front garden | summer of 2021

by | Jun 22, 2021 | All Things Home, Gardening, summer | 32 comments

I know that many of you have summer gardens that are in their prime by this date on the calendar, but here in Rochester, Minnesota, I’m still planting!  I admit to getting off to a bit of a late start this year, but I have learned that it’s okay to be a little late when it comes to gardening this far north.  We still had nights below freezing well into May.  Anyway, everything is awake and blooming and I wanted to plant a few things to round out the front garden bed.

I typically plant annuals along the walk, but I decided to go with some perennials this year in the hopes that they’ll do what they do and just keep coming back.  I planted some bellflowers last year and they came back beautifully this year, so I decided to get some more of those.  I didn’t find them at Home Depot, but I found some Lamb’s Ear and decided to get those to mix between the bellflowers…

summer 2021 garden update | miss mustard seed

I’ve planted three different kinds of clematis on that trellis (I bought it HERE) because they kept not coming back, but this year, two varieties reemerged!  I know one is called firework clematis, but I’m not sure about the one with the white flowers.

summer 2021 garden update | clematis on a trellis | miss mustard seed


The sweet autumn clematis is growing like crazy this year.  I keep joking that this is the year it’s going to eat the house.  I can’t wait to see it in full bloom.  It has the prettiest white flowers.

summer 2021 garden update | miss mustard seed

painted bench | black planters | faux boxwood topiaries

Did you spot the cat?

summer 2021 garden update | cat in the window | miss mustard seed

 rug | check pillows

Cats have a reputation for being aloof and some are, but these cats are so friendly and interested in what we’re doing.  The animals parade down the steps with me in the morning and parade back up each night.  They wait by the window for me and Sebastian to get home from walks and they’ll “yell” at us if it’s their usual lap time and we’re not sitting down.  We’ve enjoyed them so much.

Anyway, the Annabelle hydrangeas are on their third year in these beds and are loving life there.  I need to trim up and shape the boxwood hedge at some point.

summer 2021 garden update | miss mustard seed

As a reminder to me and you, here is what that bed looked like our first Spring in the house…

summer 2021 garden update | before | miss mustard seed

In fairness, I think that picture was taken in April, so things hadn’t filled out yet.  The garden is looking much more like my style now, though.

As a little side story, I don’t know much about the family who lived in our house before us.  The sale was managed in such a way that we never met.  But, I did hear a lovely story from one of our neighbors.  The gentleman of the house had a flower garden in the back (it was overgrown when we moved in because the house was vacant for a year) and he would water his flowers with a ladle.  When I’m out watering with a hose or a 2-gallon watering can, I think about the tenderness and patience it took to water all of the flowers with a ladle.

Anyway, I also picked up some impatiens for the concrete planters by the door and the garage.  These planters came from my Oma’s house.  They are chipped and cracked, but I love them.  They are always in the shade, so I thought I would try impatiens this year.

summer 2021 garden update | impatiens | concrete planter | miss mustard seed

I needed to pick up something for the larger urn in the center of the garden, though…

summer 2021 garden update | concrete urn | hostas | miss mustard seed

…and some more bellflowers.

summer 2021 garden update | bellflower | miss mustard seed

So, Jeff took me to the local nursery today and I picked up some bellflowers, alyssum for some pots out back, and a few other plants to try.

summer 2021 garden update | miss mustard seed

I planted it all yesterday afternoon and I’m liking it so far!

summer 2021 garden update | miss mustard seed

I got a trailing baby’s breath (Filou White) for the urn to see how that looks.  It’s a perennial, too, but I’m not sure if it’ll get too cold in a planter over the winter.  We’ll see…

summer 2021 garden update | miss mustard seed

When I was outside yesterday afternoon, I was just soaking it in.  It was in the 60s, breezy, and sunny, an unusually cool day.  I loved the dappled light falling across the yard.  I stood there for a good, long while, just enjoying it.

summer 2021 garden update | miss mustard seed

painted front door | doormat

To me, it looks inviting and clean, but not overly fussy.  Like a crisp white shirt and jeans.

summer 2021 garden update | miss mustard seed

As one last reminder, here is how this garden looked our first spring in the house…

summer 2021 garden update | before | miss mustard seed

It’s come a long way…



  1. Babs

    Your home looks so inviting! I love the large urn in the center with the trailing baby’s breath but I would imagine it would freeze and die over the winter due to your Rochester frigid weather. You may be able to overwinter it in the garage or in a sheltered corner…you wouldn’t want to lose it. I live in Virginia and had planted Lavender in our stone wall and I lost several plants over the winter when we had some really cold (for us) temperatures. I would imagine you deal with much colder temps. The garden center where you made the purchase may be able to advise you.
    P.S. I love your cats.

