Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

More Lessons on Marriage from the Garden

Lessons om Marriage from the Garden

School has been out for 3 weeks and I’ve been working, working. working in my yard and garden! I’ve learned some lessons about gardening, and many of these translate to marriage really well. (If you missed the first “Lessons on Marriage from the Garden,” you can read it here.)

1. Don’t procrastinate!

Thugs like this will set seed and then the weeds in your garden will be like Medusa’s head. Remember, you cut off one and 7 more grow?

Don't procrastinate!

I like the old saying “One year’s seed is seven years’ weeds.” Pull up those flowering weeds early, and if you can’t dig them out, at least break off the flower heads before they go to seed. I’ve never used a pre-emergent herbicide but if it prevents seeds from germinating in the first place, even better.

out of control weeds

Don’t procrastinate in your marriage, either! Have you ever put off doing something for your spouse because you were doing something for someone else? (GUILTY!) How about avoiding talking about a problem in hope that it will go away on its own? Some problems are compounded and made much worse when you put off dealing with them.

2. Procrastinate! Be patient!

I planted bush green beans for the first time this year. A little 4×4 square gave us enough to eat green beans about 4 times a week for 3 weeks. (I don’t get tired of them!) According to the rules of square foot gardening, you’re supposed to rip plants up as soon as they are past their prime so you can replant immediately. Bush beans, unlike their climbing cousins, are supposed to give one big harvest and then be done. But when that time came, it was the last few weeks of school, and I just didn’t have the energy or time to do it. Lo and behold, I’m getting a 2nd harvest. Not as big as the first, but a decent one.

Be patient in your marriage, too. There have been times when I was about ready to throw in the marital towel, right over Mr X’s head, but I’m so glad I didn’t. At our 32-year mark, he has matured into the most caring, thoughtful husband. Our relationship is the foundation for every other relationship, and is such a source of strength and joy. There is nothing so rewarding as having shared stories, histories, children, and family.

3. Keep alert.

It’s easy to overlook things in the garden. Sometimes fruit hides under the leaves and unless you get down low and move them aside, you will miss them. I hadn’t even seen flowers on this okra, and found it only when I was down planting something in a neighboring bed.

okra surprise

It’s really easy to miss cucumbers! Mr X likes them very small, like the bottom one. I’ve let them get so big I had to cut them up and put them straight in the compost pile.

Pick cucumbers before they get too big.

And sometimes something besides a veggie is hiding among the leaves, like a wasp. OOPS. Allergy to wasp stings discovered!

wasp sting allergy

Be alert in your marriage too. Things can lurk undetected — resentment, neglect, selfishness to name a few– and if you aren’t watching carefully and “weeding them out” as they appear, they can grow and get out of control.

A marriage, like a garden, can be a source of delight. But neither just happen on their own. After the wedding/planting, you’ve got to constantly maintain it. And in marriage and the garden alike, dealing with little problems as they happen can save lots of time and heartache later!

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15


A Merry Heart– June 2

A merry heart is good medicine…

Proverbs 17:22

Auntie Em has been working in the garden during every spare minute. School will be out in one more week, and I’m looking forward to being able to write a bit more– in the meantime, let me share my garden with you! It makes my heart merry; hopefully it will do the same for yours!

Some pretty flowers– black and blue salvia (spreads by underground roots, so if you have good soil, be vigilant about keeping it in its place!) and giant iris. I love blue in the garden!

In the garden- black and blue   image

Easter lilies that waited till Mother’s Day to bloom– but when they did, it was pretty spectacular! And I was inspired by Pinterest to make a shade pot– I love the way it turned out.

In the garden-- Easter lilies In the garden- shade pot

Mr X moved a baker’s rack that was holding junk in a junk room/extra bedroom, and I straightened up the front porch. I also made a sun pot and gave a hibiscus a buddy.

image image

I cleaned up a front bed after buying some time planting potatoes, and am halfway to having it done. I’m putting a few things in the front, then laying newspaper and mulching. Don’t the hydrangeas look happy?

In the garden- hydrangeas image image image

But the veggie garden has been taking up most of my time. Before long it will be brutally hot outside and I want to get as much as possible done before that. We have planted asparagus, corn, beans, lettuce, and herbs in existing flower beds around the house.

In the garden - veggies in the flower bed image

But because we have all this dirt, and one of my rules is Be Frugal, I started talking about expanding. Mr X took the ball and ran with it, mowing and bagging leaves, raking them up for mulch. He built a beautiful sturdy trellis and walkways with treated lumber, and we’ve added a lot of space to plant. It’s not all planted yet but the newspaper and leaves are killing the grass, making a wonderful topsoil that will be great when it does get planted.

