I’m Karen, and this is my blog. Mostly it’s about nature and gardening. Sometimes it’s about life.

I live in a small town in Southeastern Wisconsin; a town wrapped like a package by a ribbon of winding river. I started to discover an interest in gardening when my husband, 3-year-old son and I had moved into my grandmother’s house in 1997 to take care of her after my grandfather passed away. One late winter day, a catalog arrived in the mail. It was addressed to my grandmother but she didn’t want it. The catalog was for a mail-order nursery. I browsed it, tempted by the look of the plants on its glossy pages. I ordered a few lilies, a bleeding heart plant, and some forget-me-nots. When my order came in mid-spring, having no idea what I was doing, I planted the bare-root plants and bulbs in the heavy clay soil along the north-facing foundation of my grandmother’s brick ranch house.

A helleborus bloom, backlit by the spring sun, heralds warmer weather.

Nothing happened. I’d followed the mail order company’s directions, but nothing happened. And then suddenly…it did. The bleeding heart grew and bloomed and flourished in just one season. The forget-me-nots emerged and cloaked themselves in little blue flowers. Later, the lilies arrived. And I was hooked.

For a while, after moving out of my grandmother’s house when she moved in with my mom, my young family lived in duplexes and I was unable to garden except for a few containers holding the usual annuals — petunias and pansies, cascading money wort, and a spike plant for a vertical accent. But the mail order catalogs continued to follow me, and I continued to read them, growing more familiar with the plants I read and dreamed about. I learned Latin names: forget-me-nots were called myosotis; bleeding hearts were called dicentra.

When we finally moved into a house to call our own, that’s when I started gardening with a passion. By then, I’d studied some books on gardening and picked out plants I thought would do well in my Wisconsin garden. I scoured farm markets and nurseries and I planted echinaceas, daisies, liatris, monarda and delphiniums. And they grew. And, as I tended them, they bloomed. And, in the following year, they grew bigger, and bloomed better. I have always been amazed by the life cycle–the plants grow, flower and eventually slip into dormancy for a winter respite only to be reborn the following spring.

I have a lot of notions about gardening and why I do it that I’ll share on these pages, as well as tips and things I’ve learned in my relatively short time as a gardener. I’m a nature-loving tree-hugger at heart, and I think I’ve always been one, although for many years those tendencies lay dormant, too. I’m glad to have awakened them.


4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rick Rock  |  March 14, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Karen,
    Wow! You are an excellent writer in both words and detail. I enjoyed this visit in all respects.
    Take Care
    Later, Rick

    • 2. petiolejunction  |  March 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks, Rick! Your comments are appreciated. New blogs are difficult to get off the ground and it’s nice to feel like I’m writing for someone other than myself. 🙂

  • 3. Laura  |  March 12, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I echo Rick’s comment. Enjoyed the journey with you.

  • 4. Tony Griggs  |  April 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Hi Karen, I live in the U.K. so I’ll never get to see your garden, but I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and hope you continue to write. You have a lovely, warm style and I’m sure your garden will flourish because of it.
    Tony (Ipswich, Suffolk, U.K.)


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