Jan Meissner, Cleveland, OH, US

I am a life long gardener and freelance advertising art director. I design gardens and landscape plans for friends and referrals, and my personal garden won the most inspired garden in Fine Gardening's design competition in 2006. Stop by and visit. Everyday is open garden day.

Gender: Female

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Cats pretending to work.

Cats have no concept of Saturday. So they tap me at 7:00 and insist I go deadhead, which means, they get to follow.

A golf Course Garden

The challenge of a garden design on a golf course is that it is viewed from the front and the back. Traditional layering using taller plants in the back and lower specimens in front wouldn't work for...

garden design NE Ohio

Since it won the Inspired Gardens Design Contest in 2006, my garden is still growing. I've added a small path and bench to solve a water problem and now have a nice spot to watch the golfers.

Recent comments

Re: Surprise! Marni's lakeside garden in New York, Day 3

Three gorgeous days of inspiration. Thanks.

Re: Darryl's garden in Tennessee, from Jeff, Day 2

This is the kind of property that gets me excited to edit and add and love my garden again. Awesome property. Jeff, I'm building a new house and garden on a half acre in Sarasota Fl. I know, different than Tenn. But 'm planting confederate jasmine over an arbor. My question is, what time of year do I prune it? I'm a zone 9a rookie and have no experience with it. Maybe it's a miracle vine that goes exactly where I tell it, no pruning necessary? ;) ps, I have books galore on southern gardening, but none as great on maintenance tips like Tracy DeSabato Austs book for maintaining northern gardens. That's a hint. Maybe you could write a book on maintaining southern gardens.

Re: Annita's garden and nurserywork in NIGERIA!

Great submission. Beautiful work. It's always so humbling to see the challenges of other climates on gardeners and the clever ways people develop to "outsmart" natures challenges. I'm working on my skills now in the mid-Florida region and this post is really helpful. Reminds me we can make beauty anywhere. Arid. Or wet and humid. Or both in the same region.

Re: A video tour of Tim's side garden in Columbus!

I had to wait to get on my computer because I didn't want to see it puny on my phone. How fun. My favorite part was that I could hear chirpy crickets. The true garden experience. Now if only they could capture scent.

Re: Darwin is a dreamboat!

What of masterpiece of character. Your garden and Darwin.

Re: We saved this tree!

I remember that post! I'm glad it stayed but I do think it needs some balance on the opposite side of the house. That's one heavy mop on top and the house needs weight on the left. That said, maybe there is something in a bed not visible in these photos. It's just stunning. And I'm guessing those seed heads are amazing with a dusting of snow on top.

Re: John's Garden in Wisconsin

I chuckled over your relaxation experiment. I get the same comments and have tried to sit still. Sitting still is called quiet evaluation and can only lead to more work. Garden on John. Well done.

Re: Katie's garden in Ohio, revisited

Cats :)

Re: A garden meetup!

Oh, and since pruning was a topic for inspiration, how exactly do you prune a smoke tree that's every bit a tree and not a bush? Where to cut?

Re: A garden meetup!

Once again, I didn't check mail until evening so I'm late saying it but, how cool is that?! You guys got to meet. If anyone is ever traveling through Northeast Ohio be sure to look me up. Garden visits are so rewarding. So glad you two got to meet.

Re: Michelle's garden in Connecticut

Oh my gosh I've been so busy I almost missed your garden Michelle. It's awesome. I love your style and your details and I appreciate adding such great notes and your thinking behind your decisions. I'm going to do some shooting and try to contribute too. If you can do it, so can I. Nice work!

Re: Michaele's garden in Tennessee, Day 2

Okay Meander1, if you can do it so can I. I start fee guilty when I see a unique garden ornament because I know at this point I'm sneaking it into the garden. I know I need to control myself. I had to hide my 2 1/2 foot tall concrete bunny behind some bushes because my family made fun of me. But he's coming out for all to see. I really enjoy all your garden characters. Though every one is pretty classy. Especially your horse.

