Creative Gardening

Artful Gardening Ideas from “living artfully” by Sandra Magsamen

  • Instead of potted plants, make little herb gardens to serve as dining table centerpieces.  Or use glass bell jars as terrariums.

  • Cut a heart shape in the lawn using a mower.

  • Plant a garden with butterfly bushes and enjoy the visits of hundreds of butterflies.

  • Make a garden pathway using stones you craft with cement.  Pour the cement in a box of the size of the desired stone and place objects, like shells, sea glass and mosaics in the wet thick mortar.  Carve your name with a stick or even stick in your bare foot to make an imprint before it dries.

  • Plant lots of red tulip bulbs in the shape of hearts in your garden so that in the spring, your garden will blossom with love.  Secretly plant a heart tulip bed in your neighbor’s garden.

  • Pick a handful of pansies from your garden and tie together with a velvety purple ribbon to give to a neighbor.

  • Hang several hummingbird feeders outside of a main window and watch as the birds joyously flit back and forth.

  • Build a koi pond and fill it with colorful fish.

  • Make feeding balls for birds.  Simply spread peanut butter on an orange and then roll it in birdseed.  Hang these beautiful balls from branches and watch as the birds enjoy the bounty.

  • Learn to build (or have built) a water garden and transform your yard into a babbling brook.

  • Add elegant and colorful pinwheels or figurines to your garden.

  • Plant a mini forest of large sunflowers and when their stalks grow tall, walk into the magical thicket.  Allow the flowers to dry in the sun and hang as bird feeders from the trees in the late fall.

Early Spring

As the blog writer, I am writing this disclaimer that I do not fully agree with some of these ideas, but printed them verbatim from the book.  I don’t think it a good idea to surprise any neighbor by planting things secretly in their yard, depending on the items and the neighbor.  You want to be careful mixing cement for the garden stones and wear proper equipment to protect skin, lungs and eyes, so I am not sure you want to put your bare feet into the cement, unless you wash off right away.  I am not a fan of ponds.  My home had one when I moved in and I would find small animals and birds drowned in it occasionally when I came home from work.  Found that too upsetting and had it dug out and replaced it with a small herb garden.

I also have a problem with the suggestion to walk into any thicket of sunflowers.  Bees and hornets love them!  As beautiful as they are, you may want to keep your distance, especially if you have allergies.  Unless I was planning to eat some of the sunflower seeds, I let them dry on the plant and the birds and squirrels help themselves.  I am not into super-cleaning up my garden at the end of the season.  There have been things written by so-called experts that this reduces plant disease.  This is not true unless you know you have diseased plants, in which case you will want to take care of them at the time you find this out.  Leaving the plants be at season’s end, makes your garden more attractive & interesting.  It also makes it bird and animal friendly.  They make use of all kinds of plant substances by eating it or using it for bedding or nesting.  Some left over plants make nice perches.  I usually do my major bed cleaning in early spring but make sure all plants and leaves are kept off the lawns and ground cover year round.

Parsley is also a shrub!

Got The Garden in Yet?

I use Memorial weekend as the deadline to try and have all the warm weather plants/seeds in.  This year I jumped the gun a little due to the warmer than normal weather.  The birds and especially the squirrels went to digging right away.  Decided to water the next day only to find little holes dug around the tepee branches and some of the unearthed seeds sitting there, even with the really fake owl I placed out to keep the rabbit away from my lettuce and soon to be replanted spinach.

Garden 2012
scene of the crime
Guardian Owl


Po’ Girl’s Lazy Upcycled Jacket

Occasionally I shop the clearance sales at Kohl’s to see what I can find.  I have specific pieces in mind,

Clearance price tag

 but am ready for anything, as long as it is a super bargain.  I may not be a girl any more, but I am po’.

 I recently came across a really nice jean jacket with faux fur collar that was almost a steal.  I purchased the jacket, regularly priced at $58.00, for $11.60 then used a 30% off coupon which knocked it down to $8.12.  That is an awesome price!                                                                             

 Check out the price tag.  I always wait until I have a 20 or 30% off coupon before clearance shopping.  They offer a lot of 15% off coupons during the year, but I always wait til I can get big money off. 

Everyone needs at least one jean jacket in their wardrobe.  They go with so many pieces that you can’t go wrong wearing them with just about anything!  I decided that this jacket needed just a little something extra so I hand painted an eagle on the back.  It was not laborious.  I had sketched one many years ago and used it as the pattern.  Did not take long and only used 3 colors.  Black, white and gold fabric paint.  I was going to add feathers to the front, but thought against it for the time being.

Jacket front
Painted Eagle

Now, viola!  I have a one of a kind jacket, that I may decide to wear, sell or give as a gift that was not expensive and did not take long at all to “upcycle!”  I was not able to do this with some other jackets simply because they were center seamed.  The center panel on this style allowed enough unbroken space for the image.

Best Herb Book!

Years ago I received “The Complete Book of Herbs A practical guide to growing & using herbs” by Lesley Bremness as a Christmas gift.  Totally loved it.  I see that it is still available online.  It offers so much information in an easy to understand, practical format.  Man has relied on herbs for our very life since recorded history.



The book starts with garden planning and designs, goes right to the herbal index which lists various popular herbs with great color photos of each plant, but not in any specific order.  Included for each is a short explanations of cultivation, and their various uses.  After the herbal index the information is broken down to specific projects and recipes for decor, cooking, medicinal, health and beauty.  To name a few, the book includes recipes, how-to’s for making garlands, herbal papers, soaps and floral waters.  The back of the book goes into more specifics regarding cultivating & harvesting herbs. 


Most herbs are annual or perennials.  Beware the biennial.  They are a strange breed of plant.  Can’t figure out why they only last a couple of years and don’t fruit or seed the first year and die off after they do this during their second year of life.  You will have to be patient to be willing to wait til next year to use it and take proper care of the area it is in so it returns to complete its maturity.  So you will only get one year of production, the second year, then will need to replace it and wait for another year again.  If you wished to have a yearly crop, you would have to plant these every year.


 Many modern gardeners try to keep a super neat garden pulling out and chopping down everything once they die back.  Leaving some plants, like the grasses, adds beauty to the winter garden and gives the birds nesting materials in any season.  It is one thing to efficiently weed, but try not to uproot your perennials and biennials during fall or spring garden clean up.  Before I was experienced, I would accidentally take out part of my perennial’s roots after they died back trying to clean out after the plants had died back. 



To sum it up, growing herbs in the garden is a good idea for many reasons.  Saves you money, you control the way it is grown, and it gives you a much larger.  I never use the stuff.  I would rather go out and hand-pick bugs off my plants and squish them before I would add a poison to my plants to kill them, and slowly kill myself.  Speaking of poison, please be careful when ingesting any herbs you are not familiar with.  Some people can be sensitive to certain types of plants and not be aware of this until they eat it.  Severe reactions are rare, but try anything in moderation first.  Always use moderation ingesting well known culinary herbs.  Some can be toxic in large doses, such as sage.  Currently there is a lot of information from so-called experts online, in books and on television regarding taking all kinds of herbs fresh or in suppliments that most have never heard of.  I cannot address these types of claims regarding relatively unknown substances.  Some culinary experts make claims to eat various things, that I was previously advised are not edible.  Just be careful and do your research.  Do not throw in some herb seeds and start eating anything that grows up from that general area.  Be sure of any plant before you ingest it.




Find some seeds.