Garden Brain

Garden Brain

There is a moment every almost-Spring when I become painfully useless at doing anything other than being in the garden. If I’m not in the garden, then I’m probably near a window looking onto it, doing that awkward open-mouthed stare that makes everybody around me wonder how I get myself dressed in the morning (spoiler alert!!! I don’t always because: pajamas). Generally, I am useless at getting much of anything accomplished.

The farmhouse garden busting with bougainvillea at

Diagnosis: Garden Brain. (The struggle…oh, the struggle).

The foxglove patch in the farmhouse garden at

Here’s where you expect me to tell you that the only cure for Garden Brain is to ‘get out in the garden!’, or ‘put your hands in the dirt!’, or ‘skip through the flowers singing your own custom, off-key version of The Hills are Alive!’. No, my friends. No. THIS ONLY MAKES IT WORSE. Because the more you work on it, the better the garden becomes, and the more it sucks you in.

I’m so weak. So very, very weak.

Washi tape and cocktail straw seed tags from

(Washi tape and cocktail straw seed tag flags for the win!)

Seedlings in the farmhouse garden at

And looky there! Seedlings! More things to cram into nooks and crannies.

I just can’t quit the garden. Especially when there’s peonies blooming:

Peonies in the farmhouse garden at

Peonies in the farmhouse garden at

What the WHAT? In the entire eight years we have lived in this Zone 10B house…I have tried and failed at peonies countless times. But here they are, finally blooming and making me beyond happeeeeeee. The summer heat has always been an issue with peonies here in the past (but I’ve never even gotten them to bloom so this, in itself, is major!), but I’ve got some strategies that I’ll implement this year to combat the imminent plant-fry. So, fingers crossed, my precious peonies will get through the rest of this year. For now, however, I will sit and enjoy this flowery little moment with ‘Julie Rose Itoh’, ‘Buckeye Belle’, and ‘Raspberry Sundae’; they just get me.

'Julia Rose Itoh' peony in the farmhouse garden at

The chicken garden is also making me all heart eyes right now. Between the El Niño rains and the endless supply of chicken poop, this little garden is bursting. Especially given the fact that the majority of it is rocks and dirt (because those are the only things that my chickens won’t destroy, and frankly, they move rocks and dirt around without batting a single chicken eyelash). Despite it all, there’s a lot of happy green things happening out there.

The chicken coop and garden at

The rose jungle in the chicken garden (protection from aerial predators).

The rose jungle, as I like to call it, takes up the majority of the chicken garden. These roses went in the ground a few years before we got chickens (as this was my rose/cutting garden before it was a chicken garden), so by the time the chickens showed up, the bushes were quite established (which always helps a plant survive the ultimate garden pest: poultry). We added some large stones around the base, so that those meddlesome birds can’t dig them up, and then we let those bushes get leggy and tall and jumbled. The chickens keep the lower 18 inches or so of every bush leaf-free, but that just encourages the bushes to grow taller. Which is what we want, as this provides the poultry with a huge expanse of protective covering from aerial predators, as well as a large, shady area to escape the heat during the summer months. But also: roses. Lots and lots of gorgeous roses. That foreground lady is a Julia Child floribunda, and dang she is an impressive bloomer.

Chickens in the rain at

The roses also give the chickens a little bit of shelter from the rain. Not that they care, because they’ll stand in the rain all day if I let them.

Mad as a wet hen in the chicken garden at

'Eden' climbing rose at

An ‘Eden’ climbing rose grows over the chicken garden gate, and was so heavy with blooms this year that sometimes it was hard to even get through the gate.

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An ‘Eden’ and a ‘Mermaid’ climbing rose on the left, and grapevines on the right merge and create a leafy tunnel over the entryway to the chicken garden. It feels very ‘secret garden’ back there. Look at those darned chickens kicking rocks.

The pathway leading to the chicken garden at

At this point, some of you might notice that we changed out the pathway to, and through, the chicken garden. Unfortunately, with all this rain, our drainage problems in this part of the yard really came to a head–and I had to scrap my beloved scrap wood walkway–it was adorable, but it didn’t allow water to drain properly.

Scrapwood garden pathway at

RIP beautiful, quirky scrap wood path.

The gravel isn’t quite as cute, but it is permeable (ehem, drought), and a little bonus is that it camouflages the chicken poop better than the wood did. Silver linings, people.

