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Garden Photo of the Day

Twelve Splendid Gardens

By: Kim Charles

Pam Merrill finds joy among her ever-changing gardens.

"We live in a rural setting in Sheldon's Grove, Illinois. The landscape consists of 12 gardens on approximately 4 acres planted with flowers including many native plants and raised beds for vegetables, including a prairie behind the home. Large native sandstones accent the perimeter of the flower beds. The gardens never fail to bring new experiences each day, whether it's capturing the many varieties of butterflies, wildlife, or the gift of a beautiful flower on camera."

Have a garden you'd like to share? Email 5-10 high-resolution photos (there is no need to reduce photo sizing before sending–simply point, shoot and send the photos our way) and a brief story about your garden to GPOD@taunton.com. Please include where you are located!

Sending photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box is just fine.

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View Comments


  1. frankgreenhalgh 09/19/2017

    Hello Pam - Congratulations on your wonderful gardens. Obviously a labour of love. Great sandstone borders to beds, inviting paths and lovely environment for beneficial insects. Love the old grinding wheels. Cheers from Oz

  2. Maggieat11 09/19/2017

    Your gardens are lovely, Pam! As is your photography! And those rocks are wonderful. I can see how you and your visitors would absolutely love spending time there. Great plant selections, also. Thanks for sharing a peek into your gardens!

  3. user-6881358 09/19/2017

    Very prettty!!

  4. DeeinDe 09/19/2017

    I enjoyed looking at your gardens this morning! Love the rocks and the plantings, especially the raised garden (looking out at the meadow?).

  5. user-7007498 09/19/2017

    Good morning, Pam. I enjoyed your photos very much this morning, and will be back later for a closer look. The oak leaf hydrangea in the first photo backed by the miscanthus are beautiful in their fall color. I enjoyed the mist in the 4th photo, shrouding what lies beyond. The stones in the last photo are spectacular. Thanks for sharing your garden today.

  6. Jay_Sifford 09/19/2017

    I love a garden that is divided into different sections. Yours looks sublime. I love the way you picked up the shape of the hydrangea with the bottle tree, I love verbena bonariensis and perovskia, and the fog in the one photo adds a dose of mystery. Great job!

  7. user-4691082 09/19/2017

    Oh come on, Pam. We know these are from some public gardens near you! They're not? Inconceivable! The detail of that butterfly is amazing. Can you tell us more about those grinding wheels? What is the sweet autumn clematis growing on? Your gardens are truly a work of art!!!!

    1. hulagrl 09/19/2017

      Hi Rhonda! Thank you so much for taking time to comment. The grinding stones have been collected through years from friends and auctions. Most are on the original stand and others without are used as stepping stones or accents. The sweet clematis is growing on a obelisk that my husband made. Happy gardening!

  8. user-7007816 09/19/2017

    Hello Pam, I enjoyed your different gardens very much, particularly the hardscapes. Hope you have some help maintaining them.

  9. User avater
    meander1 (Michaele ) 09/19/2017

    Hi,Pam, I am besotted with the deep red foliage on the hydrangea in your first photo...is that one of the named varieties ...'Ruby Slippers' perhaps? Your photo collage of the various aspects of the grinding wheels sharing the company of the delicate blooms of the autumn flowering clematis make for an interesting composition...kind of a classic ying and yang of hard and soft. I really like the effect the framing of your bottle tree gives...reminds me of a giant allium...that never dies back to the ground. Do you leave it out for its dramatic effect all winter? You have a very beautiful property that shows your love and active nurturing of it.

    1. hulagrl 09/19/2017

      Thank you so much! Not sure of the variety of Hydrangea at this point, been there many years. The bottle tree does stay out year round. Happy Gardening!

      1. User avater
        meander1 (Michaele ) 09/20/2017

        Quick confession...found some great colored glass bottles today at a goodwill store and justified buying them because I was inspired by your picture.

        1. hulagrl 09/20/2017

          Fantastic! Have fun creating your bottle art! 😊

        2. grannieannie1 09/20/2017

          We'll be eager to see pictures of what you've done with your colored bottles!

  10. mjensen 09/19/2017


  11. user-7008786 09/19/2017

    Love that frog bird bath! And the red color of the oak-leaf hydrangea is stunning.

