• Plants & Gardening

    The Joyful Struggle of Creating a Beautiful Garden

    Karen Hugg Back Garden, The Joyful Struggle of Creating a Beautiful Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/06/24/Karen Hugg's garden, #KarenHugg #garden #gardening #plants #lawn

    Last weekend, I opened my garden to the public. I’d agreed to share my large, albeit imperfect, sanctuary, because I’d wanted to help people be social again and get things back to “normal.” But that simple yes meant months of weeding, digging, transplanting, and all else. Lots of hauling. I also stressed every night about the garden looking tidy and cheery for visitors. All this while my back slowly tightened and my body created a fiery pain I’ve never experienced before.

    In the end, the tour went well. Hundreds of visitors came through and I even sold a good number of my books, including my newest, Leaf Your Troubles Behind. I got to chat about gardening all day, helping people discover cool plants while meeting plant aficionados. It was lovely. I went to bed relieved and tired.

    A couple friends who couldn’t make it asked me to post photos online. So here’s how the garden looked in June of 2022.

    The 3B’s Island Bed

    I have a flame-shaped island bed near the house that gets full sun. A long time ago, I planted a spine of shrubs down the middle for winter structure. Then I planted perennials and low shrubs along the spine.

    Perennials in Island Bed, The Joyful Struggle of Creating a Beautiful Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/06/24/Karen Hugg's garden, #KarenHugg #garden #gardening #plants #perennials
    Shrubs and perennials in the island bed

    Each plant I chose to attract bees, butterflies, or birds. These include butterfly bush (buddleia), blue-leaf rose (rosa glauca), smokebush (cotinus), escallonia, spiraea, weigela, false indigo (baptisia), coneflower (echinacea), sage (salvia), crocosmia, and more.

    The 3B's island bed, The Joyful Struggle of Creating a Beautiful Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/06/24/Karen Hugg's garden, #KarenHugg #garden #gardening #plants #islandbed
    The 3B’s Island Bed

    I also have a border that gets shade from an oak in the morning and a blast of hot afternoon sun. At first, this area plagued me as I tried plants that I thought would work but didn’t. It was either too sunny or too shady. So I tried hardy fuchsias. They thrived without much help from me at all.

    Foxgloves in Oak Border, The Joyful Struggle of Creating a Beautiful Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/06/24/Karen Hugg's garden, #KarenHugg #garden #gardening #plants #foxgloves #variegated dogwood
    Volunteer foxgloves in the oak border

    Then, to play off those deep purple and magenta tones, I planted blue star junipers (juniperus) and blue surprise false cypress (chamaecyparis). I contrasted these with a purple-leafed hyndrangea (Hydrangea ‘Plum Passion’), purple coral bells (heuchera), and fringe flowers (loropetalum). Finally, I filled in with crocosmia, Japanese forest grasses, and hostas. A gold variegated dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Summer Gold’), pictured above in background, anchors the whole thing.

    The Oak Tree Border, The Joyful Struggle of Creating a Beautiful Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/06/24/Karen Hugg's garden, #KarenHugg #garden #gardening #plants #purpleplants
    Path through the oak tree border

    My most prized plant is my Chilean fire tree (embothrium coccineum). It’s native to the mountains of Chile and blooms in bold orange flowers. Hummingbirds love them!

    Chilean Fire Tree, The Oak Tree Border, The Joyful Struggle of Creating a Beautiful Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/06/24/Karen Hugg's garden, #KarenHugg #garden #gardening #plants #chileanfirebush
    Chilean Fire Tree

    My front border is mostly shady and I’ve had decent success with it outside of when the deer find my one large hosta. It’s a mix of aucuba, hydrangea, fuchsia, heucheras, and rhododendrons.

    My front woodland border

    Oftentimes, when people visit my yard, they ask about my favorite hosta in the whole world. It’s not only blue, gold, and chartreuse, it’s also slug-resistant since it has corrugated leaves. It’s hosta ‘June,’ a low-maintenance hosta that needs shade, water, and not much else to look stunning.

    Hosta 'June,' The Joyful Struggle of Creating a Beautiful Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/06/24/Karen Hugg's garden, #KarenHugg #garden #gardening #plants #hosta #june
    Hosta ‘June’

    Now, that the tour is over, I’ve been relaxing on my patio and enjoying the tidy garden. I realized that sharing it inspired a lot of folks. Several people, with sparks in their eyes, told me they were ready to dig into a new design or seek out the unusual plants they’d seen. Their excitement makes my long hours of backbreaking work worth it.


  • Daily Stress ReLeaf,  Plants & Happiness

    #17 A Bee on a Wildflower Is Wonderful Stress ReLeaf

    Bee on a Black-eyed Susan, A Bee on a Wildflower Is Wonderful Stress ReLeaf, Daily Stress ReLeaf, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2021/03/02/bee on a wildflower/(opens in a new tab), #freewildflowers #wildflowers #bees #dailystressreleaf #spring #plants #gardening #seeds #free

    You know how in summer you might notice a bee on a wildflower, collecting pollen and getting nectar? Usually the temperature’s warm and the sun’s out. The flower glows with color. You may hear a faint buzz, the song of birds. At that moment, you often feel a brief interlude of neutral relaxation. Calmness permeates the air. All is right in the world. Nature’s at work. It’s a peaceful time to cherish and a lovely slice of stress relief.

