What’s Blooming: My Spring Garden 2023 in North Texas

Welcome to spring in North Texas, friends!! I am so excited to share what’s growing outside, the process of adding mulch into the flower beds and a progression of blooms… Come see!

At this point now, it’s not really “early spring,” but I liked the title so there’s that! These photos were taken about a month ago now ~ March 15th. It’s interesting to see how just a few short weeks into the season, so much changes.

I planted no tulips in the fall but in the back flowerbed behind our bedroom, these beauties came back all on their own!

Yoda is hanging in there and has really enjoyed the long spring. He enjoys warm afternoons outside while I pull weeds and baby oak trees (definitely weeds here in our yard). He is having more and more bathroom issues, so lots of laundry washing his many blankets, carpet cleaning, mopping the kitchen.

I need to invest in doggie diapers, lol! ๐Ÿ˜‰ He’s a good boy, though, and he enjoys his cuddles…

In the greenhouse shed

At my favorite grocery store, Winco, I found bibb lettuce heads with their roots still attached, so…

I planted them! I tried cutting them off and letting them re-leaf. I had mild success. I tried the same trick with a celery stalk, but the local squirrels or rats knocked off my wire cloche and ate the three.

Not sponsored: I ordered three chicken wire garden cloches last year from Gardener’s Supply. I really like them!

Linda Vater has some new ones available on QVC, if you need some, too. She has one which is taller (the 22″ one), which I think would be good for protecting tomatoes. They were on sale but I didn’t get one then. Next time!

The baby bibb lettuces I sprouted worked really well, but it turned into more of an experiment for this year. I had issues with fungus gnats… Definitely a learning process! ๐Ÿ™‚

I am able to get sprouts growing, now I just need actual planting beds and a small cold frame.

Mr. Ethereal has mentioned we ought to build a wooden garden bed. Hopefully this summer.

I might need to totally rearrange the garden with more garden beds for veg! XD

ranunculus ~ trying them this season!

You know how the grocery stores carry some plant bulbs and corms? I am trying ranunculus but found out late that they like really gritty soil with lots of drainage. I need to invest in gravel for planting here in North Texas!

Here is a pot of ranunculus which I purchased at a local garden center in California ~ probably Lowe’s, Home Depot or Armstrong Nursery in Temecula. I didn’t know that you could save the corms and repot them the next winter, so I tossed them out… Live and learn! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Even if my experiment doesn’t quite work out, I’ll dig up the corms and save them for next year.



Yesterday (4/29/23) I created a really gritty, well draining mix for some geraniums from my sister-in-law Jodi’s garden in Rancho Cordova, California. These guys are really used to super draining soils, super dry air compared to Texas’ humid summer air, so I need to be especially vigilant about NOT overwatering, even when it is hot here in the summertime.

Last year, I killed the bunch my mother-in-law had brought the winter before when she moved to Texas by overwatering and not having super well-draining soil. We had a sprinkler issue, too, which contributed to their demise. Those geraniums’ parents were originally from my old gardens in Southern California.

I am getting the hang of growing plants here in Texas, but I am still learning.

These should be hardy geraniums but in the temps here getting down to the single-digits, I’m not sure. I will put these guys in the shed overwinter. ๐Ÿ™‚


The citrus trees

Would you believe that a rat, or several, gnawed on the bark of this poor mandarin orange tree’s branches?? Yes! I had to immediately put bird netting all over it and pin it to the dirt to keep them out. I also pruned it back, fed it heavily to give it strength to recover from this devastation.

The sweet Japanese maple I bought half-price last year was girdled the same way and I was NOT going to let this happen to this sweet tree. I also moved it out to a sunnier location in the yard. It’s leaves are growing back nicely and it has finally put out blossoms and little dark green orange buds are just forming!

The two lemon and the new lime trees are also doing well. They are all tented for now. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Happily, pollinators are still able to get to the blooms. Hoping for more fruits!

The garden now

Two weekends ago, we drove down to pick up our car which had been in for repairs, and on the way back we stopped for groceries at Costco.

Costco had delphiniums for $16.99!!! If I had had unlimited money, I would have bought at least three plants. I am happy with the one beauty I was able to purchase…

Our roses have had a beautiful first series of blooms. They are all really still babies (second season in the ground), so I expect next year to be their magical year to shine!

Here is a David Austin rose Gentle Hermione.

A really pretty soft pink rose fading to cream. I just went out to look at it and all the blooms have faded. I’ve been feeding regularly with hopes of getting them to go for it with continuous blooms. ๐Ÿ™‚

Along the south wall, the Generous Gardener is stretching its legs with longer canes this spring. Here are a few buds on it.

At the front of this south-facing bed a couple of the lamb’s ears are shooting up their spring blooms! With a few oak babies mixing in… Always weeding this year! ;)’

And the smaller Spanish lavender is just finishing up its first blooms while the larger lavender is just coming in (left).

The tiny white with yellow center wildflowers are done for the season but if the grass gets long later on, they will pop up now and again. You can see the two lavenders in the background.

And I think I’ll sign off here with a shot of David Austin’s Tranquility, a rambling rose. It is just stunning…

Thanks for stopping by today and I hope your garden is blooming extra beautiful this season!

