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Winter White Garden Urns

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Winter White Center Garden Urn The Prudent Homemaker

I've been trying a mixture of annuals and perennials in my urns in the white garden, but it seems the only way to have something growing in them year-round is to do annuals, as even my perennials have died. The pots by the front door are particularly challenging; they are in full shade all day long. The garden itself is in shade all winter, and come summer it is mostly in our brutal sun, but for much of the year, it is half in sun and half in shade.

I have been staring at beautiful urns on Pinterest (I even have a board for it) trying to decide what to do this winter that will last into spring. I know what plants do well here winter through spring, and all of them are on sale right now (and I had an additional $5 off coupon on top of that to use). I knew I wanted to use some free evergreen branches, and the nursery, which sells Christmas trees, was the place to get those too. I just hadn't decided exactly what to do.

Winter White Garden in December The Prudent Homemaker

At the nursery there was a birdbath, and it was filled with flowers that looked so beautiful--and then I knew. There was a silvery small-leafed plant in the center, surrounded by a dark pinkish red cyclamen, surrounded by white ornamental cabbages. It was so pretty I seriously considered planting some red cyclamen in the garden for Christmas.

However, it's a white garden, and I wanted something that would last until April (winter annuals here are good October through April). I loved the cyclamen, but I know they do better in the shade here (they'll last longer in the shade when the heat comes, which is early here). I debated a change in the middle--stock or snapdragons? Both will do well; stock (what I ultimately chose for the center urn) flowers for a shorter period, but has an intense fragrance which I enjoy; snapdragons get larger and would be a less expensive option; I could just choose one or two plants if I wanted.

Winter Urn Detail The Prudent Homemaker

In the end, I went with sage in the middle (not noticeable at all, but a silvery-grey color that I think may work for a similar design come summer, by which time it will be larger; on sale for $0.98), surrounded by 4 stock flowers (on sale for $0.78 each), surrounded by 9 ornamental cabbage (on sale for $0.78 each). Should the cabbage grow too large before they bolt, I'll transplant them to another spot in the garden.

I added some pinecones that we had gathered in between the stock and cabbages. I used clippers to cut the free Christmas tree branches into smaller pieces and then stuck them into the arrangement. The ends are in the moist soil, so they'll stay good for a while (and longer if I mist them).

Winter White Black Urns The Prudent Homemaker

I had planned on getting some cyclamen too (on sale for $2.88 each), so I added some into the black pots by our entrance, along with more ornamental cabbage and a primrose ($1.98 each) . As I was in line at the nursery, I noticed that they had repeated the same arrangement indoors I had admired outdoors, but with purple cabbage and white cyclamen. 

 Winter White Urn by Door The Prudent Homemaker

In the urns at the front door, I had added some wire vine earlier this summer. I dug in the spaces around it and put a cyclamen plant in each, along with two primroses. These won't mind the full shade of this spot. 

Winter Urn on Wall The Prudent Homemaker

Earlier this year I added an urn (that I got for free) at the end of the low wall that I built. I dug up some oregano that had grown from seed in the garden and moved it into that urn. I added 2 viola plants that had been growing in the center urn. I then added some Christmas tree branches and some pinecones. Should the ornamental cabbage get too large for the center urn in the months to come, I may move them to this urn.

We still haven't had a frost here, but all of these plants will do just fine with a frost. Other good choices for our mild winters that are also on sale are snapdragons, pansies, and violas. 

Snow is extremely rare here, and frosts are short-lived: Our official first frost date is November 15th (but I usually don't see a frost until mid-December) and our last frost date is February 15th, though I have rarely seen a frost past the third week of January. These plants should last until sometime in April.

My next plan in the white garden is to plant the daffodil bulbs that I've been chilling in the refrigerator for weeks. In our mild climate, prechilling helps to get the bulbs the chilling hours they require in order to flower. I won't dig them up in years to come, however.

After Christmas, I'll be pruning the roses and stripping any remaining leaves to force them into a short dormancy, which will make them stronger and healthier in the year to come.  The white garden will then be empty of flowers except for the flowers in the urns until the bulbs start flowering and the roses flower again, sometime in late February at the earliest (and possibly not until mid-March).

