I have been looking forward to sharing this post for months! We talk a lot about embracing slow growth and little-by-little progress in life here on the blog, but, I’ve had to be extra patient as the literal plants in my garden grew this season.

As I shared in my new book, Cultivate, I am an unlikely gardener because I have often caught myself seeking instant results. This gardening thing didn’t come naturally to me, but as God changed me from the inside out, I began to love the process of planting, tending, and watching things grow over time. Truly good things grow over time, not all at once.

There is an in-between stage in the garden that feels a little awkward. There are plants that I’m not sure are weeds or actual plants yet. There are some things that grew quickly, and many things that are taking their time. It’s awkward!

But, there is life happening in the in-between. In what feels undone and imperfect, good things are still growing, even when you can’t see it or feel it.

That said, I’m excited to give you a mid-year tour of Gracie’s Garden today, along with a fun garden makeover reveal. Huge thanks to my friend, Michael from Little Arrow Films, for taking my scraps of homemade video and turning them into this special tour. Michael, you are the bee’s knees!

Ready? Welcome to my garden…

Gracie’s Garden Tour with Lara Casey from lara casey on Vimeo.

One of my PowerSheets goals for 2017 is to cultivate a life-giving home. We have a unique home life here on a day-to-day basis, as my office (with five employees) lives here too. We love this building we call our home and our office, and we make the most of every little bit of space–including the garden.

Photos of the main garden area¬†(you’ll notice I love sleeping bees ūüôā ):

My rule of thumb is that if there’s dirt, something gets planted in it. We started out with just a few pots of herbs. As I wrote about in my new book, Cultivate, this grew over time to over forty feet of raised bed space and lots of pockets of flowers in various places.

As Grace has grown, she has taken to climbing trees, playing with sticks, and loving the outdoors as I did as a kid. We don’t have an official backyard, so I have been dreaming of a space where she can play and explore without fear of cars coming in and out of the driveway–a space to play and let her imagination to run wild.

There was this awkward space between our bedroom and our garage that basically turned into a weed¬†patch. We tried planting things back here for a few years, but the voles and other critters ate most of it for dinner. We looked into extending our back deck in this space, but that was not a priority in our budget. So, I had to get creative. I’m so grateful and excited to share what it looks like now and how I did it.¬†We often call Grace’s Fairy Garden the “Secret Garden” because I’ve had it under wraps for so long as we let things grow!

BEFORE (and some progress pics):

The space:¬†The lowest cost option to make this space more usable was to pull the (many) weeds, put down some thick landscaping fabric, and fill the area with local river rocks. We pulled out one of the ligustrum hedges because they are really just too big for this little space. We didn’t build this house, and we’ve been told that the landscaping was done in a way to fill the space quickly with fast-growing trees and shrubs. This is a metaphor for life, my friends! Fast doesn’t last, and in our case, fast growing trees don’t survive in small spaces where their roots don’t have enough space to flourish. So, we took one out to make some room. We left the others though for the sole reason that they are home to two families of birds! : ) We have a family of house sparrows in one tree and a pair of cardinals in another. We love sharing this space with them!

AFTER:

Containers: The round containers are the Large Viva Matte Self-Watering Rolling Planters and the Small Viva Matte Self-Watering Rolling Planters from Gardeners.com. Josh thinks they are fun to ride in too!

The trough planters are the Terrazza Trough Planters. What I love most about them is that they are long-lasting safe plastic (I love cedar raised beds but we had some signs of termites back here so plastic was the best choice!) and they are self-watering (which means they have a huge water reservoir in the bottom that you fill). Because I needed longer-than-normal planters for this space, I used the Terrazza Trough Extension Kit to connect several planters together. Ari helped me put these together and it was pretty easy. And then there are the hanging baskets! I have never done hanging planters before because our summers are so hot and I feared the plants would die in a day. But, I was really excited to discover the Viva Matte Self-Watering Hanging Baskets because they are also self-watering. My hanging planters look great and stay watered longer!

The fountain:¬†Oh the¬†Copper Lotus Cascading Fountain!¬†This really made the space come to life. The sound of water in the back (and outside our bedroom door) is pretty wonderful. We have two active bird nests in the back (house sparrows and cardinals), and I love that they get fresh water from the¬†garden fountain too. It came with a darker green base, but I gave it a quick coat of white waterproof spray paint, and it matches perfectly now. I love this fountain, and so do Grace’s fairies!

Yellow bench: is the Amalfi bench from Grandin Road.

Fairy garden pieces: Grace’s Fairy Garden trough is from Greenes Fence Company. This cedar planter was so easy to put together and it’s the perfect height for her. The fairies and accessories have come from a variety of places: Amazon, Big Lots, Michaels, and several are gifts from friends. My favorites are the little windmill and barn!

Irrigation: Water, water, water! In these summer months, consistent watering is so important. I’m out in the garden almost every day, but it can be tricky to thoroughly water everything when you have two little ones under two! So, I invested in the¬†Snip ‚ÄėN Drip Soaker System and¬†Waterease Timer and Moisture Sensor.¬†I have it installed on the main garden beds and I love it. I do some extra watering on hot days, or in spots that the soaker hose doesn’t reach as well, but it has been great.

Plants and seeds: I planted most of the garden from seed, with a few starts and plants mixed in! Here are a few of my favorite sources. Burpee:¬†The Strawberry Popcorn, peppers, and several of the zinnias are from Burpee seeds. Floret Flower Seeds¬†My favorite¬†source for unique zinnia seeds, gleam salmon nasturtium, and bulbs.¬†Botanical Interests: I picked up a variety of nasturtium seeds from them this year and love them! Park Seed:¬†This South-Carolina-based company makes me so happy! I love their flowers. I chose the Profusion Double Flowered Zinnia Collection, Hidden Dragon¬†Zinnia,¬†Lemon Sorbet Collection,¬†Lucky Lemon Glow Lantana, Confetti Pineapple Punch, and the Fruit Cocktail Mix from Park’s amazing collection this year. Many of these are sold out on their site for the season, but mark them on your list for next year. I also have the stainless steel potting scoop from Park and LOVE it. It’s huge in size and functional for a variety of tasks.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mid-year garden tour! The crazy thing is that most things have more than doubled in size since we recorded this tour just a few weeks ago. Needless to say, there will be another garden tour episode coming soon!

Your turn!¬†Do you have a garden? What do you love to grow? Does gardening scare the daylights out of you like it did me at first?¬†I’d love to hear from you–and I’ll give signed copies of my new book to three of you who share your thoughts!

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Special thanks to Gardeners.com and Park Seed for gifting me several of the items above in thanks for the traffic they received from my Gardening 101 series. I have been a loyal customer of both companies for years and was delighted to know that many of you readers started gardens with these great resources! 

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