grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monica's Ann Arbor Suburban Cottage Garden

Name: Monica Milla
Website: Garden Faerie's Musings
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan (zone 6a)
Size: 1/2 acre
Age: 8 years

Bio: I'm a master gardener and master composter who enjoys getting people excited about gardening. I'm the author of Fun with Winter Seed Sowing and often speak to community and gardening groups. I teach adult enrichment classes at Washtenaw Community College, and will soon be garden blogging for I'm currently volunteering at Kempf House to restore a historic home's garden to the 1890s-1920s period.  I've previously created a garden for cats living in a cat retirement community at For The Love of Cats in Lodi Township, and an 1860s fountain garden at Cobblestone Farm. I also stewarded a native plant demonstration garden for Ann Arbor Parks.


Type: Backyard (organic veggies, ornamentals, and shrubs)

Style: Cottage garden or suburban wilderness. I like a riotous mixture of colors, textures, sizes, and types of plants. Anything goes, and I can find a place for anything, even if it involves some garden chess (a series of moving plants around).

 Nature and art, and a need to play in the soil.

Favorite Plant:
 I could narrow down to 10: chokeberry, 'Olga's Round Yellow Chicken' tomato, rattlesnake master, coral bells, black cohosh, Jupiter's beard, gaillardia, ninebark, viburnum, love-in-a-mist, and hollyhock.

Biggest Challenge:
 Buckthorn, groundhogs, raccoons, poison ivy, heavy clay, morning shade/intense afternoon sun, and a tangle of huge tree roots.

What Friends Say: "{Insert expletive here}, your garden is huge!" (Maybe this is in contrast to my tiny house.)

Biggest Embarrassment: Knee-high dandelions and other weeds that could strangle small pets and children.

Proudest DIY: My two rain barrels and my compost bin. As Red Green says, "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy!" Or something like that.

Biggest Indulgence: A winding brick pathway is by orders of magnitude my biggest splurge! I'm notoriously cheap but I've enjoyed this path every single day for 7 years.

Best Advice: Know yourself and plant what you like. Colors you like, veggies you like, forms you like. Don't go by the latest craze, but aim to please yourself. It's your garden. For new gardeners, start small--you don't want to get overwhelmed and there's always plenty of time to become crazy-addicted later! You also don't need a lot of gadgets or tools; a few things do 90% of all the work. Don't be afraid to get started, just do it.

Dream Source: Let me loose with a shovel at Monticello!

Coleman's Farm Market, Lowe's, Home Depot, Bordine's, Telly's  (also garage sales, plant and seed swaps, thrift stores, and my friend's gardens!) 

Garden Tour

If you would like to participate in the Virtual Garden Tour, please email me at myskinnygarden (at) yahoo (dot) com.


  1. I really like your virtual garden tour. It is a great idea. I like the info about the gardener as much as the garden pics.

    I may adapt your idea and highlight some of our Chicago Master Gardeners Gardens on our Cook County Extension website.

  2. Hi Gina, Thanks for hosting this tour. Even though I supplied the info and sent the photos it's still somehow new and exciting to see them published on your blog. I think you Chicago bloggers should do a road trip to SE MI and stop by in person. I'd have snacks, lol, and we could visit Colleen and Joey, too. :)

  3. Gina, Love your idea of garden tours! And Monica, thanks for sharing!

  4. Monica - your garden looks so pretty and inviting, and the photos are really well done. I hope it's a nice, relaxing respite for you. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I need to get a flamingo! Nice post Gina and Monica- these garden tours are fun!

  6. OH MY Gosh!! You quote Red Green...LOL...anyhow...since I am a late comer to your blogs...what rain barrels seem to work best...(never needed one in NW LP...but now living in NE WI..& it is all the rage...need help in WI!!!!!!!

  7. Delighted to see you here, Monica. My, you do get around ... luv it!

  8. Thanks, all!

    KD8PW, Red Green rules! I made my own rain barrels using free 55-gallon containers I got from my city's water treatment plant, using the instructions here.

  9. How fun to be able to see your garden in this way! I hope I can see it in person someday! Thanks for sharing, Monica!

    And thanks for bringing other gardens to us, Gina!

  10. LOL at Monica. I like how her garden exhibits her personality. My fave pic was the one with her cats. They were all like, "ugh, here she is with the camera, again!"

  11. Hi Monica,

    I took your garden tour and it was like you are there to guide me and letting me see your whole garden. I love those tomatoes, they are ready for harvest. But it seems you still got a lot of work to do to your garden. Good luck and looking forward for another tour.

  12. Kylle, LOL, the garden is always there and ready for you!

    MBT, I'm really worried if you think my garden reflects my personality--I mean, it actually does--that's what worried me!

    Rose Gold, "a lot of work still to do" lol--yeah, let's start #uglygardens again. NOT!