Never Have I Ever Named My Garden Registered & ProtectedThe smell of boxwoods intoxicates me. It fills my mind with memories of the family of my youth that I talk about so often around here. I wasn’t at home with my parents much as a child and that was fine with me. I much preferred to be with my Great Aunt Nana her brother Uncle Bim and my grandmother Mamie. Uncle Bim was a jack of all trades being mainly an Engineer on the Southern Railway. But he knew how to build houses and did so for many of the neighborhoods thoughout our area. He  built the home where he lived with his sister in the community of Old Salem, NC. He also built my grandmother’s home and that of my Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob.

Mamie's HouseMamie’s House, my grandmother…notice the Craftsman details

Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob's HouseMy Aunt and Uncle’s House and notice the craftsman style

All three of these homes are called Craftsman style. ( The home of Uncle Bim is not shown as I don’t have a scanner to upload the photo but it looks just like the one above) If you are a Craftsman fan then you are hopelessly devoted to being one. It is not something you choose to be but rather something you just plain are by nature. Consider it a gift and enjoy an appreciation for all things constructed with attention to stability. It is a balance of design marrying angles so they square off in a pyramid sort of way. I always knew I wanted to design and build one for my family. So now, I live in a Craftsman home with big front and back porhes where we swap lies and swat flies. We just moved in March 08. You can see my current home from my sidebar link if you wish.

I’ve been honest with many of you about my gardening experience. Combinations of color come to me easily and I’m known for making an arrangment out of anything. Up until this summer, I worked for a local nusery and was known as the container queen. Learning the Proven Winners cultivars wasn’t too hard since we were a Proven Winners nursery. The owner, Damien Johns, is the best nurseryman I’ve ever met. He is a stickler for detail and grows his plants in the very best soil. We had some of the prettiest and healthiest plants on the planet. I acquired quite a few customers and some still call. Over the next year, I’ll remake many of my recipes and photograph them. I was too busy the first go round to think about it. The gardens above are from my former home. Mr D and I bult the rock wall. It’s Tennessee thin stone and it’s dry stacked and back filled as we went.

I still have so much to learn about plant names and the scientific varieties. I taught Biology for 5 years and can tell you exactly how a plant goes from seed to reseed. I can tell you how cells graft and what happens when roots layer to form new plants. I know how cells uptake nutrients and so many more biological plant goodie stuff facts and that is why I am a smart successful gardener. I understand how to grow a healthy plant.

I learned from those folks listed above. My Aunt Nana loved wildflowers. She would talk to me for hours about flowers. I was listening but mainly I was weighing the colors and matching different combinations in my imagination. As so it goes today and I won’t try to hide what I don’t know. I try very hard to remember the names of plants. Some I remember easily but it’s not how i choose to organize them . I choose to organize them by color. And I don’t follow any particular rule. It just comes to me what will go together because I have always been able to match them up. I think this lack of knowing all the names is a handicap and I work on it every day. Rarely do I go to the nursery to pick up a particular plant but rather a particular color. I can match contrast or make it monochromatic using different plant material.

hgtv favorite

The pot above looks like a cone of ice cream to me. The ice cream is flowing over the edge. My new gardens need a name. They are cottage style in most ways but my chaos is ordered. I like to clump colors. Helen over at Gardening With Confidence says it’s important to name your garden. She says it will help you explain to others the theme of your garden. You won’t find yourself stammering for words to describe it. You will have thought that through already and it will flow from your heart to your lips. So I need to do that. I accepted Helen’s challenge and have been pondering over how it describes my style. Helen also says we need a mission statement so our gardens are defined in a way that makes it a living testimony of who we are.

I started gardening when I was 10 ish or 4. I have always liked masses of color both bold and subtle. It’s mostly a cottage style but the whole Craftsman style adds a bit of natural element to the picture. Craftsman gardening is a style that leans towards native evergreens, grasses, natural areas, rock, and keeping with greens, browns, and oranges. The inside of my home is very much that mix of color and the style of the home is Craftsman. You can tell from the front columns and wide porches. The angles of my home are in keeping with our areas take on Craftsman. I have a version of 9 light windows in my home as well.


Having considered all these styles and who I am, I came up with this:

My gardens shall be called:

The Putz

Putz is a German word meaning to decorate   My family comes from Moravian tradition and my great aunt Nana would carry out the Moravian tradition in her craftsman home by putting up a Putz. The Moravians adopted the word putz as their name for the elaborate Christmas manger scenes each home had sitting in a treasured location. For my aunt, it was in her dining room on a beautiful oak side table. It took her weeks to decorate. It was multi-level with rock, moss, wood, little people and animals, and the manger and stable were very real looking. Each Moravian home cherishes the many Putz pieces passed down through generations of families. Some Putz are very elaborate and cover several tables. The Home Moravian Church in Winston Salem, NC has a Putz in the basement of the Single Brothers house in Old Salem, NC. It is a replica of the original settlement of the 1700’s.

