Garden Design: Working With Mother Nature

I’ve been making noises for months now about a new hardscaping project that my husband and I planned to undertake this summer.  The goal was to tie our new greenhouse in with the rest of our landscape, to add a new vegetable garden, and to make our back patio and potting shed more accessible.  I was so excited, and we had such a good plan.

But Mother Nature Had Other Plans

When we first started planning the project, I thought that it would be completed by July, or at least well underway.

Instead something got in the way, and that something was about an inch and a half in diameter and probably weighed about an ounce.  But it had the power to stop the delivery of tons of bluestone pavers.

hummingbird nest
Hummingbird nest, now empty. It’s very small next to the three-inch clothespin!

Yes, just before the project was scheduled to start, my husband, Chris, noticed a hummingbird nest in one of the trees next to the driveway.  The nest was hanging so low that work trucks would have wiped it out.  The two tiny eggs inside hatched shortly after he discovered it.  We thought the little chicks deserved a chance.

So we missed the only window of time our landscape contractor had until August.  Meanwhile, the little chicks stayed so quiet and motionless day after day in their nest, waiting patiently to get big enough to fly away.   Then one day they seemed different – restless, alert.  And the next day they were out of there!

Now we’ve noticed a bumblebee nest under our potting shed so, come August, the landscaping around the shed might have to be put on hold if the nest is still active.  Bumblebees are great pollinators.

But at least the sparrows now nesting in the birdhouse by the back door will be out well before August.  And our contractor won’t think that we are completely hopeless.

Sparrow father and chicks
That’s the father feeding two of his four sparrow chicks.

So the birds and the bees have been holding our landscaping project hostage, but at least a few things are going as planned.  Let’s have a look.

Beautiful Begonias

I started some begonias from tubers in my greenhouse in spring and most of them are doing very well.

Tuberous begonia with chartreuse potato vine.


red begonia
Red tuberous begonia with boxwood and sedum.

red begonia

The blossoms and stems are huge now.

front door begonia
Tuberous begonia by front door.


These large begonias are easy to start indoors in spring.  For the how-to, check out this guest post I wrote for the Sunglo Greenhouse blog.

I wish I could take credit for this big pink wax begonia, but this one was not started in my greenhouse.

wax begonia

Grouped Pots

This year, I decided to keep my potting containers simple by only planting one plant –  two at the most – per pot.  This gives each plant more visual impact than if it were in a mixed container with other plants.

patio plants

One plant per pot works nicely for grouping plants that look good together but have different water or soil needs – or for setting up vignettes of small containers.


And I can easily move pots around and have some new groupings as the season progresses.

Garden Accents

At least the birds and the bees don’t seem to have it in for my garden art.  Here are a few of our pieces.

Fingers Crossed

When we installed the greenhouse, it required tearing out a vegetable garden and breaking up a stone walkway.  So this is what the area around the greenhouse looks like now.  Not a pretty sight.


But if Mother Nature finally allows it and if our contractor doesn’t give up on us, my landscaping dreams could still come true this summer.  Or we could discover another bird’s nest.

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9 Replies to “Garden Design: Working With Mother Nature”

  1. Thanks for another very enjoyable post! I also enjoyed your guest post but did you know that the link to big blossoms leads to your calla lilies arranging post? I love that one, but would also like to see the big begonias.

    1. Hi, Jane: No I didn’t know that. The Sunglo staff added the links and they might have wanted to bring some traffic to my blog by linking to one of my other posts. I’ll ask them next time I talk to them. Thanks for letting me know!

  2. Hi Heidi! I’m so glad I found your blog! I would have done the same thing regarding the hummingbird nest. If that nest would’ve been ruined, the whole incident would’ve haunted me the rest of my life. I’m so sensitive when it comes to situations like that! Anyway, love your plants, sculptures, especially that tall Easter Island looking fellow, and those sweet sparrows.

    1. Hi, Kelly: I’m glad you found my blog too! I know what you mean – I would have been heartsick if the nest had been destroyed. I’m just so happy my husband noticed it – it was so small and tucked away. The mamma bird scolded him every time he went to the recycle bin, which is what tipped him off that there was a nest somewhere nearby. Glad you enjoyed my post! Heidi

  3. I am always impressed with your flowers. They grow so well and look gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing at Inspiration Thursday. Have a great week!

  4. Nature does have a way of changing things doesn’t it? I’m sure the birds and the bees are happy that you care about them? Your Begonias are gorgeous! I’ve never tried starting any, but always have to buy a few. Thanks for sharing with SYC and best of luck with your projects!

  5. Heidi, your garden is so beautiful! Another great post. As for the link to the calla lilies on the guest post, it was on purpose and you are right! It was to lead readers to other relevant posts on your blog 🙂

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