The (Enchanted) Garden Story + 3 Lovely Plants to Create Whimsy & Romance in Your Garden

Today I am excited to open my new category, Outdoor Styling!  As I sat wondering if I should include outdoor living and gardening into Lifestyled, I thought of this longish, short story and decided, yes, I do need to include it. I wanted to share it with you because this and other stories like it are the reason I do what I do and it truly fills my heart with happiness!  Hang with me here, it might take you a few minutes, but I hope you will find it worth it in the end.

Introducing the true story of…

“The Garden”

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was friends with a weeping willow named Willy who was truly a Giving Tree with a rope that was great for swinging and a half-finished tree house. And the biggest tree she ever saw: a Eucalyptus named Jamie, whom she was convinced was taller than a skyscraper and was a kind, watchful king over all the trees in the garden. And an apricot tree that had branches just low enough to umbrella over the garden entrance where she was barely tall enough to pick the fruit as she walked by. She jumped from stair to stair down to the gully, where she would get a running start to see if she could make through the half-pipe- the dry, empty pond bed…down and back up again, propelling her like a pegasus into the grassy meadow with her apricot, to the shade of an old almond tree.

And when she was finished with her juicy apricot, she would creep carefully over to where the treasure tree was, which was a secret since it grew magical geode fruit. When you cracked this magical fruit open just right, numberless edible juicy rubies would be your reward…automatically making you a queen, since after all, what else would queens eat? After her apricot and her magic rubies, she would lay in the grass smelling the sweet breeze coming through the citrus orchard, watching the clouds………..daydreaming about nothing and everything all at once.

She nurtured the garden and the garden nurtured her.  She even rescued a baby palm tree one day from the side of the road and planted him right near the gate where he would get the dry, hot sun and welcome all who came. She spent her summer days singing happily in her garden, mastering her skills at stalking those tricky fast lizards and making flowery crowns from Willy’s tender branches.  The garden was her sanctuary from the world, its where she went when she was happy, its where she went when she was sad, its where she went when she was unsure, to the outside where the adults never wanted to be and where it was bursting with dreams, beauty, adventure and hope.

The little girl got older and instead barely reaching the apricots, she had to duck under the umbrella to walk through. The pond bed was covered in vines and the garden seemed so much smaller now.  Willy had gotten sick and his all limbs were amputated just above the tree house platform…at least there was the rope and his sturdy, old, huggable, but sad trunk.  He needed consoling just as much as she did and they were always there for each other.  The garden was a sacred place of a time gone, a time on Golden Star Ave where the bus came everyday down the dusty road and back again to get the girl for school.
A time before all the other times.

The girl went to college in a far away place and visits became fewer and fewer.  On her last visit, she brought her boy to meet Willy and Jamie (as well as the people in the house).  As they arrived at the gate, she had forgotten about that baby palm tree she had rescued from the side of the road and who now stood as a monument of coming of age. They had both reached adulthood, they both made it despite all the odds.  She asked her boy to pull over, she bounded out of the car and she hugged her giant childhood friend.  The boy was confused but happy for his girl in her garden.

The house got sold away and the girl from Golden Star Ave married that Golden Boy.  After having a bunch of Golden babies she decided its time for them to know the magic of a grandmother’s enchanted garden.  And so the story goes she hopes….one day her grandchildren will come and swing from her willow and walk through romantic paths imagining the fairies flying through the grassy meadow, past the dry creek and into their dreams where they will stay until they tell their babies of memories…in the garden.

The End.

This is such a fitting (and true!) story for my first outdoor styling category post.  The beginning of my garden!  Last year, we had major excavating going on to fix a yard drainage issue. We basically live at the bottom of a mountain, so guess where all the water goes?! Yep, right to the house! Not any more, friends, not any more.  We have dug ourselves out (with some professional help) and now it is time to re-plant!  We worked VERY hard to plant a new (sloping) lawn, something we haven’t ever done, let alone sloping.  The kids and I started a dry creek river rock drainage creek which captures rain water and we watch it cascade down with tiny waterfalls every time it rains…the magic begins!

This last week, we cut down some giant poplar trees that were just too close to the house for how tall they were and they were threatening some brick walls.  It was sad to see the scarred stumps and the bare earth, we wondered what we had done!  But it opened up a new space for a willow tree right next to our creek bed who will be named, Willy Jr.  I haven’t been posting much because of the plant research I have been doing, not to mention the hundred other projects I have going on! But today I hope to pass along three spring plants that might bring a little whimsical romance to your garden and maybe give you some great foliage and florals to bring indoors for fresh flower interior styling!

Weeping Pussy Willow Tree

If you can’t tell I love weeping willows. This tree is currently in my front yard (not shown) and I have had it for about three years.  I love this tree.  Unfortunately it has stopped blooming catkins and its trunk has started to split down the center, not from a cut but from some sort of defect or scar from when it was much younger.  Its still alive and beautiful and putting out new growth, such a cute ornamental tree.  I will be moving my non-bloomer to a different spot in the garden soon and replacing it with another, healthier tree if all my efforts prove not to help it bloom again with it’s cute mini catkins. There isn’t a lot online about this tree because not very many people have one. If you happen to find one BUY IT! (make sure it’s healthy first, I got excited and bought the last one at my local nursery).  These small ornamental trees are perfect to add some variety to your flower beds and almost be like a plant sculpture.  The first photo is one that is almost completely mature at 7′ tall. They don’t get any bigger than 8′ feet!

