Garden Photo of the Day

Amy’s from-scratch garden oasis

Good morning, everyone! Um, here's another post that got lost is my voluminous inbox…..These photos are from Amy Fleshner, who sent them in last year. Amy says, "Despite what a lot of people told me when I decided to leave my career and be a stay-at-home mom, I got bored. I went from working 60 hours a week and taking phone calls at all hours of the night to trying to keep myself busy after crafting, cooking, and cleaning. My adult ADHD didn’t allow me the ability to sit down and I had to be doing something, constantly. The walls were closing in on me after a very cold winter in 2012 and I felt like I was losing my mind indoors. For our six year wedding anniversary my husband informed me that I could have anything I wanted, as long as he could buy new golf clubs. I went along with it, knowing in the back of my mind that my idea of someday having a secret garden would soon come true, and what better way to keep myself (and my little ones) busy. Little did I know how much work it would be. I purchased what I needed on April 7th, 2012; a pergola, a fence, top soil, manure, seeds, a few bulbs, and my favorite rose bushes, but over the next couple weeks it rained, and rained, and rained. With two small girls (Eva was six and Lucy was four) the back yard was often a sore sight, cluttered with mud pies, toy lawn mowers, bicycles, etc. I decided to take the area behind the garage and turn it into my oasis.  I had drawn everything out on paper ahead of time and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted it to look like, although I was secretly terrified that nothing was going to grow! I have never claimed to be a master gardener but I have always read Fine Gardening magazine and admired the beautiful landscapes and flowers that others managed to grow! By May 14th I had everything in ground. The next few weeks were very stressful as I was scared that perhaps I added too much manure to the soil, or that the tree would cause too much shade, and on and on and on. I was beginning to feel like a total idiot and was coming to the conclusion that my girls would have a neat little fence to throw their toys in, but that would be about all the secret garden would amount to. By August 9th every single thing I had planted had bloomed and I felt like a champion! I had dahlias the size of my head and it felt amazing to watch the daily progress of my first accomplishment as a future gardener.  There are Knockout rose bushes, climbing rose bushes, dahlias, oriental lilies, pineapple lilies, black-eyed Susans, forget-me-nots, wild flowers, morning glory, impatiens, clematis, gerbera daisies, lavender, spike, salvia, gladiolas, calla lilies, Asiatic lilies, canterberry bells, Alaska daises, peonies, and begonias, to name a few. My favorite part is the walkway. I hand painted old barn boards with my favorite saying, “Step into the garden and lift your face to the sun. It will help you remember all that is beautiful and right in the world”. I will continue to read the articles in Fine Gardening with the hopes that someday an inexperienced individual will look at my work and be inspired to create a similar outdoor oasis." WOW, Amy, that was a huge undertaking, and it's wonderful!! We need more photos this year, for sure!

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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/24/2015

    Congrats, Amy, on such a successful and satisfying project. You're obviously a can do kind of person who thrives on making decisions (that was a lot of plant choosing and buying) and putting a plan into action! I hope you treat yourself to some quiet time sitting in one of your comfy chairs and enjoy looking out at the colorful garden that you have created.

  2. Nurserynotnordstroms 03/24/2015

    Amy,you must be thrilled to have watched each plant grow because of your obvious nurturing,and you placed chairs in the perfect location to sit and enjoy you beautiful gardening endeavors. Be careful you will end up as a ? plantaholic ?like the rest of us GPODers. Life is great when you are creating in the gardens but you already know that because you have accomplished so much.You should be very pleased with your creativity!!

  3. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/24/2015

    Great job, Amy. It's amazing how much work it is to make even a small garden, but such a joy to reap those rewards when the plants grow and flowers bloom!

  4. jerrysiss 03/24/2015

    Good job! Amy. You'll get the itch to expand as time goes by.

  5. wGardens 03/24/2015

    I am glad you have provided photos of the progression of your garden. Nice job. I can imagine that there will be more garden areas that pop up on your property now! Enjoy!!!

