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Garden Photo of the Day

Sue’s gardens in Arkansas, one year later

Birdhouse nestled between purple castor bean plants (10 feet tall) and butterfly bush

Today's photos are from Sue Strong in Arkansas. She says, "I sent the first pictures of my northwestern Arkansas gardens last fall when they were 2½ years old (refresh your memory HERE and HERE). They have matured significantly in the past year, with plants growing taller and filling out. I am learning more about what grows where best, as well as what has no interest in cooperating! I had time last winter (it was a very long, cold winter) to refurbish an arbor with a swing that I purchased at an estate sale for $85! It is a wonderful addition to the gardens and the perfect place to relax, when I have time to relax. In spring clematis ‘Fuji Masume’ grows on the fence behind it and in late summer the arbor is covered by sweet autumn clematis. I also had time this year to add vintage tools, bird houses, and other décor to the gardens for added interest and whimsy. My garden was featured on the Bella Vista Garden Club Garden Walk in June and it was great fun to share the rewards of my labor with other gardening enthusiasts." Wow, Sue, your garden is looking lusher than ever! That arbor and swing fit into that border perfectly and look lovely. And I'm obsessed with that combo with the begonias in the second-to-last photo. Thanks so much for the update and keep 'em coming!

SEND ME PICS OF YOUR GARDEN! Email me at GPOD@taunton.com. Thanks! –Michelle

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View of backyard looking uphill from north to south

View of backyard looking downhill from the south to the north

My $85 arbor/swing – looks much better after many hours of restoration!  Double Pink Flower Carpet roses in front of 'Emerald Green' arborvitae.  'Fuji Masume' clematis on the fence behind.

Arbor in late summer covered with sweet autumn clematis

Lower garden bed – dogwood in center of picture with a 'Quick Fire' hydrangea to its right and a river birch next

View from the street – 'Paul’s Glory' hosta at base of elm

Shade garden in the south front yard (includes hosta, heuchera, columbine, ferns, hydrangea, oxalis, anemone, etc.)

A view of the veggie garden with blueberry bushes planted in front

Veggie garden – eight 4X6 raised beds

View of backyard and lower deck from my upper deck

Front of house with double pink Knock-Out roses and 'Walker's Low' catmint

A view of the roses and catmint from behind the river birch

'October Glory' maple and river birch

Side fence with 'Stella D’ Oro' daylily and two un-named varieties of clematis on the small trellis (will need a much bigger trellis next year)

Garden shed with 'William Baffin' roses on the trellises

Garden shed wall that faces the veggie garden. 'Nantucket Blue' hydrangea in galvanized pail

Common area next to my property – I cleaned out the weeds/undergrowth this spring and laid down 100 bags of cedar mulch

North side of the house – brunnera, hosta, rhododendron, nandina, acanthus, and 'Emerald Green' arborvitae (wax begonias in foreground)

Close-up of the acanthus – 'Emerald Green' arborvitae conceals the electric meter

Birdhouse with 'Louise Rowe' clematis (great little performer – just planted it this spring)

View Comments


  1. PerenniallyCrazy 11/07/2014

    Talk about a happy garden Sue! Yours is joyful to say the least. I bet you are as happy if not as happy as your plants too. I'm crazy about your purple castor bean and acanthus specimens. Do you do all the upkeep for your garden? I am amazed how well-kept everything is...and you even have time to hunt for hidden gems like your arbor swing. Hope you return with some fall photos.

  2. Nurserynotnordstroms 11/07/2014

    Wow Sue your River birch has the most beautiful bark. I am a little envious you have so much room for more garden beds,are you always increasing your beds or are you content to keep them as they are? I am always trying to steal more space for beds from my garden buddy's lawn,he always says don't touch my turf. Your bird houses are such a perfect compliment to your plant combinations,you have inspired me,thank you for sharing your gardens with all of us.