Spring hugs,

Barb ๐Ÿ™‚


Arctic Blast & Indoor Plant Overwintering, Production & Shed Insulating

Here’s an update on how our shed/greenhouse is coming along, a year-and-a-half into the project…

Installing ceiling insulation

Early during Christmas week, Mr. Ethereal finally was ready to work some more on finishing the roof insulation project which he had begun during the summer. I had picked up big purple foam core insulation from Lowe’s or Home Depot (I forget which) and had the employee there cut them in half lengthwise for me.

After watching several YouTube videos on how to install this type of insulation, a couple of those contractors shared that we would need to add a baffle layer underneath to allow for air circulation and moving moisture up to the roof crest where it could escape. (lead photo)

So we began the project in early summer. Hubby was about a third of the way done when his work got really busy and he spent a lot of his weekends cleaning up our yards and his mother’s front and back yards.

When the cooler weather came along in fall, the purple insulation began falling down.

This wasn’t good… ๐Ÿ™

What to do about falling insulation?

Hubby figured out a simple way to get the insulation to stay in place with the expansion/contraction of fluctuating temperatures: just install small pieces of wood shims, cut to length, and held in place with a wood screw.

Easy peasy fix! ๐Ÿ™‚

Bringing in plants from outdoors came next for me! For those six days of extreme low temps, these guys were grateful to be indoors. Happily, the weather has warmed up again and they are back outside the shed enjoying sunshine and warmth!

As I finish this post, the roses are already pushing leaves! We had an 80 degree day on Wednesday then temps plummeted to 32 overnight. Yesterday was in the very high 50’s/low 60’s. I forget since my brain is a big foggy with another round of Covid… (Can you believe it?!)

But back to our shed story… ๐Ÿ™‚

I took cuttings in early October of the tradescancha (purple trailing vine) and they rooted well, as did the angel wing begonia (rounded leaves in back). They are producing new babies and will be ready to put outside in pots in early spring.

I didn’t have good luck with the pentas or lantana. Rats! I put the blue lobelia in the ground and we shall see if it comes back after the freeze. Originally I had tossed it into the compost pile but I just didn’t have the heart to kill it outright. I hope the roots stayed alive and it’s worth the experiment to see if this root stock produces some blue lobelia for me! I would LOVE IT if I could get it to self-seed and propogate itself in the flower beds! It is soooo pretty…

The mondo grass is loving its life, as you can see (above). I will wait until mid-March and get them outdoors permanently. They do overwinter well here in North Texas.

Here are what our temperatures were doing on the 21st or 22nd of December as the cold front was coming in. The app almost never says “high” then “low.” It’s usually the reverse.

We dropped 23 degrees in like an hour-and-a-half. Did you experience the same where you live? It was the craziest thing! I was glad for layers of jackets, a windbreaker, and gloves!

Putting the garden to bed

I worked on stripping leaves off the roses and finished 10 rose bushes in one day, but less than a month later, they are already pushing new growth. Some have new leaves!

They’ve never really gone dormant this year, except for the Arctic storm.

February might bring in another Artic storm and that would kill of all of this new growth, so I will really have to wrap things well if another big storm rolls in again.

That’s what happened all of my panicle hydrangea blooms last year. I had to buy new hydrangea plants to have anything blooming.

The day the Christmas Arctic storm began, when temperatures dropped so rapidly in just a couple of hours, I raked tons of leaves over all of the plants after spreading the three bags of black mulch underneath most of the plants.

Some plants I also covered with plastic plant pots, and that really helped insulate them! I will be doing that again if need be in February.

And here’s how the yard looked with everything bedded down for Christmas Week Arctic Storm. Until we can afford to have an electrician come and run a heavy duty line to the back of the shed (it’s plumbed for it already), we run a heavy duty extension cord inside the window and swap out whatever we have plugged in.

Lately, I plug in the new heater for night, then plug in the new set of UV lights in the morning before the day begins. I am growing on the bibb lettuce, tomatoes and something else from seeds.

Here is the new little folding shelf unit I found during the Black Friday sales at Lowe’s. It’s lightweight for easy moving around, and perfect for starting seedlings (it’s intended purpose). It is a little Better Homes & Garden plant shelf. (None of this is sponsored,; just like the product.)

I started these seedlings right after Christmas and… You can see the light tube standing above these little seedlings.

Next I need to pot up the tomatoes.

I am giving everything here a very light liquid feed mixed in water every week and that is making them happy.

I repotted some of the baby Bibb lettuce here on MLK Jr.’s birthday Monday here in 2023! I still have three 3″ containers to pot up, but think I might just let them grow on and eat them as micro greens in a salad soon.

I learned on Garden Answer (YouTube) that you can sheer them back and they will grow again. At least I think that is correct. ๐Ÿ˜‰

New heater & lighting

All of the plants are doing well. About mid to late February, I’ll begin giving the orange and lemon trees citrus fertilizer to get them producing flowers. I’ll hand-pollenate, like I did last year, to ensure good fruit production.

I just repotted the orange tree ~ it’s shocking a bit but should recover. One of the lemon trees could use a bigger pot, but otherwise, all are doing well.

Waiting for a good rain! The bougainvillea in the terracotta pot in front is pushing new leaves. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rain is forecast for Wednesday this week and we could use it! California is inundated with rain this year (biggest in two decades). Now Texas is in drought conditions… Go figure. (Seems to follow us…)

Three baby begonias ~ will be ready for spring!