  12. Cenepk10 09/19/2017


  13. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/19/2017

    Amazing; exhuberant; park-like. That's impressive and quite enormous. I love the grinding wheel garden and your massive sandstone blocks. So much to enjoy and so many sights to see (and so much work!), I bet you're never inside during the warmer months.

  14. user-6896190 09/19/2017


  15. Dvngardener 09/19/2017

    Lush, lovely and beautiful!

  16. cynthiamccain 09/19/2017

    I can't get past "Wow!" 😃

  17. NCYarden 09/19/2017

    Whoa, really lends itself to incredible wandering I bet. The chunky stones are wonderful. I'm so impressed with the garden variety (er) you've been able to create over so much space. It looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  18. BTucker9675 09/19/2017

    Completely in love with your garden!!

  19. Cheryl A 09/19/2017

    What fun your gardens are! I love the whimsy of the blue bottles in front of the large oak leaf hydrangea, and the beautiful path inviting us forward with the morning fog hanging off to the right. Thanks so much for sharing. I can't decide which picture I like the most!

  20. JoannaAtGinghamGardens 09/19/2017

    So beautiful. I would love to stroll through your gardens.

  21. User avater
    Linda on Whidbey 09/19/2017

    Good morning, Pam, your gardens are quite impressive. The bottle tree looks like a giant agapanthus and compliments that quercifolia ( 'Ruby Slippers'?) beautifully. You've used many of my favorites, bonariensis, perovskia and your Sweet Autumn clematis which is so cleverly displayed. Also, love the pot with the caladium and begonia near that very healthy heuchera. Your photography is exemplary, too. Thanks for sharing.

  22. user-6536305 09/19/2017

    Stunning garden Pam! Love the water feather with 3 frogs on it, also like the blue bottle tree. Love you plant choices and all. Thanks for sharing your hard working and beautiful creation.

  23. user-7008421 09/19/2017

    Beautiful gardens! Lots of time, effort and thought went into their creation...great job!

  24. User avater
    gringopeligroso 09/19/2017

    This is what my gardens want to be when they grow up!!!
    Ms.Merrill, Just wondering:
    Are those fossils on the stone table in your collage photo next to the Agave? Looks like an extensive and interesting collection from here! (Ammonites? I"m not sure if they lived (and died) in your neck of the woods.)
    I will join others in applauding your talent with the lense!!

    Bravo for the show! Bravo on your cinematography of said show!

  25. user-7008735 09/19/2017

    Really, really lovely, Pam! Your first photo of the oak leaf hydrangea in its fall colours matched by the miscanthus makes me want to rush out to plant one next to my oak leaf hydrangea. Mine hasn't started changing colour yet, but the night temperatures have fallen in the last few days, so I know that's coming here in North Vancouver soon. I love the photo of the path curving off into the distance in the misty photo because it creates such a great sense of the big beyond to be explored. With 4 acres, there is a lot to be explored. Thank you for sharing a taste of it with us today!

  26. Chris N 09/19/2017

    Thanks for sharing, Pam! What a lovely garden. There is something about stonework which just adds to a garden. I also like the grinding wheel garden. That is a great shot of a painted lady butterfly on the Verbena bonariensis. I have to tell you that we were at Denver Botanic Gardens on Sunday and there were hundreds, if not thousands of painted ladies flitting about. I was thinking it was too bad we didn't have those in Wisconsin. Today we went to Rotary Botanical Garden in Janesville, WI and they were there, too. Especially on the tall verbena. Got back to work, and walked past an area where we had planted Verbena bonariensis and painted ladies were all over them as well! There weren't any Thursday before we left for Denver. Amazing how things can change in just a few days.

  27. hulagrl 09/19/2017

    This the photo that did not get included with the other 9 photos for some reason. Thank you all for the nice comments. Sincerely, Pam

    1. Chris N 09/19/2017

      Thank you for adding it. I thought we had seen your gardens before, so searched and found your post that had more nice butterfly shots. Great photos.

  28. grannieannie1 09/20/2017

    Exquisite! Now I have to go back and look a second and third time. I've always liked the idea of different garden rooms and yours are well beyond "rooms"!

  29. thevioletfern 09/22/2017

    Just beautiful ... a picture really is worth a thousand words! Love the natural elements.

  30. chris_buscemi 10/01/2017

    Beautiful border in front of your lovely log home! You have created wonderful spaces to enjoy for generations to come!

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