Re: Michaele's garden in Tennessee, Day 1

Oops sorry for the double post

Re: Michaele's garden in Tennessee, Day 1

This is the first garden in a while that jump starts my creativity. I am going to sit on the patio in the sun today and come up with some new ideas. Love all the spaces in your garden. I went back in time and looked at your older contributions. Thanks!

Re: Michaele's garden in Tennessee, Day 1

This is the first garden in a while that jump starts my creativity. I am going to sit on the patio in the sun today and come up with some new ideas. Love all the spaces in your garden. I went back in time and looked at your older contributions. Thanks!

Re: Tricia's garden in Minnesota, revisited

Phenomenal! And what a beautiful home to wrap a garden around. Can't wait till Monday.

Re: Visitors in Linda's garden in Texas

These photos made me feel as happy as if they were in my own back yard. Delightful!

Re: More from Dorothy's garden in Maryland

That was a lot of work. Nice job. Welcome back Michelle.

Re: Pinterest, anyone?

We miss you. Pinterest it is. Take it easy and get better soon.

Re: Sheila's garden in Newfoundland & Labrador, Day 1

Just beautiful! I think if I had to move all those rocks I'd make something out of them. How about a dry stack stone wall? Awesome property. Beautiful garden.

Re: More from Betsy's townhouse garden in New York

Okay I went on line to buy that black foliage dahlia with the pink blossom and it is NOT 'Juiet'. 'Juliet' lacks the dark magenta center and yellow stamens. So with some google sleuthing I found it. It is called Black leaved dahlia ‘happy wink’. Now I'm going to buy one.

Re: More from Betsy's townhouse garden in New York

GarPho, just beautiful! Your garden is getting me in the mood for planting. I hope you are up and healthy soon. I did what tntreenman suggested and went back and forth from your spring garden to the fall garden. So fun. I know you have to go through your house with everything, so I was wondering what you do with your blue ceramic pots in the winter? Cover them? Empty the dirt? Turn upside down? I'm always curious because I tackle this in different ways. But hauling pots inside is something I don't do anymore. Too many pots.

Re: Jenni's garden in Virginia

tractor1, I do not have a vegetable garden. Not allowed on my lot. But if I grow a tomato plant and basil in a pot I think that still makes me a gardner. I hope you concur ;) Oh, and I have an apple tree. But the family farms and roadside stands in my community grow better vegetables than I could ever hope to. So, for now at least I have to be just a flower gardener.

Re: Jenni's garden in Virginia

I think it's awesome that you have your kids out there. Suck them in while they're young. I had my son planting annuals at 5. He's 23 and I don't think the gardening bug stuck with him but you never know. A little piece of yard has a way of transforming people. I just wrote about that very thing on my blog. I love all your ornaments you've collected and your garden is a beautiful reflection of you. It's a gift that you can design for others too.

Re: Tatyana's visit to the Mediterranean garden at Butchart Gardens

Some gardens make me long for spring. This garden inspires me to be a better garden designer. Phenomenal use of evergreen exclamation points.

Re: The gardens at the Harvest Inn in Napa

Meander1, thanks for your kind words and for stopping by my blog. Every morning you take the time to offer kind words and observations here at Fine Gardening's morning dose of sunshine. That skill of brightening someone's day is as effective as the flowers.

Re: The gardens at the Harvest Inn in Napa

There are a some more photos on my blog I took so many photos it was hard to narrow them down. While I try to visit gardens wherever I travel I can not take credit for the visit to Ecuador in the links provided above. I wish!

Re: Beautiful ice in Mary's Minnesota garden

What a fun post. Nature with a sense of humor.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Veronica's garden in New Hampshire

I just love this property. Special.

Re: Bill's tropical garden in Ohio

Nice work Bill. I too am from Ohio and every year I plant a banana. I've been using a variety with a black spotted leaf. I never thought I could actually get it to live through winter though. This spring when I plant my annual banana I'm going to look at it differently. I will consider it a perennial. And the following spring when it miraculously lives, I will think of Bill from Ohio who miraculously lived. Happy New Year.

Re: Carol's voodoo lily in Georgia

That is a really cool plant. And thanks for the info cwheat000. And to the parents and lovely people of Newtown you have my heavy hearted condolences.

