Hi, I'm Vineta Jackson, and I'm obsessed with gardening!
I've grown hundreds of different plants, many of them started from seed. My favorite flowers are dahlias, and I have over 60 different varieties growing in the garden. I'm also a member of the Puget Sound Dahlia Association and plan to help out with the Volunteer Park dahlia garden this coming year.
How I Got Started Gardening
I spent a lot of time outside as a kid. There was a huge, brambly raspberry patch in the front yard, and I would find a little clearing to sit down with a book and pick the surrounding berries.
Then I would grab a few green onions from the vegetable garden to munch on (yes, seriously!) and wander down to the pond to see what the ducks were up to. Ah, to be a kid again!
As an adult, it was a bit more difficult to get started gardening in my own space. Other than a pot of herbs on a windowsill, there wasn't really anywhere to grow anything in those tiny, dark apartments! It wasn't until we bought our first condo with TWO balconies that I became bitten by the gardening bug.
I was always experimenting to see what I could grow in such a small space. I packed the railing full of planters for beautiful annual flowers, and grew a small Japanese maple in a pot as a privacy screen. I loved sitting out on that little deck, surrounded by plants!
When we started looking for a house, one of my major requirements was a yard for our son and a garden for me. After a year of searching, we finally found it!
When we bought our house, it was obvious that someone had loved and cared for the garden in the past. Mature Japanese maple trees and established evergreen shrubs formed a beautiful structure for the planting beds.
However, it had been years since someone actively cared for this garden. Other than a few foundational plants, the rest of the space was a blank slate, just waiting for me to transform!
When you first enter the backyard, you encounter this large garden bed. It was filled with irises that were so crowded, none of them flowered! All we would get is leafy foliage and a bunch of weeds.
Over that first summer, I spent every sunny weekend pulling out hundreds of iris rhizomes and all those weeds. Eventually, this overgrown garden bed was cleared and is now being turned into a waterfall and pond!
The rest of the backyard has a shady, park-like feel that I absolutely love! The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but instead of hiding in the raspberry patch, my son loved to sit under the weeping Japanese maple tree to read.
But the backyard also has some gardening challenges. It's dominated by a giant English walnut tree that creates dense shade in the summer. In addition, walnut trees release a chemical called juglone into the surrounding soil, which kills off competing plants!
It's taken a lot of trial and error to find plants that can survive in this shady spot. Ferns are one species that are juglone-resistant, and I've been dividing and transplanting ferns throughout the garden to fill in the bare spots. I've also added various hostas, rhododendrons, and epimediums to the space, which can also withstand the walnut's chemical.
My dream is to build a large greenhouse at the far end of this space. The plants inside will be protected from the walnut's juglone, and it will become a bright and cheerful refuge for my family during those dark, rainy Seattle winters.
In the summer, it will be shaded by the walnut tree so it won't get too hot inside, but will have plenty of light in the winter when it loses its leaves. We've been talking about it for years, but I hope it will become a reality soon!
The front yard
Our house faces north with a large Japanese maple and ornamental plum on one side, which creates a lot of shady garden areas. Over the years, I've experimented with various shade-loving flowers to see which ones work best. I love how it's finally coming together!
The other side of the front yard gets much more sun, and I love filling that space with bright, colorful flowers! Even the fence is packed with baskets of cascading petunias!
As you can see, I'm almost out of garden space on the sunny side! I'm considering tearing out the grass and planting up the middle as well, but I had another idea first...
The cut flower garden
Our street is quite unique. It has these HUGE strips of grass between the street and the sidewalk that's larger than our actual front yard. Our neighbors have flowering crabapple trees in theirs, but ours was completely bare!
After a little research, I discovered that while this is technically city property, homeowners are allowed to use it in certain ways. If you obtain a permit and follow their guidelines, you can even install raised beds!
One by one, I built each of these raised garden beds. There are eight larger 3'x6' boxes and eight 3'x3' boxes, and they're filled with different flowers!
When I started the cut flower garden, I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on my neighborhood.
I've met countless neighbors who tell me they've changed their daily walking route so they can pass our house just to see what's blooming that day. I've had people screech to a halt in their cars so they can stop and take photos. I've even received sweet notes from families who just wanted to share their appreciation for what I've done in the space.
This is what gardening is all about!
About this site
I've been writing tutorials about home improvement on my other website, The Handyman's Daughter, since 2015. Some of my favorite projects were for my garden, like this outdoor plant stand with an arbor for hanging baskets.
In 2022, I decided to start a separate website to share everything I know about gardening. Now I can provide an in-depth look at every plant in my garden, from starting the seeds to cutting back foliage in winter, to help you grow a greener thumb!
Have a question? Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com and I'll be happy to help!