Millie’s Garden Spring 2022 Additions, Part 3

Recently a friend and I visited the Maymont Plant Sale where many vendors were selling native plants.  Ever since reading up on planting natives for our area and natural habitat, I’ve had natives on our wishlist.  

When we started the garden, “natives” was not a buzzword. In the beginning, we were just trying to fill the garden with aesthetically pleasing butterfly attracting perennials, and I didn’t pay much attention to its origin or whether it was considered invasive (Our butterfly bushes are!).

Now we see the word “native” stamped on many plants, it’s trendy. But it’s also the right thing to do to attract and keep those beneficial insects that are naturally your backyard buddies.

It’s funny because some of the natives that were being sold, we might consider a weed in our yard. The violet springing up as a cover crop in Millie’s garden? Guilty- I was pulling it out last summer. And at the plant sale, it was being sold for $7.50 in a quart sized pot!

As I’m learning more and more, the word “native” is a general term (all plants are native to someplace!), however there are many facets and considerations to what a native is and how it is grown. Is it grown from seed (preferable) or propagated? Is it grown from a seed specific to the geographical location where it is being offered (preferable), or is it a native in California as well, and the plant you are buying is a native from California? So many layers of information to uncover as we continue to add to Millie’s garden.

Good Seed Natives

They had some great buys, and I am especially excited for these new additions. The ladies were very knowledgeable, and the plants I purchased were started from seed from a plant that is native to the Virginia area, so even though the prices were higher, I knew I was getting “the real deal.” They are all full sun, clay tolerant, and deer resistant perennials – a triple win for us.

-New England aster. We added two of these in the garden along the edges, and I can’t wait until August when they begin to bloom. As I write this, I realize I have no idea what color the blooms might be, I just assumed blue. I’ll update y’all in August!

-American boneset. This plant is not on our wishlist, although its relative, Joe Pye Weed, is. This plant spreads through rhizomes underground. If it’s anything like the hop rhizomes we have planted at my mom’s then this will be a vigorous plant! I added this along the edge, close to our hopping rocks, and where our columbine failed to thrive last year. It’s a super sunny spot, which explains why the columbine may have failed and is also a promising home for the sun-loving plant. So far this plant has not made that initial “I’m home” jump, but I hope with this recent rain it will begin growing.

-Evening primrose. This is an interesting add- it’s a plant whose flower opens at dusk and closes in the morning, providing a food source to night moths. After buying a few of these, and doing research, it is labelled “invasive” and the ladies did inform…forewarn?…me that this plant will reseed vigorously throughout the entire yard. This also, was not on the wishlist. Well, maybe? I did have the general umbrella of “natives” on my wishlist.

RVA homegrown natives

-Virginia mountain mint. We love mint in our garden, and it’s quick to spread. I hope this mint will, too. It likes wet feet, and apparently partial shade according to I planted it right in front of one of our garden stones, and it gets full sun. The bugle carpet, which prefers shadier locations has seems to survive, even if it’s not thriving. It was a welcome surprise to find as I weeded and prepped this area.

-potentilla canadensis. This is another easy growing, easy going native and should thrive in the full sun. It will attract bees, bunnies, and birds according to North Carolina’s Gardener Extension. It should spread and cover the ground well over time, which would be lovely!

I can’t afford to add only natives to the garden, although I am happy that in some small way we are adding plants that will benefit native pollinators.

What is your favorite plant that attracts pollinators?

Read about Part 1 here.

Read about Part 2 here.


A proverb to ponder…

I am a house with four rooms.

“There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.”

Rumer Godden

It is an interesting thought that I will continue to ponder throughout the week.

I have not been visiting this “room” for a long time now, instead trying to do more off screen, keeping up with housework, my job, my family.

However, I have also had this nagging thought at the back of my mind that I haven’t sat down to write for me. I haven’t (since February) dedicated time daily for my so-called “Unicorn Space” to blog, to journal, to be inspired and breathe life into those little things that make my soul smile.

I will be searching to find for me, how can I visit each room, even if briefly, on the daily. What does each room hold?

What does it mean to visit my spiritual room- prayer? Meditation? Millie’s garden?

What does a visit to my emotional room look like- sitting with my feelings? Being more mindful of my emotions and labeling them?

And what about the physical and mental rooms? What lies behind their doors? A walk in nature? Quiet time to read a book or listen to a podcast?

Let’s continue the discussion :

What are in your rooms, and how can you take care to go into each room every day?