Well, friends, that’s about all that’s going on out in the garden and with the shed. I am really happy with how the plants are doing and I hope to report back on the little lettuce and tomatoes as they grown.

I may have lost the parent angel wing begonia, which was in the long Italian ceramic trough in the outdoor photograph above, but three of the four cuttings made it and rooted. One has quite a few new baby leaves! This is the first time in years that I’ve started cuttings.

My mom and I used to start spider plants and trailing ivy and other things when I lived at home, but I don’t think I have really rooted anything since. I did try with my mother-in-law’s plants last year, but almost all of those tries died…. If we’d have had this dry winter last year, we would have had a lot of success! Rats…

“Scumpy” in the winter leaves!

Yoda enjoyed being outside the past several days as we even had highs up to 80 degrees (Wednesday last week, 1/11/23, the day I came down with Covid). Highs in the upper 60’s and low 70’s since and he so enjoys the warmth!

Crossing my fingers and saying a little prayer that I can get the veggies planted out in March in new raised beds (yet to be built) for a real crop this year! <3

Happy January, y’all!

Barb ๐Ÿ™‚

Gardening, Holidays

Planting Up Pretty Paperwhites

Hello friends!! Here is a super quick planting project to brighten your holiday tables and wintertime decor…

I was shopping at Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club a week ago or so, and I found these paperwhites for a good price. I have never bought any before but always saw them on friend’s blog sites ~ both real and faux ~ and I thought I’d give them a try!

How to Plant Pretty Paperwhites

  • First, choose a container/pot to hold your bulbs
  • Line your pot with small pebbles or rocks
  • Mix up very fine soil – I used half regular garden soil and half seed starting soil
  • Moisten your soil and mix thoroughly in a separate container (above photo, top right)
  • Scoop in 1″-2″ of the pre-moisened soil over the pebbles
  • Add in paperwhite bulbs, tucking them close together, shoulders touching
  • Add more soil as needed to cover up to their necks

Clean up the edges of your container and find a nice place to display your potted pretties!!!

Water sparingly as needed throughout winter, then, after the flowers die back in spring, plant outside after all danger of frost has passed.

The packages say that these paperwhites will naturalize in the landscape, so I am thinking I will find a nice place to plant them for next season. ๐Ÿ™‚

After Christmas, I will create a nice display here on the library/tea table using these paperwhites. I’ve rarely used this soup tureen for actual soup, but always for decorating, so I am excited to share it here with you!

I am hoping these blooms will stand up straight as they were lying down in their bags for a week or so, and now they look like they are sprouting sideways, ugh!

Do you think they will right themselves?? I appreciate the heads up! (sorry, pun unintended…)

The planting part is easy and it’ll be fun to see how they bloom. Hope you try some in your home, too, this winter!

Happy holiday season to you,

Barb ๐Ÿ™‚


Summer Garden Update

Hello again, dear friends!! Summer started with a bang around here… Memorial Day weekend was the first weekend I was out of school, so I went straight away out to the garden to work on planting…

Garden projects galore

Now mind you, I did take some naps along the way to recover from a long, stressful school year, but after three weeks of extra rest and getting outside, going for long walks and catching up on housework (my least favorite thing, but necessary!), I feel pretty recovered.

One of the first things I did was work on making the little plant stoop on the left side of the shed a bit bigger over by the Big Garden Shed (photograph above). Over these past three years here in our Texas Home, I’ve been moving these square bricks around as needed as plant supports. Now a bunch of them are here under the left shed window. ๐Ÿ™‚

I had to pick up a few more bricks from Lowe’s and the new ones are thicker than the previous ones, but they all play nicely with each other!

I “walked” the little Angel over from its previous spot underneath the oak tree to its new spot here with the hydrangeas, lavender and pelargonium. I am really liking this new look, how about you?

Next, we just finished building the new Small Shed, of which I posted about on Father’s Day, just a couple of days ago. You can find that post here. While all of these updates have been going on, I’ve been rototilling, clearing grass and weeds, digging plant holes and removing roots, amending soil with lots of good homemade compost and grit to break up the heaviness off the clay soil, and planting plants along the southern fence.

Early Springtime in the Garden ~ which I began earnestly planting in late March/early April.

I will share a video post soon with the finished bones of the side yard in place so you can see everything at once. It actually looks pretty sparse because the main plants are so young, there aren’t any annuals to help fill the spaces, but in a few years time, these new plants will fill in and take up a lot more space. ๐Ÿ™‚

I think the garden is coming along nicely! I wish the panicle hydrangeas hadn’t lost their blooms this year in the little Artic freeze… They are nice and green for you, though! You can just see it behind the iron fence.

One of the butterfly bushes beginning to bloom. It’ll be in the ground soon!

Let’s check out the roses, which are having a banner year…

The Generous Gardener ~ a David Austin English rose

Roses, roses, roses

All of the roses survived the winter like champs! I really covered and wrapped the four new roses with all of the extra freezes we had from late February until sometime in April. I had planted them into two pots and into two spots on the south side of the house; that post can be found here.

A type of peony (?) came up behind the rose so I’ll have to move that peony for next year (or the rose over some!).

Iceberg ~ not a David Austin English rose ~ but one I found at Atwoods, I think, this past winter/early spring. Its twin died before I could get it planted. Not sure what happened there but I am happy this one made it!

