Here are seven inspirational and easy-to-replicate spring garden ideas from Magnolia Seed & Supply that you can use in your garden. At our recent visit to the Silos, I couldn't help but notice both how beautiful and simple the gardens were. It's gardening like I like to do it - the easy way.
When we were making plans for our week-long trip to Austin, Texas, one of the things I looked up right away was how close Waco was to Austin. At only one and half hours away, it was really do-able to rent a car and make the trip to the Silos, Magnolia Market, and surrounding area developed by Chip and Joanna Gains of Fixer Upper fame.
While I haven't watched all the Fixer Upper episodes (we don't have cable, so I only watched what was available on Amazon when it was free a few years ago, plus a few here and there), you can probably guess that I love the idea of restoring old houses with a cottage-farmhouse decorating style. I haven't agreed with every decision they've made in the episodes I've seen (please leave walls that contain original French doors, and original wood stair railings…), but it's fun to watch and get ideas for our own projects.
We saved the drive from Austin for the last full day of our vacation, traveling up to Waco on a Monday morning. We (rather naively it turns out) thought that would mean less crowds. Texas and many other states had their Spring Break the week before and well, it was a Monday Morning in Waco - how many people could there be?
It turns out a LOT. Goodness, in Magnolia Market (the larger back room is pictured above) we felt like cattle being herded along a line. Don't bother stopping to look at anything or the people behind you will make themselves known. It was rather overwhelming for this introvert and online shopper! When we asked the cashier about it, she said it wasn't a bad day because you could still see the floor and that it was always crowded, so take note if you're planning your own trip.
Can you see the larger crowd at the back of the photo? They are waiting in a line snaking around the whole perimeter of the room to have their purchases shipped for free. It's a nice touch for the store and I'm sure encourages people to spend more. But here's the thing: they've already waited in a line to buy the stuff and between the two lines, I'm sure the wait was almost an hour. Know how much shipping is to buy all the same things online? $7 flat rate. I don't know about you, but my time is worth more than 7 bucks an hour.
So you can probably guess I didn't stand in that line. We also didn't stand in the line that wrapped around the block for the bakery. I'm sure the cupcakes are terrific, but it's just a cupcake (which aren't actually one of my favorite desserts - I much prefer a good truffle cake or lava cake) and I can get a good cupcake many other places I don't have to stand in line for (which I don't because I just said they aren't my favorite, ha!).
That's just me - food is never worth standing in hour-long lines for. I just always think there's a similar options somewhere else with little to no lines. (Side note: I saw on Instagram that there were some bloggers at the conference I attended in Austin who stood in line over 3 hours for BBQ! Meanwhile, we had a really good BBQ that looked similar to theirs with no wait.) Each to their own, right?
Spring Garden Ideas at Magnolia
But all was not lost because there were just SO many great ideas for outdoor spaces. It was like eye candy to me and I just snapped up as many photos as I could (waiting for the people to move so I could get better shots most of the time!).
When I got home and looked at them, I realized this was something to share with you because the gardens are simple and clean, easy to maintain, and user-friendly. Oh, and of course beautiful. Just the way we like them.
Here are some of the spring garden ideas you can incorporate into your easy-care garden I saw:
1. Mix a few flowers with herbs in a window box to create a lush spring planter.
Pictured above is thyme, oregano, and lavender with violas and ivy. You could of course recreate this in any pot or planter. I really like how it creates a super full look in a time of year when things usually aren't that lush. Choose hardy herbs (not basil or cilantro) for this spring look. (Oh, and don't you love how they've left the sweet little rogue viola at the grass level?)
2. Use tall raised beds as "walls" for a eating area.
I would make this a lot more simple with just a pergola top, but the walls with cascading plants is a great way to create a sense of enclosure and a separate 'room' outdoors, don't you think?
I also wouldn't add all the hanging plants, because without hired hands to keep them watered, it's a lot of maintenance. But I can just see something like this in a back yard with a pergola climbing with grapes or something planted in the planters and a couple outdoor chandeliers hanging inside, can't you?
3. Plan easy-to-maintain hardscape and simple rows of tulips and violas with roses.
You don't have to go all crazy with different plants - look how the simple rows of tulips and violas - repeated in the corners of the rounded beds - lead the eye to the focal point. The rounded beds hold budding roses that will bloom spring through fall for more simple color. And that's all they hold. Add your newspaper and mulch once in the spring and you can sit back and enjoy color all season long.
Replace the spring tulips and violas with simple summer blooming annuals like salvia, zinnias, petunias or marigolds and you've got multi-season interest.
4. Raised beds packed with cutting flowers.
There were a few raised beds surrounded by wood chips (what we're planning to do for our new raised bed garden at the farmhouse), and a number of them were filled to the brim with snapdragons. Some were blooming, but most were budding. There are so many that you can easily cut some for vases without missing the color in the beds.
That's a key to cutting flower gardens, I think - planting enough that it doesn't look bare when you've harvested some.
5. Simply planted raised vegetable beds.
The vegetable raised beds took advantage of companion planting with Swiss chard around the edges and tomato seedlings in the middle. You could also add other leafy greens around the edges and still harvest until the tomatoes are almost grown, since they like a little shade in the heat of summer.
All the raised beds with vegetables were planted with the same chard-tomato configuration, which is obviously for the design aspect of a public garden. But I do think the idea of simple vegetable plantings that take advantage of all the space for the different seasons is good. Think pepper plants down the middle with onions edging the bed or vining peas and beans down the center with carrots and beets along the edges.
6. Plain garden sheds can be made pretty with just a few added elements.
This was my favorite thing that I took away from the visit, mainly because we have a plain old shed on our property that I want to move to the new vegetable garden. Our shed has a sliding barn door and one little window in the back - not the pretty window-laden garden sheds I see most of the time.
But look how sweet this plain shed looks with upgraded doors and trellises? The roof detail and cupola are completely do-able, too. I like the white with the wood accents and while our shed is oriented the other way, I'm definitely going to incorporate some of these ideas when we redo it for our garden.
The planters at the shed's trellises are again simply planted (that's a theme all over the grounds) with sweet peas at the back that will eventually climb up and tulips in the front.
7. Add pots and containers of seasonal plants in bare spots.
The raised bed wall next to this flowering fringe tree (that's my guess - am I right?) isn't planted yet so they added pots with tulips, violas, and herbs. More pots of tulips line the walkway to the market.
Obviously you'll want to add only what you can maintain, but a few pots with seasonal color in a place you and visitors see often is a great way to bridge the gap between winter and summer plantings.
All in all - crowds or none - I'm glad we made the trip to Waco and the Silos. It was so fun seeing it all in person and how the visiting families really do enjoy the space as Chip and Joanna dreamed they would. I did purchase a few sweet items I could fit in my carryon that will help me remember (a cotton stem, faux ranunculus, and an adorable little creamer) and I was completely inspired by the garden.
I hope you are inspired by these spring garden ideas, too, and if you have the chance to visit yourself, I do recommend it - wouldn't it be fun to see the gardens in the different seasons and get ideas for our summer and fall gardens?
Ah, a trip for another time.
If you like the idea of easy care raised bed gardens, be sure to check out these articles to help you plan your own:
Make This Year's Garden A Success!