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Garden Photo of the Day

Perfect Summer Weather

Left to right – hosta ‘Rainforest Sunrise’, clematis ‘Bourbon’, creeping jenny, red dianthus, brunnera ‘Variagata’, ‘Clementine Salmon Rose’ columbine 

Susan Strong's Northwest Arkansas garden enjoyed ideal summer weather in 2015, and the proof's in the photos!

"To combat our dreary and cold January weather I thought I would share a few colorful photos from last summer’s garden. 2015 was an excellent year for gardening here in NW Arkansas.  We had mild summer temperatures and lots of rain (which helped tremendously with the water bill).  I would like to thank Fine Gardening magazine and all the talented gardeners who contribute to this excellent website.  Each morning I look forward to opening my GPOD email for all the wonderful ideas and inspirations!"

Have a garden you'd like to share? Please email 5-10 photos (and a brief story about your garden) to GPOD@taunton.com, or tag your photos on Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

Whether you've never shared before or you've been featured multiple times, we want to see your garden! You don't have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here!

Hey, is anyone going to the Northwest Flower & Garden show? If so, please stop by our booth (in the seminar space) and say hi!

‘Elodie’ lily

‘William Baffin’ rose on trellis with hostas ‘Ripple Effect’, ‘Night Before Christmas’, and ‘Praying Hands’ in front 

‘Alice’ oak leaf hydrangea

‘Double Pink’ flower carpet roses and clematis ‘Fugi Masume’ behind arbor/swing 

‘Tuff Stuff’ hydrangea

Birdhouse with ‘Duchess of Albany’ clematis

In foreground hardy geranium ‘Ballerina’ in front of yellow peony ‘Bartzella’ with ‘Wine &Roses’ weigela behind the river birch 

Peony ‘Raspberry Sundae’ 

Hosta ‘Grand Tiara’ in front with hardy geranium ‘Biocovo’ behind

Hydrangea ‘Quickfire’ with Acanthus ‘Mornings Candle’ to the left

My garden foreman “Catfish”

View Comments


  1. diane_lasauce 01/26/2016

    Very pretty Susan, and so is Catfish...

  2. VikkiVA 01/26/2016

    Peonies and hydrangea 2 of my favorites and yours are beautiful! Love all the accoutrements you have placed about in your garden. So inviting. Vikki in VA

  3. User avater
    meander1 (Michaele ) 01/26/2016

    Your garden photos brought on some morning smiles and "oohs and ahhs" of envy from me. The scene with the dainty flowers of your 'Duchess of Albany' clematis spilling and cascading about the birdhouse is the stuff of my dreams...I'm forever planting clematis at the base of birdhouse poles with that effect in mind. Maybe this will be the year for that spurt of growth and I will have flowers encircling the structure. Yours is beautiful. And Catfish looks like he is thriving in his role as garden foreman.

    1. NWAgardener 01/26/2016

      Good Morning - Duchess of Albany will reach the top of the pole the first year and over-cover it the next! I planted this vine in spring '14. It blooms continuously, although only at the ends of the vine, so I plan to lightly prune it back throughout the summer to keep the blooms where I want them. It's a pruning type 3 so it's very to maintain.

      1. User avater
        meander1 (Michaele ) 01/26/2016

        Oh, wow, thanks so much for the additional information. It sounds like a wonderful clematis selection. Did you happen to buy it from a mail order source or a nursery in your area. I love type 3 clematis because it takes away any uncertainty about the great quandary "to prune or not to prune"?

        1. NWAgardener 01/26/2016

          I bought my two Duchess of Albany clematis from Brushwood Nursery (online vendor). I planted only one on each of two posts. Brushwood's selection is fantastic and the plants are so much larger and healthier than other clematis I've bought online. Duchess of Albany doesn't seem to be listed on their "small clematis" page, but if you enter "Duchess of Albany" in the search box it will come up. Beware, however - you will probably wind up ordering many other varieties! I have discovered that many pruning type 2 clematis can be pruned as if they were a type 3. The blooms appear later, but they seem to be very full. This spring I am planning on "layering" the pruning of my type 2's to achieve a longer bloom period. Hope it works! Taylors Clematis is an English website that offers a world of information about clematis. You can sort clematis by so many categories (including size) which is very helpful in making wise selections. Lots of great pictures of the varieties, too.

          1. User avater
            meander1 (Michaele ) 01/26/2016

            I share your enthusiasm for Brushwood Nursery and their wonderful website and quality of plant material. I had made a couple clematis purchases from them 3 seasons ago. It will not surprise me if I end up ordering the very lovely 'Duchess of Albany' from them so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I love your idea of layering your pruning so as to tweak the blooming period...please share your success with that technique by sharing another round of pictures with gpod next summer.

          2. NWAgardener 01/26/2016

            Yes, I will be happy to share my experience, whether successful or otherwise. It's important to share our failures as well as successes with other gardeners. Be sure to check out Taylors Clematis.