Our neighbors said there used to be a gentleman who lived here who loved to garden several homeowners ago… He must have planted the peach tree which grew on this southern side of the house.

I wonder if all these dormant peonies (?) and liriope, which are springing up all over now that the area is getting a lot of water, are some of his? Amazing that they just lay dormant all of this time!

Olivia Austin English rose ~ a rose which begins with a bit of creamy white tinged with yellow but turns all white as it ages. Lovely! This is a climbing rose. Some liriope can be seen around my left thumb… It’s getting ready to bloom now and is grasslike.
Another view of Olivia Austin (I am wondering if this label was switched… Olivia Rose Austin is pink… I just looked it up this morning in an older DAR booklet I have.) here with liriope and St. John’s Wort underneath. The St. John’s I did transplant a few last summer from the front flowerbeds and front lawn. It had been growing up as a wildflower and has lovely blue flowers and was stunning (no photos…) as a backdrop to the roses! Will have to get some good photos!!
Miranda Lambert ~ out front in its large green pot. I’ll have to move it next year to the garden, or pull it out, refresh the soil and shave its roots. Either way, it should do fine.

… A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

spoken by Juliet, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

โ€˜Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
Whatโ€™s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
Whatโ€™s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo callโ€™d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

found on: No Sweat Shakespeare

I am looking at ordering more roses to plant again late next winter and looking at some climbers for the fences. The little Miss Kim lilac I had died last summer/fall. I think ants got its roots, or I didn’t give it enough water?? Anyway, it made it for a couple of years… It was always a bit iffy with Zone 8 and I think it was a Zone 7-max plant picked up in South Dakota. Bummed because I love lilacs and thought it could make it… My MIL didn’t dig any up from her garden, which is a real shame as hers would have done very well here!

Oh, well! Sorry for complaining…

It was to go along this back fence and would have been a nice central feature. ๐Ÿ’œ

A nice shady spot with just morning sun on it and dappled shade thereafter.

A new garden bed

The next project I am working on is getting all of the plants I collected last fall and winter into the ground. I got the boxwood planted last fall, I think, and it is doing very well in its spot (above right, near the bag of purple Hapi-Grow mulch).

The nursery bed of things to be planted ~ from Early Springtime in the Garden.

A small juniper is bursting out of its small pot and will be going in along the western fence somewhere, along one or two golden arborvitae (the Southern Living brown pots to the upper left). I thought they were only supposed to get about 6′ tall, but I reread the tag this weekend and they can get much larger! About 10-12′ in height).

I wanted to build an arborvitae hedge wall along the western back alleyway fence but I’m not sure what else to plant there which can take a lot of heat and sun. Any suggestions?

A dwarf juniper is planted over in the far left corner with a Jane magnolia to its left, and a climbing rose to the left of Jane. Might have to move the Jane. It’s leaves are scorching a bit.

What’s next?

  • A chair painting project (already underway!)
  • getting new water lines run for the garden to have drip irrigation
  • finishing painting inside the Big Garden Shed
  • finishing building the two rafters inside the shed (Mr. Ethereal’s project)
  • finding and installing a second French iron fence piece for the right side of the garden (to match the left side) ~ maybe a French find in France?! XD!!

Well that’s it for now, folks! I’ll be sharing from inside soon as I deep clean and create summer vignettes. With the heat, I do tend to be indoors more in the afternoons. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But first, a few trips to the doctor’s office and a Texas Dept. of Transportation run with my MIL to get her new Texas driver’s license today. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy beginning of summer,

Barb ๐Ÿ™‚


Sunday Sentiments ~ Planting Roses & Late Winter Garden Clean-Up

First up, Happy Sunday evening, dear friends! I totally missed Share Your Style this week due to sheer exhaustion from work. I am sooo sorry! Our kiddos have been really amped up with our main teacher out ill these past couple of weeks, and they have been in extra fight mode, so… SYS should be back this Wednesday for you.

This is going to be a big post, too, since I haven’t posted for a while. House hunting with my mother-in-law and spending most nights being with her at our home, I just haven’t been writing (or photographing). Good news! She found a lovely 1500 sq. foot house and her offer was accepted last week. She closes tomorrow and did her walk-through and inspection today!!

Even though I’ve spent many weekends since January 1st house shopping with my mother-in-law, I have been out gardening. Two weekends ago, I planted three English roses I ordered in April 2021 into pots.

When I went to order them last year, because so many people were seeking solace and peace in their gardens while working from home and staying home with Covid restrictions, there were no more orders available for Texas. I was just too late!

I’d never experienced not being able to order roses like this before (as probably many of us found out this past year), but spent the rest of the year knowing exactly where I would put in climbers along our south wall.

Along our home’s south-facing wall: digging nice big holes!

The second set of English roses arrived the following week so then I was able to outside planting over the Presidents’ holiday weekend. It felt really good to be outdoors, even if it was windy and a bit cold!

The sun was out and it felt warmer than it has all winter. Clouds would often scuttle over the sun, so having a jacket around to take off and put back on was really helpful!

Setting bareroot roses to soak

Digging the holes

A little planting booklet which came with each box of roses shared good rose planting tips. It said to dig the hole 16″ deep and twice as wide, so that’s what I did. Each of the roses came as bare root and had many really large and long roots. I did no trimming and just plunged each plant into water for 2+ hours to soak up a good amount of water before planting them.