Winter Garden Urns The Prudent Homemaker



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Thankful: November 5th

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White Garden in late October The Prudent Homemaker 

Today I am thankful that I can work in the garden. The weather is beautiful and there is much to be done.


What are you thankful for today?

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The White Garden in March

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White Garden in March Strawberry Blossom The Prudent Homemaker


Delphiniums The Prudent Homemaker

 My white garden is in bloom.

I recently decided to change the flowers out in the urn. I had paperwhites planted there, but once they are done, the leaves are not as interesting as a focal point. I decided to dig them all out after they were done blooming, and move them to a few places in the backyard. In their place, I added some dwarf delphiniums from the nursery. I also added back in the stock that I had planted in the fall, which is about done for the season (it blooms as a winter/early spring annual in our climate). I also replanted the bacopa. I added in a few seedlings that were coming up in the garden as well (chamomile and larkspur). While the delphinium is a perennial, it acts more like an annual in our hot climate. I've decided that I'd prefer to buy a few annuals for the main focal points in each garden (the urn in the white garden and the center circle around the sundial in back) in order to enjoy some flowers there all year long, rather than waiting for seedlings that only flower for short times of the year. Come summer, I will be putting vincas in this urn, which are one of the few flowers that thrive in our hot desert summer sun.

 White Garden in March The Prudent Homemaker

Tulips in The White Garden 1 The Prudent Homemaker

The tulips have returned to the garden this year. Tulips are usually a one-time deal in hot climates. You pre-chill them for 10 weeks in the refrigerator in the fall to simulate a winter chill, and then you plant them. I did that with these the first year, and they bloomed for us in 2014. Last year I saw a few leaves, but no flowers, and I figured they were done.  (You can dig them and rechill them if you want, however). This year they surprised me, howvever, with most of them blooming again, and several of them sending forth a couple of flowers per bulb. The tulips are smaller than they were the first year, which is to be expected. I am happy that they are multiplying in the garden; I certainly never expected them to return.  The garden is in full shade all winter, and even now is still about 1/3 in shade.

Tulips 2 The Prudent Homemaker

Another flower to bloom again that also bloomed in 2014 but that didn't bloom last year are my iris. The leaves came up in November, but they just started to show buds a week ago, and many are now open.

Iris The Prudent Homemaker

Iris 2 The Prudent Homemaker

My iceberg roses haven't bloomed quite yet, but they are all budded, so it won't be long before they are covered with flowers. This will be their first bloom of the year. Since they are a floribunda rose, they rebloom every 5-6 weeks, until I prune them back in December or January. Once it starts getting really hot, the flowers will open smaller, around the size of miniature roses.

Strawberry Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

My alpine strawberries are blooming again. These prefer the shade (and will actually burn and die in the hot summer sun in my garden). They are all grown from seed. The strawberries are tiny white ones that are the size of my pinky nail when ripe. They have an intense flavor. In mild climates these can bloom and ripen all summer. Here, they are ripe in late spring for a few months, and again in late fall until our first frost.

Meyer Lemon Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker 

The Meyer lemon trees are also in bloom again. I love the perfume from these blossoms. Eventually, these three small trees will grow as an evergreen hedge to cover the cinderblock wall (which is my neighbor's back wall) and should provide us with lots of lemons for lemonade.

White Garden in March 2 The Prudent Homemaker

Three years ago this garden was just a dream on a piece of paper. Now it is full of flowers, fruit, herbs, and lettuce.

To see past pictures of my white garden, click here.


Tagged in: White Garden
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Winter White Garden and Our Front Entry

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The white in our white garden in winter is from the flowers, and not from snow. 

Winter White Garden The Prudent Homemaker

This week I added a few things to the garden; namely, some beautiful Noble fir and Douglas fir branches that I got for free from the nursery, that were cut from the bottom of fresh Christmas trees. I added these to our center urn, along with two other urns by the front door that I'll show you further down the page.