As a child I was both fascinated with my aunt and mesmerized by all the Putz but especially the one that was displayed proudly on Walnut street. It was very importatnt to keep the Putz misted and healthy. You didn’t want the wood or moss to dry out and become unattractive for the holidays.

So it shall be that the love my aunt, uncle, and grandmother bestowed on me for the love of nature both in the garden and in the Putz ……..I will call my gardens   The Putz at Copper Top Cottage . It must be tended so that in season, it will put forth it’s best showing. It is wood, water, nature, rocks, sticks, and pleases me to decorate it with all nature of plants.

Garden name: The Putz at Copper Top Cottage

My Garden Mission Statement: Decorating A Garden so that it brings happiness to all who enter.

Please follow the link below and meet Helen at Gardening With Confidence

Helen Yoest at Gardening With Confidence is all of the following!

Gardening Coach in Raleigh, NC Zone 7b.


Garden Writer

Helen writes for garden and style magazines including stories for Nature’s Garden, Fine Gardening, Carolina Gardening, Metro, Triangle Style, Living in Style, Boom!, Wake Living, 15/501, and others.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Wanita says:

    Hi Anna, I love the idea of naming your garden – or your home, although I have done neither. Perhaps I should give it some thought, although I don’t think I’m very creative when it comes to naming gardens or homes.

    I enjoyed your post and the pictures of the homes your uncle built. And I always enjoy looking at pictures of your lovely home and gardens. I hope you have a great weekend!

    I enjoyed Helen’s challenge to name my garden so I would have a quick reference ready to go if someone ask. I didn’t want to be fumbling for what to say. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to my blog today cause I know it was delightful having you here.


  2. Cindy says:

    Happy New Year Anna! This is a great post and I learned a new meaning of Putz today and I love it! I would love to have a Moravian Putz and it would be just the type of thing that I could see myself doing year after year.
    Your rock wall is beautiful and I know it was a lot of work. I have a rock wall that needs to be repaired and hopefully will be this year. It is a daunting task though.
    We say the word Putz like….Puts. It has a very fond memory for me. The people around here will get it right away. This year, Old Salem had a recored turn out to see the Putz. Some had to wait in line for over 5 hours. Our neighbors were suppose to have a group of young people to their home for supper. The young people were visiting from China. They were going to see The Putz first and then to my neighbor’s house for supper. She went to a lot of trouble to prepare dinner and then no one showed up until really late. They apologized but explained about the long lines.

    I guess I’ll keep the name for my gardens as I had no clue about its alternate meaning. I live in a bubble about such things at times. I always thought that all my years in the Air Force had made me a person in the know but i guess not. I do laugh at myself though when I learn such things.

    I think it was 6 tons of rock and took about 4 long long days. Mr D brought me the stone and I placed it. That’s how he and I work. If he’s good at something I assist and if I’m good at something, he assist. He has been doing an excellent job building my Copper Top Cottage as it required math skills that I can not keep in my brain. I just don’t want to when I’ve got him to remember those numbers for me. If I’m every your way with extra stone, I’ll repair your wall for you.


  3. philip says:

    Hi Anna!
    I loved seeing the influences of the beautiful craftsman homes of your life…where you “swap lies and swat flies!
    You have such an instinct for flowers, and are so creative in many ways! You are so full of creativity and spirit. You have more talent in your little finger…or green thumb, than anyone I know!
    Best regards,
    Thank you whole heaps! All us gardeners are creative and I have found that most have an aunt like mine. You did! Loved the picnic on the beach story. I’m almost always recollecting some memory from the past every time my shoes are making a path in the garden. Some of the plants evoke emotion in me just by the way they smell. Mint brings back my grandmother as she had some that grew all around her house. Geraniums and Lady Slippers remind me of Aunt Nana. Boxwoods bring all of my memories flooding back and interestingly–they do for MrD as well. I bet our Europe friends know that strong boxwood scent too.


  4. Racquel says:

    What a lovely tribute to your mentors in the garden! Interesting name you picked for your beautiful gardens. 🙂
    I had no idea it had a negative meaning too….but my memories of the name represent North Carolina roots to me. The name Putz for me will always mean —to decorate with things you cherish. You can read Shirley’s post for my comment on the true meaning. I’ll have a lot of explaining to do when I run across raised brows as I tell them the name. The fun side of me will enjoy it.


  5. Kim says:

    Bravo! You did it! (hear the applause?) I plan to work on mine this weekend – right now the subconscious is churning.