^This is what it looks like after its bloomed catkins and when its been properly pruned. I found this wonderful gardener who has videos all about it, click the pic above.

They can be pruned longer or shorter, and those are little tiny soft fuzzy catkins (so cute!). Without pruning, they get VERY bushy so be sure you know how to prune one.

Magnolia Little Girl Series 

Botanical name: Magnolia hybrids

What they are: A line of eight dwarf, April-blooming magnolia trees bred at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington. Showy big-petaled flowers open before trees leaf out. All have female names and flower colors ranging from pink through purplish-red. The three best: ‘Ann’ (plum-colored blooms), ‘Jane’ (lavender-pink) and ‘Betty’ (reddish-purple). Leaves drop in fall but fuzzy flower buds remain over winter.

Size: 12-15 feet tall and wide in about 10 years.

Check out these beauties!  If you are wanting an enchanted garden, look no further! GUYS. These lovely little Magnolias practically grow tulips!!! How cute that this is the ‘Little Girl Series’?! I plan to name mine after my little girl, its just too perfect. I found a Magnolia Jane at Lowe’s this week for $32. I haven’t planted it yet but I can’t wait and I have the perfect spot!  I will keep you posted with how it goes!!

Magnolia Jane ^

Magnolia Ann ^

Magnolia Betty ^

Where to use: Excellent front-yard specimens, especially in small yards. Small enough to soften house corners if kept 8-10 feet away. Also nice out kitchen windows and next to patios. Full sun to light shade. These bloom in April and then they are done blooming for the year, just like the Weeping Pussy Willows. The two should both be in bloom about the same time, just something to keep in mind. Next up…..

Eden Climbing Rose
(or Pierre de Rosnard Rose)

This!!!! This stunner will hopefully one day be the grand entrance to my outdoor sanctuary. Okay so this rose business is serious. This will be my first time planting roses so I have spent the majority of my research dedicated to roses, specifically climbing roses.  What is more romantic than this (in your garden)?!  Um, nothing.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out roses that fit my criteria, are you ready?

  • Must be blush pink, like #1 has to!
  • Must tolerate some shade.
  • Must be almost thornless because of the kids.  (“Almost” I thought was good, a few prickles might deter them from picking all the flowers!)
  • Must be able to climb to the height of an arbor, as this will be the entrance to my backyard.
  • Must not be too fragrant.  Hubby does NOT like the smell of roses and is highly sensitive to strong flowery smells.  If I want to use these inside as cut flowers, the smell must be very subtle and not over powering. If you want a fragrant rose, try A Shropshire Lad by David Austin.  This is my second choice and seems to be very similar to the Eden with the exception of fragrance.
  • Must be resistant to disease…I am all about low maintenance.  Do you know what I have to do every time I take five kids to the pool?!!  I do NOT like spraying down my plants too!

And the winner is EDEN!  I ordered two from Edmunds Roses.  We will see how they do, planting something like roses bare root is a little scary for me, but I am taking the plunge!  Wish me luck and any tips are always appreciated! Hopefully in a few years we will have the photo below…..(insert angelic chorus)

^I can picture a wedding right there! Awwwwww!  So pretty!

Eden’s as a cut rose, perfect!

Just a few more pics….because this is my blog and I can….

Isn’t she lovely?!

Here’s to dreams People! I hope you feel inspired to create something beautiful…now go out and get your hands dirty!

Love Life…Styled!

Melissa xox

No Mudroom? No Problem! Solution: Board and Batten Wall

Hello Spring!  It’s official, this is the first week (insert fanfare chorus)! To celebrate I did something probably a little premature, but I did it nonetheless, in hopes of hurrying up the warmer weather which doesn’t make any sense. I put all the winter coats away, hooray!!!  I can now actually see the wall underneath all the coats! Hello, you beautiful board and batten!

My mom and I did this together all by ourselves, which was awesome, we love power tools and doing she-power projects like this. I found THIS wonderful tutorial and I followed it exactly, as you can see, from Censational Girl. If you need a good real-life application of a pinterest DIY, this is it and it literally took a day to put it up!  It was all to solve this little problem:  I have five kids and nowhere for all their stuff to dump after school.  I also, don’t have a good place in the garage or a designated “mudroom”.  I do have a hallway, right as they come into the house from the garage (not pictured, it’s behind me) and before they head up the stairs. I love how a useless hallway space can be transformed into something functional and beautiful.  My feature photo looks like what it would be if I didn’t have kids or what it could look like while I play house when all their jackets and backpacks are at school, but let me just say, it NEVER looks like that.