New garden bed image New garden bed image




What a Difference a Day Makes!

I was not home much this week, since we are in the middle of UIL Concert and Sightreading season. I spent 2 days at our middle school contest, playing the piano for our 2 choirs plus 4 others, then drove to Houston after the 2nd day, spent the night, and judged a contest the next. I try to walk around my garden and visit my plants every day, but I didn’t get to spend much Time out there. However, after I had been gone a full day and almost 3 inches of rain fell, I could really tell a difference!

English dogwood (mock orange) had exploded.

.English dogwood

Sugar snap peas and Little Marvel peas grew tall and started blooming.

Little Marvel peas Sugar snap peas

Louisiana iris began blooming.

.Louisiana iris

My potatoes grew way too tall! I’m out of dirt to hill up around them.


And the big news of the day– Hardy gladioli were barely budded out last time I saw them, then I came home to this:

Hardy gladiolus Hardy gladiolus


Gardening on the Cheap– Passalong Plants

One of Auntie Em’s Guides to Life is to BE FRUGAL. If you love having a beautiful garden it can get expensive, but it doesn’t have to! I like low-maintenance plants… the law of the jungle applies in Auntie Em’s garden– the survival of the fittest. No divas here!

The good thing about passalong plants is that they usually propagate (make new plants) easily. The other fun thing is that then you have a plant with story! I’ll share some that I’ve had success with, and how I did it. Most of the time I cut a tender stem (not a hard woody one) and put it in regular potting soil. Sis usually roots in water; experiment to see what works best! Some really hardy plants can go directly into the ground, especially if you water regularly.

I took a snip off the top of Sunshine’s coleus. I stuck the stem in a pot, but there were some big leaves too. I pulled this one off and tucked it in among a hibiscus, not knowing whether or not it would root that way. It did.

Here is the pot where I put all the little babies. It will grow into a beautiful accent; then I can pinch off more! Coleus is a wonderful, versatile plant that is available in many different colors, and does will in pots or in the ground, in sun or in shade.

This althea (Rose of Sharon, in the mallow family) came from a cutting from my mother-in-law (Granny of Granny’s cornbread). I actually thought it was a hibiscus (They are cousins.) and put it in a pot, and by the time I realized it was althea, it was too late to put it in the ground. I’ll do that this fall after the weather cools off.

This exotic-looking trumpet shaped flower is called  alstromeria, or Peruvian lily. It has a fancy cousin that is often used in cut arrangements, but this is anything but fancy! I got this one from Granny too, and have given away tons of it. If it’s planted in a happy place, it can become invasive, spreading by seed on top and tubers below ground. Be sure to cut the seedpods off to slow it down.

I got this hardy gladiola from a lady that went to our church for much longer than I have. She was there when Granny and PawPaw took Mr X and his brother and sister as children, and she has passed now. But every spring, when these come up again, I remember Miss Freddie and how she shared what she had with whoever needed it!

I got this gorgeous angel wing begonia from my friend Nedra. We’ve shared lots of cuttings and snips over the years. This one actually started life at Granny’s house, then Nedra got a snip, so mine is sort of like a grandchild!

I discovered Persian shield this year, and I LOVE it! I bought 4 overgrown, leggy, 4 inch pots; put 3 in the ground and one in a pot to see where it was happiest. The ones in the ground died quickly. I pinched off several pieces from the one in the pot (here is one; it rooted almost overnight!) and it was a good thing, because I let the pot dry out and it died! Fortunately, I still have the new one. 

The lantana was a seedling from my piano teacher. He always keeps a beautiful, well-manicured lawn, and I love the way the lantana looks like a party! The butterflies love it. Seedlings come up easlity, but they aren’t invasive.

Here are some more that I’ve shared, or that reseed easily and come back year after year. Sometimes, flower colors will change from one year to the next (as with the vinca, which started life 3 generations ago as lavendar) but that’s just part of the fun.

Don’t let frugality keep you from having beautiful flowers!

Portulaca- reseed easily, and root from cuttings.

I wish I knew what this was called. Granny gave me some from a plant from her mother’s funeral. I love it!

Sis got me an Easter lily one year at her church.

Miss Winnie has shared daylillies with many people from our church.

Crinum lillies are old-timey because they are dependable, no-care flowers! Their pink or white blooms come in late summer.

AHHH agapanthas, or Lily of the Nile. A lady at school gave me some.

These are 3rd or 4th generation vinca. I bought a flat one year and have had them every year since. If I were a better gardener, I’d move them to optimum places, but I just let them come up where they will! They began life lavendar, but are usually pink. These white ones are the first I’ve seen!


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