Garden Therapy! Colorful Shade Plants!

Garden Therapy!  Colorful Shade Plants!

So far, spring in Utah where I live hasn’t consisted of too many sunny days…but thank goodness the sun does eventually shine!  Meanwhile, I’ve been wandering our local garden centers in anticipation of getting out in my flowerbeds again.  Usually, my focus is on good hardy plants that will survive and thrive in the heat of the summer sun, but since the trees are maturing and getting bigger in my yard, I’ve been doing a little research on fun, colorful plants that do good in shady areas.

Colorful Shade Plants!

Well-Known Shade Plants!

  • Impatiens

Probably one of the most recognizable and popular colorful shade plants is Impatiens; they are fairly hardy plants and require little care other than moderate watering and some insect and slug control, since snails love their delicate petals and aphids breed well in shady areas.

Colorful Shade plants--impatiens.

Impatiens are pretty annual flowers that come in a variety of colors and bloom all summer long.  They usually grow about 8-10 inches tall.  I like to plant a combination of all the bright colors in some of my shady flower beds.

Slug and pest control for flowers.

I’ve found sprinkling Corry’s slug bait in the mulch around my plants works best to protect them against snails, and that Bayer Flower Insect Spry does a great job of protecting flowers from a variety of insects–it’s also animal safe.

I think we’re all pretty familiar with many of the more well-known shade plants, typically planted in the north facing areas of our yards.  Growing up, we had a large side yard that faced north where several pine trees grew; it was a favorite place to play with neighborhood friends during the summer, since it didn’t get the heat of the midday sun.  My mom grew rhubarb plants along the fence and planted what seemed like hundreds of colorful Impatiens under the pine trees.   

Impatient: Colorful shade flowers.

Impatiens will do well in rocky and clay soil if you just add some sand and mulch to your dirt for the best flowering results.  Since decorative, cement curbing wasn’t available back then, my parents often lined rocks around their flowers beds–I love the natural look and have used some in parts of my yard.

  • Coleus    

One of my very favorite shade plants is coleus; the variety and colors of these lush, leafy plants seems to be endless.  Coleus are a great filler to any flowerbed, but also gorgeous all on their own!

Coleus plants.

Coleus provide stunning color to any shade area.  Most varieties grow 16-18 inches tall, but you can pinch them back so the plants grow out more full.  

Photo (105)

Colorful shade plants for container pots.

Impatiens and coleus are perfect for porch planters where there’s no direct sun! 

  • Pansies and Violas

These pretty, lacy-edged flowers were a favorite of both my grandmother and my mother-in-law.  They’re usually the first flowers you’ll see blooming in all their pretty color combinations come springtime.

Colorful shade flowers-pansies and violas.

While pansies and violas tend to thrive in the cooler, early spring sun, I’ve found that they don’t like the heat of the hotter summer sun unless planted in shady areas that only allows for some indirect sunlight to shine on them.

Colorful shade flowers-pansies and violas.

If you’ll pinch off the old, wilted blooms on your pansy and viola flowers, it will help generate new ones much quicker.  They require regular watering too.

Other Colorful Shade Plants!

  • Lamium 

Lamium, better known to me as purple dragon, is a pretty perennial flowering ground cover that blooms most of the summer.  I love the variegation of the silvery green color of the leaves along with the unique flower shape.  (There’s a white flower variety too.) 

Colorful shade flowers-lamium.

I like to mix Lamium in with other kinds of ground cover under the big maple trees in my back yard for some fun added color and texture.  

  •  Astilbe

When I was first in search of some long lasting, blooming shade perennial flowers, a cute gal at our nearby garden center introduced me to Astilbe flowers–my granddaughters knowingly refer to them as feather duster plants–since that is exactly what they look like!  (Your yard will thank you in lush plants if you become good friends with your local plant ladies…and guys–seriously, such fun people and they all love what they do!)    


Astilbe flowers can tolerate some indirect sunlight, but do best when planted in mostly shady areas.  They also like soil that stays pretty moist, so you will want to keep the slug bait and sprinkle some around them every other week.  Even when their blooms fade, they have a neat rustic look to them.   