          3. User avater
            meander1 (Michaele ) 01/26/2016

            Thanks for the reminder about Taylors...I just came back from there. They mentioned a tip that I have read before and I am always a little nervous about doing it. That's to plant the top of the rootball below ground level by a couple of inches. Do you do that?

          4. NWAgardener 01/26/2016

            No, I haven't yet because I had not heard that before. Since reading it on the Taylors Clematis site, however, I've seen it mentioned in a couple of other places. Just a few minutes ago I remembered that I was gifted "An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis" so I read the section on planting clematis. It, too, recommends planting the surface of the root ball of LARGE FLOWERING clematis at least 2.25" below the rim of the hole. It states that this is not necessary for other types of clematis. I will definitely follow this advice in the future. We're always learning! :-)

  4. user-4691082 01/26/2016

    I enjoyed your photos so much! You have considerable talent in placement of plants. I love all of your stonework, it adds such structure to your garden. How long have you been gardening in your current location? It is so private and beautiful!!!

    1. NWAgardener 01/26/2016

      Hello Rhonda - I have been in NW Arkansas for five years. There were no flowering plants and only a few shrubs on this property when I moved here, but the lot was fairly level (a perfect blank slate) and I have amended the soil with copious amounts of compost every spring. I have planted a dozen or so trees, over 100 shrubs, and countless perennials. Keeps me busy! :-)

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/26/2016

    So refreshing! I thought my main comment was going to be how much I love the composition in the first photo with the cool drift-wood like log, but then the peonies and clematis and hosta, oh wow. The intersectional Bartzella is a winner and it's nice that it is starting to be more widely available. I have Garden Treasure, which is not quite as double and has small burgundy flares at the base of the petals. Definitely a treasure. Do you have any tree peonies? I bet you'd do great with them. What kind of performer is the hosta, Grand Tiara? Look good all season?

    1. User avater
      meander1 (Michaele ) 01/26/2016

      Just had to check out some google images on 'Garden Treasure'...oh, yes, indeed...very well named! I, too, have 'Bartzella' and one other yellow intersectional whose name is escaping me but would be delighted if I found 'Garden Treasure' to add to my collection. Love the red accent at the base of the petals...very festive!

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/26/2016

        Garden Treasure is one of my all-time favorites. I think the only downside is that the flower stems aren't quite as strong as Bartzella, but I favor the flower shape and color of GT.

    2. NWAgardener 01/26/2016

      Hi Tim - Not only are the flowers of Bartzella lovely, but so, too, is the foliage. I just bought it at the end of the season in 2014 and it already has excellent size. I have only one tree peony (Yaezakura) and it's been in the ground for two years. It had no flowers the first year and only one last year, so I'm hoping 2016 will be it's year to shine! Grand Tiara is a winner! It holds its good looks throughout the season and seems to spread much faster than many of my other hostas. Rainbow's End (a beautiful small hosta) has the longest season of any of my hostas and it holds its color to the end. Paul's Glory is another that maintains its good looks well into fall.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/26/2016

        Thanks. I have two tree peonies: one old, one new. Really looking forward to the new one taking off and blooming! I was just gifted with Rainbow's End in the fall, so glad to have the endorsement. Looking forward to spring!

  6. PerenniallyCrazy 01/26/2016

    Your photos make me wish that I could travel back to summer - your garden is so happy, colorful and inviting. I love all your shrubs and your gardenart.

  7. SumHillGardener 01/26/2016

    Wow ! What a gorgeous garden. I've written down the many beautiful cultivars as possible additions to my garden. In fact I just planted peony "Bartzella" and can't wait until it blooms in the Spring. The clematis and roses look fabulous. It all looks fabulous. Great combinations. Please send more photos. Thank you !

  8. greengenes 01/26/2016

    Hi Susan! How wonderful to see your pictures on a dark and dreary day here in western Washington! I so enjoyed seeing "Catfish" too. Your William Baffin rose sure looks nice. I have been growing mine for a couple of years now and its struggling if i compare. Isnt it something when we look back to see our gardens how encouraging it is! Thanks Susan!

    1. NWAgardener 01/26/2016

      Hi Jeanne - I wind the main canes of my William Baffin back and forth across the trellis at 45% angles and prune all laterals to 8-10" in late winter. This promotes lots of flowering. Paul Zimmerman from Ashdown roses has an excellent YouTube video on how to prune climbing roses. The whole series of Ashdown rose care videos are superb. I also amend the soil with lots of compost each spring and give them a couple of meals of rose food. It's supposed to be a re-bloomer, but I don't get much activity after the May bloom.

  9. wGardens 01/26/2016

    Lovely! And love, especially, your Duchess of Albany clematis with the birdhouse. Your seating area is beautiful! And "Catfish" looks like a VERY special kitty! Thank you for sharing; I enjoyed your photos very much!

  10. NWAgardener 01/26/2016

    Hi Diane - Tough Stuff is a real winner! It doesn't require as much water as most big leaf hydrangeas and it tolerates full sun. It's perfect for a small spot as it will top out at approximately 4 feet. It is a rebloomer although it's first spring bloom is the most spectacular. My beds get about 4 inches of compost each year, but I also apply liquid soil acidifier with iron to my acid-loving shrubs. I think that makes a big difference.