Winter White Garden Roses The Prudent Homemaker

Winter White Garden Roses 2 The Prudent Homemaker

The Iceberg roses are still blooming. They have a tinge of pink to them as it got just to freezing and then warmed back up, but the rest of the year they are just white, blooming every six weeks. I'll prune them at the end of the month and strip the leaves to force them into a short dormancy, which will make them healthier for next year. 

Winter White Garden Cabbages The Prudent Homemaker

Below the roses in the 4 planter sections, behind the short hedges, I've planted white flowering cabbage. These will be beautiful all winter.

Winter White Garden 2 The Prudent Homemaker 

The Meyer lemon trees are ripe with lemons right now. These are just a couple of years old (we put in this garden 2 1/2 years ago) but as they get bigger I will prune them more like a hedge that will cover the wall. They're a bit of yellow in the garden for a short time, but the rest of the year they are just green (with white flowers when they flower and a heavenly perfume.) I planted these in addition to the two I have in back to make sure that we have enough lemons for lemonade, in addition to all of the other ways we like to use lemons.

Winter White Garden 4 The Prudent Homemaker

Below the lemons are several herbs, including garlic chives, oregano, and tarragon, along with green onions near the wall and white alpine strawberries at the front of the planter.  The black bench is one we redid from three old benches.

Winter White Garden 3 The Prudent Homemaker

Looking the other direction back towards the urn, you can again see the snowy-white Dusty Miller than I cut for flower arrangments in the foreground. At the base of the plinth below the urn you can see more of the white-fruited alpine strawberries that I grow from seed. A mild winter is predicted this year, so I may get to pick these dime-sized berries throughout the winter this year. I picked a few this week.

Winter White Garden Paperwhites The Prudent Homemaker

At the front of the garden, below the wall that I built, is a row of paperwhites. These bloom outdoors here in winter, starting in November. 

Winter White Garden Paperwhite and Roses The Prudent Homemakerjpg

Winter White Garden Paperwhites detail The Prudent Homemaker

Christmas Front Door The Prudent Homemaker

Christmas Wreath The Prudent Homemaker

On our front doors, I've hung the faux wreaths I put together a couple of years ago, using purchased wreaths, bells, faux berries with star picks, and gathered pinecones.

Christmas Urn The Prudent Homemaker

In the urns, I have white-flowering cyclamen. These like the shade here (and this area is in full shade year-round). I added a white double-flowering stock flower to each pot (a winter flower here), and despite the freeze, I still have a bit of red-leafed sweet potato vine growing in the pots from fall. I added some more Noble fir branches to these pots and some pinecones.

Christmas Front Door Urn Detail The Prudent Homemaker

If you're looking to grow paperwhite indoors this winter, I highly recommend Van Engelen Bulbs, which is where I purchased all of my paperwhites. For cyclamen, check your local nursery; ours (Star Nursery for locals) has them on sale for $1.99 through today, whereas they are $9.99 each in the grocery store ad that I saw this week. They also carry red and pink, if you're looking for a little more color. These are an indoor plant in most climates, but can handle the winter outdoors here if kept in the shade.

Lastly, ask about free branches at any place that sells Christmas trees near you!  Just ask out where they are trimming trees if you can have the branches that they cut. I'll admit I was a bit hesitant, but when I asked, the response was, "You can have them if you want!"

Tagged in: White Garden
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Garden Progress & This Week's Goals

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Larkspur The Prudent Homemaker

Larkspur. These reseed themselves in the garden every year.


I tried last week for a shortened to-do list for the week, and still, it didn't happen.

It reminded me of this quote from C.S. Lewis.

C S Lewis Quote The Prudent Homemaker

Interestingly enough, my children picked this video to watch on Sunday, which was a great thing for me to see in relation to the coming week. The ending made me cry (for a good reason). It's worth 9 minutes of your time: You Never Know How Much Good You Do

What did I accomplish last week?

I did get the children's shower curtains washed, and my bathtub emptied of plants, pots, and dirt. I still need to replant the pots that I overwintered for way too long in the house; I think I'll remove the ginger bulbs and try them in the garden, and replant the pots with begonias (I found some bulbs online) for the shade by the front door. I still need to plant the seedlings that are growing in one pot into the garden.

