both your work and as an important keepsake. Alas, mine won’t be as pretty as yours with all the lovely sketches, but at least it can contain the information in one go to place for enjoying later!! Thanks, your blog posts are always so inspiring AND fun!!

    • sbranch says:

      The little books are also a great place to write “Morning Science” remembrances, which you should get a few of in the National Parks!

      • Winnie Nielsen says:

        Great idea! Perhaps it should have the title Science Days 1-5? Then each day can be split into morning science, afternoon science and evening science! I have seen so many TV shows on Yellowstone that I bet my little diary will be filled. There will be so much to see and do! It is hard to imagine seeing the park for real!

        • sbranch says:

          We’ve been through a couple of times, my favorite thing of all is the way it smells. It’s gorgeous there, you are going to have a wonderful time Winnie!

  90. Cyndi in NC says:

    I have started using my phone and I make different lists. I can’t draw or I’d probably carry a notebook too. I used to always have them in my purse. Then my husband bought me a PDA. So now I have it all in one. I need to write everything down anyway if I’m going to remember important things. *L* My flowers are beautiful and I’m loving them. I wish I had a lilac bush so I’m going to have to look for one that’s right for coastal Carolina. I do love them and they remind me of both of my grandmothers bushes/trees. As always I look forward to the blog and your lovely garden and critters. I am on pins and needles looking forward to the book!!!

  91. barbara miller says:

    my grandson[2yrs] and I were out in his yard enjoying the nice weather. in one of the trees is a wee bird house his daddy had made. if we got to close, the mama bird tried to lure us into the nearby woods with her lovely song. her children needed protection! so we stayed away but Charlie loves to hear the birds and then pretends he has wings. sometimes he hears them before I do! thank you for garden tips. I have always carried a notebook with me for important notes to self but have rarely drawn in it. great idea! b

  92. Tisa at Seattle Retro says:

    Oh Susan, what a welcome breath of fresh air, your gardens & notes. Am recuperating from an emergency surgery & one of the first things I did when I got back from the hospital was check my email for your blogs (to cheer me up!). You never fail to do that, just want you to know I’m glad to know you ♥ (and please post more pics of ‘our’ home area in Cali, I miss it so too!) Oh, and add Weigela Florida Variegata to your plant list if you don’t have it already, true plant love….

  93. Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

    Hi Susan and girlfriends ~~~ I really enjoyed reading this blog of gardening tips and pictures. I really like the “Beauty Bush” that is in your garden, Susan. I took a picture with my phone and have jotted down the name so that I can search for it at our nursery. I love white flowers for they are so vivid in the evening light. I, too, have to stop and realize that I can’t have all that I want in a garden. I’ve tried, but some just don’t like it here. As you say, “they still sell them”, but they don’t do well.

    We got back from our trip to Washington to see my newest grandsons. Oh, they are sooooo small!!! I wish I could send you a picture of them. I’m looking forward to the next trip later this summer. Now I’m REALLY anxious to sell this house and move! We’ve had 4 showings while we were gone.

    Carol M

  94. Pat Johnson of Paso Robles says:

    Oh my, thank you for sharing your wonderful gardening tips & adventures. I say “thank you” because I just don’t have the knack to garden – HOWEVER I love to enjoy other people’s treasures. The notebook I have where I place ideas about tips for projects in the house/cabin. So YES I love what you do and the love you and Joe have for gardening. Thank you Thank you. I am still at the cabin and it has had many lovely rainy days and will be traveling home to Paso Robles next week where it will be in the high 90s and low 100s! Talk about “weather shock!” It will be good to be HOME – my oldest Grandson & his beloved have been housesitting – the ONE good reason for going home is the arrival in July of my first Great-Grandson, Felix. I know Nic & Nawal have enjoyed staying at my house. Have a grand time in the garden!!!! XXXXOOOO

  95. Paulij says:

    Another lovely post, Susan. 🙂

    We began our third year at this house in February 2013, and we are very delighted at the forethought the builders/first owners put into shape and form of the trees and bushes in the yard. It is a delight, even in the winter when several of the trees are bare and the perennials “hide” for months! So, I know what you mean about shapes and leaf-size and color contrast, etc., being important.

    How did it go with your guests this past Memorial Day weekend? I know they had a wonderful time!

    I loved your little journal; you are always inspiring, Susan. God bless you with continued good health and spirits and much joy!

    Paula (Pauli)

    • sbranch says:

      We still have one of our best friends here, but she is leaving tomorrow. Then it’s back to the garden and real life.

