Everyday Gardeners

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Posts by Shawna Coronado

Side Yard Ferns in Shawna Coronado perennial garden

Fall is the best time to plant perennials in many locations across the country. Why not rebuild that barren side yard garden bed that has been plaguing you this fall? Several years ago I had a rather desolate area on the side of my home (see photo right)  that I converted into a flagstone walking path surrounded by shade perennials.

Side yards often come with adverse conditions. In my case, I have an oak tree planted on the side of my house that gives shade to cool our home, but is located in such a way as to prevent most light from making an appearance in the side garden. This isShady Side Yard Demolition common in side yards and I have a solution: a quiet path combined with shade plants.

Flagstone can be a large investment, however, it is also possible to make a path from old bark or mulch. I placed lots of organic matter in the soil then planted it up with a mixture of ferns, hostas, and other part-shade to shade loving perennials.

2 Awesome Perennials For Shade


Dependent upon the variety of fern, you can plant a native to your region, which can be a beneficial home for small mammals like lizards and songbirds. I have often seen frogs and turtles hide in ferns as well. In the photo at top you see Lady Ferns which can grow up to 3 feet tall in my garden. They were given to me as pass-along plants by my mother-in-law and I love them. Squirrels often romp at the base of the oak tree in the ferns. In a dry year the plants will fall to the ground in drought, but will recover in the spring and sprout new fronds reliably. Ferns typically like a rich soil and shady conditions, so they do very well here. Lady Fern, Cinnamon Fern, and New York Fern are some of the easiest to grow.


While not native plants, I find hostas to be great hummingbird and pollinator attractors. Hosta leaves can be amazingly colorful as well and do a lot to brighten up a dull space. Hostas prefer rich, well drained, and moist soil. This area of my garden can be rather dry. Therefore, I plant the hostas, then mulch well in anticipation of drier conditions. I planted several varieties along the walk way including Hosta ‘Honeybells’, ‘Guacamole’, and ‘Halcyon’ – all favorite’s within my garden.

Try one of these plants out in your side yard for an easy solution to shady conditions. Plant before the first frost and water well until established.

Side Yard Perennial Plant Garden of Shawna Coronado

Fall Raised Bed Frost Cover Greenhouse Shawna Coronado

Fall is almost upon us, so it is time to start planning for how you are going to extend those garden crops for as long as possible through the frost season (see the before picture on the right). Helping your vegetables survive through fall means a longer growing season and money saved in the bank. There are two types of frosts to be aware of. Advective Frosts are plant killers; very coldFall Raised Bed Shawna Coronado temperatures that drop below plant hardiness levels. Radiation Frosts are survivable for your plants if they are covered and generally represent the frosts most likely to occur in early fall.

Below are three super-easy ways to help save your crops from a radiation type of frost. Advective frosts are tough to fight and you might need more powerful protection tools. All the below concepts involve covering the crop and trapping the heat of the soil beneath the covering. These coverings work as long as they do not get wet. A wet cover makes the temperatures surrounding the plant cooler.

1. Blanket and Sheet Covers

These are the simplest to use. Simply toss a lightweight blanket or sheet over the area of garden you are trying to protect. I have been known to use all the blankets in my house and ask my neighbors for theirs, but have had regular success in saving the garden for many weeks if there is only a one or two night frost situation; the covers help the plants survive those two nights in order to enjoy the Indian Summer later in the fall. Be sure to remove the blanket in the morning so the plants receive sunlight and warmth during the day.

2. Floating Row Crop Covers

Floating covers keep frost and insects off the plants, but allow daylight to provide enough light for growth. Depending on the plant, you can leave the row cover up all day without a problem. Do not forget to water the plants that are beneath the floating row covers.

3. Plastic and Garden Covers

Plastic covers work, particularly if you have a supportive frame to cover the planting bed. If you like, you can add lights at night to increase warmth within the protective frame. In the top photo you see the miniature greenhouse garden cover I have placed over my raised beds from Greenland Gardener. The garden cover is easy to assemble – it took me less than 15 minutes to put this together and place it properly. Unfold, assemble support pole, place in position, tighten Velcro (see photo below), tie the poles together at the top, place over beds, and DONE!

Fall Raised Bed Frost Cover Greenland Gardener Greenhouse

Fall Raised Bed Frost Cover Greenhouse Velcro

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them. They worked well and I am happy about that.

Japanese Anemone tomentosa Robustissima

Hands down, my favorite late summer and fall perennial bloomer of all time is the Japanese Anemone tomentosa ‘Robustissima’. An absolute non-stop flowering gobstopper for weeks on end by my front step from late August through October. Originally I chose this plant because it is known as the hardiest and easiest Japanese Anemone to grow, but soon it’s captivating wind Japanese Anemone tomentosa Robustissima  side view flowers and bee laden blooms became my favorite September flower-power plant.  In fact, bees can be found smothering the flowers the entire bloom season, so anemone is a lovely plant to attract pollinators to your garden. Best yet, this is the perfect perennial to toss in the ground then ignore for most of the season.

How To Grow Robustissima Anemone

While anemone love a rich, moist planting site, this particular variety will do well in average and even sandy soil. Add plenty of organic matter to enrich existing soil before planting. Robustissima Anemone is the most adaptable of all the anemone’s to drier conditions, but need more watering attention initially until they are established. Once established, plants form a low mound of green leaves with tall branching stems that produce interesting branches of bud balls that will develop into attractive soft-pink five petaled flowers.