    Spring Giveaway

    So in anticipation of this summer, I’m once again giving away wildflower seeds! Each packet contains coreopsis, coneflower, cosmos, black-eyed Susan, clover, marigolds, and more. All the flowers that bees like and keep their colonies thriving. If you’d like to get a free packet, sign up for my digest. Every month, I send a collection of interesting stuff to explore: ideas for books to read, plant news and gardening tips, music & film finds, my latest inspiration, advice on creativity, and more. Oh, and giveaways!

    Click Here For Your Free Wildflower Seeds

    Speaking of which, if you’re already a subscriber and want seeds, watch for my next (March 7th) newsletter. In it, I’ll let you know the easy way to get the seeds. Until then, get your ground ready! Spring is coming and I have a feeling it’s going to be a happy growing season this year!

  • Plants & Gardening

    How to Get More Free Wildflower Seeds

    Wildflower seeds packets, How to Get More Free Wildflower Seeds, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2020/05/02/wildflower-seeds #free #wildflowerseeds #bees #flowers #seedpackets #books #gardening #annuals

    Last year, when The Forgetting Flower debuted, I gave away free wildflower seeds to anyone who pre-ordered the book. Well, this year I had almost 20 packets left so on social media I offered the leftovers to those who signed up for my monthly digest, A Vine of Ideas. I thought it would be a good way to clear the seed packets out and help attract bees to gardens, which they’re meant to do.

    A Growing Interest in Gardening

    Well, the response was overwhelming! Over 100 people requested the seed packets. I suspect it has to do with a surge in home gardening. Folks are sheltering in place due to Covid-19 and are eager to get outside and grow some flowers! This warms my heart. Also, I know people want to keep those little bees alive, which warms my heart even more.

    So I ended up ordering more wildflower packets. And it turns out these are hard to come by now. A nursery worker told me shoppers are hungry for seeds. They want to grow fruits and vegetables and flowers. And now because I have plenty, I thought I’d extend the offer until the packets run out. I think I have about 40 left.

    What’s Inside

    The packets are meant to attract bees so they’re a mix of annuals. They include bright red poppies, zinnia, yellow sunflowers, and plains coreopsis. If you live in one of the warmer USDA zones, some of these flowers may return or self sow for next year.

    How to Get a Seed Packet

    Getting a wildflowers seed packet is easy. Just sign up for A Vine of Ideas here. Every month I send a brief digest with links to what I’m reading, what I’m planting, what’s inspired me, what I’ve listened to, and more. I try to keep it short and sweet and most importantly, useful. If you’re in need of ideas to occupy your time, you’ll probably find it handy.

    Note: when signing up in the form, just include your address in the Favorite Topics field, and if you want to include what your favorite topics are, I’d love to hear them! I’m always interested in writing about what people want to read.

  • Plants & Gardening

    How I Bring Bees, Butterflies, and Birds to My Garden

    Sunny Island Bed, How I Bring Bees, Butterflies, and Birds to My Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/01/bees-butterflies-and-birds #gardening #plants #plantsforsun #bees #butterflies #birds #garden

    Today I’ll share a few pictures of the sunny island bed I planted to attract bees, butterflies, and birds. It’s shaped like a raindrop and a constant work in progress. Some plants perish during harsh winters or wilt from aggressive moles burrowing holes around roots. But the line of a tree and shrubs forming its backbone has mostly held over the years.

    Oklahoma Redbud, How I Bring Bees, Butterflies, and Birds to My Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/01/bees-butterflies-and-birds #gardening #plants #plantsforsun #bees #butterflies #birds #garden #redbud
    Oklahoma Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis ‘Oklahoma’)
    At the Tip, a Much Loved Tree

    At the top of the island bed, I originally planted a purple albizia. I love this tropical looking tree with its narrow divided leaves and feathery flowers. But after one winter, the tree got verticillium wilt and promptly died. Unable to plant other trees susceptible to that disease, I went in a different direction. I’d grown an Oklahoma Redbud at my old house and so thought I’d try it here. It worked out great! This tree not only puts out magenta blooms in spring but then grows roundish glossy leaves. Its form is a lollipop and its drought tolerant. I love love love this tree.

    A Spine of Shrubs

    Forming the backbone of this garden is a line of shrubs. Mexican mock orange ‘Aztec Pearl’ leads into rosa glauca, which bumps up against an old rhododendron that I’ve drastically cut back, adjacent to a purple smokebush, lilac, and azara. At the bottom is a cutleaf staghorn sumac. This combo provides spring blooms, fragrance, evergreen structure, and pretty fall color. Not to mention pollinators love them all.