    • Resa Files

      Do you have colors in your flower garden or is it all white?

      • Babs

        I tend to plant whatever the deer and rabbits don’t like! Lavender does quite well and I love the cottage garden look. I also have lots of lamb’s ear which my husband hates due to the fact it does wander. I once planted Lemon Balm which is lovely but it spreads like crazy.

      • Marian Parsons

        I use almost entirely green and white in this garden, because I think it looks best with the color of the siding. I would add some blues and purples if it suited the siding better!

  2. Lisa P

    It takes patience to develop a garden in a northern climate. It’s early season here in Ontario, Canada too. The forecast is for temperatures close to freezing tonight so I will throw a blanket over my tomatoes and other tender things.
    I love your simple green and white planting scheme. This will have a beautiful impact as more things bloom. Wishing you many happy times in your garden.

  3. Margaret

    It’s looking lovely. Your hard work has really paid off.
    My lambs’ ear seeded itself across my lawn–no problem–and my grass-proud neighbor’s, which was a problem. I started breaking off the flowers before they could set seed. It’s such an attractive plant it’s worth a little fussing.

  4. Irene Kelly

    I bought three hydrangeas this year to add to my expanding collection
    Nantucket Blue, Endless Summer (Original) and a new one Tuff Stuff which is very interesting its a flat flower instead of the ball shape you usually see in hydrangeas. All are doing well thanks to lots of rain here in NJ.I love bushes that I can cut and use in my arrangements for all over the house and that I share with lots of friends. My friend gave me a bell flower plant few yrs ago and it loves living where I planted it. Much luck with your garden ! !

  5. Diane

    Marian, I kept looking for the bellflowers. I saw white campanulas but not bellflowers. LOL Since it’s been a while since I left my garden spilling over with campanula I decided to do a search and voila! Campanula are bellflowers!! Isn’t that funny how I was so tripped up over that? Anyway, I’m a HUGE fan of those flowers whatever you call them. I even used to use them in my containers where they would flourish like crazy. What a great choice for your garden. You seem to have a white theme, but they come in the prettiest light blue in case you decide to get a little wild! Please be sure to share your autumn clematis with us when it’s in full bloom and taking over later in the season. I look forward to that for sure. They are another favorite of mine.

  6. Loretta

    You could wrap that planter for the winter. That would help insure your planting did not get too cold.

    • Marian Parsons

      Good thought! I do see a lot of things wrapped in burlap our neighborhood.

  7. Ruth McGrath

    I’m another 2 1/2 hours north of you so there are places colder than Rochester, believe it or not. I’ve been in my house for almost 30 years and what was once full sun became full shade. This year we added solar panels to our roof so had 7 big trees cut down. Back to full sun. But I’m in my late sixties now instead of 30s, so my gardening ambition has matured as well. Always a work in progress!
    I wanted to tell you about Dusty Miller. It is an annual, but it would fit perfect in your theme. I love the way it really takes off in the fall when the other annuals are waning. Sometimes it even emerges through the snow in the spring. And the silvery “fur” on the blue-green cut leaves would be perfect for you. Happy gardening!

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I had that in my garden in PA. I agree that it fits with my look. 🙂

  8. Katherine

    Marian –

    Do you have a source for that sweet rabbit pillow on your front porch bench? I am smitten!

    • Marian Parsons

      I got it from Target a couple of years ago and I haven’t seen it since. It’s a shame, because it is a cute design.

  9. Judyann

    I love white gardens!! They are so serene. One side of my front yard is almost entirely white & green. I’m wondering if azaleas will survive your climate. If not, I believe camellias will. Both shrubs can be found with white flowers, or a variety of pinks and reds. Azaleas also have lavender and purple blooms. I have some very old ones planted slong both sides of my driveway and they are taller than I am. A big plus is that both shrubs are evergreen! Enjoy gardening; it’s my most rewarding hobby! I’m on the panhandle of Florida now and am finally, after 6 years, comfortable with planting in the sand (with many added amendments-Black Cow, good dirt, and peat along with frequent fertilizing.)

  10. judith

    I am so happy that you are enjoying gardening. It is so calming to me. You have made some excellent choices and I loved seeing the progression from where you started; that is surely rewarding to you, and I bet the neighbors appreciate it as well. Keep up the good work!