I went to Lowe's to buy some pots to plant my hibiscus plants. This wasn't even on my to-do list, but it should have been.  I didn't end up liking any of their options, but when I first walked into the department, I saw two large white hydrangea plants.

I've been wanting to grow hydrangeas for a long time.

Growing up in the desert, they're not something I've ever seen except in photos. I had been doing some reading on hydrangeas just a few days before I saw them, and I went home with one of them that night. The clerk told me they had got 6 plants in the day before, and those 2 were already all that was left. 

White Hydrangeas 1 The Prudent Homemaker


The next morning I was certain I wanted the other one, and I went back to get it. It was still there. I brought it back and planted it.

 Hydrangea The Prudent Homemaker

Both of these are up against the house, where they are in shade most of the day.

Hydrangea buds The Prudent Homemaker

Later I went to Home Depot to look at their pots (I checked online first and found one I liked). I took a different child with me to the store this time (I try to take one child at a time to the store for some individual time with mom). We bought the pots, and on the way home, as we approached the cemetery, my daughter asked when we could go to grandma's grave again.

"Right now," I said, and pulled into the cemetery.

That wasn't on my to-do list--but I'm sure glad we did it.

When we came home, Wren helped me plant the hibiscus.

I didn't plant the apricot tree, but I did take out the old pomegranate (a few years ago it stopped producing, overshadowed by other trees that had grown up near it. I removed it and moved it into a pot, but it still didn't produce. I think it needs a sunny spot in the ground. Two weeks ago, I bought a new, smaller pomegranate tree to replace it). I gave the old pomegranate to my neighbor, who already had a hole partly dug, and whose sons were visiting and able to finish digging the hole for her (something else had died in the spot, so she also had drip irrigation to the spot already). Wren, Ivory, and I planted the new pomegranate in the pot.

I spent time this week listening to a child who really needed to talk.

Later, my husband and I spent time discussing the needs of that child and what we can do to help her with those things.

 Passionfruit Flowers The Prudent Homemaker

Maypop Passionfruit Flowers


I did manage to pull out most of the pea plants, all of the broccoli plants, and a good number of dill plants. I planted Armenian cucumber seeds, dahlia seeds, and porutlaca seeds. I planted a few gladiolus bulbs. I took out and replanted several iris bulbs that were where the hydrangea went it. That required me to dig up several leeks, which will need to be planted elsewhere this week.

I moved the crib to the garage, though my husband will still have to find a place for it there.

I photographed and listed one item for sale on the Facebok gargae sale page.

I collected green onion seeds from the garden.

I went to Sam's Club and did my shopping there.

I didn't plant the Chinese lantern seeds. It says on the packet that they need at least 2 weeks of cool temepratures, and to refrigerate them, so I put them in the fridge.

I found a number of grape leaf skeleteonizer eggs. This is months earlier than they appeared last year. I will have to be diligent about checking the leaves of all of my vines and taking off infected leaves.

I did decide to have two girls switch rooms, which should make for quieter afternoons.

This week's goals, then, include some new items, and most of the same items from last week.  The Katy apricots and Desert Gold peaches look to be ripe some time this week, so they'll need to be picked, eaten, and processed.



1. Replant leeks in a new spot or two in the garden

2. Remove the rest of pea vines

3. Harvest Katy apricots and Desert Gold peaches

4. Plant zucchini, butternut squash, sunflower and red noodle bean seeds

5. Plant artichoke seedlings in the garden

6. Spray euonymus hedges for powdery mildew (I use an organic cottonseed oil for this)

7. Cut and dry chamomile buds

8. Plant raspberry bushes

9. Fix damaged drip lines and run a few new drip lines

10. Plant apricot tree

11. Pot begonias

12. Plant the other summer bulbs I ordered that came: gladiolus, dahlia (I'm trying seeds and bulbs), and lilies.

13. Reseed bare spots in grass

14. Remove dead leaves from center circle in back and plant zinna seeds in their place

15. Plant 2 tomato plants that have been waiting for the broccoli to come out

16. Put up tomato cages and stakes, and wire cages to stakes

17. Check grape vines for grape leaf skeletonizers and remove infected leaves

Organization and Cleaning:

1. Photograph and list several items for sale on Facebook garage sale pages

2. Take non-sold items to thrift store for donation at the end of the week

3. Hang pictures (I'm moving pictures around in a few places in the house)

4. Clean out behind fridge (we're blowing out the coils with the air compressor)

5. Clean dust in kitchen and main living areas after cleaning behind fridge :)

6. Help girls switch rooms


1. Take photos for three blog posts this week


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 Peony Festiva Maxima The Prudent Homemaker

My first peony! 