  6. user-7007285 03/24/2015

    I LOVE your idea of fencing off the garden into itself. Protecting it from the children's playground! Your little sanctuary ! They will appreciate the garden space later. I wish I had thought of this while raising three kids and many pets and a husband who doesn't have a clue why my plants are precious.

  7. user-4691082 03/24/2015

    I love the picture of the baby with the dahlia! Too cute!

  8. User avater
    HelloFromMD 03/24/2015

    Watch out Amy! your only mistake was to not make the garden bigger. Gardeners know that plant lust is an incurable disease. You obviously have the knack for gardening. I bet you're secretly thinking about your next project. I wish you many more plants to come.

  9. user-7007452 03/24/2015

    I love that you incorporated your broken spade as garden art. Nice touch.

  10. perenniallycrazy 03/24/2015

    Your story & garden are simply amazing Amy!

  11. NCYarden 03/24/2015

    Fantastic! You should be stoked. Huge effort with even bigger reward. Thanks for the progression. Can't wait to see when you inevitably go beyond your own "fenced restriction"...haha. Well done. Thanks for sharing.

  12. GrannyMay 03/24/2015

    Congratulations, Amy! Your story is inspiring on many levels. When you have a dream, go for it. When you face setbacks, persevere. When you doubt your abilities, trust in yourself. Enjoy the results!

  13. summer43224 03/24/2015

    What a beautiful little spot of happiness. The only thing I would add is something that would cover the top of the pergola.

  14. sheila_schultz 03/24/2015

    What an excellent choice of an anniversary present, Amy. Your secret garden is definitely the gift that will keep on giving! You can sit and relax as your little ones stop to smell the roses... although I fear it may be many years before you can really sit and relax ;)

  15. GrannyCC 03/24/2015

    Wonderful Amy.You obviously have a green thumb and a good sense of design. Good luck I can see you have other areas that you could expand into.

  16. schatzi 03/24/2015

    Terrific! Love your walkway saying. OK, you are hooked now! Definitely one of us garden and plantaholics. Your husband had no idea what he was unleashing. Putting a pretty fence around your treasures was inspired. You can always expand as your kids grow and use less of the yard. That was a lot of work and you did a great job. Enjoy.

  17. foxglove12 03/24/2015

    Wow! I'm impressed with all the pre planning and preparation. Loving the quote and stepping stones. May just steal that idea ?. What a precious oasis and story. Great job!

  18. user-7007327 03/24/2015

    You have done a wonderful job. What is the garden piece with grow on it? I want one.

  19. Meelianthus 03/24/2015

    Amy, a great big WOW ! What a lovely little garden you created. I see a massive amount of work and a lot of gardening love went into that little plot. How you must be enjoying it now and each year will get even better - AND, as NCY said, you will soon go beyond the fence ^_^

  20. annek 03/24/2015

    The sweet smell of success! What a beautiful outcome for your first effort. I'll be so excited to see how your secret garden grows and changes this year (translation: more photos ? )

  21. eddireid 03/24/2015

    I am so impressed with your whole project, from start to finish! That you made a plan, carried it out and the results are both interesting and accomplished is nothining short of wonderful to me. Congratulations. Oh! A Warning - this is just your beginning. You will now become as fascinated and addicted to all things gardening as the rest of us. Welcome!

  22. eddireid 03/24/2015

    Loved your creativity with the path and the spade,too.

  23. ruthaltman 03/25/2015

    To watch what you have had made for your entire family and friends to enjoy has been amazing. My Grandpa Riggs had a wonderful garden so many many years ago that is so instilled in my memories of my childhood. Your little people will carry on the beauty of a garden for many years to com. Love you Amy.Mom

  24. thevioletfern 03/25/2015

    Love your secret spot! I love the saying and how you so creatively added it to your garden space. I can just feel the tension slip away walking through the arbor!

  25. BethinIowa 03/25/2015

    Amy, this is one of my favorite GPD posts ever. Thank you for sharing your project, your enthusiasm, and for being one of the courageous people who puts career aside to give time to your kids and, truly, also to yourself. This enchanting garden is a good example of what that means. I am in Cedar Rapids, where in Iowa do you live?

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