For each hole, I used a couple of handfuls of homemade compost in the bottom of each rose’s hole, then mixed a few handfuls of bagged compost plus more of my own fully and semi-composted dirt into the native soil (caliche clay, a very heavy soil). Because North Texas’ clay is really heavy ~ it is one of the main components of cement ~ I also added in a lot of vermiculite and a clay-busting additive that I found two years ago. This made a lovely soil which looks like it will drain well. ๐Ÿ™‚

The David Austin planting booklet said to use a stake laid horizontally to use as a guide for where to position the rose crown. I wish I’d had known that information when I planted the other roses I pulled out of pots when I first made the flowerbed underneath our bedroom window three years ago!

Their crowns are several inches above the ground… (uh oh!) After we move the south fence this spring, I’ll be moving those roses out to get more sun and putting in more shade-tolerant plants back in their spots.

Anyway, I tucked in these roses, added the compost mix then gave them a good soak with rain water and hose water (when the former ran out).

Getting ready to dump leaves and acorns after sieving the dirt out by the west fence.
The sieved dirt ๐Ÿ™‚

Cleaning and clearing

Next, over this whole month, I’ve cleaned up a ton of leftover leaves which had blown against the south fence and along the new west fencing we installed over by the new shed. They were leftover from this fall’s leaf dump, which was really nice to get cleaned up. (Two full green waste bins full!)

I raked out a lot of oak leaves while I was out planting here in February, too, but since then I’ve had to pack some leaves back around some plants’ root zone and trunks to protect their trunks and early leaves from hard freezes.

Ahhhh! Nice and clean!
Early January getting up leaves from the south garden and compost area.

I’ve been using leaves to protect most of our plants from winter freeze damage here in North Texas ~ something I rarely had to do in Southern California. In So Cal our lowest temps were in the mid-20’s F, but here in North Texas we’ve had temps down to 7 degrees with windchill of -12 degrees Fahrenheit.

This past week with an ice storm, I used plastic bags over newly planted boxwood and these roses with the leaves packed around their trunks and some branches, even. Surprisingly, this inspiration worked great!

The bags kept each plant ice-free and then the water when the ice melted was still able to get into the pots or underneath to each plant to water them. (Sorry, I didn’t get any pictures.)

Wrapping bushes which suffered severely last year during the 2021 Arctic week of hard freezing storms. They came back well but not really until this past fall. Covering them now prevents the ice storm from adding further damage.

We still have a ton of pin oak acorns to clean up out front, but that’ll be another day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Well, I’ve rambled a lot in this post and I have more to share ~ like the cool sale of plants I found by accident at Lowe’s in late January! (not sponsored)

Hidden gems among the sale plants!

I see other gardeners on YouTube who find these wonderful sales on plants yet I’ve not had that luck… until this day! Lowe’s was clearing out winter damaged plants and plants from last fall. I was more than happy to bring home some larger boxwood and debated really hard about a nice olive.

In the end, I didn’t bring home the olive standard but now wish I would have. Oh, well!

$40 for 4 plants!

I’ve been collecting evergreens and other shrubs to put in along the fences as soon as we get that south fence moved out.

Box and small holly cones found before Christmas

Why isn’t it done, you ask? Well, Mr. Ethereal has been traveling for business since early September and has rarely been home long enough to rest, much less dig post holes. We did manage to get the shed insulated (me!) and clad in beadboard (him!), and painted (me again!), but fence work had to be postponed.

Part of the January clearing and making a new side compost pile.
Planting the potatoes which rooted in the freshly turned compost from the main pile in the chicken wire bin.

Lastly for this long post, I’ve planted up some rooting potatoes I found when mixing up compost for the roses! It was fun to plant them and cover them in a mound.

Did you know that you water potatoes in the side troughs not over their tops?

Planting tulips and daffodils

I also got most of the new tulips I bought late this fall planted in containers as well as daffodils and surprise bulbs given to me by my friend Torrance. These were a gift from her daughter’s garden.

So that’s it for this post, lovely ones! I’ve sure enjoyed reminiscing about what I’ve been up to this winter. My mother-in-law and I have also worked on rooting her rose cuttings and I’ve used a great many of my collected plastic pots to replant the clippings she brought from her Northern California garden of 57 years… It has been a busy gardening winter for me! Let me know what you’ve been up to this winter and if you’ve been doing any wintertime gardening.

Happy almost spring hugs,

Barb ๐Ÿ™‚


My Crazy Summer Pumpkins or The First Real Pumpkins Post of Fall…

Pumpkins will grow in Texas, friends! I accidentally proved this in our consistently rainy North Texas springtime weather this year. Here’s our white Cinderella pumpkin growing on the vine in March…

Early this spring, I chucked last fall’s pumpkins into our compost pile thinking they would just squish down and eventually turn into dirt. Well… One of the Connecticut field pumpkins sprouted and so did a couple of Cinderella pumpkins!

Connecticut Field pumpkin courtesy of Google through Pinterest

I did nothing other than keep adding grass clippings (okay, Mr. Ethereal did!) and forking over the compost once to aerate the whole pile. I left the three pumpkins vines alone to grow…

The fall rudbeckia I picked up in Oklahoma to plant outfront.

