Hello, fellow gardeners! I wish I could tell you that I’m a seasoned Master Gardener, an accomplished author of dozens of books on gardening, or that I’ve toured some of the most acclaimed gardens from around the world. But the fact is, I’m just like many of you—someone who loves to putter around in the garden and learn by doing, which is what I’ve been devoting my spare time to for the last 30 years in my small backyard garden in northern Illinois. I’ve somehow been able to turn my passion into a profession and have had the great fortune to write for GardenDesign.com for nearly 10 years now and share what I’ve learned with all of you.
Gardens are often born out of necessity, and mine began as a mission to transform a scraggly, overgrown landscape left to me by the previous homeowners into my own little paradise. I read every gardening book I could get my hands on (my go-to is the Illinois Gardeners Guide by Jim Fizzell) and spent countless hours browsing through plant and seed catalogs and roaming through local nurseries and botanical gardens.
You can’t underestimate the value of first-hand experience in the garden, observing how plants respond to different exposure conditions and marveling at their resilience even when you do everything wrong. And it’s really the only way to discover your own gardening style (mine is definitely cottage garden, with a touch of whimsy) as you determine which plants delight your senses, play well together, and thrive in your yard’s microclimate.
As Fizzell says in his book, “We make our mistakes, and we have our successes. We correct our mistakes and go on.” Often gardening is more about perseverance and patience than knowledge. Simply put, a true gardener never gives up.
"Pathways are a marvelous way to beckon people into a garden and invite exploration. Here, my narrow side yard was transformed by an arbor (covered by Dr. Ruppel clematis) and stepping stones that lead to the backyard."
"I’ve devoted a small patch of land to plants loved by pollinators, such as purple coneflower. It’s located in a sunny spot near my backyard deck, so I can observe the parade of visitors at close range."
"I love perennials that have beautiful flowers and foliage because they provide interest all season, even when not in bloom. One of my favorites is lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.), which has gorgeous silver-speckled leaves topped by clusters of delicate bell-shaped flowers in spring."
"My cottage-style shade garden is a pastel color palette of pansies, impatiens, fern-leaved bleeding heart, hostas, lady’s mantle, 'Palace Purple' heuchera, and lungwort. It’s a peaceful place for birds and angels alike."
"The cheery faces of violas are pure heaven after a long winter in my northern Illinois climate (USDA Zone 5a/5b). They are by far my favorite spring flower, and if I could, I’d plant them in every color."
Some of Anne's most popular articles on GardenDesign.com:
- Flowers for a Bee-Friendly Garden
- 20 Beautiful Blue Flowers for Your Garden
- Rose Care & Growing Guide
- Popular Spring Flowers for Your Garden
- 21 Best Indoor Plants for Any Location
- Best Deer-Resistant Plants for Your Garden
- Farmhouse Garden: Create a Garden to Explore
- How to Treat & Prevent Black Spot on Roses
- Growing Vegetables in Small Spaces
- A Guide to Growing Catmint Plants