Good to Grow: Discovering your love of gardening

Essential reporting in volatile times.

Not a Subscriber yet? Click here to take advantage of All access digital limited time offer $5.99 per month EZ Pay.

Interested in Donating? Click #ISupportLocal for more information on supporting local journalism.


When deciding the size of your garden, be realistic with what you can maintain. For most who are moving from weekend gardener to stay-at-home gardener, starting small is a good idea. Your garden will grow (in plot size) as you learn what you like and what grows in your area.

I have the privilege of working from home this spring.

I say privilege because I love being at home. I also realize how lucky I am to be healthy and continue working yet step out into the garden for a fresh air break.

As we spend more time at home, escaping to the garden, the patio or the front porch has become appealing. I’m hearing stories of weekend gardeners taking on outside projects, from flowers to veggies, and I think it is great. Send me photos or tag me in your social media posts on Facebook or Instagram. Let’s stay connected, and if by chance you want to reference a past column or see photos of my garden, you can find those at

Tidying up the landscape is often on the top of the to-do list of projects. This might mean fixing a broken fence, replacing a stone path or removing a misplaced shrub.

I spent Saturday raking leaves. Yes, I’m slightly embarrassed to say there are still leaves under bushes and behind planters. Raking led to pulling and digging up stray weeds that found their way into garden beds. For now, I don’t need to spread new mulch — I still have enough to protect the perennials, keep the mud at bay and give it a finished look.

After your space is tidy, you may decide to plant a garden. Great! Now choose your garden size. Here I will share a bit of hard earned wisdom — be realistic with what you can maintain. For most who are moving from weekend gardener to stay-at-home gardener, starting small is a good idea. Your garden will grow (in plot size) as you learn what you like and what grows in your area.

If it’s flowers and shrubs you want, great. Work with what you’ve got. This will make the project easier — and who doesn’t love the challenge of making hum-drum into fabulous?

When I moved into the little house on a big hill, I inherited three peonies growing in the back garden. That was a long ago, and they still bloom every year. As I cleaned the area where they live, I was happy to see them return again this year. During the next week or so I will brace them with a metal hoop, which will give support to the plant as the stems produce those big, beautiful flowers.

Because of these peonies, I worked to create a colorful assortment of perennials that complement them in the spring, then take center stage as the peony blooms are dying back in early summer. This bed has taken abuse from deer and the pup, but every year in late May I can count on the peonies.

Working with my herb garden, which is really just a collection of pots that I have used for years, I found that my oregano, rosemary, chives and mint were all coming back and they looked quite healthy. When it gets warmer and there is no chance of frost, I’ll add basil and a few others, but for now I am quite pleased that the winter was mild and they decided to stick around for another year.

My herb garden is a great example of starting small. I grew my first herbs in two tiny pots outside of the kitchen door. It was so much fun to have a few fresh herbs that the next year I added another pot. Soon, I grew to bigger pots and moved them all to their permanent home near what would become my vegetable garden.

That too has grown over the years. Now it’s more than double the original size, plus I have tomato pots scattered around to maximize the sunshine. But it didn’t happen all in one year: I added space as I learned what vegetables I used more of and what vegetables thrived in the space.

The good thing about planting a flower garden or a vegetable garden, although you need to manage the work load, is that it’s fun to have an abundant harvest to share with others.

Eventually, we will all ease back into our hectic lives filled with time at the office, ballgames, dance lessons, travel obligations and endless errands. When this happens — and it will — you want to have created a garden space that gives you joy, not the burden of upkeep.

Jane Powell is a long-time West Virginia Extension Service Master Gardener through the Kanawha County chapter and has a garden with sunny spots and shady beds where she grows perennials, vegetables and herbs. She is also the author of “Gardening in Pearls,” a blog that combines her love of gardens, fashion and design. By day, Jane is the communications director for a community foundation and a volunteer with several nonprofits in the community. Find her blog at Reach Jane at

Funerals for Thursday, July 2, 2020

Adkins, Anne - 6 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Morton, Freda - 11 a.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Nunn, Terry - 7 p.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Olive, Rex - 2 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Reynolds, George - 2 p.m., Dodd & Reed Funeral Home, Webster Springs.

Rhodes, Ella - 4 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

Rose, Carol - 10 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Waldron, Helen - 1 p.m., Forks of Coal Cemetery, Alum Creek.

Wibberg, David - 11 a.m., St. Anthony Catholic Church, Charleston.