  3. grannieannie1 11/07/2014

    What a beautiful and orderly garden! I especially enjoyed seeing the attractive birdhouses nestled in and the popping colors of your clematis vines.

  4. Cenepk10 11/07/2014

    Fabulous... A lot work to keep up all of that beauty- fabulous piece of property too. I appreciate you sharing and starting off our morning properly :)

  5. wGardens 11/07/2014

    Absolutely WONDERFUL! You have a lovely yard, great combinations, great placement and beautiful specimens. Great find with your swing - well worth the time and money investment. I love it all- Picture Perfect!~

  6. Ginnyde 11/07/2014

    What a fabulous yard. It looks so serene and peaceful. I love it. Appreciate all the hours that went into creating it.

  7. User avater
    meander1 (Michaele ) 11/07/2014

    Wow, Sue, you definitely have the "fevah" and are going strong...everything looks better than ever! That particular birdhouse set in front of the castor bean is the perfect marriage of ornamentation and plant ...the color echo is so pleasing. And what a triumph your swing/ arbor project is...it is positively breathtaking all dressed up in the cascade of white dainty blooms from the sweet autumn clematis. I do so hope you gave yourself permission to sit a time or two and enjoy the lovely fragrance. I see in one of the pictures that your supervisor 'Catfish" is still on the job and is giving your lovely vignette around the garden shed an approving look!

  8. NCYarden 11/07/2014

    Oh, Sue, what a pleasant garden you have created. Unbelievably tidy too. I really like all the varieties of clematis, and the sweet autumn clematis "bundle" over the swing is just classic, and beautiful. Curious, have you had any problems with the the sweet autumn clematis seeding badly around the garden?
    The stone borders have a nice rustic and yet refined appeal. A big pat the back for cleaning up the common area - such a great service, for your own garden and your neighbors.
    And garden kitties rock!

    1. User avater
      meander1 (Michaele ) 11/07/2014

      Just so you don't think you are alone, David, I'll share that my sweet autumn clematis reseeds with waaay too much enthusiasm. At first, I didn't connect the dots (duh!) but when I figured it out, I was suddenly pulling like a maniac. If one vine results in 100 volunteers what would 100 vines do...that math scared me...not that I would have let it get to that point.

      1. NCYarden 11/07/2014

        Interesting. I haven't had a huge problem with that yet, but I have been "warned." I'm hoping where it's located so close to the street by the mailbox that it will have some impediment to spreading wildly. I really like the blooms, and don't want to remove it, but if it gets out of control I will certainly have to reassess.

  9. CarolandBill 11/07/2014

    Absolutely gorgeous. I love your selections. So many of my favorites.

  10. VikkiVA 11/07/2014

    Stunning Sue! What a treat for the eyes and the soul. All your hard work has paid off big time. Thank you for sharing. Vikki in VA

  11. User avater
    HelloFromMD 11/07/2014

    Wow, wow, and double wow. Loved all of it. Impressed not only with the plantings, but the tidy edging that sets it all off. The bird houses with color echoes from the plants behind them. You should be proud, a great accomplishment.

  12. greengenes 11/07/2014

    Hi Sue! Its all so lovely! I really like the combination of the catmint and rose! It must be great to have a warm wall [brick] for the plants to lean up against. I always thought it would be fun to have a totally walled garden [rock] like the secret garden in the old movie. But what a find on the swing! It looks good there and the color choice is nice! Your castor beans are beautiful too! I try to grow those every year. They give such a nice color and a dramatic look. This fall I did save the seeds of some and I will try to see if they will turn out the same next year. They are deadly poisonous though. Well it sure is a growing garden and each year it gets better and better! Your raised beds are wonderful too. Enjoy your fall and winter and happy gardening!

  13. GrdnLu 11/07/2014

    How beautiful! I especially love your shed, how you have it situated, and with the screening on either side. That is exactly what I need so that I can have my always-messy potting area hidden. I am inspired!

