Calling all home/garden/food bloggers! I am so excited to be apart of the upcoming VIP preview for the Nashville Symphony Show House and garden party taking place on Wednesday, June 10th from 10 a.m. until noon.

Come along with Carmen Johnston Gardens as Carmen Tours the Nashville Symphony Show House!

It is going to be an incredible day. As always, it will be a pleasure working with Southern Living, but I am also eager to see Troy B. Marden in action, as well as the iconic Miss Daisy King of Miss Daisy’s Kitchen.

Come along with Carmen Johnston Gardens as Carmen Tours the Nashville Symphony Show House!

If you are a home/garden/food blogger and you are interested in attending, please RSVP by May 26th. Seating is limited.

I look forward to seeing you there!

It is officially springtime and I could not be more pleased! If you follow me on Facebook, you already know that there are a lot of things that I am looking forward to this season—hosting patio parties and enjoying some delicious, fresh strawberries are just a few. What you might not know, though, is that the one thing I am most looking forward to this season is seeing the collaborative efforts of myself, Rebecca Reed from Southern Living, the Home Depot, and the Southern Living Plant Collection hitting the shelves in the form of our Ready to Impress container gardens, which are now available in the Home Depot gardens centers. That’s right, folks! This spring marks the beginning of a new journey for me and hopefully a new and improved way of decorating and entertaining for all of you. I am beside myself with excitement!


To say that this experience is a dream come true would be an understatement. I have always been passionate about gardening, but it has also been a goal of mine from the beginning to find ways of helping others to enjoy plants in and around their home – green thumb or not. The Ready to Impress container gardens offer just that! Available in three different colors—brights, whites, and pastels—these container gardens can be purchased from Home Depot garden centers and then taken home and immediately put on display. Here are some gorgeous ways of displaying them below:









I am beyond blessed to have the opportunity, not only to do what I love, but also to share my passion for planting with others. I look forward to visiting major cities this spring in order to promote the Ready to Impress container gardens and I am so thankful to the Home Depot and the Southern Living Plant Collection for their combined efforts in making it happen. This is going to be such a memorable season for me and I hope that the Ready to Impress container gardens will also make this season equally as memorable for all of you. Whether it be at your doorstep, every time you come and go, or in your backyard surrounded by family and friends. It is my hope that the Ready to Impress container gardens, not only make life easier for you, but also more enjoyable.

Here’s five quick and easy tips on how-to impress your guests with these colorful container gardens:

SL Video

In the South, football is a religious experience. If you’ve ever visited the South during the fall, you have more than likely experienced two things: college football and the tailgating that precedes every game. To show respect for your favorite team in true, southern fashion, it is imperative that your home reflects the spirit of the game.

An easy way to incorporate your game day pride in your interior décor is with container gardens full of flowers sporting your team’s festive colors. Violas and Pansies are available in just about any color – making it easy for you to find the perfect match.

Fun items to help create this look:

  • Galvanized trough/bucket
  • Soil
  • Team pennants
  • Team color pom-poms
  • Violas and Pansies in your team’s color

This container is a tad bit larger than usual, about 5 feet in length and 2 feet wide, and could easily be done on a smaller scale.

First fill half the container with bark because during the cooler months your plant will not need as much soil to grow. Plus it will save money on buying all that potting soil. The bark will make the container somewhat lighter, but putting wheels on the bottom, like we do, is a great way to move them around.

Next fill the other half of the container with soil. I prefer to use potting soil for mine and it is definitely worth the extra cost. The better the soil, the better the overall look of the container.

Potting Soil

Now it is time to select a color scheme that shows off your team spirit. For my example, I chose to create a container that represents Georgia’s red, white, and black pride. I used white flowers so to fully capture the Bulldog spirit I layered in some fun, game day pieces.

Tip: Repeat the same colors for the most impact

By using plants that come in larger pots you get instant gratification without the extra work. So as far as plants are concerned, the bigger the better! In a single line, place three of the White Cool Wave™ Pansy hanging baskets in the center of your container.

Planting Basket

Fill in the empty spaces with the 1 gallon, or pint size, white pansies.

planting gallon

Lastly, for additional texture, fill in the empty spaces with white Snow Princess® Lobularia.

Tip: After arranging all of the flowers, be sure to add more soil around your plants so that they do not dry out.

For even more game day fun, we had a local sign maker create these awesome outdoor pennants that we screwed onto the top of stakes that we purchased from Home Depot. Then we finished off our containers with pom-poms and other fun flare.

Finished GA

Below are a few other game day containers we rallied up.

GA Tech

The perfect play for a container garden win with Yellow Cool Wave™ Pansies


To guarantee a floral victory – Penny Red blotch violas!


For a perfect score with your game day garden – Sorbet Orange Violas and Million Bells® Crackling Fire Calibrachoa.

Hope your favorite team comes out victorious this season!


Gardenias are as southern as sweet tea. Their pleasant sweet aroma is so intoxicating and adds quite the dimension to any garden. However, this gem is only hardy to zones 7 to 9. Don’t know what hardiness zone you are in? Well, here is a nifty tool to give you exactly that information. Gardenias are actually a member of the coffee family, Rubiaceae, and they are native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Southern Asia. The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus after Dr. Alexander Garden, who was a Scottish-American naturalist.

Close-up of its gorgeous, milky white fragrant blooms - Photo credit: Southern Living Plants

Close-up of its gorgeous, milky white fragrant blooms – Photo credit: Southern Living Plants

Recently, I’ve fallen in love with a new gardenia called Jubilation™ from the Southern Living Plant Collection. It’s an improvement on the southern classic by only getting 3 to 4 feet tall and wide as well as blooming when other gardenias have stopped. Jubilation will bloom heaviest in the spring with re-blooming in the summer and fall. It would prefer to be planted in full sun to partial shade. Full sun is considered to be 6 plus hours of UV light and part shade is considered to be 4 to 6 hours. It is important to know what type of light your garden is getting so that your plants are successful where they are living. If not, it could cause additional work down the road.

Spring or Fall are the best times to plant shrubs because it is hard to keep them constantly moist in the summer with the heat and humidity. When planting gardenias, you will want to make sure that your garden soil is a bit acidic (pH of 7 or lower – 5 to 6 preferred). Many garden centers will do a pH test on your soil – make sure to call and ask some of your favorites. Local extensions also sometimes provide this service. If neither is available, your soil may be test with an inexpensive pH test kit available at garden centers and sometime hardware stores. It is very simple to use by reading the directions on the packaging. If your soil is not acid enough, lime can be applied to lower your soil pH. Using mulch will help tremendously because as it breaks down it will add acidity to improve the soil.

I hope you can smell it through the computer screen!! Photo Credit - Southern Living Plants

I hope you can smell it through the computer screen!! Photo Credit – Southern Living Plants

When planting your gardenia, you will want to make sure your hole is twice as wide as the container. At the bottom of the hole, place some high-acid granulated fertilizer and mix with the dirt. Then place your gardenia in the hole, back filling all the dirt. Making sure the entire root ball is planted. Then in the spring, go ahead and pull back the mulch and sprinkle a little of the high-acid fertilizer around the base of the plant and mix it into the soil. By fertilizing every spring it will make your gardenia bloom at top performance.

This evergreen loves well-drained soil and will grow moderately to fast. If pruning is necessary, make sure to do so after it has bloomed in the spring; if done later in the season flower buds make be removed and next year’s flower performance may not be as strong. The birds and butterflies will love you for planting this beauty in your garden and so will your nose!

Here’s to adding more fragrance to every garden,