Let's head to the Willamette Valley in the Pacific Northwest to visit Kyrie Mead and her beautiful garden. Kyrie is a mom of three with another little one on the way. She blogs at Are So Happy and is a wonderful photographer.
You won't want to miss the photos from her gorgeous garden. Do come along!
A view of the raised beds that includes one of the girls' favorite crops -- honeysuckle!
Tell us a little about your family and your garden.
We consist of myself, my husband, three girls (currently aged 5, 3, and 1), and one little one who is due to arrive next year. We live in the beautiful Willamette Valley in the Pacific Northwest. This is our third summer in our home (after years of living in apartments), and when we moved in, the entire 1/4 acre that we live on was covered in AstroTurf! That meant we had a total blank slate as far as our garden and yard went.
A small island in the water fountain planted with a lovely flowering moss. The girls have dubbed it "Pixie Island."
We filled it with lawn, decorative plants, raised garden beds, trees, a sandbox, a fire pit, and a large water feature. Our main goal was to make a space that invited a lot of interaction. Lots of things to pick, eat, smell, step on, play in, hide under .... It's been so fun to watch it emerge from nothing to a space that we are in every day.
A "secret pathway" for the girls among the backyard plantings.
What inspired you to start a garden? Did you grow up with one?
My father grew up on a farm, and my mother has an innate drive to create beauty. Even though we didn't grow food in our series of average homes growing up, we always had lots of flowers and plants outside that we tended and knew well. Both parents instilled in me the love of nature and a deep-rooted taxonomy. The names of the plants and trees around us, the way they behaved in the different seasons, the crops in the fields and what they were used for. I always assumed that when I had a family, I would plant and tend things, too, and then after my husband and I had our first child, I became interested in the local foods movement and got excited to begin growing some of our food as well.
Helping to thin carrots, always a favorite activity in the garden!
What are some easy ways to include children in the day-to-day aspects of keeping a garden?
I like to hand water the raised beds in the morning after breakfast, do a little weeding, and check on everything. I think part of helping the girls connect with the experience of actually tending the plants is to do it myself on a daily basis. They are always right next to me, holding the hose, plucking out weeds, carrying a little basket in case anything has ripened overnight.
The girls also have one raised bed in our garden that is all their own. They choose the seeds to plant, plant the seeds, water and weed it, and they are allowed to pick anything they want out of it at any time. They love having carte blanche in their little corner and are over there a lot! It seems to be more fabulous every year, as some of the things from past years have returned as volunteers and they get more excited about it.
The roses I'm trying to train over the trellis in our front yard. They smell divine!
Tell us about a recent DIY project that you've taken on and love.
I'm not sure if this qualifies, but I'm in the process of training climbing roses up and over a trellis that frames our front gate, and I love it so much. Right now it's just a bit of scraggly rose runners, but I have faith that someday it will be resplendent!
A view of our raised garden beds; the flowers here are in the bed the girls tend and plant on their own.
What one tip would you share with beginner gardeners?
Plant what you LOVE.
A special spot the girls love to play; this "fairy tree" is underplanted with soft moss.
What's new in your garden this season?
We got a couple more trees; an espaliered Bartlett and an espaliered Fuji. Espaliered fruit trees are a wonderful way to have fruit in a small garden. We also planted lots of calendula, which is very exciting to me, as it's useful for so many things. I've been doing a lot of reading on the art of herbalism and there's just no better way to be assured of the quality of your herbs than to grow them yourself.
The fire pit, with rock seating, and the water fountain beyond.
What garden blogs and books do you love?
On the wide world of the Internet, my food gardening favorites are: Baker Creek, the Seed Savers Exchange, Mother Earth News' organic gardening section, Territorial Seed, Wood Prairie Farm, and Kitchen Garden Seeds.
My current favorite garden related book is Four-Season Harvest.
Another wonderful thing to connect to is your local Master Gardener program; you don't have to be a member to go to the talks or to just call in and get advice! I also utilize my State Extension Office, a wealth of information!
More hidey holes in the backyard plantings for the girls. I love the strong architectural element hostas give.
Why do you garden?
To connect with the earth and the seasons. To connect my children with food, with life, with beauty. To create a space that nurtures our spirits and our senses.
Wading in the shallow lower edge of the water fountain, popular with every child and adult!
Kyrie Mead lives in a little gray house with white trim that wants to grow up to be a cottage. She shares it with one husband, three little girls, one baby in the belly, and one wacky cat. She is a full-time mama, leader of adventures, kisser of scrapes, cleaner of muddy clothes and muddy babies, cooker of suppers and breakfasts and teas, lover and wife, and maker of beauty.
All images via Kyrie Mead