Re: Karen's dry stream bed in Illinois (Day 1 of 2 in Karen's garden)

I love how really natural the dry creek bed looks. So well done.

Re: Jan's winter escape garden in Florida

Thank you all. Vespasia, that is an extra large 8 foot spa. It gets us out in the cool evenings. The wine stays chilled on the edge while we stay toasty warm. Two houses would never been something I would have considered but my father-in-law needed a home to live in. We were fortunate to be able to help him out in this way. Then our son decided he'd like to attend the University of South Florida, and he too now lives in the home. We fly back and forth every two weeks or so. So home for two, shovel snow, back to warm up. Having a second garden has been a joy. My lack of zone 9 knowledge has humbled me.

Re: Jan's winter escape garden in Florida

Thank you all. Plant lady 55, yes it has irrigation. Learning the environment and special challenges of The Tampa climate has been interesting. On the one hand there was a drought this spring and summer which led to water rationing. Followed by record flooding and rainfall in late summer. If the poor plants aren't dying of thirst they 're drowning. I do a lot of reading but I tend to learn the most by failure. When you move, feel free to contact me if you want to chat. I'm starting to understand the bug seasons better too.

Re: Jan's winter escape garden in Florida

Thank you all. Plant lady 55, yes it has irrigation. Learning the environment and special challenges of The Tampa climate has been interesting. On the one hand there was a drought this spring and summer which led to water rationing. Followed by record flooding and rainfall in late summer. If the poor plants aren't dying of thirst they 're drowning. I do a lot of reading but I tend to learn the most by failure. When you move, feel free to contact me if you want to chat. I'm starting to understand the bug seasons better too.

Re: Jodie's no-lawn entry garden in California

I love it. Really well executed. I'm working toward the same concept in my Florida home.

Re: Dave's water feature garden in Colorado (Day 2 of 2 in David's garden)

Great water feature! Well done.

Re: Revisiting John's garden in New Jersey

Your garden reminds me of the gardens of Piet Oudolf. Really really lovely. I would love to see your grasses in winter.

Re: Jan's containers in Ohio

tractor1, thanks for the pineapple explanation. Seems like the same process of ripening is true for many fruits, whether it's the apples picked fresh from my little tree in Ohio or the kumquats from my Tampa garden, you just can't beat fresh picked. I can't wait to plant another pineapple next year. Although I have to say after I ate it I really missed it as my pot centerpiece.

Re: Jan's containers in Ohio

Oh, the stone face girl I got at a nursery called Daisy Hill on the east side of Cleveland a few years ago. The glazed pot was from Smith and Hawken, who's demise was like losing a good friend.

Re: Jan's containers in Ohio

Thank you all. Plant_Paradise, after seeing all your space I can see why pots would not be your thing. You are blessed with so much room. And you grow things from scratch! I realize the reason I need pots in my life is I'm always wanting something different from the year before, but I'm out of room. I have to take home something from the nursery in the spring or it doesn't seem like spring.

Re: Want us to feature YOUR garden on the Garden Photo of the Day blog?

Dear Michelle,

When I comment on a daily garden photo, I wish I could follow the conversation more easily. I wish there was an option (a button in the comment box) that allowed all the comments from the person's garden which was shared, to be forwarded by email.

For instance, when another reader asks a question that I too am interested in the answer to, the owner of the garden's responses are all forwarded. So if I take the time to comment, every comment from the owner would go to my email. I would see answers to other questions or comments readers had and it would reward my comment and interaction. Even the gardener's note of thanks and appreciation would find it's way to my mailbox. I don't need to see every comment from everyone. Just the featured gardener's responses.

What do you think?

