Monday, February 7, 2011


The latest barrage of snow here in central Iowa hasn't taken the steam out of my spring planting plans. Each year, I look forward to exploring the many seed catalogs that find their way into my mailbox. One of my favorite seed companies is Renee's Garden. I've always had good luck Renee's seeds, which feature many time-tested heirlooms and open-pollinated varieties. She selects her offerings based on their great flavor, easy culture, and exceptional performance. I just received a wonderful package filled with her seeds including the ones pictured below. The packets feature the most charming watercolor portraits. Check out those colorful tricolor carrots in the upper left by clicking on the photo!

I've been a garden writer for 12 years and several years ago, I had the pleasure of writing a profile on Renee and her bustling seed business for Garden Shed magazine in 2000 (below). To learn more about Renee's Garden seeds, click this link. While you're there, check out her online catalog where you can order any of the seeds pictured above and many more.

Come spring, I'll be planting my seeds in my kitchen herb garden conveniently located just off our kitchen, of course! Here are some scenes of the garden from years past. Our bee skep is surrounded by purple salvia, cheerful pansies, and fragrant purple sage. We encourage volunteer seedlings like the dill sprigs you see here to grow wherever they can. The garden beds are mulched with cocoa hulls that smell like chocolate!

Our small kitchen garden is a mix of casual and formal elements. The beds are lined in brick from the local brickyard and bricks that we excavated from our yard when installing the kitchen garden (During our excavations, we found some old horseshoes, too, which wasn't surprising given the fact that the home's original owner back in 1885 owned the first livery stable in our tiny town). I love the carefree form of this carpet of silver thyme and lemon thyme that spills over the boundaries of the brick-lined beds. To save money, my husband installed the entire garden by himself and I got to do the fun part—the planting!

I hope these photos will get you in the mood to try some seeds this spring! I'll share more photos of the garden in later posts.


  1. Oh I love your garden photo's. For years I have wanted to do my back yard like an English knot garden minus the boxwood hedges. I have often thought about using the rock but know your pictures have made my decision. I really like the little beehive. I have a large one I purchased a couple years ago after visiting Colonial Williamsburg. I did some research after purchasing it and found out the many people that use them as decoration as not to attract bee's do to bee keeping state regulation, they say to put fine chicken wire under it to keep out varmits and close the whole to detract bee's and wasps. I was curious if you have or do you have problems if you have not.
    My mother has always wanted a nice kitchen garden. Do you ever give private tours in the summer?

  2. I love your bee skep. I've never seen one before but it looks so lovely in your garden.

  3. pretty garden pics!
    The seed packs are so pretty, I wouldn't want to use them>>but display them!LOL

  4. Thanks for the inspiring pictures of your cottage garden. It makes me yearn to return to my summer gardens, although I bet they are under snow!

  5. It looks beautiful. I am limited as to what I can plant because of the numerous deer. The plants they do not eat I let go to seed so my flowers look a bit on the wild side.

  6. Those seed packets really are a treasure. I might order some just for display. Your garden pictures remind me of a store in Shipshewana that sells plants and gardening things and has wonderful outdoor gardens like that. You are making me long for Spring!

  7. What a beautiful pictures. Your garden looks wonderful !!

  8. With your love of all things Victorian, you need to take a peek at this website. T J Lane is a jewelry maker from Nebraska who makes reproductions of Victorian chatelaines. She does lovely work. I treasure the pieces I have from her.

    Susan Bish, a neighbor in your small town.

  9. Your garden is just gorgeous! I like Renee's Garden seeds myself and am just about to place an order!

  10. You have just cinched it. I am having a kitchen garden come Spring...


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