Back to the rest of the garden…

The farmhouse garden at

It’s so funny to me that this used to be a lawn. It’s hard to even picture it now.

Oh, here we go:

When the farmhouse garden was a lawn at

I much prefer the jumble of a rambling garden that I stuff and overstuff until you can hardly walk through it anymore.The farmhouse garden at

Bright annuals in pots in the farmhouse garden at

When I run out of space in my raised garden beds (which happens a lot), I add miscellaneous containers. They multiply rapidly. Somebody should probably stop me but I’d get really cranky and ain’t nobody got time for that.

'Benjamin Britten' rose with visitor in the farmhouse garden at

One of the best parts of this garden is the way it hums with bees, butterflies, and the occasional dragonfly. I could sit and soak it up for hours. I enjoy a useless garden stupor every once in awhile (ie: every day).

Golden hour in the gardens.

I think we all know that the real point of this post was just an excuse to share current garden photos (another manifestation of Garden Brain).

I’m in the process of drawing up a rendering of my garden ‘plans’, which I get asked for quite a bit, and I hope to share that in the near future. It might help shed light on how ‘unplanned’ my garden actually is. Ha! But for now, I have spent enough time in front of this darned computer… the garden is yelling at me and I must go.






  1. Shellie Smith

    Love it! We bought a farm house over 100 yrs old and we are slowly adding roses, shrubs, vines, and any flower seeds I think I can get to grow. Anyways love always seeing pics of your garden.

    • farmhouse38k8

      Thanks so much, Shellie! And good luck with your house and garden–sounds right up my alley!!! 😀

  2. The Richards Clan (as in family)

    Your nephews love to run through the garden, especially when it’s overgrown…the littlest nugget definitely has hearts in his eyes when he sees it!

    • farmhouse38k8

      G the garden gnome! I love his enthusiasm! BTW…I have a lot of little veggie and flower starts for you guys, if you’re interested. 🙂

  3. Kari

    Heart eyes all over! Thank you for the inspiration and beautiful journey! Wow!

    • farmhouse38k8

      Thanks, Kari! 😀

  4. Jane

    I can feel the love! Your garden is spectacular. You are really lucky that you can grow so many beautiful flowers and plants nearly year round. Everything is so vibrant and the chickens fit in perfectly with the whimsical touches you have.

    Here in the Midwest we can’t safely plant much until mid-May. Until then I trim my lawn with cuticle scissors and mark my plants with toothpicks. ;-D

    Love your blog.


    • farmhouse38k8

      LOL! Thanks, Jane! 😀

  5. Megan

    So pretty! I replaced part of my yard with lots of flowers (you can see it on my blog too) and I have garden brain too. I try to figure out where I can add more but also allowing room for kids and dogs. It’s a tough battle!

    • farmhouse38k8

      It’s such a sickness, right?!!! Lol. I’ll have to go check yours out–thanks for commenting, Megan! 😀

  6. It’s all just beautiful. I especially love the chicken garden and the chickens of course.
    Have a wonderful week. Happy Gardening!

    • farmhouse38k8

      Thanks so much, Lyn! 😀

  7. Isora

    Beautiful, your garden is place to be all day there so many beautiful flower
    Contact this blogger she go to garden tour in California you could put your for tour too
    her name is Mary berry nine lady this is her URL I hope you do that
    God look
    I enjoy so much your garden
    How is Dog

  8. Tanya J

    You’re multi-colored tile path is chromatic genius.

    • farmhouse38k8

      LOL–thank you!!! Unfortunately, we had to change it out for gravel for drainage purposes…function won over form. BOO!!! I was so sad.

  9. Oh my goodness … can I relate. And, with all the rain we are getting here in the midwest, the garden is already becoming a jungle. I am just now beginning to see color on my roses but soon we will have fireworks and fragrance when all 200 or so of them and all their companions begin to do their thing. I love your garden and your chickens! The very best kind of jungle. I get to LA quite a bit, do you ever do tours?

    • farmhouse38k8

      At this time, unfortunately, I don’t do tours or anything like that…it maybe something I might do in the future. Good luck with your garden–sounds AMAZING! I’ll have to go check out your site!!!! 😀

  10. Wow. I love it all. The BEST garden vibes.

    • Kate Richards

      Thank you!!! 😀 😀 😀

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