I guess I never took any photos of them growing! I meant to but every time I went to photograph them, I was in the middle of taking other photos and thought, “I don’t want them to show in those pictures.”

I was saving the pumpkins to feature by themselves, but really, they were ready to harvest in early June…

Three made it full term and the other flowers never matured. It just got too hot here in July! I left the three on the vine… Well, because I was still giving them water (to keep the vines alive and hopefully get more pumpkins), the nice Connecticut Field rotted on the vine from just too much moisture on its underside… :(((

Then, I harvested the two remaining: one pale orange Cinderella and the creamy white Cinderella… I brought them inside to sit on the nice cool dining room tile flooring. THAT would keep them nice and cool! Or so I thought…

Then there was a weird smell…

I thought it was the new dryer in its plastic packaging that I was smelling. It smelled like someone was smoking pot! Awful… REALLY awful!

Well, once I noticed the pumpkins (about two days later), I FINALLY I took a look at them and the orange Cinderella was water and mush all over the floor. I shoveled it into the trash can and took that mess outside, cleaned the floor, turned on the kitchen fan, and eventually the yucky smell went away.

Love this shot with our little Fair Maiden “looking” at her pumpkin… Future golden coach, perhaps??

Only the white Cinderella made it…

It is nice and dry and no mold spots on it. I think I will try growing pumpkins again next year since three did grow. I’ll do it the same way and make sure to rotate them and get them off the ground this next season.

So that’s the story of our Texas pumpkins! And if you haven’t seen this month’s Pinterest Challenge post about decorating an early fall mantel, you can find that here.

Happy early fall hugs,

Barb ๐Ÿ™‚


Share Your Style #305

Welcome friends, to this week’s Share Your Style #305! Happy Wednesday to you all!

This link party is for home decor, DIY, crafts, recipes and the like, but you are more than welcome to share any of your family-friendly posts with us all. Please feel free to share this post too and join my small but loyal band of friends. I appreciate you!
 As always, I am glad that you are here…

I am Barbara Chapman and I’d love it if you’d follow me here on my blog and on any of my other social media sites, too.  Thank you!๐Ÿ’œ 

French Ethereal: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest

My goodness, friends! This has been a nice two weeks off from school (summer vacation), enjoying the pretty mountainside around Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and our nephew and new niece’s wedding, and just taking a break from writing…

Other than the time we were moving out of our last house (August 2015) and I had nothing to write about (or so I thought…), I have taken very few breaks off from blogging and this was a nice break. I was originally just going to take time off from Share Your Style but it turned into a break from everything! I feel refreshed and ready to visit and share new ideas again with you! ๐Ÿ’œ 

What have I been doing: Painting our master bedroom is almost completed… I am finishing up the ceiling today and am just waiting for the last of Coat 1 to dry so I can stand down below and roll a light second coat over the whole thing (ugh!). Definitely NOT professionally spray painted! WHY the last owners chose to paint EVERY ceiling coffee brown… The crown moulding and walls turned out beautifully. After almost 30 years of painting rooms, I’m getting pretty good at it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And I am back in the Craft Room (which I have really yet to share) working on making it happy! So, I’ll be sharing those posts soon. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am excited to share all these summer inspired posts with you…

Here’s what I shared this past week at French Ethereal…

A Five Minute Picnic Basket for Two ~ Part of this month’s $10 on the 10th challenge. ๐Ÿ˜‰ This was a fun post to write and really quick to put together. Looking forward to more picnics this summer and into fall…

And here are this week’s featured posts…

French table setting

There is something really fun about bee-utiful table settings and this past month our friend Rachelle from My Hubbard Home joined another of our favorite friends, Debbee from Debbee’s Buzz, in a Bee Themed link party ~ Here’s Rachelle’s cute post ~ A Bee French Table Setting for Chic Themed Spring Entertaining. Love all the yellow, black and white!

How To Extend The Life Of Your Peony

Rachelle also shared this lovely post ~ How to Extend the Life of Your Peonies. Lovely! Wish mine were blooming this year…

Lisa at Fresh Vintage by Lisa shared her Trash to Treasure ~ Cast Iron Plant Stand Redo this week. Love the new look and it is soooo pretty anywhere in the yard! Nice job!!

Water feature in outdoor spaces4

MaryJo over at Master”Pieces” of My life shared Why You Should Have a Water Feature in Outdoor Spaces. Yes!!!

Tiffany over at Tee Diddley Dee brings us this fun DIY Rustic Wooden Serving Tray this week and it’s super fast and easy to make. Perfect project to make for summer soirees!

thrifted style, ditsy floral dress, The Thrifty Six, fashion over 40, Shelbee on the Edge

Shelbee from Shelbee on the Edge shared her post with the Thrifty Six and Back with Spring Florals. Love this fun style blog hop and I am sure you will, too!

Chunky Monkey Overnight Oats๏ปฟ

Last up for this week is this yummy post perfect for breakfast (anytime, really!) from Claire Justine ~ Chunky Monkey Overnight Oats. Don’t you just love a little chocolate for breakfast? ;)’

Thank You so much to everyone who linked up this past week. A special thank you to everyone for always promotingย Share Your Styleย on your blog and on your social media channels! I do see it when I stop by and I appreciate the love.ย ๐Ÿ’œ

If you’d like to follow myย Share Your Style boardย on Pinterest I’d appreciate it,ย thank you!ย I do post all of the featured posts from each week’s SYS there plus usually other photos from those posts to my boards. ๐Ÿ’œย  Thanks so much!!! If you are new to French Ethereal, I hope you will think about subscribing to my blog.