Jan Meissner
Green Thumb Blonde

Re: Lorraine's from-scratch garden in Ontario

Is it possible to have 24 acres of just delphiniums? What a dream. At least I think so. Do you have help with weeding, maintenance, etc. on such a large property? How much is natural and how much is maintained? I just got about 1/2 way through fall clean up on my quarter acre and my back was just curious.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Syd's garden in Pennsylvania

Syd, your crape myrtle is beautiful. Is that a protected area you have it in? A micro climate? I've always wanted one but I'm on the edge here. 6 minutes south of Lake Erie, just not quite close enough to support one through winter. 6b? 7a? Ahh so close and yet so far. I'm 6a-ish. Beautiful work. I too am an artist. Similar philosophies. :)

Re: Gregg & Kindra's deer-friendly garden in Ohio

This has to be one of my favorite posts of all time. And I read every one, every day. You have a beautiful garden and an attitude to match. And I see some un-nibbled hostas. I think the deer have perhaps restrained themselves just a little bit, in honor of your positive approach.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Kiah's garden in British Columbia

Really great textures. Love the house too!

Re: The gardens at Cady's Falls Nursery in Vermont

I have to go here! As I see so many small local nurseries go out of business around me, it's great to see one so spectacular thriving. It's the kind of nursery that inspires a next generation of gardeners. Wow.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Mike & Sheila's garden in New York state, Day 2

I love the way you kept continuity throughout the whole property. Well conceived. You have me wishing for a waterfall. I just dread shutting down a simple fountain in the winter so I've resisted the urge to make such a majestic water feature commitment. Ah... your property is a bad influence. ;-)

Re: Scenes from my garden

That's what is right outside? Stunning combinations. I think looking at beauty has healing power so you should be better by tomorrow. ;)

Re: READER PHOTOS! A grotto garden in Pennsylvania

I really love seeing the mix of professionally designed gardens and the home spun gardens. The daily posts have had such a great variety of styles. I'm loving my morning dose of green.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Ellen's driveway garden in Massachusetts

This was a fun post because we not only got to see before and after, but "during". Labor of love, clearly.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Sally's garden in Maryland

Berkeley, that looks like sedum acre, golden carpet, but the owner of that sensational garden could probably say for sure. If so, it's a great ground ground cover for sunny areas. Once it's established around the stones it will cover them soon enough so be prepared to cut I with a pair of scissors and lay it anywhere you want to hid mulch in the sun. That ground cover gets more comments than any other plant in my garden.

What a fantastic retreat that is.

Re: Gardens, mountains, and streams

Okay the mountains are amazing but the butterfly with the dog in the background just pulls me right into the garden. Wonderful images.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Jan's garden in Ohio, revisited

@Vojt Yes that stone structure is a gate. A landscape designer I know and admire designed the structure for a Cleveland Home and Garden show feature garden. The metal portion is steel and was bent and fabricated in their shop. Shorter pieces of steel were inserted into drilled holes in the stone and "glued" into the stone with cement that is used in underwater applications. The gate swings on a simple pin type hinge and latches in a style similar to a keychain ring that opens. The steel was originally painted a beautiful hydrangea blue. It appears to pass through the stone and emerges out the other side. In it's original installation the metal continued throughout the garden undulating through trees, disappearing into the ground and emerging a few feet away. It was quite beautiful. After the home and garden show, I painted the steel with copper paint for a more subtle effect in my garden. The large stones are planted about 2 1/2 feet in the ground. The gate is one of my favorite finds. I'm glad you enjoyed it too.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Bonnie's garden in Georgia

That's a beautiful water feature. I love the way the water drops so far forward from the back. It's like a little cave behind the fall.

Re: READER PHOTOS! More from Jane's garden in Prior Lake, Minnesota

What colorful combinations. And admirable that you spend the time to dig out and overwinter the oxalis.

Re: Through the gateway to a new year

@Roho, glad you made it to to site. I find Ms. Gervais' daily pics like a little daily vitamin for my gardeners soul. I hope you find it equally satisfying. Welcome!

Re: READER PHOTOS! Can't get enough of Pauline's garden...

This is so serene. I wish I could wander through this garden.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Michael's garden in Oregon

The land you've transformed is a work of art.

Re: READER PHOTOS! More from Brenda's garden in Georgia

I love all the hard scape elements you've created. They really show off the conifers. I love to garden in a space as large as yours. Serene. Deer have found my garden so I'm going to try your conifer strategy.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Julie's garden in Pennsylvania

Mmmm. All I need is a hot cup of tea.

Re: Tis the season...

