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Summer Obsession {Backyard Gardening}

by | Jul 19, 2013 | Gardens & Outdoor Rooms, my house

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Summer Obsession {Backyard Gardening}

While we were buzzing through Portland recently after dropping my son off at a filmmaking camp with his cousin, my daughter and I stopped in our favorite bookstore, Powells. Amazing bookstore if you ever have the chance to go! We spend hours in there browsing books.

So what books did we come home with this time?

A giant stack of gardening and backyard farming books! Oh yeah.

I stopped short at buying books about chickens but OH MY, I’ve even fancied the idea of a chicken or two!  Especially after seeing them on the front steps of MY DREAM HOUSE, below (which I still can’t stop thinking about).

Summer Obsession {Backyard Gardening}

Wendy Posard 

What would Jack & Lily think of chickens?

I think they would LOVE them!

We’ve been figuring the zones for my backyard and pretty much have decided exactly what we want where, so we’ve made progress. I for sure know I want a vegetable garden in one corner of our yard.  But I’m not sure the vegetable garden will really happen until next year, though. I have more ambition than time unfortunately. I also picture a few climbing roses and a fruit tree or two!

Summer Obsession {Backyard Gardening}

Right now all we have is a bunch of  plants I’ve been buying to help get us inspired for what will eventually be what my daughters and I are calling our secret garden. For girls, of course.

But for now Jack thinks it is his special garden.

Summer Obsession {Backyard Gardening}

Because our backyard is a layer of dirt over rocks I am going to hire help to dig holes for plants. I LOVE buying plants but I don’t like digging holes through rock. But somehow it helps motivate me when I see all the plants in little groupings in the backyard so I buy them even though we can’t yet plant them. Hopefully in August we’ll get them all in the ground.

Summer Obsession {Backyard Gardening}

I still use my potting table, I have so much fun planting stuff in pots!  I love container gardening. My favorite gardens are actually filled with all kinds of potted plants, especially boxwoods, and lots of crushed gravel walkways.

Summer Obsession {Backyard Gardening}

Jack & Lily love running around in the backyard while I plant my pots. Their favorite thing to do is dig holes, thus the perpetually messy face you’ll see on Lily, haha. They are so good at it I’m thinking they might be able to dig all the holes I need for my plants!

Do you have a backyard garden? What are your favorite things to grow?


  1. Jann Newton

    Oh my goodness, Lily is adorable! Aren’t good bookstores the best? I can spend hours in them too. Best of luck with your backyard projects!

  2. Mya

    Lily is so cute & she seems to love the garden! All of your upcoming gardening and planting is so exciting! I only have a balcony right now but I can’t wait to get a backyard to create my own little oasis!

  3. TN

    I too couldn’t stop thinking about chickens and last year I finally convinced my husband that we needed a few. While I thought I was well prepared by reading every book on them I could find, nothing really prepared me for the mess they will make of your yard. Seeing the photo of the chickens on that beautiful porch above made me giggle, because a few seconds after it was snapped I’m sure the porch was covered in chicken droppings, they attacked the potted plants by the door, eaten all the leaves off, jumped into the pots and scratched all the dirt out leaving a horrible mess! We still have our chickens, they just aren’t allowed free range of our yard any longer.

    • Kate

      Yes, that’s the first thought that came to mind when I saw that photo. Chicken poop! It’s the one thing my husband and I argue about consistently. He’s the chicken guy, but not being very handy, his chicken coop looks like something third world and the fences are saggy. He has a large chicken yard, but some of those chickens have figured out how to get out no matter what he does. Besides the chicken poop, those birds love to make their dust bath holes all over the place and they get into my garden beds and kick mulch all around looking for bugs. They are so good at scratching, they should be used by archeologists on their digs. The only reason we keep them is for the organic eggs, otherwise I’d wring everyone of their bloody necks with pleasure. Can you tell I have chicken issues?

  4. heather

    Love that last picture of Lily! So cute!

  5. New Homes in Charlotte

    I love the look of your yard! It has a very simple country feel, makes me think of the home I grew up in :)

  6. Rose L

    I do have a garden! I have a very large vegetable garden with everything you could ever want to eat in it. Fully weeded as of yesterday and I swear the plants grew overnight now that they have more room to spread out ;) I also have a flower/shrub border that I panted this summer across the front of the house and turning on to the north side. Next year I hope to expand my veggie garden for space for more fresh corn and I want to do a shady secret garden on the north side of the house to retreat to when it’s too hot to sit on the patio. I garden in very sandy soil so I have to constantly haul in more compost and manure to keep enough nutrients in the soil to grow anything. Gardens are always a lot of work but so worth it in the end! I hope all of your gardening dreams come true!!

  7. Soiledrotten

    Omg! That bench and pots!!! So beautiful! The dog just totally makes the backyard. How precious.

  8. Kristina

    Oh my goodness, that is one cute pooch. If she’s anything like my dog, she would love to chase chickens (yes, it’s not good when they catch one, either….). I am battling gophers this summer, big time! I have lost 4 tomatoes and 4 eggplants to them so far, and I can’t seem to catch the little buggers! We flood irrigate our walnut orchards, and I think they migrate to our nice, dry veggie garden.

    I have to agree with TN about the mess chickens make. The first year we had ours, we didn’t get to any of the broccoli in our garden before they ate it! And they are messy critters, for sure. If I had that gorgeous porch, I wouldn’t let them anywhere near it.