  • Hydrangeas

I was always fascinated with the ever-changing color hues of the hydrangea bushes my grandmother grew in her beautiful gardens, and to this day the smell of them reminds me of the blooms she’d clip and put in fun vases throughout her house.  For some reason though, I didn’t think I had the “green thumb” so to speak, to keep any growing in my own yard…but come to find out, they are really very easy to grow as long as you plant them in more shady flowerbeds that don’t get hot afternoon sun and fertilize them regularly.

Colorful Shande flowers-hydrandeas

I usually plant the “Endless Summer” variety of Hydrangea bushes because, as the name indicates, they bloom all summer long.  I love how the blossoms fade from bright pink to a pale bluish hue as they mature.  Hydrangeas like mulch rich, moist soil.  Plant Hydrangeas where there is room to grow since they will get about 3-5 feet high.  I treat them with Bayer pest spray once a month. 

Easy to grow Endless Summer hydrangeas.

I love to plant Hydrangea bushes in large ceramic pots in my flower beds too; just water every other day and make sure there’s good drainage.

My grandma was such a neat influence in my life.  As a child, I loved working together in her flowerbeds; those memories are some of the main reasons I look forward to getting out in my own yard this time of year–she often told me that…

Quote about spring.

Whatever you like to do to renew your spirit this special springtime of year…I  hope you find it in abundance!

What are some colorful shade plants you love to plant in your yard?  Do you have any handy yard care tips that you’d share with us here?


Admirable Women! The Quiet Strength of Laura Bush!

Admirable Women!

There are so many loving and gracious women from my mother and grandmother, to wonderful teachers, friends and neighbors, as well as influential public figures, who have enriched my life in so many ways, that I have decided to start a new series here on the Tribute Journal spotlighting some of these admirable women!

Admirable Women!

In today’s society, it often seems that more attention is paid to the women yelling obscenities into a mega phone, rather than those who show by their untiring efforts to make a “real” difference as they lead with gentle fortitude and steadfast commitment to their families, churches and communities.  These are the kind of women I want to rally with, so to speak; these are the women I want my children and grandchildren to be inspired by when they face tough times and hard decisions, so they can still remain hopeful and happy in this ever evolving world.

The Quiet Strength of Laura Bush!


(via White House Portraits)

Laura Welch Bush was the only child of Harold and Jenna Welch.  Mrs. Bush states in her autobiography, Spoken From The Heart, that although her beloved parents lost three other babies, due to either miscarriage or infant death, they loved and laughed; nurturing her with kind, supportive care to help her become the capable, educated and considerate woman she is today!

Laura Bush grew up in Midland Texas, a place she describes as ice cream sundaes…and Saturday morning pony rides.  Mrs. Bush graduated from Southern Methodist University in Texas with a degree in early childhood education and later went on to receive her master degree in library science.  One of the things I probably admire most about Laura Bush, is the fact that as a teacher, first in Dallas, then later in Houston, she championed community causes such as literacy and elementary school programs long before she became a high-profile public figure.  Mrs. Bush was a major driving force behind the local book fairs that are common in many of the grade schools even now.

Admirable Women! The Quiet Strength of Laura Bush!

(via Laura Bush Foundation)

“Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find answers.  And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.”  Laura Bush

In 1995, as the wife of then Governor George W. Bush, Mrs. Bush established the Texas Book Festival, an annual event that promotes literacy; when her husband became President of the United States in 2001, she launched the first National Book Festival, which featured authors from every state across the nation.

Laura Bush also became involved in the Reach Out and Read program, which is an early childhood development initiative geared to helping parents and other caregivers to prepare children for formal instruction in reading.

In 2002, Mrs. Bush launched the Laura Bush Foundation for American Libraries, that grants awards worth more than $1,000,000 to US schools every year.

Children's books by Laura Bush.

Laura Bush has also written two delightful children’s books with her daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, that my granddaughters love me to read to them. 

As an avid reader, myself, who loves to share good books with family and friends, I greatly admire the remarkable efforts of Laura Bush in setting a higher standard for literacy, libraries and education in America!

Laura Bush quote.

September 11, 2001, not only brought the horror and devastation of terrorism to America, it shed light on the cruel and inhumane treatment of Afghan women in their homeland.  Mrs. Bush, along with other thoughtful and influential women, including Condoleezza Rice, became outspoken advocates for expanding rights and opportunities for all women worldwide!

