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

Christmas Magic on a Budget

I love Christmas.  I am not going to lie though, it’s overwhelming.  In years past, I have felt like the Grinch, not wanting Christmas to come, dreading all the extra work. There are days that I might not get there and just need to not think about it…but if I focus on the ability I have to create a beautiful backdrop for lasting family memories, then I am motivated to make it just right.


This year was just that for me.  I felt inspired to start early and when some unexpected personal trials hit close to the holidays, I thanked my past self for listening to my heart and going for it.
When I was feeling consumed with my personal problem, we would drive up to the house with squeals of toddler delight over simple blinking snowflake lights on our porch. Our older kids commented several times how great the house looked all lit up.  I don’t think they will ever forget it and it’s motivated me to make new traditions to create Christmas wonder around us in simple ways every year.

HOT STYLE TIP:  Think of simple ways you can do this for your family.  I add little touches every year.  Last year, it was the lit window wreaths.  This year its the snowflake lights across the porch and the birch LED trees. Those twinkling snowflake lights are $9 regular priced at Wal-mart! 9 BUCKS!  I needed three strands, but the impact was well worth it.  Also, I found the 4′ LED birch trees for $25 and the red balls are from the dollar store.  I was THRILLED when I saw these trees because the same exact ones are at Target for $50 each, which was tempting when compared to the Restoration Hardware price…ugh. The same birch trees at RH are $85 for the 3′ and $155 for the 5′. So $25 for a 4’….SOLD!!!


But who knew, Wal-mart?! And this isn’t even a paid post.  $25 trees + $9 lights = Magical Christmas Wonderland at the Golden house.

Love Life…Styled!



HOT TIP:  Make your trees taller by getting a tall planter and putting bakery frosting buckets upside down inside for the trees to sit on.  You can usually get these for free at your local baker or for $1. Get the 9′ garlands for $8 at Walmart to wrap around the base, cover the buckets and fill your planter.  Stick holiday floral picks in the garlands, hang the balls, DONE!