Anemone Robustissima do well in full sun to part-shade and are tremendously easy to grow. I leave the seedheads up all winter for interest and clean the beds in early spring before green shoots redevelop. Divide every few years in the spring to keep the plants in check. Add additional organic matter like compost to the beds, mulching well, in the fall.

Japanese Anemone with Bee

Cocktail Herb Garden Patio Tile View Shawna Coronado

This year I expanded my front patio to include sedum lined tiles, more space for seating, and a cocktail herb garden. This spot is a delicious smelling niche that has become the focus of outdoor room entertaining in my front garden.  Many of my friends and family discover birds and other pollinators like bees and butterflies flitting all around the herbs while we are out on the front patio spending time together.The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Inspired by Amy Stewart’s latest book, The Drunken Botanist, this garden design was intended to be a relaxing place that bathes you in delightful scents as you sip herbal cocktails and watch the wildlife. Pollinators love the plants that surround the patio. I planted basil, thyme, and plants from The Drunken Botanist plant collection such as, the “Old Tom Gin Garden” and the “Old Havana Rum Garden”. Sitting out front has become an amazing experience because of the bees and butterflies that dance through the herb garden as much as for the delicious herbal cocktails.

Bird watching is a part of this experience as well. We have a wonderful little hummingbird that flies in and out of the hostas and herbs. She loves the sage flowers, bee balm, cat mint, and my little red hummingbird feeder. I keep it stocked up with nectar just for her so she can entertain us with her antics.

Building an herbal garden with the goal of attracting the birds and bees and a few dozen cocktail aficionados could be just the fantastic late summer project you need to end your summer with a garden bang. Plan the lay-out, amend the soil, and then toss in a few perennial herbs such as lemon thyme, tricolor sage, and lavender. You can enjoy the herbs this fall and be surprised by new growth in the early spring for the first outdoor garden cocktail parties of the season.

Herbal Cocktail Garden Patio Shawna Coronado

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Bloody Mary Cocktail Salad by Shawna Coronado

From the 1930’s to 1950’s women were preparing cold tomato aspic; a popular side dish of that era served at luncheons and card parties across America. This recipe for Chilled Bloody Mary Cocktail Salad is my own modern day take of my 96 year old grandmother’s tomato aspic which I remember fondly. Filled with nutritious veggies from the garden, it is perfect on a hot day served with sandwiches or at a picnic with cold chicken. Best yet, it uses all the fresh veggies I can harvest from my garden which is currently bursting with bounty.

Chilled Bloody Mary Cocktail  Salad

Chilled Bloody Mary Cocktail Salad by Shawna Coronado

Ingredients -
2 (3 oz) packages lemon gelatin (or 2 .30 oz packages of sugar free gelatin)
3 cups Spicy V-8 Juice
1 cup chilled lemonade
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 ½ cups diced carrots
1 ½ cups diced onions
1 ½ cups diced celery
Salt and pepper to taste

How to -
Heat V-8 juice to boiling. Stir in the boiling V-8 with the lemon gelatin until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir in chilled lemonade (or water if you prefer), horseradish, and salt/pepper. Refrigerate until slightly thickened, about one hour.

When the gelatin has set up a bit, gently stir in the diced vegetables (feel free to substitute with whatever veggies you are currently harvesting), place in martini glasses or serving dish. Chill in the refrigerator for four hours or until firm.

Serve with a dollop of mayonnaise and a smile.

If you want to add a real quick kick to this Cold Bloody Mary Cocktail Salad recipe, toss in a couple shots of cucumber vodka with the lemonade during the chill up (like this delicious vodka seen in the photo – Organic Cucumber Vodka from Prairie). Harvest those vegetables, make some deliciousness, and if you have leftover vegetables from the harvest be sure to donate to your local food pantry.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.

Outdoor Garden Room with Potting Bench

Outdoor garden rooms are all the rage right now and having a unique spot in the garden to call my own sounded pretty appealing. My goal: Transform my haphazard back potting patio into a better looking space that serves the dual purpose of both being an outdoor room and a storage area for my container planting supplies.

Outdoor Room Before Photo
My home exterior is an odd mixture of suburban siding and 1970′s design – I’m always trying to switch it about or update it. We resided the house a few years ago, which was a tremendous change for the exterior image of the garden and home itself, but the back patio really needed some help. It’s an odd shaped deck enclosed by fencing and used as a storage place for the garbage cans and a landing spot for anything and everything [see above].

Removing the extra fencing was the first step, then the garbage cans and old seating. After that I decided what my goal was for an outdoor garden potting bench room — I wanted a functional area I could store my containers, layer my bagged potting soil, sit and entertain friends, and enjoy a beautiful view.

Garden Room Potting Bench


1. Potting Bench – My husband built my bench – he had no plan, just used 4×4′s, wood planks, galvanized nails, and his amazing engineering-based imagination.

2. Seating - The two bright orange Adirondack chairs came from Freecycle.org. A local family in the community gave them to me unpainted and covered in moss. I bleached the chairs, sanded them, then painted them with brightly colored exterior paint.

3. A View – By removing the deck fencing I opened up the view significantly. Then I built a colorful outdoor fireplace photo and chandelier wall as a centerpiece for the deck (here is the how to do – LINK). A container tower acts as a median view between the garden room and the garden itself.

Transforming your deck or patio into a garden potting bench area that also serves as an outdoor garden room is a great way to combine two needs into your outdoor design plan. Building a room with a view and reusing older things to help with the transformation is a terrific way to make the garden more green and sustainable as well. Build a patio room in your garden this summer that is functional, fun, and a nice place to spend time.

Outdoor Garden Room Adirondack Chairs

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