gardening · What I Learned

11 Things I Learned This Summer

What I Learned JPEG.001Inspired by Emily P. Freeman, here are some things that I learned this summer:

1. I learned that I really enjoy gardening. This Spring, wonderful and magical things happened in our yard! Every couple of days a new bud opened or something green and interesting peeked out of the ground. A couple owners before us had planted and lovingly cared for the yard and gardens around our home. The wife had worked at a plant nursery and thoughtfully planned the three gardens around the house, as well as the trees and bushes found all over the property. When we bought the house last year, all this beauty was hidden under years of overgrowth and neglect. Restoring the gardens has been such a joy! I started out fixing them because it had to be done, but when it was done, I realized that perhaps I had found a new hobby.

2. I learned that finishing a long project is very satisfying! After we moved in, I began the garden restoration project with the front garden bed. It was full of blackberry shoots, poison ivy, grass, and plants I had never seen. I had barely gotten started when winter arrived, along with a new baby, and the garden lay there half finished for 4 months. In Spring, I felt ready to get out and try again to dig up years of weeds and overgrowth. Two months later, after hours of digging and pulling and rearranging and salvaging, the garden was cleaned out, new plants were added, old plants rescued, and mulch was spread. I was done!

I can’t remember another time when I have felt so satisfied with my work. I felt overwhelmed with the task at times. There were obstacles: rain, toddlers, babies, lack of plant knowledge, indecision, guilt over the amount of time spent in the garden, dishes, housework, life. But I persevered and it felt good to finish. Since finishing, one of my favorite things to do is to sit on the front step with a cup of coffee and just admire the work, enjoy the flowers, and watch the hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. That is what God did on the seventh day. He saw all the He made was good and He rested.

3. I learned the names of many of the beautiful plants in our yard. Knowing and saying the names of our plants feels a bit like knowing a new, secret language. Names make the plants feel like friends.
– Black and Blue Salvia
– Allium
– Coreopsis
– Gaillardia
– Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)
– Lemon Balm
– Scarlet Bee Balm
– Hardy Geranium
– Sedum (Autumn Joy)
– Moon Flower
– Lenten Roses (Helleborus)
– Hibiscus
– Catmint
– Spring Starflower
– Amsonia
– Balloon Flower

Balloon flower! This was one the surprises that showed up in our front garden bed.

4. I learned some things about tomatoes
– Spacing matters. I packed the tomato plants in too tight and now they are a tangled mess.
– One bamboo stake is not strong enough to support a growing tomato plant. Next year we need tomato cages.
– Unstaked/uncaged tomato plants turn into crazy, sprawling tomato bushes!
– Coring and roasting tomatoes for freezing is easy and makes your kitchen smell delicious!

Fresh garden tomatoes roasted with garlic and herbs and ready for the freezer.

5. I learned that zucchini will grow as big as you let them. The first few zucchinis this summer were HUGE. A friend informed us that they taste better when they are harvested earlier. Oops! They were turned into baby food 🙂 Baby M. loved them.

Our very first Zucchini of the Summer!

6. I learned how to blanch green beans for freezing. Boil water. Add green beans for 3-4 minutes. Then immediately put in ice water to stop the cooking process. Put in jars and freeze.


7. I learned that gardening is a bit like art. Shape, color, form, lines, space, and patterns matter. I will need to do some rearranging next year to allow each plant enough space.

8. I learned that lemon balm makes delicious tea.

I boiled a hand full of lemon balm and mint to make a delicious tea!

9. I learned that we need to plan our summer travel differently. We were not home for more than two weeks at a time this summer. That translated into: no house projects completely finished, no time to really enjoy summer in our new town, only two trips to the pool, and no real summer rhythm, feeling disconnected from church and friends.

10. I learned that I need exercise accountability. Having a buddy is the only way to get me out of bed early to run. Otherwise I will just keep hitting the snooze button.

11. I learned that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Read Aloud Revival Podcast and Blog. We have loved all of Sarah’s book recommendations so far and can’t wait to check out more from our library.

Some of our favorite Cynthia Rylant books. We grabbed every single one off the shelf. We still need to read the Henry and Mudge books.


Thanks for reading 🙂

6 thoughts on “11 Things I Learned This Summer

  1. I just want to attend “Trish’s Camp for old Moms that want to learn new things”!! You inspire, motivate, and encourage me in ways beyond measure….So grateful that in God’a providence I can call you sister/friend…..


  2. I’m so proud of you!! What a gift that property has been, with its abundance of interesting plantings to discover and identify. I hope that former gardener learns of the joy her work has given you. And I need to bring you my canner some time and we can put up some veggies that way too. I used to do loads of canning when we had a huge sunny garden and three hungry boys to feed.


  3. So proud of you! That property has been such a gift, and I hope the original gardener hears about how much you’re enjoying her plantings. Some time I need to bring my canner with me and we can put up some jars of produce that way. I used to love canning, back when we had a big sunny garden and 3 hungry boys to feed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love to learn how to can!!! We gave away tons of green beans this summer because we couldn’t eat them fast enough and freezing didn’t really go well. They didn’t taste great when they came out!


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