    Peach Lupine, How I Bring Bees, Butterflies, and Birds to My Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/01/bees-butterflies-and-birds #gardening #plants #plantsforsun #bees #butterflies #birds #garden
    Peach Lupine (Lupinus ‘Westcountry Gladiator’)
    Playing with Perennials

    Along this central hump of shrubs, a mix of small shrubs and perennials grow. I’ve chosen escallonia, spiraea, buddleia, weigela, and shrub roses. Plants with tubular flowers attract hummingbirds. Plants with flat head flowers attract butterflies. Tucked into these are geum, sedums, beebalm, phlox, crocosmia, alstroemeria, and lupines. I’ve rearranged things, removing sick plants and adding in replacements over the years. But overall, this full sun bed thrives with the activity of bees and butterflies all summer long.

    Hosta 'June', How I Bring Bees, Butterflies, and Birds to My Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/01/bees-butterflies-and-birds #gardening #plants #plantsforsun #bees #butterflies #birds #garden
    Hosta ‘June’
    The Bottom Is For Birds

    The lower part of the bed is tricky. It’s near the house and therefore shaded by it in winter. This area is colder and freezes for several days at a time. I think of it as a zone 7 area now. I’ve learned the hard way that I need perennials hardy to zero degrees or even below. Thus, I’ve planted variegated miscanthus, peonies, salvia ‘May Night,’ lupines, hydrangea, and Jackman’s Blue rue. Because I grew tomatoes here for a few years when we first moved in and moles burrowed all around and the winter is extra harsh in this pocket, this area is the newest, least established area of the garden.

    Birdbath Garden, How I Bring Bees, Butterflies, and Birds to My Garden, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/01/bees-butterflies-and-birds #gardening #plants #plantsforsun #bees #butterflies #birds #garden
    Black Birdbath with Foxgloves and Perennials

    At its center is a birdbath that bubbles. This is a wonderful attractant for various species of birds who come and bath from time to time. A circular bed held mint and herbs until a few years ago when I renovated it and planted perennials. Now, the birdbath is on its last legs, its top spout having cracked from ice and black facade faded from the weather. Here’s a picture of the area when it was fresh.

    A Walkway in Shade

    I have a narrow stone path cutting through along the house in mostly shade. For this little strip, I’ve chosen hosta ‘June,’ brunnera ‘Jack Frost,’ various hellebores, ferns, and mukdenia. It forms a semi-evergreen collection of varying shapes, heights, and color. Interspersed is Irish moss, whose yellow tone brightens things up and a topdressing of bark mulch keeps unwanted moss at bay.

    If you’re in the Seattle area and would like to talk plants or see the garden, give me a shout. I’ll be working away most of the summer.


  • Books,  Plants & Gardening

    How to Get Your Free Wildflower Seeds

    Wildflowers, How to Get Your Free Wildflower Seeds, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/04/05/wildflower-seeds/ #seeds #wildflowers #bees #seedpackets #free #TheForgettingFlower #KarenHugg #books #novels #gardening #plants

    Good morning, all! I’ve finished the form for those who preordered The Forgetting Flower. The packets of wildflower seeds are ready! These organic, non-GMO seeds, from the reputable Renee’s Garden, will go to the first 25 people who preorder. And by the way, I’ll be sending the seeds right away. You don’t have to wait until June when the book’s released.

    You can plant the seeds easily in your backyard or in a container. They will form a beautiful riot of color and bloom at varying times. Here’s a list of the seeds you’ll get:

    1. Ammi majus, Bishop’s Weed
    2. Calendula officinalis, Pot Marigold
    3. Centaurea, Cornflower
    4. Collinsia, Chinese Houses
    5. Coreopsis tinctoria dwarf, Dwarf Plains Coreopsis
    6. Cosmos bipinnatus dwarf, Dwarf White Cosmos
    7. Dimorphotheca aurantiaca, African Daisy
    8. Dracocephalum moldavica, Moldavian Dragonhead
    9. Echium plantagineu, Purple viper’s bugloss
    10. Eschscholzia californica, California poppy
    11. Gilia capitata,Blue thimble flower
    12. Godetia grandiflora, Clarkia
    13. Gypsophila elegans, Baby’s Breath
    14. Iberis umbellatum, Candytuft
    15. Layia platyglossa,Coastal Tidytips
    16. Linum rubrum, Scarlet Flax
    17. Malcolmia maritima, Virginia Stock
    18. Nemophila insignis, Baby Blue eyes
    19. Papaver rhoeas, Red Poppy
    20. Rudbeckia hirta, Black-eyed Susan
    21. Salvia horminum, Blue Monday
    22. Saponaria vaccaria rosea Pink Beauty Vaccaria
    23. Silene armeria. Sweet William Catchfly

    Some of these seed packets have been claimed so I hope you order soon! Here’s the link to the form. You may need to copy and paste it in your browser:

    https://forms.gle/GmmD8hLaHvcnpZr8A

    Photo by Eva Waardenburg on Unsplash