Laura Bush, Condoleza Rice advocate for Afghan women's rights.

(via Condoleezza Rice archives) 

On November 17, 2001, the White House assigned President’s Bush’s weekly radio address to First Lady, Laura Bush.  It marked the first time that a presidential wife was given this opportunity.  Mrs. Bush stated that the war on terrorism was “a fight for the rights and dignity of women everywhere.” 

“Islam is a religion that respects women and humanity and condemns the brutal degradation of women and children by the Taliban regime.  In Afghanistan, we see the world the terrorists would like to impose on the rest of us.”  Laura Bush

Anyone who considerately seeks after proper treatment of women and children with dignified finesse, is for me, someone who is worthy of deep admiration!

Admirable Women! The Quiet Strength of Laura Bush!

Perhaps one of the things I admire more than anything else about Laura Bush and her husband, is how honorably they have conducted their post presidential years.  According to biography.com, the former president and first lady enjoy an active and enjoyable life at their home in Crawford, Texas, that includes the love of gardening for her, and painting for him.  (Pres. Bush recently published a book portrait paintings he did of former Veteran’s titled “Portraits of Courage”.)  Mrs. Bush also remains actively involved with many of the causes she championed during her more public years.

The Laura W. Bush Institute for Women's Health.

(via Laura Bush Foundation)

Laura Bush continues to promote current women’s issues and the improvement of women’s healthcare worldwide, which includes raising funds for “The Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health” founded in August of 2007 as part of Texas Tech University’s Health Science Center in Lubbock, Texas. 

Admirable Women! The Quiet Strength of Laura Bush!

(via George W. Bush Institute)

The former President of the United States and Mrs. Bush visited Botswana and Namibia, Africa on April 4-7, 2017, as part of their George W. Bush Institute’s work on global advancement of women’s health and leadership that has now made available breast and cervical screening tests in that country. 

As a maternity and NICU nurse, with a degree in health education, I understand well the need for all women to make their health a priority.  I’m in awe of the work the Bush’s have done to make health information and aid available to so many in need throughout the world!

Laura Bush quote.

Of the women you find admirable, what are some of their character traits that inspire you?  Also, I’d love your input on other women, from all walks of life, that you’d like featured in this series.  Would you be interested in being a guest writer on my blog and presenting a woman you admire? 

–Love always, Mary


Creating Your Home Sweet Home! Baby Love Nursery Design!

Creating Your Home Sweet Home!  Baby Love Nursery Design!

As a Maternity/NICU nurse, I can vouch for the fact that there is nothing more wonderful than the birth of a sweet, new baby…and springtime seems to be an especially favorite time of year to have a precious, little one!  (I have a spring birthday and all my children were born during the first part of the year.)  Aside from the thrill of welcoming a new family member, parents love to prepare a special space for the baby as they anticipate their arrival.

Baby Love Nursery DesignLike any other room in your home, you want your baby’s nursery to be a unique extension of your family’s personality and style…while at the same time allowing for it to be a place where your baby can grow and develop his/her own special characteristics!

Things To Consider As You Design A Nursery!

My husband and I now have five grandchildren–three of them arriving just last year!  Not only has it been wonderful to welcome each of these adorable babies to our family, it’s also been fun to see the darling nurseries designed for each one!  Here are a few ideas I came across, as well as some my kids and their spouses shared with me for creating a special nursery that not only includes decorating ideas, but safety tips from pediatricians too.

Style That’s Safe!

While creating a safe and secure nursery for your baby should always be a top priority for expectant parents, it doesn’t need to take away from the of excitement of deciding paint colors, gathering fabric swatches, or other fun design elements you want to incorporate.  Here are a few of the top recommendations from the American Pediatric Association for you to consider as you decorate that special room for your little one!

  • Use minimal, lightweight artwork over your crib to prevent any future mishaps of it falling on your baby as they grow.  If you do decide to add framed pictures or other heavier design elements…..be sure and anchor them securely with earthquake-proof hooks and pull the crib away from the wall a little.

Scallop wall nursery design.

