Garden Photo of the Day

Carey’s Gardening Story

Adventures and lessons learned

pruning roses in terraced beds

Hello Fine Gardening! I’m Carey. My nickname, since I was three, has been CareBear. I’ve been gardening for about 15 years.

watering raised garden bedsI grew up in Washington, and that’s where gardening started for me.

pruning roses in terraced bedsWe had a garden at home, and I helped build terraced beds there, which my parents still grow roses in to this day! So that’s an early success I’m proud of. What I learned is, when planting on a hill, plan for erosion! The bottom terrace has started to sag, although that’s also because it gets walked on.

large Sun Mandala GardenThen I moved to Hawaii because I wanted to be able to grow an abundance of fruits and other foods year-round. Creating a big sun mandala garden from scratch with one other gardener is something we were proud of. We pulled all the rocks in the wall surrounding this garden out of the ground while we were double-digging the beds.

tropical fruit treesTaking care of a large permaculture garden for its first year of growth was an accomplishment on Hawai’i island. I went back years later, and it was a dense food forest, with dozens of full-grown fruit trees such as cherimoya, avocado, coconuts, bananas, and many more, producing hundreds of pounds of food per year with little to no additional work being done. I wish I had taken a photo of it full-grown!

tropical tree downed in severe floodingA failure I learned from a few years later on Kaua’i island was, after spending a year planting a plot of bananas and vegetables, the area flooded heavily, drowning my vegetables and making some of the bananas fall over. Fortunately, bananas are very resilient, and they survived. That was over five years ago and that patch is still there, providing bananas for the community. Bananas are one of my favorite plants; they’re so abundant and easy to grow. And I love making smoothies with bananas!

exotic plant with bright turquoise blue flowers Also on Kaua’i, I helped steward a permaculture homestead where they grew a lot of exotic fruits and plants, such as this amazing blue jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys, Zones 10–12), one of my favorite flowers.

wider view of the exotic plant with bright turquoise blue flowers Wider view of the tree covered in the blue jade vine

close up of large sunflowerAfter six years in the tropics, I realized that I really need four seasons, so I came back to the Pacific Northwest and have been living between Washington, Oregon, and—as of this past year—Northern California. The coast here is amazing!

gardener amongst a large planting of kaleIt is chilly but not too cold in the winter, so we can grow greens and some other things year-round. Kale is one of my all-time favorite plants and feeds me every day! Also, we have the blessing of a beautiful coastline and old-growth redwood trees nearby. I love it.

I did a full season on a big farm when I returned to Washington in 2019. We started at 6 every morning even with mud or frost on the ground and provided CSA boxes to hundreds of people every week in the greater Olympia/Seattle area, so that took a lot of perseverance. It was the largest CSA in western Washington. The oldest video on my instagram page is of me enjoying some of the crops after work on that farm.

collage of different flowersThis past summer while working on a farm in Oregon I was delighted with the plethora of beautiful flowers I happened upon; it brightens up a hard workday to imagine the flowers are smiling at us and cheering us on. 🙂

My gardening hope for the future is to get a piece of land so that I and my friends and family can enjoy the fruits of what I grow for years to come. All of my work has been on other people’s land. I feel good about what I’ve done, but at the end of the day I need my own garden, farm, orchard. I am sharing my gardening adventures online partially to simply share the beauty and to hope it inspires others to garden.

Follow Carey’s gardening adventures on instagram:


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View Comments


  1. btucker9675 11/25/2022

    Love all of this - that blue jade vine is incredible! I agree about 4 seasons and envy you the wonderful gardening conditions you have there in the Northwest. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  2. jos29803 11/25/2022

    I love your story and you are an inspiration, and it gives me hope for our planet and the human race.
    Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season.

  3. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 11/26/2022

    Wonderful gardening adventures! Thanks so much for sharing your story!
    Here's to more successful & incredible gardening adventures!

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  5. [email protected] 11/26/2022

    Thanks for your gardening story! Having lived and gardened in some of the same places (west coast, sadly not Hawaii!), I appreciated your thoughts and ambitions! Good luck!

  6. User avater
    simplesue 11/28/2022

    You really are living a life of gardening to the fullest!
    I totally get your feeling for the need of 4 seasons, it's like a rhythm one misses when it's gone.
    You've done some amazing things and had some amazing adventures in gardening- thanks for sharing!

  7. Emmeline471 11/29/2022

    Wonderful hands, they take care of and create beautiful plants and flowers Uno Online.

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