Cheryl St.John: My Passion

22-orng-ylw-tgr-lilyOkay, I have a lot of them, but in the spring, summer and fall, my passion is our gardens. I have worked less in the yard this year than any time previous. I feel like I spent the whole summer working, and my body has been telling me about it. I never realized how much I rely on getting out there and moving dirt and pulling weeds for a good workout.


My husband does all the mowing, and we have a lawn service for the treatments, seeding, aerating and all that, so my only task is keeping the flowerbeds pretty.


swallowtail-on-prpleflrI have realized that I arrange the flowerbeds like I decorate my house—in vignettes. An area here, all perfected, and a section there, and this whole side strip with a theme, etc.. And each year the gardens change and transition, because things need divided or something is added or removed. When you keep your soil nice and loose with constant attention, it’s easy to move or divide plants.


dsc00032Anyone wondering about the secret of beautiful flowers, the key is the soil. I keep a compost pile in a wooden bed, but it’s not kitchen waste. Oh, occasionally I toss in something to decompose, but it’s mostly a mixture of good soil, peat and compost.


monsevenSeveral of the areas have been designed to attract butterflies. From my living room window I can watch butterflies on the bushes and plants and perching on the butterfly bath. Okay, occasionally a bird sits there, but birds are mainly attracted to the backyard. We get flocks of gold and purple finches. 


It took me three years to get a trumpet vine established to attract hummingbirds, but I’ve created a monster. A beautiful monster.


I love fall, but I’m always sad to see the flowers fall away and turn brown. I compensate by creating a fall display of some sort—pumpkins and cornstalks and a hale bale or two. dsc00035We spent the entire weekend freshening mulch and dirt and moving a few plants. Mulch is the other key: Keep loose mulch around all of your plants, bushes and trees. It holds in the moisture and protects them during the hottest of the summer days. By turning some of that into the soil the nest year, you’re constantly keeping your soil loose and workable.


I often go outdoors with my camera in the morning. It’s the best light for photos and a good time for spotting butterflies, though they don’t mind the midday heat as much as I do.


And now…back to work.





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17 thoughts on “Cheryl St.John: My Passion”

  1. Cheryl,

    I must say what beautiful flowers. Your gardens are beautiful. My husband does all the gardening around our home. He is wonderful with flowers. I loved the flowers and everyday he brings me in a flower out of our garden, which I treasure very much.

    Cannot wait to have you on my blog.

    Very good post

    Walk in peace and harmony,


  2. This is beautiful, Cheryl. I wish I had this in me. I love beautiful flowers. My mother-in-law is just passionate about her flower beds. She’s so smart about it, wants something blooming all through the growing season, is aware of what flowers have nice greenery after the flowers fade. Likes lots of variety in colors.

    It just gives her joy to be in the dirt, weeding, arranging, using perennials and annual bedding plants to fill in.

    Me??? I do my yard work with a lawnmower. If the flowers don’t hold their own and fight off weeds themselves then they DIE!!!!!!!!

    It is a sad fact of who I am.

  3. Gorgeous flowers! There’s nothing more calming than gazing at a profuse of color that’s alive and thriving. I wish I did more in the way of keeping my flower beds pretty. But I’m the hit and miss kind of gardener. I have good intentions though. Too bad that doesn’t translate into a beautiful yard. *sigh* Summer weather in Texas tends to bake everything though and I hate like the dickens to put forth the effort and then watch the plants die. Flowers in this part of the country have to be very very hardy and love the sun. I’m patting myself on the back though that most of the periwinkle (vinca) I planted in May hasn’t croaked yet. LOL But no one from Better Homes and Gardens has stopped by to photograph them.

    I’d love to come and see your flowers and your butterflies!

  4. Cheryl, what lovely gardens you must have. The pictures alone are wonderful.

    I know what you mean about the trumpet vine. Beautiful, but it will take over if you don’t keep it clipped–and even then it still might. 😀

  5. Hi Cheryl, what glorious photos! We did our backyard “lawnless” recently and now have flagstone paths and flowerbeds. I don’t have a very green thumb but I try. I have many rose bushes but the powerdy mildew is hitting them hard this summer. We live near the beach and are getting way too many foggy, gloomy days. Oh well, they do manage to thrive at Christmastime, go figure!

    Thanks again for the beautiful pix!


  6. I’m a huge fan of Creeping Phlox. They seem to hold the ground against weeds. Spread, which I encourage, they bloom beautifully on rotten clay soil in hard sunlight and they have nice low growing greenery the rest of the year.
    This is my house in April.
    I include this link to show you I CAN grow flowers. If the flowers are VERY TOUGH.

  7. Gorgeous, Cheryl. Loved the photos. I do everything in my yard, but it doesn’t look anywhere near as beautiful as yours. I did plant trumpet vines to grow on the stump of a willow tree that had died. This is the third year, and the first year they’ve been pretty. No monster yet, but I love them and so do the little hummers.

  8. Oh, Cheryl, I am so envious! My mother could grow
    anything, I kill most everything! The only things,
    gardenwise, which are still growing are one bed of
    Dutch Irises, three rose bushes, one climbing “old
    rose”(grown from a piece taken from my grandmother’s
    garden) and a couple of Canna lilies that have been
    beside my patio door for a good forty years! They
    have survived in spite of me!

    Pat Cochran

  9. Lovely pics, Cheryl! Our gardens are at their peak right now, with brown eyed daisies, lilies, sweet peas and dahlias running riot. It’s all pretty informal and jungly, but we love it. Though dealing with our acidic, clay-based, stony Maritime soil is a challenge. We’re thankful that Hurricane Bill stayed well out to sea as it passed by over the weekend. It’s way too early in the season for my flowers to get trashed.

  10. Mary, I would love a start of your phlox for behind my fence.

    Tanya, we would love to have no lawn to mow or weed or treat, but stones, bricks and concrete hold and reflect so much more heat that those options are not good–so it means more and more and more greenery, which is okay. And we’re getting there steadily.

    I’ve heard that the trumpet vines will take over, and I’m okay with that I think. It’s already up the side of the house and under the eve on one whole side. And it’s taking over the arbor gate.
    So pretty and does create shade and attract hummingbirds.

    Pat, we gave up on alala but two roses, but them out and gave them away, because the rabbits kept eating them to stumps. The surving two are behind a lot of other plants.

    Some of my faves are my lilac bushes. The scent is heavenly when they’re all in bloom.

  11. I love seeing your flowers and garden Cheryl! Wish I had a green thumb but I only have a few green houseplants.

  12. Cheryl you have a lovely garden. You would get along quite well with my landlady. She could work in her garden from morning til night. Me I am more into indoor plants and flowers. My landlady gave me an orchid plant last year and the first year I got 19 blooms on it.. This year I will have 5 witha new shoot…
    Good luck with your autum garden. I bet it will look fantastic.

  13. I am so jealous. My work schedule and the weather have joined against me to prevent my spending much time in my gardens this year. Established plants need dividing and the weeds have had a field day. We compost, but my husband has added many, many bags of peat and some sand to the gardens. The soil here in Tennessee is red clay and a pain to work with. We compost everything and have gotten good add-in from it. We put bark mulch on the pathways and after a year or so, it is rich black soil which we shovel up and add to the beds.
    I need to retire so I can take better care of them.

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