Baby Love Nursery Design!

My daughter, Malia, and her husband created this unique textured wall by installing individual cedar scallops that they sanded and painted and hung securely on the main wall of my granddaughter, Maylan’s nursery.  This design element added such a fun impact to the room and goes so perfectly with the vintage feel Malia wanted to create, that all she felt she needed above the crib was a simple, lightweight name banner with a few extra strands of lace.  

Stylish and safe nursery design.

Painted wall murals or designs, as well as vinyl decals would also be a good décor option for above a crib.  My youngest daughter put a beautiful macramé wall hanging above her little girl’s bed.

  • Obviously, buying a crib is always a big consideration when creating a baby’s nursery…getting a good night’s sleep is a common desire for any new parent to be-for their baby and for them!  When assembling a crib, take time to make sure each screw is tightened securely.  The slats on a crib should be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart.  Also steer clear of any cutouts in the headboard where a baby might get stuck.  An adjustable mattress is a must too.  

Baby Love Nursery Design!

Another important safety factor to consider is to avoid any window treatments with fabric or cords that the baby can reach.  My son and daughter-in-law live in Germany while he serves as a dentist for the Army.  The darling nursery they’ve set up for their sweet little boy, Elliot, who they adopted last September, has a fun European vibe to it.  I love the fact that the windows there have retractable shutters built within the window itself!  Such a brilliant idea–and certainly child-proof!  (You can read more about their adoption journey here.) 

Baby Love Safe Nursery Design!

Any stuffed animals and blankets should also be kept to a minimum when putting your baby down to sleep.  If your thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature, the pajamas and swaddle blanket used to wrap your baby in, is warmth enough. (Eli is one lucky little boy!)

♥ Convenient Comfort!

  • As a designer, my daughter will tell you that a room’s design and décor shouldn’t collide with the normal ebb and flow of your everyday living!  That seems to be especially true for all the activity that takes place in a nursery!  

Babinski nursery rocking chair.

Nursery rocking chairs.

You’ll want a comfortable place to rock your baby or offer late-night feedings.  As you can see from my grandchildren’s nurseries, there is a wide variety of rockers available that will suit your décor style. 

(Eli’s sleek rocker is from Ikea, Malia ordered her’s from Babinski’s.)

Modular baby night light.

Modern nursery lights.

Overhead lighting on a dimmer or an extra source of ambient light to help keep the room soothing while you care for your baby during the night without fully jarring you both awake is a nursery plus too. 

(The modular Ikea lamp is similar to the one that Mandi put in her nursery and fits her fun, ecclectic modern design style.  The unique natural wood cylinder table light on Eli’s dresser/changing table is also from Ikea.) 

Nursery rugs 2

Having soft, durable floor coverings or rugs with lower fiber pile for easy cleaning is nice to have in a nursery since they will more than likely become a frequent play area for you and your little ones! 

(Rugs make a big design statement–I like the selection of rugs from USArugs.  I also love the Oh Joy brand from Target and Land of Nod for nursery decor! )  

 ♥ Trends and Treasures!

  • I remember trying to incorporate the latest trend styles into my nurseries when I had little babies, but I think the prettiest home design is most often created when you use a thoughtful mixture of both trendy décor items and timeless treasures that have a sentimental value–as well as special pieces that have been passed on to you from previous generations. 

Baby Love Nursery Design!

Hanging on the wall as you enter my granddaughter, Maylan’s cute nursery is a picture I had in my girl’s bedroom when they were little.  I had it reframed after my sweet grandmother gave it to me; looking at it always makes me feel like somehow she’s watching over us!

Vintage baby shoes.

These little vintage shoes on Maylan’s dresser were another special treasure passed on to Malia and add a unique touch to the room.

Baby Love Nursery Design!

 Sitting on top of Eli’s bookshelf is the sign his parent’s held for their adoption profile pictures–he’ll know that he joined their family in a very special way!  Nursery décor doesn’t get much better than that! 

My mom used to say that a child’s room should mostly reflect love– she often told me she was a better person for having children…..and grandchildren!!  I echo her sentiments!

Baby quote.

Our families truly do provide us with our greatest adventures in life!

What’s something you love to incorporate in nursery décor?