JANICE of @jaysgardenjournal
Suburban Haven in South Carolina
Meet Janice, of @jaysgardenjournal, an avid zone 8 suburban gardener from South Carolina. Janice’s experience growing food and flowers was nurtured at a young age. She grew up gardening alongside her parents and her two grandmothers.
"My paternal grandmother had a fenced kitchen garden that included a peach and plum tree. I still have fond memories of eating freshly picked fruit from her garden. She also had a huge magnolia tree that we could climb. The smell of the blossoms was intoxicating. My maternal grandmother lived in a rural town. She raised chickens and kept an informal cottage-style garden in her front yard.”
Janice’s father was a prolific kitchen gardener, growing loads of tomatoes, squash, eggplants and peppers in their backyard. Her mother planted and tended flowers, shrubs and trees. After leaving the nest, Janice fell out of the habit of gardening and growing food, but all that changed when she planted more permanent roots.
"Once I purchased my own home, I started to think about how to beautify my outdoor space. I also missed the taste of homegrown tomatoes. So I decided to start gardening and make my yard a garden. It is now my natural sanctuary.”
Janice started small, focusing mainly on vegetables but every year she continues to expand her growing spaces and add new varieties.
"I dug my first garden in the existing soil about 12 years ago and grew tomatoes and squash. Now I grow greens, radishes, peppers, eggplant, herbs, carrots, and okra. Stepping outside and gathering food from my own backyard is rewarding and it feels natural. The connection between food and the earth is already within me."
For Janice, gardening’s rewards extend way beyond the health benefits of fresh food - gardening provides a creative outlet, loads of exercise, and a chance to reconnect with herself and what she’s grateful for.
"I love that gardening allows me to express myself in a creative way. I love cottage style gardens because they feel welcoming and joyful. Each morning at 6:30 am, I grab my cup of coffee and head to the garden. I use these first few moments to take a gratitude walk. I notice what's new in the garden. I also enjoy listening to the birds sing their morning songs. Their songs are like a pleasant alarm clock, waking up the world around them. I also use this time to decide what I want to accomplish in the garden for the day. The projects are never-ending, so it is important for me to set my sights on a specific task each day. It may be weeding the garden, installing a new flower bed, harvesting vegetables, or cutting the lawn."
Last year Janice was browsing the library and saw a gardening book called "Hellstrip" by Evelyn J. Hadden.
"I was immediately intrigued. From that point on I was on a mission to transform the two hellstrips that separate my front garden from the street. I transformed it in stages. I removed the grass and weeds from a section of the strip and planted it with assorted flowers and ground cover. Some of my neighbors gave me strange looks when they saw me removing the "sacred" grass. I also extended the existing flower bed to the length of the hellstrip. Now people walked down my street just to see what's new in the garden. One day I looked out of the window and saw two little boys touching and smelling the flowers. That was a very satisfying moment. I want my garden to provide happiness for me and for others.”
Thank you Janice for sharing your story! If you have a “hellstrip” you want to tackle, I highly encourage taking inspiration from Janice’s designs.
You can follow Janice's growing journey on Instagram.