Garden View: Creating a serene garden space


Do you yearn for a place to read, watch wildlife or just relax? A serene garden can serve as a quiet escape from busy lives. Gardens can be our personal retreat or a special place that we share with someone in our lives.

“Where do we begin,” you might ask. Gardens are personal. They are ever-evolving — like our lives. Gardens should express some of our personal history, as well as our current and future lives.

Dig into your past gardening experience for inspiration. Gardening as a child creates special memories. A special memory from my life was created in kindergarten, when we found a chrysalis in the school garden and brought it into the classroom to watch the life cycle of the butterfly. The memory of the emerging butterfly is as vivid today as it was then.

In my garden today, I like to create special places where I can watch butterflies in all of their life stages. This brings plenty of opportunities for me to learn about host plants and special features to add to my garden. Just now, I am tearing out a large vine that covered 16 feet of trellis, and I am going to replace this with butterfly plants that I can share with my great granddaughter. She loves being outside, and the old vine severed to create a small retreat with patio paving and a table and two chairs.

Another fond memory that I have is the time spent with my grandmother in the rose garden. She loved roses, as did my father, and we always had roses in the garden. And, when the roses were blooming, we had a house filled with the fragrance of roses placed in vases in most every room of our home. Growing roses in South Texas was challenging for me when I first started, but I quickly learned that a visit to local nurserymen is time well-spent, as they know what works here and what varieties are best left to other climates.

My childhood also included a very large vegetable garden. We shared fresh vegetables with family and friends, and my mother and aunts gathered in our kitchen to can fresh vegetables for winter months. In the Rio Grande Valley, growing vegetables, fruits or herbs can be nearly a year-round experience. Vegetables can be tucked in our flowerbed or grown-in containers. I like having fresh herbs to add to dishes, in quantities that I need, year-round. I no longer have a large vegetable garden, but I still plant my favorite vegetables and still enjoy trying new varieties.

So, when you begin to plan for a garden, take a few minutes to think about those special memories that you may have from your past, or think about those you want to create with someone special in your life. Including plants from special memories can be a way to add to your feelings of serenity in your new garden. It gives you a direction on the types of garden plants that you are likely to enjoy and enjoy sharing.

If you would like a copy of the Vegetable Planting Guide for the Rio Grande Valley, stop by the Growing Growers Farmers Market today and talk to a Master Gardener about plants that work well in South Texas. This market is in McAllen’s Firemen’s Park, at the corner of 1st Street and Business 83, and is open from 9 a.m. until noon every Saturday.

Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can listen to her garden show at 7 a.m. Saturday on 710 KURV Radio, or email her at