I love the sharp square angles juxtaposed to the almost watery texture of the grasses. Maybe it's fall clean-up looming, but for some reason I keep thinking of the poor person who will be cutting down all the tall miscanthus come spring.

Re: Les Quatre Vents - An optical illusion

I've had problems finding outdoor mirrors. Anyone have luck with that?

Re: Les Quatre Vents - Water and reflections

Michelle, I wish I had your job. Getting paid to share beauty like this. Not a bad gig.

Re: Is the coast clear?!

that's hysterical

Re: READER PHOTOS! More baby hummingbirds

Awesome. Thank you.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Dripping with atmosphere

I can't grow spanish moss in my zone but I could try to get the same effect with dichondra silver falls hanging in hidden pots from a big ash in my back yard. Oooh. Thanks for the idea. Watering is going to be a challenge.

Re: READER PHOTO! The original robin's egg blue

The prettiest garden ornament there is.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Dr. Seuss would be a fan of this plant...

Since this specimen is on a standard, the only hard part about growing it is that it has had to remain staked. The head gets so large that I'm afraid it is too top weighted for it's own good. I prune the head (keeping it fluffy of course) to keep it within reason. Otherwise, yes, it is very easy.

Re: READER PHOTOS! Dr. Seuss would be a fan of this plant...

I purchased the plant at a local garden center. I frequent about 7 different garden centers as well as a huge midwest grower looking for new cool things I haven't tried yet. I saw it only once about 3 or 4 years ago and have not seen it anywhere since. I scooped it up right away. It was rather pricey and a man buying tomato plants asked what it was. He thought it was as silly as its price tag and said he was going to stick to tomatoes. So far, deer have not found it all that desireable either.

ncgardener, thanks for your comment on neat borders. I obsess over borders. I cut them back with a straight edge three times a year and my lawn service holds the weed whacker vertical and hits the edges weekly. They also whack all the hosta leaves unfortunately. Which means I have to go back and remove the damaged leaves. But I don't mind. I'm happy the grass is cut so I can focus on the fun stuff.

Re: READER PHOTO! Hens and chicks in a cage

I forgot to mention, because a bird cage is so airy and open on all sides, I did not use a cactus soil mix. Traditional potting soil drains and dries out very fast because there are no sides to hold moisture in. After winter I just snip off the little chicks that are dangling. If the bird cage you use has a deep bottom, punch a few holes so water is not sitting in it.

Re: READER PHOTO! Hens and chicks in a cage

HOW TO: For most bird cages the bottom slides out or comes off. Turn the birdcage upside down and line the bars with large sheets of moss. Fill with potting soil (I used Miracle Grow with the slow release fertilizer) as you work your way up the cage. If you are filling a large cage, be sure to give a little structural integrity to the interior of the cage by laying cut wire from coat hangers across the interior, resting the ends on the wire cage. This will help keep the whole thing from squishing or settling over time. When your cage is packed tight with dirt, water it while it's upside down to be sure the soil is moist and the cage is very full of top soil. Put the bottom back on and flip it over.
The next step is to punch holes in the moss with a screwdriver and wiggle it around to make a planting hole. Take your little succulents, and stuff their stems or roots into the holes. It's painstaking, but so is weeding, and this is the opposite action. Space the larger plants evenly around, or near the top. Fill in the sides with the little chicks. When you are done stuffing, give the whole cage a light watering to make sure the plants have good contact with the soil. Have fun!

Re: READER PHOTOS! Woolly thyme like tumbling water

To soilgoil and your problematic weed infestation of your wooly thyme: My thyme would be infested also but I have to pull pull pull. Wait until you have a crazy heavy downpour so your soil is supersaturated. Then, pour a glass of wine. (You'll need it). Put a knee pad under your butt. Sit down and grab every one of the hundreds of invaders by the very base and pull straight up. It is tedious. You may need multiple rains to get them all. Persistence pays off. And the wine makes it possible :)

Weeds and grass are the high maintenance drawback of every ground cover.

Re: Front Yard Garden 2008

I have a De Groot's Spire Arborvitae that looks like yours. Does that name ring a bell?