  11. Donna T

    I take perennials out of pots during fall cleanup and plant in the ground behind a bush or out of the way. They come back in the spring and go back in the pot. I have lambs ear and it does not stay in a nice clump like that. You will have to tame it into the circumference you want. I have cement planters like yours and put the plants in a separate pot and use the cement planter as a vase. I turn the planter upside down in the winter so it will not fill with water and crack. I am in Michigan. I also have Annabelle hydrangeas and cut them when they are green and dry for winter vases inside. Your garden has really filled out and looks very nice.

  12. Terry

    Out here in California we have been going full tilt in the garden since March our problem is no water, very sad. Love your white garden. I always think of white gardens as nighttime gardens because they look so beautiful at night with just a bit of moonlight Of course they are great during the day too, so clean looking.

  13. Jenn Anderson

    Your garden is looking nice. I am a big fan of perennials! Gardening is definitely a process. Yours has come a long way from where you started! I think I saw an Irish moss plant in the picture of the cart at the nursery. Did you put that in the back somewhere. I got one of those for the first time this year too. I’m hoping it will fill in a shady damp area in my garden. I love the tiny flowers on it!

    • Marian Parsons

      I am still finding a place for it! I picked it up because I thought it was so sweet, but then I wasn’t sure where to plant it. 🤦🏼‍♀️

  14. Elizabeth

    How lovely! It looks so beautiful and clean like you said! I am with you on planting late. So thanks for being real about that. Is there any time that is truly too late to plant something?

    • Marian Parsons

      I’m sure there is if you’re a farmer! But, not in our case. 😉

  15. PJ

    The rule of thumb is to use plants from two zones colder in containers. For example, since I live in Zone 4, I need to find plants that are hardy to Zone 2 if I expect them to survive the winter in a container.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, good to know!

  16. Michele M.

    I think the story from your neighbor about your home’s precious owner is touching.
    I am so glad they shared that with you, and you with us.

  17. Sherry

    I enjoy your blog but I don’t get it anymore. I had to change my email, so I am hoping I can resubscribe and get your blog on my new email address. I just got an email so I will reconfirm and hopefully I can get a daily “jolt” of ambition from you as I read your blog. Now I don’t have to search you out on Google anymore….hopefully.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, well, let me know if that doesn’t work! This seems to happen to some people sometimes and I’m not really sure why. If it’s not working, let me know and I can have my assistant take a look at things from the back end.

  18. Kathi Mundigler

    Thank you for sharing your garden! I have been struggling with an area in front of our porch and you have given me some great ideas. We moved 3 years ago and while all of the bones were in place for an amazing garden, the selection of plants and flowers needed some help. We have slowly made changes and things are looking good. Our move was from a city lot with beautiful established gardens that we had tended for 40 years to a large wooded lot that is almost all shade and includes 130 Hosta plants!

  19. Kim

    Lambs’ ears are one of my signature garden plants. They will get MUCH bigger, spreading outward as they go, but easy to chop off and shape to the size you need for a spot. They also will bloom, sending up huge flower stalks starting in May. The flowers are hot pink/purple but are very tiny so you don’t really see them on the stalks. The stalks look like lamb faces/heads/ears on the tops, hence the name. If you really don’t want the bloom stalks, you can cut them off, but there will be tons of them to remove.

    These plants have a particular type of bee that guards them, called a wool carder bee, and it is a ferocious bee that has no stinger! They are aggressive against all kinds of other bees, but since they cannot sting, they must use the brute force of their body weight to harm fellow pollinators. They won’t harm people, thankfully. The carder bee makes a cozy, soft nest out of the fluff from the plant leaves and fills it with honey and lays an egg in it. These nests will be located in little cracks and crevices around the house or garden.

    Lambs’ ear leaves also were used as bandages in older times.

    Your green-and-white garden theme is always one of my favorites for a calm, soothing, tranquil garden. So many plants fit into this theme also, so it is an easy one to create!

    • Marian Parsons

      This is great information, thank you! When you said bright pink flowers and aggressive bees, I almost went to rip them out! 😂 But you talked me back into keeping them. I think both the lamb’s ear and the bellflowers will spread, but I think that’ll look nice. I’ll just try to keep them in check! We’ll see how it goes…

  20. Lora G

    Both clematis and hostas are some of my favorites! You’ve got them looking lush! Beautiful job! They grow well here in my Georgia garden, but unfortunately our midsummer sun does burn the leaves a bit. Love them while they last though!!

  21. Elise

    Oh my goodness! Trailing baby’s breath! I need to see if that would grow here in North Carolina! Love the transformation of your yard!


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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