If you’d like to follow myย Share Your Style boardย on Pinterest I’d appreciate it,ย thank you!ย I do post all of the featured posts from each week’s SYS there plus usually other photos from those posts to my boards. ๐Ÿ’œย  Thanks so much!!! If you are new to French Ethereal, I hope you will think about subscribing to my blog.

Happy linking, dear friends!

Hugs, Barb ๐Ÿ™‚

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Late Fall Holiday Garden Tour

Ho ho ho, friends!

Our Thanksgiving break was all about decorating our home for Christmas and working out in the garden… During the early part of the week, Mr. Ethereal helped me by bringing down more Christmas boxes from the attic and he did some cleaning while I worked on decorating the mantel and set up our new Christmas tree.

Later in the week after a good rain storm, I spent from mid-week onward slowly taking my time hoeing weeds and grass for future garden beds, digging holes, and then planting just a few plants. I wanted to get ahead of the incoming freezing nights so time was of the essence.

Here is how the garden is coming along:

Just before our weather dipped to 32 F and into the high 20’s, I went out and picked the two peppers big enough to continue ripenning and dug up then repotted the Italian parsley/cilantro into a small pot and brought it inside. This “flat parsley” (also another name I see it called in the grocery and nursery aisles) easily made the transition indoors and it is happily growing bigger. I just couldn’t relegate it to the compost pile!!

We made turkey burritos with the last of the Thanksgiving bird on Monday evening and MAN they were good with that fresh burst of cilantro!!! The rest of the plant parts went into the compost heap… ๐Ÿ˜€

Fresh herbs right out of the garden are soooo much better than the store bought, I wonder why that is?… Let me know in the comments if you have a theory, or know why that is. Anyway, I need to pick up some more herbs to grow indoors. Our rosemary plants are doing well and move indoors as needed.

Tree shopping…

Two weeks ago I went over to Meador’s Garden Center to look for a tree which will eventually shade the southern side of our bedroom. Neighbors have told me there used to be a gorgeous peach tree on the side there but the last homeowners cut it down. So I hauled home an Eastern redbud that Saturday in the back of the Audi because the latch is broken on the Sequoia, my usual hauling chariot.

Mr. Ethereal wasn’t too happy I used “his car” for that purpose, but… I promise I didn’t scratch the car! I brought towels and a sheet to protect the insides. ๐Ÿ™‚ The redbud will have lovely colorful leaves in fall and gorgeous pink blossoms in the springtime. It will top out between 20-30 feet tall in time and about 20 feet wide.

I hope to plant this tree a few feet further out from its current spot, if all goes well…

I finished the paperwork asking for permission to move our fence out 5 feet and will send that in soon to our city. I hope they will allow us to move the fence as it will give us a lot more visual room inside the back yard! The short end where the gate is only 12 1/2 feet wide.

We need to remake this gate (below) as it is literally NOT CLOSING anymore and I don’t want our sweet Yoda, who is going blind with cataracts and is mostly deaf, getting out and getting lost. It would KILL ME if that happened.

So… This will be our big winter/spring project if approved!

I finally got the three sun-loving camellias in the ground in the back flower bed underneath our master bedroom window. As I dug them in, I lifted the two mini agapanthus out. After watching so many BBC episodes with Monty Don in them talking about lift plants and putting them in greenhouses for winter, I thought I’d do that for these guys.

Our mini agapanthus survived some pretty low temps in California (22 degrees) but they were mature plants and well bunched together (and the air was less humid), but the weather here can dip even lower in North Texas (teens and high 10’s). Our aggies are just new babies!

How’s it {compost}-go-ing?

The compost pile is filling up with shredded leaves that Mr. Ethereal is chopping up with the new lawn mower every other week or so (his new baby this year!).

I’ve been adding in spent annuals, some cut green grass and kitchen scraps (including lettuces gone mushy) so we get a good mix of “half brown and half green,” the recipe for good compost. As I dig up worms, I’ll bring them over to help break everything down, too.

Our sweet garden angel dressed for the season….

Holiday garden decorating

“The Girls” have new Christmas wreath halos for the holidays… If you’ve never decorated your garden statues, I created a tutorial a couple of years ago that is easy to follow. The move to WP didn’t do some of my posts any good, though. I’ll have to go fix them, so here is a new tutorial.

This year, I actually made these head wreaths even easier!

A Quick Halo Wreath tutorial to make…

Supplies needed:

an old wire hanger or paddle wire to fit statue or on a person’s head

faux, dried or fresh flowers and greenery to decorate

hot glue gun and glue sticks

wire cutters for cutting and shaping


Begin by shaping your wire to fit your statue or person’s head. Next, make small bunches of greenery and flowers and hot glue around the wire. Finish with ribbons flowing down the back or tie on other odds and ends.

Morning at our camp host spot in Campground “C”, Riverside County Parks,
Lake Skinner, Winchester, California.

This is the same head wreath as that picture just above, just after much love.