Five a day

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denials into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melody Beattie

Part of my new morning ritual is to read daily a book I discovered quite serendipitously: Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

She shared the quote above – so beautiful, so true- and a challenge to note five reasons to be grateful each day.

Some mornings I can be in solitude to read my book and note the previous days gratitudes, although this morning, Mon Cœur was up with me. First she scribbled her gratitudes in my journal, then I reminded her about her journal and she noted her gratitudes there.

This week, I was grateful for:

  • A snow day with the kids
  • Dinner as a family
  • Beautiful sunrises and sunsets
  • A walk through Millie’s garden
  • Hugs & snugs
  • Thirty minutes to sleep in bed alone
  • Beautiful full moon
  • Brisk afternoon walks
  • Dance parties with Mon Amour
  • Help with housework
  • Mon Cœur’s laugh when playing with Chou Chou

Mon Cœur was grateful for:

  • Unicorns
  • Sunrises and sunsets
  • Ice horses

How do you maintain a spirit of gratefulness?

Word of the year

For 2022, my word of the year is less.

Less is more

less words, better chosen ones

less screen time, more life time

less money spent, more saved

less junk, more order

less hoping, more intentional planning and doing

less stuff, less clutter, more simple, open spaces

less waiting, more action

less multitasking, more prioritizing and focusing on one thing at a time.

less trying to do everything for everyone and more trying to do something for me.

In 2022, I will aspire to be less. Sounds counterintuitive. I have realized that I try to overcomplicate …well, everything. By doing less complicated things, I can focus more on the simple, wonderful gifts that are found all around me.

I can not take credit for this idea of word of the year… this comes from Gretchen Rubin, who co-hosts the Happier podcast. Hear more about the word of the year at her podcast here. Gretchen is the author of The Happiness Project and Outer Order, Inner Calm, among others.

What’s your word for 2022?

Book review: Can pirates be farmers?

“When you plant love, it grows.”

-Pirates on the Farm


I bought this quirky little title, Pirates on the Farm, on a whim at a children’s consignment shop and gave it to Mon Cœur for Christmas. It was pretty unassuming and I wasn’t really sure what the story would be about, other than the obvious.

The story is interesting, providing many opportunities for discussion, and the illustrations are delightfully playful.

The story unfolds as a little girl explains how the pirates came to be their neighbors, and as they do certain very piratey things (like looting), how different people in the community react.

Her younger brother is an admirer – he loves everything pirate. He has found an eye patch and starts calling his sister “Matey.”

Her mother is beside herself with shock, and does everything she can to try to remove them from the neighborhood. She meets with the Sheriff, then bands together with the women of the church to try to kick them out of the community.

But the dad, he’s a gracious guest of the pirates, a helping hand, and a friend to his new neighbors. As the pirates navigate their new life on land, the dad helps to make repairs to their barn/ship, he sits with them at church, even though they don’t sing the correct words, and they steal from the offering plate, and he sits down to dinner and eats (by any non-pirate standards) an unappealing meal and asks for seconds.


This book allowed us to see some of the many tasks a farmer has – planting, watering, harvesting, milking, shearing, and even branding. These tasks are hilariously illustrated with the pirates’ faux pas – prancing through the cornfield, swinging their swords to harvest corn? Dumping whole bags of seeds in one very large, and very deep hole?

It allowed us to see how various people can react differently to the same situation: with enthusiasm, with shock and dismay, with just the facts, and with encouragement and without judgement. What a spectrum of reactions!

This reminds me of the quote that we have no control over other peoples actions, all we can do is control our own. And how one reacts to a situation can be just as powerful to determining the outcome of an event. We always have the power to change things for better or worse. I’ve learned this the hard way, and still stumble more often than I wish, when patience is waning and emotions are high.

We all have our own prejudgements of what pirates are supposed to be and do, and so some of the things they do in the book are no surprise – stealing, eating hardtack, and sword fighting.

And then there are moments that show them in a completely unexpected and even endearing light – singing in church, bringing gifts to a dinner party, and “saving” baby Jesus from the manger, because they didn’t “understand why anyone would put a baby in a trough.”

This is a new favorite of MC’s and we read it pretty much every evening before bed. The illustrations are funny, and it’s a quick, lighthearted read that you can dive deep into and discuss as much as you want.

Questions that kept the conversation going well after turning the last page:

What does it mean to be a neighbor?

Are we planting love? (On specific occasions when we need to step back, look at what we did, and retry)

How could we react differently to — ?

Can we look for and appreciate unexpected actions from others?

Pirates on the Farm written by Dennette Fretz and illustrated by Gene Barretta