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Garden Photo of the Day

Hard Work Pays off in TN

By Kim Charles

Pauline Stevens of Knoxville, Tennessee, showcases her garden that is full of surprises even for her Golden, Izzie!

"The first of the three garden areas I am submitting photos of, is a constant work in progress.  Eleven years ago when we moved in, it was full of undergrowth and discarded building materials.  It had three beautiful oak trees and so it did not take a lot of imagination to think shade garden, hostas, ferns, native azaleas etc.  We had to decide about 5 years ago to have one of the oaks taken down and top out the remaining two, so my shade garden was no longer.  The large dogwood and Japanese maples do give quite a lot of shade to the one area.  Unfortunately, here in Knoxville TN, we really do not have a Springtime; what we do have is Winter, Summer and then some late freezes in May and this year lost a beautiful maple and several other plants; what I did not lose was the chamelia vine, which I did not realise was totally invasive so I have an ongoing fight with this.  

My garden is a haven for wildlife, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels. birds etc and in fact Izzie (pictured) the youngest of my three Goldens just knows there is a rabbit hiding under the hosta.  Anytime I am out there she is with me.  As much as I love my garden, I can no longer maintain it as I would like, so have a gardening buddy come into help me.

My Koi pond it not looking its best, I need to get and weed around it.  All the varieties of Iris have bloomed and need to be cut back.

For years I have struggled to (and it has been a struggle with the red clay) work and attempt to grow many of the English plants I grew up with.  Last year we had to have the garden in the front of the house dug up and soil and clay etc removed down to the foundations.  When it was time to be filled in we made sure we had good top soil with some added compost.  This is the first May I have had so much in bloom, it is learning curve and later this year many plants will get transplanted so that they will not be blocking or being blocked by other plants.  I was happy to see the bees enjoying the Echinachea blooms earlier this week.

I hope you enjoy these photos."

Have a garden you'd like to share? Email 5-10 photos and a brief story about your garden to GPOD@taunton.com. Please include where you are located!

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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander1 (Michaele ) 06/08/2017

    Hi, Pauline, as a fellow Knoxville area resident (Friendsville), I well know the challenges our orange clay can give. Isn't it funny (not haha but grrr) how the weeds thrive in the darned stuff but we have to amend it to make desirable plants happy. Looks like you did everything right with your hosta and I'm glad they aren't sulking after losing some of the denser shade conditions. Is your gorgeous hot pink/coral coneflower clump one of the 'Cheyenne Spirit" ones. I love the range of colors that come from that named variety.
    Izzie looks like a wonderful gardening companion and I'm sure she gives you and your "helper" lots of good advice! If you ever want additional daylilies (since you have more sun now) ask Kim, the blog mistress, for my email and we can set up a meet.

    1. pauline_stevens 06/08/2017

      The Echinacea varieties I have are Mama Mia and Glowing Dream. Off now on this , for a change, beautiful morning to do some weeding. Thanks for the offer of the daylilies I may take you up on it. Thanks

      1. User avater
        meander1 (Michaele ) 06/08/2017

        I'm a sucker for fun plant names and 'Mama Mia' takes a blue ribbon in that department.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/08/2017

    Love the Golden & love the gardens. I am far south of you (deep, deep south) & have that scourge red clay as well. Beautiful work you have done.

  3. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/08/2017

    Your hard work has paid off! Looks like the plants are really enjoying the new soil by your foundation. I love the pinks, yellows and oranges together there. Your pond feature is a great size.

  4. anitaberlanga 06/08/2017

    Pauline, when I first read your post I though 'ugh. okaaaay.....this sounds...eh' - and then I looked at the photos! Your spaces are GORGEOUS! You don't have to apologize for a darn thing in there - it all looks healthy, happy and glorious. You've done an amazing job with what sounds like challenging conditions. I would be proud to call your garden my own!

  5. user-7008618 06/08/2017

    I don't understand the "topping out" of the oaks. Current advice by competent arborists in our neck of the woods says NO to topping any trees as it eventually kills them ???

    1. pauline_stevens 06/08/2017

      We had to consider losing them or someone getting seriously hurt when huge branches fell. We took the chance.

  6. wittyone 06/08/2017

    This looks lovely. Your shade garden is particularly nice. The added light coming in there might make it possible to grow a bigger range of shade plants, ones needing semi-shade or filtered sunlight. Losing big trees is hard to take but many opportunities lurk in that change of light conditions.

  7. LaurelEm 06/08/2017

    Pauline, you have a garden that anyone would be proud of. Clay! Yes we have that in this part of Wisconsin too. Sometimes when I am working I find globs that remind me of the clay we used in pottery class. I love everything about your garden and I am envious of your little pond.

  8. NCYarden 06/08/2017

    Pauline, way to rise to the challenges of gardening. Red Clay, ugh, scourge of the Mid Atlantic South...so smart you brought in better soil - it makes a huge difference as your current garden can attest. Beautiful color mix in the front house bed. I am curious as to what a Chamelia vine is - I am completely unfamiliar with that. Love the water feature. Thanks for sharing.

    1. pauline_stevens 06/08/2017

      I wish I could share a photo of the vine, dark leaved three or four to a plant at first stage; starts off low to the ground and then one stem starts to grow, Tiny white flower at the tip. Pretty but very invasive.

  9. User avater
    Linda on Whidbey 06/08/2017

    Good morning, Pauline. It looks to me like you are on the right track with your cottage garden. Everything looks beautiful. It's too bad that we live so far from you as I'd like to borrow your rabbit hunter. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Dvngardener 06/08/2017


  11. Maggieat11 06/08/2017

    Indeed, Pauline, I DID enjoy your photos! You have done a great job; everything looks wonderful! Love the coneflowers! Looks like you have a nice-sized yard.... and I love how the dappled shade adds to the attractiveness of your gardens.

  12. user-6536305 06/08/2017

    Pauline, your garden is so grand and so beautiful. You have done and achieved a lot a 11 short years as far as gardening and growing is concerned. Love your pond and all. I could not figure out what are the statures sat near the pond? Are they frogs? Whatever they are, they are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your hard work and beauty with us and looking forward to see the rest.

    1. pauline_stevens 06/13/2017

      There are two frogs sat over the top of the fall and on the other side sipping are a dog and cat :)

  13. user-7007498 06/08/2017

    Good afternoon, Pauline. Looks like your gardens are coming along nicely. I like the colorful border along the front of the house. The plants look great against the bricks. Thanks for sharing your photos. Izzie looks like a great companion.

  14. user-4691082 06/08/2017

    Pauline, your fellow Brits would be happy with your cottage gardening! I too, have clay! In fact, it's called the red clay valley...it looks like you have done a wonderful job with your garden. I love that wide path...and I'm envious of that beautiful fence!

  15. DoodleDOG 06/08/2017

    Looks lovely.....are there any butterfly koi in that pond?

    1. pauline_stevens 06/08/2017

      I believe a couple of them are.

  16. hedygalow 06/08/2017

    love your photos, your garden and the description of all. I also feel that I can not garden as well as I used to in my younger years

  17. tennisluv 06/11/2017

    Pauline, lovely garden in back as well as your newly planted cottage garden in the front. Seems like clay soil is everywhere. It is a challenge (I have named my new home 'Maison de la colline de l'argile'; French for 'clay hill house') and can be incredibly hard and unyielding. You have done a beautiful job manhandling it into a masterly landscape. Thanks for sharing.

  18. inesmalardino 06/13/2017

    So beautiful!!! Love it all...especially your darling doggie!
    What are the plants with white tall flowers?

    1. pauline_stevens 06/13/2017

      One of the Hosta varieties.

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