On “The Girls” original head wreaths I tied on small crystal chandelier drops to the back of them to add weight. The wind can blow pretty heavy here in Texas and the wreaths would end up all over the yard at our last long-term camping spot!

Easy as pie!!!

I am loving this latest incarnation of holiday decor for our Girls!!

The Easy-Peasy Way

For the newer version of these halo head wreaths, skip the metal wire and just wrap your garland around a couple of times, gluing the ends to itself. Glue on flowers and greenery to the garland instead. This style of head wreath is floppier but has its own beautiful charm.

That’s it for now, friends! I’ll be back with this week’s Advent wreath story on Sunday afternoon/evening. If you missed the last week’s Advent story, you can find that link here.

Happy decorating,



Planting New Urns for Fall


Falling in love… I have been on the hunt for a while for a couple of beautiful urns to brighten up our front yard. I like the idea of planting them for each season and this is the perfect time of year for showing off autumn’s beautiful offerings…

I was thrilled to find two identical cement urns near me at a beautiful nursery Schmitz Garden Center in Flower Mound, Texas, over the October 12th-Columbus Day long weekend. I got these for a good price, I think.ย 

Rarely do I ask at nursery centers, but this day I did:ย ย I asked if they could do a little better on the price if I took both, and I was given an extra 15% off.

The nurseryman loaded them up for me and on home we went!

On Monday, I wheeled our heavy garden cart around front and went to work trying to wrestle an urn out of the middle of our SUV. You see, the back hatch latch is broken (again…) so we can’t open the tailgate. It’s a cheap plastic part and Mr. Ethereal has to have a day to pull off the inside parts and replace the thing. It broke the weekend before…

So what do you think of the urns?? They are about 14″ tall by 24″ across and about 6″ deep. At first I was thinking maybe they were too shallow, but after planting them and realizing you can just pile up more dirt in the center, now I am really excited about them!

I really like how they look after planting them with just a few pansies, one big deep pink mum, and a little hanging vine in each urn. They add a nice formality to our small front porch area.

This photograph is really overexposed but it shows our fall porch well… Happy and balanced!

Totally in love… Now to convince Mr. Ethereal we need to expand out the left-hand garden bed to make both sides match better. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A nice way to say hello to our second fall in our stillย 
new-to-us home… ๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ

Sharing with:
Thursday Favorite Things ~ Follow the Yellow Brick Home
Friday at the Fire Station ~ A Fireman’s Wife

Featured at:


Fall Decorating Ideas, Fall Crafts and Fall Recipes

Hope your fall has been just asย 
beautiful, friends,

A Special California Garden Visit…

California garden and home of Marcia and Alan, friends of my mother and father-in-law, is the garden we are visiting today. Beautiful, ethereal, this acre-plus garden is parklike with a central grassy area flanked by a pool and kitchen garden towards the rear. It is the perfect place for hosting large parties. Let’s take a virtual visit…

Marcia and Alan graciously opened their home for my father-in-law’s memorial, which was so kind. These photos were all taken before the service began and only my husband and one neighbor appear from afar. It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and the afternoon sun was really bright. As you will see, I had to adjust a lot of the lighting in the pool photographs in post-production. I didn’t check the first photographs and they were overblown and very white.ย 

Beginning here by the BBQ area and just a few steps down from our hosts’ family room, the rose garden to the left of the backyard begins our tour. A small half-wall separates the dining area and covered patio from the pool area just beyond.

I loved all of the roses, as you can imagine! Roses just grow better where there is less humidity and Marcia’s roses look so beautiful!!

This incredible peachy rose reminds me of a tea rose I had in my first garden. The soft yellows and tangerine really are pretty here in this setting…

Heading beyond the roses, we move into the gorgeous pool area…

Here in the upper left corner of this large semi-pie-shaped lot, Marcia placed her potager garden room. The raised beds hold squash and pumpkins, tomatoes and herbs.ย 

Love these raised beds!!! More roses in the background.

Over the years, Marcia says the garden has changed a lot to meet their family’s needs. Narrow beds follow much of the fence line and are filled with cutting flowers.ย 

Looking back along the right-hand side (from the BBQ area), I love the undulating larger flower beds! Planted with ornamental shade trees, crepe myrtle and other perennial shrubs, this area is easier to care for with just a few clippings each year.

California lifestyleย 

When you Google Earth homes in California, you will find that anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of the homes throughout the state have a pool on the property. It may be a “dry heat,” but with 5-6 months of 90+ degree days, pools just fit right into the California garden lifestyle, keeping families cool.

Sorry this is sooo bright!ย I’ve actually added in color and reduced the whites but I had the settings wrong on my camera for the sunlight at the time. The area is so pretty that I knew I needed to keep this photograph to share, even if it isn’t perfect… ๐Ÿ’–

Isn’t this yard gorgeous??! I love how large the whole yard is and this isn’t a small pool, either!

Love all of the garden areas and how they visually connect!
Walking back along the right side, here is a view of the pool and potager from near the house. Gorgeous views from every angle!!! Serpentine bricks really show off the pool’s planted pots.

Marcia and Alan have owned their home for 30+ years and bought if from her uncle who was the contractor-builder who built this area of Sacramento homes. He lived in this home since the home was built in the 1960’s. They are the second owners and this was definitely the home to buy!

Back to the beginning again… I hope you have enjoyed this garden tour today!

Happy gardening, friends!