This is what it looked like literally an hour later (and when a teenager coming out of the bathroom realizes I am taking a picture)! I seriously don’t get dabbing.

Just also as a side note, this is the other side of the hall with my cute growth chart ruler which was a gift from my mom. Yes, she made it herself, she is amazing, and she is convinced my four-year-old son is going to be seven feet tall lol!

It’s a battle to make sure they don’t think its their personal closet with jackets over bags over jackets and shoes everywhere, so I am am happy to pretend with this pretty photo!  Spring challenge (weather permitting): put your snow stuff away and style a functional mudroom space, even if its somewhere unusual. I would love to see your ideas! Happy Spring and Happy Styling!

Styling sources:

Paint: Benjamin Moore – Gray Owl

Accessories:  Brown bag –, everything else is from Target including wreath and doormat.

Frames: TJ Maxx

Photos: Jenny Lind Photography


Love Life…STYLED!
xox Melissa

Easter Mantle: He is Risen!

Confession:  I am not a boho minimalist.  I know that is the hot thing in interior styling and I love it.  I am drawn to it: the clean lines, the structure, the modern feel, and I can even style in that genre…but it doesn’t make my heart sing.  Maybe it’s because I am a transplant southerner and I crave the romantic southern styles, maybe it’s because I was trained in creating merchandise display early on and the age old, “Stack ’em high watch ’em fly” mantra is now engrained in my brain. Whatever the case, when it comes to my style I love to decorate for the seasons, I love to create display that celebrates meaning and creates a feeling and mood as a backdrop to the memories we make as a family.

Today I was blessed to go to a wonderful church service and feel the love of the Lord, also guiding me to make changes and refocus on essential things.  As we all have a little quiet time today, I loved putting my new print in it’s frame as the final piece of my Easter mantle.  Hope you have a wonderful Sunday of rest and refocus.  He is Risen!

Click on the pic below to get this printable!


I hope you feel inspired to make something beautiful.

xo Melissa

A Glimpse into the Heart of My Home

I had to hurry and capture this not-so-perfectly staged photo.  The sun is shining through my window today, which is rare and won’t last long seeing as how we are surrounded by a sloped forest.  This time of year my home receives the most light, just before the trees are refreshed with new leaves and blocks the sun for the summer keeping it cool during the hot southern summers.  While I enjoy the seclusion and the feeling of being surrounded by trees, today I welcome the sun and love to soak it in as it shines throughout the house. It makes me want to putter around my house like a fairy, waking up my house to spring!!! Which is exactly what I am doing, with a little helper today.  Can you spot my little helper in the photo?

While we are on the topic of kitchens, I am loving my new marble backsplash we did last summer.  It’s from Lowes believe it or not! I admire it everyday and it just makes the whole kitchen. Another little helpful hint about Lowes, did you know they own  This is where my pendant lights are from and at the time, no one in my home town had anything like this. This info was HUUUUGE seeing as how they have an enormous selection and if you order anything from them, you can return it to Lowes if it doesn’t work out (which I have done).  I don’t know about you, but I DO NOT like mailing returns back. This is not a paid post by the way, I just really get excited when I can have big showroom access AND return stuff locally!

Also, I often get asked about paint colors and this shows one of my go-to favs: Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore. It’s the perfect everywhere neutral gray.  You can not go wrong with Gray owl.

I hope you feel inspired to freshen up your home for spring, even if its just pulling back the curtains and letting the sun brighten your home.  While you are at it, turn some fun music on, light a springy scented candle and you have now become a magical spring fairy ready for anything!  Stay tuned, I will have the results of my puttering coming soon!

Make Life Beautiful!

oxo Melissa

Transform an Upper Cabinet into a Bookshelf!

We have all seen it, the open shelving trend in the kitchen these days which I love but I am unable to have in my kitchen due to it’s layout and size :(.  But when I did get all new cabinets, I didn’t go crazy with the sledge hammer to the solid wood upper cabinets and neither should you!  They can be re-purposed for lots of things and here is one idea which worked out great and was so easy! I didn’t take before and after’s (I know, I know) but you simply take the doors off, add a top, add feet, fill holes, sand and paint! I did add a few pieces of trim, one on the bottom and a piece of moulding under the top (see pics).

HOT TIP: I stenciled the back of mine with a bright contrast coral paint color sample jar, you know those cute little ones you get at the paint store? They are perfect for small projects just like this and give you just the right amount of paint with a little to spare.  Woo hoo!

Paint color source: Flamenco Pink by Valspar.

Here is the end result…plus two little pajama photo bombers who think they need to pose everytime they see me taking photos. I guess I can’t complain, I have them well trained ;).

Note: this turned out to be a VERY heavy solid piece of furniture that would have been several hundred dollars in a store.  These cabinets were made 25+ years ago and they are solid!  That’s hard to come by these days with everything being made with particle board. When you are remodeling anything to do with cabinetry, you are already spending a small mint, you might as well get a few bonus bookshelves out of it!

What have you re-purposed? I would love to get more ideas, comment below!

Make Life Beautiful!

xox Melissa