  14. user-7007296 11/07/2014

    Magnificent garden! I'm going to incorporate many of these ideas into my own garden. Clearly, this is a well loved garden.

  15. GrannyMay 11/07/2014

    Beautiful, Sue! I especially love the roses - Knock-out in the front, combined with the catmint, William Baffin in the backyard climbing up the trellises by the shed, and Double Pink Flowercarpet flanking the arbor swing! Your whole garden is well designed and beautifully maintained, so I'm not surprised it would be featured in a garden walk. The roses alone would draw me in!

  16. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/07/2014

    Thanks for keeping the blog updated, Sue. The garden is really maturing. I too am absolutely crazy about your castor beans and the acanthus. Stunning foliage!

  17. GrannyCC 11/07/2014

    Wonderful Sue. The garden has certainly grown. Love all the Knock-out roses. and your many varieties of Clematis.

  18. JaneEliz 11/07/2014

    Delightful garden, Sue! So many wonderful areas in your garden to keep you busy and happy tending it. Gorgeous roses and clematis...esp. Sweet Autumn which you've planted in the perfect place... I'd like to be swinging right under it enjoying its delicate scent.Love the handsome leaves of your vigorous castor bean and acanthus. What dear bird houses throughout your garden.I'm sure you are enjoying many fresh veggies from your big garden.

  19. SJWallace 11/07/2014

    WOW, well organized and so tidy! Love the variety you have and the privacy fence makes for a delightful outdoor room! Love so many things about this garden veggies and berries, I am filing this for spring to improve my areas.
    All your hard work has paid off....just amazing!

  20. NWAgardener 11/07/2014

    Thank you all for your lovely comments! I believe two things gardeners like most are visiting other gardens and sharing their own gardens. That is why this is such a wonderful site!

    NC Yarden - This was the first year I've had Sweet Autumn Clematis, so we shall see if I'm overwhelmed with "babies" next year. I hope not, as reaching into the rose bushes to pull them up will be a painful experience! I planted the clematis in pots and cut them back very soon after flowering and moved them to another location hoping to avoid an "invasion". We'll see if my strategy is successful.

    Nurserynotnordstrom - The available garden space in my yard is now maximized, so I will focus on maintaining and refining my plantings in future years. I did move into the common area to the south of my property this summer and planted a number of shade-loving perennials and shrubs. I'll add more next year and hopefully it will look like a lovely wooded pathway in a year or two.

    Perennially Crazy - Yes, I do all the work myself, including laying down 12-16 yards of compost each year. That's why I'm not at all disappointed when the season ends and I have time to recover and plan for the next year! Strange weather (late heat wave followed by rain and a hard early freeze) resulted in almost no fall color this year. Since fall is one of my favorite times of the year, I was very disappointed and got no garden photos. Hopefully, next year will be normal and I promise to take lots of pictures.

    Meander1 - Yes, thankfully Catfish continues to supervise and provide companionship in the garden!

    1. MichelleGervais 11/07/2014

      I have had sweet autumn clematis years for years--the first 8ish years, no seedlings, but now they're everywhere. Not too hard to pull up, though.

  21. terieLR 11/07/2014

    Sue, the simplicity of your birdhouse design & color combined with castor bean and butterfly bush is stunning. I love it all ~ from the knock out roses, catmint and river birch to the back-corner garden shed. How peaceful it must be to sit on the deck overlooking your dedicated labor of love & restoration. Please give Catfish a rub behind the ears from me. I adore my feline garden-approvers.

  22. ingehaneke 11/07/2014

    what a beautiful garden, i love every area !

  23. Meelianthus 11/08/2014

    Sue, your gardens are absolutely charming. I would love to have been on your garden tour to soak up every part of your gardens. You have a real knack with those clematis, just beautiful! You have really done a lot of work and it must be so rewarding for you to look out on such beauty. Thanks for giving us a peek once again.

  24. Foxglove12 11/09/2014

    Beautiful, tidy and serene. Thanks for sharing.

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