  11. katieerb 01/26/2016

    What a beautiful yard, I loved every single photo. I could sit in the arbor swing with a cup of tea and let the rest of the world roll by. You can see the love of gardening shine through. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Sheila_Schultz 01/26/2016

    Susan, from these photos I can definitely tell that YOU did have a perfect summer last year! Your plantings are so healthy and lush, they really are gorgeous and are catalog photo worthy! Bartzella is dreamy as are your other peony's, and the hosta, Grand Tiara, is beautiful... obviously you don't have slugs, those leaves are perfect! Thanks for giving me hope that our 'next' summer in Denver might be perfect, too!!!

  13. Dvngardener 01/26/2016

    Thank you for sharing such a lovely images from your garden. It is wonderful inspiration from my garden redesign the spring!

  14. GrannyCC 01/26/2016

    Gorgeous garden thanks for sharing. So many beautiful plants to think about adding to my garden!!

  15. Schatzi 01/26/2016

    Wow! Everything looks so happy and healthy. Fugi masumi is a gorgeous blue. and I love Ballerina - I think it is my favorite hardy geranium, tho it can be hard to choose... Gorgeous roses and peonies and lilies - and then there is that handsome kitty. Well done.

  16. cynthiamccain 01/26/2016

    Ditto what everyone else said, Susan, but if I could add one word it would be "Yum." For just a moment I think I could actually smell Raspberry Sundae. Thank you!

  17. user-3365226 01/26/2016

    Susan, thanks for sharing your lovely garden and beautiful kitty! 👩🏼

  18. User avater
    HelloFromMD 01/26/2016

    Hi Susan, I love your garden! Your plants are gorgeous and its because you are obviously a good grower. Beautiful specimens. I enjoyed your garden decor, your garden shed and art objects. Your clematis and roses! Thanks for including a pic of Tuff Stuff. I am picking out some new shrubs and that one is on my long list - looks like it is the one to choose. Did you have to tie on your Duchess of Albany, mine is quite the floppy mess and doesn't want to twine. I love your sensitivity to the color of your brick. Your flowers are enhanced by that backdrop rather than conflict. I just paged down and read the comments. I have a large red tree peony that flowered plentifully until I fertilized it. Went from many to few flowers. So no more nitrogen (even though slow release) for that plant!

    1. NWAgardener 01/26/2016

      Thank you for your kind words. Tuff Stuff is clearly a winner as well as is Quickfire (also pictured above). Quickfire stars out with white flowers in late May/early June which turn to pale and then deeper pink as the season progresses. I also leave the dried blooms on all winter, so I get year-round interest from it. It's a panicle hydrangea and is not finicky (high maintenance) like many of the big leaf varieties.
      I wrap my posts with 2" X 4" dark green or black coated wire fencing for my climbing vines. It's virtually "invisible" due to the dark color and it provides sturdy support. I use Velcro garden tape to attach the vines early in the season. After that, they are able to provide their own support by intertwining with the existing vines.
      Thanks for the tip on peonies. I remember reading that they do not need a lot of attention (fertilizer, water, etc.) so it's nice to hear that is true. I will make sure not to "kill my peonies with kindness".

      1. User avater
        HelloFromMD 01/26/2016

        I really like my Quickfire too. I recently added Bobo and love that one. My Vanilla Strawberry is great but really it's too floppy. If I had to do it again, I would choose Phantom. I just had to look again at Tuff Stuff, the flowers are so large. How much sun does yours get?

        1. NWAgardener 01/26/2016

          My Tuff Stuff gets sun until about 1 PM. I love its shape and the flowers are almost iridescent. I planted a Bobo two years ago. It bloomed the first year, but not the second, so i moved it to a sunnier location last fall. I hope it blooms again this year because I really liked it. My Vanilla Strawberry was a bit of a disappointment, too. I plan to prune mine back by a minimum of a 1/3 to see if I can reduce the floppiness. Phantom sounds interesting - somewhat similar to Limelight. The site on which I read about it recommended cutting it back to 1' in late winter. That's some pruning!

          1. User avater
            HelloFromMD 01/27/2016

            I have spent some time studying this link on Hydrangea paniculata, also has info on pruning
            Chicago Botanical Gardens also did a study on H. paniculata. Interesting to compare the results.

          2. NWAgardener 01/30/2016

            Thank you so much for recommending and supplying the link to the RHS plant trial bulletin for panicle hydrangeas. It is excellent and I see why you would like to have 'Phantom'. The bulletin provided great advise on pruning, too. I may see if I can find 'Dharuma' - loved the idea of red stems and a long bloom period.

          3. User avater
            HelloFromMD 01/30/2016

            Wilkerson Mill Gardens has it.

  19. digginWA 01/26/2016

    Bartzella and a cat!

  20. NWAgardener 02/16/2016

    This is a gardening website and is not an appropriate venue for your comments above.

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