    I love your home and gardens. My favorite home style is a Craftsman (or arts and crafts) bungalow. Of course, I’d end up living in a (former) flat front Colonial. I smacked a little portico on the sucker, so no more flat front! Yes, you are right about those who love Craftsman style – I literally drool when I see those types of houses – there are many in north Florida where I grew up, but there are very few here in Maryland where I now live. I keep telling Garden Man that our “retirement home” will be Craftsman!

    I love your garden name and statement and the background behind it. Thank you so much for posting them.
    I hope you do get a Craftsman home. It is warm and cozy. There is another side to me that likes a nice white farm house too. I told MrD that if we ever move again which isn’t likely but could be possible with his job—I will build a new take on a one level farm house. I take change very well but it would be hard to leave my gardens and Copper Top Cottage. It takes longer to build a garden than a home.

    I’m glad you like my name for the garden. The name meant a lot to me growing up. I’ve seen some very elaborate Nativity scenes in the homes of folks who live in Old Salem, NC. The Putz is lovingly said and announced as the season approaches. People decorate their nativities to make them look like real manger scenes out in the woods sitting quietly in the moment. The real Nativity as you know was in a sandy desert location but folks around here give their version of surroundings based on what we have at hand to decorate with and thus…wood, moss, sticks, etc. It looks like a lovely garden when it’s finished. Every year, something else is added to make it even more grand than before.


  6. Dee says:

    Hi Anna. Happy New Year. I hope yours this year is less eventful than last if you know what I mean. I’m glad you’re settled in to your new home. I think you inspire people with your gardens. I know you’ve inspired me.~~Dee
    And you me Dee! Thank you so much. Happy New Year to you too. OH mercy, I do not want to repeat a good bit of last year. I am happy to stick my feet in the garden soil and spend all day out there among the critters.


  7. What a heart-felt post. So tender, warm and caring. You get an A on your assignment; your process was beautiful and enchanting, I was with you when you were 10ish or 4, learning to garden, surrounded by the love of your grandmother Mamie, and great Aunt Nana and Uncle Bim. Thank you for participating. Helen
    It was a ton of fun to give my garden a theme. If you read Shirley’s reply, then you’ll see some humor in my innocent naming of the garden. I got a good laugh out of it. I’m leaving the name as is. The word Putz in German means to decorate and in Yiddish it means fine adornment and in slang…a male anatomical part. The Yiddish further slang the word by attaching the meaning grumpy old man. So my garden remains as it is cause that is fitting that it is finely decorated and adored by me and others, and it can be a major pain too. It even looks grumpy at times.

    I took two days to write this and made it all serious. I wanted to follow your instructions to the ninth degree. Looks like my humor goes before me and there isn’t anything I can do about it. So The Putz it is. I did have fun and enjoyed the whole process. Maybe it will make someone else laugh which is what the world needs.


  8. Hi Anna,
    I grew up in a “California Bungalow” that incorporated the craftsman style and still idolize that house! I see why you wanted to build your new home in this style. Your gardens are beautiful.

    Your story on the naming of your garden is very interesting. My husband Larry is Jewish and he says that “putz” means something else in Yiddish. I’ll let you check that one out!

    Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year.
    That is hysterical! Well I just researched the word and the yiddish meaning—fine adornment—and see where they made it naughty. It also means obnoxious man or fool. Now to me, this is just perfect as a garden can be easy to take care of or a major pain. One thing for sure, it will cause a lot of attention and get plenty of questions.

    My family will love reading about my naive garden naming story. It will give them something else to lovingly tease me about. They are still laughing about that corn hole game post I did. I don’t live in a very big world. If it’s not gardening, then I assume everything else is just as innocent. I grew up with two little old ladies going on and on about the Putz. If you told them—the other meaning …..they would deck you, make you wash your mouth out with soap, and probably make you write a paper on the German meaning of the word Putz and how it is used in their community. But I’m rolling in the floor laughing at how I have once again done something so near and dear….and didn’t have a clue it meant anything else but decorating and adorning.

    I bet it will make my view count go out the roof. Seems like if you post something like this, it drives crazy people from all over to your blog. I’ll let you know. I think the good Lord likes picking on some people a lot. This incident is one in a line of many where it has turned out so funny. God is up there slapping his knee and poking Gabriel….saying ….good one.

    Happy New Year….this is the year of gardening.


  9. Phillip (UK) says:

    American homes are so different from those here. The closest I think we have to your style, at least in thought, are the Arts and Crafts style ogf William Morris and his followers. I love what you have created and the beautiful surrounding gardens.
    You are correct about Arts and Crafts and there is also bungalow. Most were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. But there are many styles of homes in the US. It is still different that what you have. Up in Virginia where my son lives, there are more farm houses. You can still find many stone buildings but people don’t prefer them over cottage and farmhouse or french country too.


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