  9. Patricia Krank

    Powell’s is one of our favorite book stores too. We’ve even been know to take a day trip there just to browse the books!
    I think you should go for the chickens in the yard. The dog will adjust!
    Blessings to you,
    [email protected]

  10. Susan

    I agree, Lily is so adorable. My backyard is a shady garden : hostas surrounding a huge tree, some in containers, calidums, azaleas (spring) and impatients. Happy gardening!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      I’ve mostly had shady gardens in my life so having more sunshine is new to me! My front yard is a little more shady though and I love hostas!!

  11. Claudia

    Lily is a sweetheart!!! We do have a big veggie / fruit backyard –
    I got inspired by reading Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s not a how-to as much as a narrative of them growing most of their food for a year. Great book. The Backyard Homesteader book I liked as an overview of what you can do with the space you have. Our tomatoes are awesome, I was making baked ziti with sauce made from our tomatoes yesterday and all these kids were freaking out that they wanted to have some :D My husband also makes grape jam from our Concord grapes. Good luck with your planning!!!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thanks for the peek into your beautiful yard (I couldn’t figure out my password to login to leave a comment there)! I have a blueberry bush too and I want more, it is fun to grab a snack while you are outside :-)! Thanks for the tip on the book, I’ll have to get it!

      • Claudia

        Huh, that’s weird, I don’t have any restrictions for commenting on the site, but I will check on that. That book really changed our lives, I know it sounds so trite but it did. Have a great weekend!

  12. Shannon

    Oh, Lilly is so precious and Jack, that boy!! :D

    Something that my mom has passed on (and works, go figure!) is to plant shrubs & trees in September/October in our area. Because our fall & winters are pretty mild & very rainy the plants get a lot of water and time to establish themselves before the next spring. It saves a lot on watering them!

    This is a great article on backyard chickens. This blogger is in Ballard so she’s a local too! :D I adore the idea of chickens but after reading her experience and opinions I’m really rethinking ever owning any. I’ll just have to visit them petting farms I guess.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      That is a great tip on planting in Fall! I think I have heard that before too and it makes sense! And thanks for the link to the article and the NW blogger. I’m with you, backyard chickens sound dreamy but the reality is I just don’t think I could deal with that. I think I’ll visit them in other people’s yards instead. :-)

  13. deb @ Painted Furniture Barn

    Home-grown tomatoes are the best, especially Beefsteak varieties. And even if you only have room for a few rows, it’s really worth it to plant green beans. You can never find any as good in the stores. Stagger planting your rows by a couple weeks, and you’ll have beans all through the summer!

  14. Mindy

    Your potted plants and bench are lovely. We have two small raised beds and one medium with cucumbers, zucchini, beans, radishes, lettuce and sweet peas (the flowers are in the middle of the bigger bed and just liven it up!). We also have a strawberry bed and a raspberry patch along with two blueberry bushes and a cherry tree. We have two potato “bags” growing and a cherry tomato. We just dug up and prepared another larger bed in a different part of the property to expand to next year. There is nothing that tastes better than fresh from the garden produce! Your books make me want to peek inside. I LOVE your idea of a secret space. Happy Gardening!

  15. Kayli Schattner

    Love all of those books! Looks like I have some more to add to my library list!

  16. Mindy

    I may or may not be a wee bit obsessed with gardening. And I just came across a term that describes my gardening style perfectly: Cramscaper. :)

  17. Cynthia

    One thing I have learned with gardening is patience, which if you new me I have none, and planting shrubs and bushes in the fall is perfect timing. September and October, because the ground cools down and they root really well and there is dew on the ground that helps. We have had much success. I love the picture of the dog thinking this is his private oasis!! Adorable! The chickens in front of your dream house is so cute. I still love your dream house. Have a great weekend!


  18. Paige

    I love The Backyard Homestead! The Weekend Homesteader is also very good – all about scheduling and what to do season-to-season.

  19. Tanya

    I would love to get some chickens soon. I think its s good idea to hire someone to dig for you. Its a lot of work when there is rock underneath.

  20. Mimi

    I don’t have a garden, but I do have mixed container gardens in front of our flower shop though. It’s not quite the same, but it does allow me to create nice vignettes to draw customers into the shop. I also covered a cemetery cone and filled it with mixed dried flowers and foliage. Perhaps I’ll try fresh flowers in it next year.

  21. Barbara (WA)

    Do I have a backyard garden? Oh my, it is my very favorite part of our home. Just today I was watering the fenced garden and marveling in the things I’ve actually grown from seed that are bursting into bloom! Last year I grew some rudbeckia from seed and it stayed small with no blooms. This year they are a couple of feet tall and each plant has many fat buds just about to open. I was smiling at the snapdragons beginning to bloom and some morning glories happily climbing supports. I grow sweetpeas, dahlias, veggies, blueberries, raspberries.
    So, a suggestion. Make sure that rocky soil is well amended. Ask at the nursery what to use. Then you may delay planting until fall. It is a Great time to plant in our area. Then the fall rains take over and the plants put out good root systems in prep for the next season. You can plant anytime but it takes more work to plant in our hottest & driest time of year.
    Can you tell I’m obsessed :)

  22. Barbara (WA)

    Of course, NOW I go back and read what others have said and see they gave you the same advice :) I was just too excited and started typing :)

  23. Kathy @ In Quiet Places

    About now I am really wishing I had started a small garden in the spring, and trying to make plans for a late season garden since we have a long growing season in Texas, I think you have helped me feel a little more ambitious about that now. I need a beginner book…

  24. Shawna @DakotaCreekChic

    One of the best parts to a project is the dreaming part :-). Your pups are too cute….can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

  25. Debbie E

    We were at Powell’s bookstore about two weeks ago–it is an awesome place! Our first time visiting Oregon, and we loved it, a nice relief from our Florida summer. I noticed there is a sock obsession in Portland!


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