  96. Laura says:

    Oh, what fun you always bring us! And soon we’ll be finding your English book in our very own mailboxes.
    I’m not sure who said this…”Please come into my garden, I’d like my flowers to meet you.” I have it on a card with a Jessie Willcox Smith illustration. But you have done this and more.
    A million smiles,

    • sbranch says:

      I think the original quote was something like, Come into my garden, I should like my roses to see you.

  97. Asha says:

    Hi Susan – another wonderful post! Who could ask for anything better than gardening tips from Susan Branch! Thank you sooo much for the beautiful pics of your Vineyard garden. Love it! I planted an herb garden this year and after the week of rain we just had, everything is looking fabulous. Can’t wait to start using the herbs. It’s right outside the kitchen door. Love to you, Joe, the kitties and all the girlfriends! oxoxox

    • sbranch says:

      Good for you Asha! Such a traditional wonderful old thing, an herb garden, so much history and lore.

  98. Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    My first chance to sit and really read through this post. We are on our way to Ft Worth and Jim is driving until we get to I 20, then I usually take over. Love gardening posts. I kept a gardening journal and then I stopped, especially with the last two years of drought. But started again this year, and as I read back over the journal, I found entries from the first couple of years after we built the house and the things we planted, and that would be almost 16 years ago. It was so much fun and brought back memories, almost like a diary.
    I had to laugh at the little black & white sketch of the gardeners. I’m old enough to remember that funny little sprayer the woman is using. I remember using one! I had forgotten about them, I can remember the sound it made!
    Best advice I know when buying plants is to avoid the big box stores, they don’t care what they are selling. Buy from local nurseries. They are the experts and happily answer any questions.
    Thanks Susan for another inspiring post…..oh and Joe’s cookbook arrived today. So glad I read this blog and all the GF’s comments. Thanks to Janet I learned about the book, and just a quick flip through it, told me I am going to love it. Brought it along with me to share with Jim’s daughter….we all love to cook!

  99. ginger says:

    Oh!!!! I do this too. Only I don’t paste in pictures (what a good idea). With my ever so slowly developing painting and drawing skills, I put in little pictures and descriptions. Yesterday, dozens of barn swallows swooped and soared behind the tractors eating the bugs we disturbed, as we mowed pasture; they were my subject in the wee smalls this morning. Even though I can’t say its a thing of beauty like yours or Edith Holden’s, it’s my Country Diary of a Modern American Woman. Thanks for sharing your breath of fresh air. You’re great!

  100. Barb says:

    Hello Susan,

    I really love your garden picture you have at the start of this post and what a creative idea for a garden journal. I am so amazed how you can fit so much in to a tiny little note book. I have kept journals over the years on little pads but mainly just all writing no pictures so now pictures will be next. I have kept larger notebooks with plant seed packets that I planted and also journaled on line as well. I too so love gardening …always have. I loved the entire post just soaking it all up…it made my day.

    I wanted to share with you and all the girlfriends there is a new way of gardening called : Straw Bale Gardening. A gentlemen by the name of Joel Karsten from Minnesota started this. I find it so interesting, want to try this for sure. You can all go to google and just type in Straw Bale Gardening and click on the link….so much to read on this. I also found doing something different in decorating outside with flowers. I look for old chairs on sale at tag sales or flea markets. The ones that have the bottoms where you would sit on and may have old caning on them. I take the chairs and cut out a circle in the seat, then I take a big pot or small pot depending on the size of the chair…fill it with flowers and insert it. It is so pretty. Of course there are so many ways to decorate with flowers…..traditional ways or whatever creative way you can think of. Another suggestion for all the ladies on here…is if your not sure what to grow…you can always check out what Zone you are in and or take a tad of your soil and bring it to your local nursery and they should help you out. The hardest thing I ever grew was Lavender, it just did not want to take for some reason or another…and then I had one of those old half whiskey barrels I bought at a store and the Lavender took off and I have had lavender for years. I love surprise flowers each year as you never know with mother nature and the birds with seeds sowing on there own what you may find. One year a Nasturium seeded it self….and I had no idea.. what .it was and had to look it up…and it was beautiful and then I learned on your blog…..they are edible and you can use them in salads…thanks Sue. Thanks once again for sharing this great post. We are in the midst of a second day heat wave here at the end of May! Have a wonderful weekend Susan and all the Girlfriends.
    Hugs & Smiles:) Barb….EW, CT

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