I've seen Claus Darby's name on several of the photos I've pinned on Pinterest before, but it wasn't until Friday that I started reading his blog, inspired by the photo I saw on Pinterest of his sunken white garden. The more I read, the more I realize how much my white garden was inspired by his photos of his own white gardens.

Saturday I went to the nursery, inspired by his gardens and other flower pictures on Pinterest. I went searching for double begonias after seeing them on Pinterest, hoping to find them but pretty sure I had seen only single begonias before. Begonias had never captured by eye before, but the double ones were so different than what I had seen before.

Begonia The Prudent Homemaker

The nursery only had single begonias, which looked nothing like the beautiful rose-like flowers that had inspired me to rethink begonias. I bought a six pack of the single begonias anyway (for $2.98)  and planted them (pictured above) in the shady spot by the front door. They are tiny right now.

White Garden April The Prudent Homemaker

Claus had this interesting post about what constitutes a lush garden. In his words, a lush garden is one where you can no longer see the dirt. That, combined with all of the photos of his bench surrounded by flowers (like this one), made a light go off in my head, and I realized what was bothering me in the white garden--all of the bare spots and about to be bare spots, as the greenery of spring bulbs dies back.

We are expecting temperatures in the upper 80ºs this week; it's time for me to plant summer seeds in the garden.

Iceberg Roses and Snapdragons in the White Garden

He also made me reconsider dahlias. I've always thought of dahlias as being a cooler climate flower, but Claus said that dahlias originated from Mexico. A little research on my part and I found that in hot climates, dahlias need what pretty much every plant needs here in the desert: morning sun and afternoon shade. Winco has had some dahlia tubers in the front of the store for a bit and now I am thinking of trying a few, if they have any left! (My plan to not buy any new flowers for the garden this year is being completely erased; it seems that flowers are all I can think about lately, and since my birthday is today, I think flowers it is!) What I don't know--and I would love to hear from those of you who grow dahlias, is if they make a single flower, flower for a short while, or flower all summer. (Update: They don't have any more dahlias! Anyone have a preferred online source?)


Star of Bethlehem The Prudent Homemaker

Star of Bethelem

Plans for this week:


1. Remove four non-producing trees from the garden

2. Plant new trees in their places

3. Plant more basil seeds in the white garden

4. Plant zinnia seeds in the white garden

5. Plant vinca seeds in the white garden

5. Remove pea plants from the garden and keep the pea pods for seed to plant next year

6. Replant summer seeds: Armenian cucumbers, red noodle pole beans, and zucchini. With all the wind storms we've had lately (49 mph at one point last week) I've not been in the garden much this month except to thin my fruit trees and cut flowers to bring in.

7. Pick mulberries from my neighbor's garden

8. Plant zinnia seeds in the circle in the backyard garden

9. Cut chamomile buds to dry

10. Remove spent plants, including broccoli.

11. Plant butternut squash seeds


Chamomile The Prudent Homemaker



1. Make a new apron for myself



1. Finish folding and putting away all outgrown children's clothes which are currently in my room

2. Finish organizing the pantry



1. Can mulberries in syrup

2. Freeze mulberries

3. Cook a large pot of black beans in the solar oven



1. Trip to Winco to check out the dahlias  I went; they were all gone!

2. Search online for new dress shoes for Winter



I have several blog posts I'm working on, and another 2-3  more that will go up this week before the Frugal Accomplishments post on Sunday/Monday. Make sure to check back for these.


Tagged in: Goals White Garden
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