In The Beginning


Before we had a yard full of flourishing gardens, we went through lots of trial-and-error to establish what would work in our yard. We had plenty of successes and failures to get us where we are today. Here’s a look back at the very beginning of our gardening journey:

I remember when we moved into this house. It had not been lived in for about 4 years. The only thing alive in the front was a rose bush, lantana bush and two aloe plants; they survived off what little rain water they received, and were completely brown from lying dormant for so long. The backyard was nothing but dirt and some miscellaneous piles of dirt and rock. It was a textbook example of “blank canvas,” to say the least!


Within a week I knew that it would drive me crazy living in a home that looked abandoned. We moved in at the end of June, when most of our local stores were finishing up selling plants for the season (everything dies here in the extreme heat of summer.) I lucked out in clearance section of a nearby Wal-Mart, finding 4 honeysuckles and 3 birds of paradise bushes. They are both hardy summer plants that are extremely heat tolerant, and are less prone to withering under the blazing Arizona sun. I installed a drip system to insure that all our plants, both new and old, would be able to live.


We searched Craigslist, walked through garage and estate sales and rummaged through loose trash to find the remainder of the items we used for storage or to decorate our new house. We found bookshelves, paint and furniture, all at amazing prices. We stained and repurposed shelves and an entertainment center. We were gifted a beautiful blanket chest; Jonathan painted it, and Sarina drew and hand painted a design she thought of. The inside of our home came together quickly, but outside progress was dragging. What do you dream of when you look at a backyard with nothing but dirt?


While Sarina was in New York attending her cousin’s wedding, I decided to get started on one of the ideas we had saved to our Pinterest account: a cinder block garden. I bought 14 cinder blocks, and used some of the paint we found at an estate sale to create an original piece of art for our garden. I set it up and surprised her with it when she came home. She loved it, which made me feel really great. Originally, I placed it in the front yard, with the intention of having a small starter-sized garden right outside of our front door; after our first big rain, we found out the hard way that our roof drained right into that exact same area! We had filled it with some great organic dirt, which was all washed away into the front yard, but fortunately we hadn’t actually planted anything in it yet. It would’ve been a big bust if we had!

Another update on our journey is coming soon!




  1. Patricia Sadler

    Nice to see these creations working well. Some of ours have tumbled over or never made it to an upright position at all. However, our successes have been a jump up and down delight!

    1. Jon Sadler (Post author)

      Its so much fun. Thank you for passing on your passion for gardening. I am blessed


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