Garden Photo of the Day

A Cool Start to Summer North of Seattle

Making a beautiful yard by trial and error

Today we’re visiting Lila Johnson’s garden.

Greetings from my garden in Mill Creek, Washington, about 20 miles north of Seattle. Our June and July have been wetter and chillier than normal for this time of year, but our perennials and annuals seem to be thriving. We wish for warmer weather, especially in the evenings so we can enjoy our patio surrounded by flowers and hummingbirds! Ah well, there’s always August!

Our age (77 and 76) and the pandemic have kept us at home pretty much, and so our garden looks well manicured and loved. My knee is bad, but my husband does a lot of walking and assures me our yard is the prettiest in the neighborhood! I plant, and my husband maintains our rather large yard. I grew up watching my mother garden, and I’m thrilled to say my 40-something daughter has surprised me by loving to garden also.

I’m not an expert, although I’ve learned a lot from our local garden club, of which I’ve been a member for 12 years. Trial and error works. I had to move several hardy fuchsias to a less shady location where they thrive and entice the hummingbirds.

CrocosmiaA Crocosmia, probably the variety ‘Lucifer’ (Zones 6–9).

purple clematisAn unknown variety of purple clematis.

The red Crocosmia and purple clematis work together to make a color combination fit for a king.

The lawn! Lila’s husband loves to mow and maintain the grass. The cool, wet start to the summer has meant they haven’t had to use the irrigation system much.

tuberous begoniasA shady part of the garden, filled with the luminous flowers of tuberous begonias (Begonia hybrids, tender perennials grown as annuals).

flowers of the tuberous begoniaClose-up of the incredible flowers of the tuberous begonia. These plants prefer cooler summers, and so thrive in the Pacific Northwest.

hardy fuchsiaA hummingbird—with wings moving so fast they are just a blur—feeding on the blooms of a hardy fuchsia (Fuchsia hybrid, Zones 7–9).

Flower stem of a hostaFlower stem of a hosta growing past a lichen- and moss-covered branch.

mixed planting of annualsMixed planting of annuals in and around a beautiful blue container.


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View Comments


  1. Wema 07/27/2020


    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/27/2020


  2. mgol1068 07/27/2020

    Just lovely to see the haven you have created, and continue to enjoy.

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/27/2020

      Thank you so much. We do find joy in our garden, even in the winter.

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 07/27/2020

    Love that purple and red together.

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/27/2020

      It's bright! I am a real fan of HOT PINK, but must admit the purple and red are eye-catching. Have a good day.

  4. cynthia2020 07/27/2020

    Lila – thank you for sharing your story and garden with us. I especially liked looking at the full purple clematis and the section of lawn with the bench in the background and framed by the lanterns. Also the hosta flower surrounded by the lichen and moss covered branch. You really showed us the wet and dampness you described!

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/27/2020

      I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. We do have some lovely days here, but our rain is more of a drizzle spread out over months. But yes, moss does well here! Good thing I love it! Have a great day!

  5. pattyspencer 07/27/2020

    Just beautiful - the picture of your back yard is my favorite

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/27/2020

      Thank you! My husband loves grass, well actually so do I. He does a great job of mowing and edging. Have a great day!

  6. user-5117752 07/27/2020

    Your photos are simply gorgeous. Just love the color combinations and your creativity. My favorite is the flower stem of the hosta looking like it's coming out of the moss covered tree branch! I'm 82 and still marching around my garden, so keep up the great work!

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/27/2020

      Thank you and I hope I'm still gardening at 82! It brings great joy doesn't it. Our garden club is filled with the most wonderful people, most of them 65 and older. There's just something wonderful about people who like to garden. Enjoy the day!

  7. cheryl_c 07/27/2020

    Your bold use of saturated colors gives a jolt of energy! I also love the hosta bloom with the lichen colored branch. I am curious about what the purple spikey plant to the left of the clematis and crocosmia is - its structure looks like an agastache, but somehow I can't imagine them tolerating so much dampness as you have.

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/27/2020

      You are correct, that is an agastache. That is the sunniest area of our garden and we really don't get as much rain as people think, but it comes in "drizzle" and is spread out over the year :) That area used to be our "Rose Garden" but we gave up on them about 6 years ago and planted a pollinator garden instead. Roses here are too prone to black spot! Thank you for enjoying our garden. We have lots of ecosystems and wish I could have shown more.

      1. cheryl_c 07/27/2020

        Do you recall the name of the agastache? I'm looking for one with deep purple blooms like that one.

        1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/28/2020

          Sorry, I do not know the name. Good luck in your search.

  8. lhwlhw 07/27/2020

    How did you get your clemetis and your crocosmia to bloom at the same clemetis was done by the end of June....crocosmia just finishing now....might be the crazy weather!

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/27/2020

      Just luck I guess. Actually, that has happened ever since we planted the crocosmia about 4 years ago.

  9. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/27/2020

    Oh, my...your photos are super stunning and really show off your plants beautifully. I also love those 3 colorful "totems" in your shade garden area...they give that bed such a happy vibe.

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/27/2020

      Thanks so much. One of my favorite things is to walk around the garden taking photos and these are with my iPhone! I've got garden photos from 2011 -2020 on my laptop--every season, even snow! The totems, (Painted Peace poles by Stephanie Burgess of Bellingham, WA) are new, well the two on the right were added this June. The middle one (Beatle's song) was a birthday gift and the far right was a Pandemic gift! Always nice to treat oneself now and then. They are right off our kitchen patio where we enjoy our morning coffee on a summer morning. Have a good day!

  10. Cenepk10 07/27/2020

    Stunning photos !!!! So pretty

  11. schatzi 07/27/2020

    Great garden, great photos. That purple and red combination is spectacular! I live about 35 miles south of Seattle - yes, we have had a cold wet spring. My tuberous begonias weren't doing a thing until I moved them into the sun for a while(!). Then once we started getting some sun and heat, I moved them back into the shade. Everything is blooming it's head off now. I think summer is here at last.

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/27/2020

      We're almost neighbors! :) Yes, summer is finally here and our garden is blooming too. Just curious, do you keep your tuberous begonias in pots and then sink them in the ground? I recall hearing 40 years ago that they like to be "root bound." Ours are OK but not as floriferous as they should be. I can't decide if the soil is bad or if they need a bit more sun exposure. I buy new ones every year and don't pull and winter over in the garage. Thanks for the compliments. Keep cool!

    2. schatzi 07/29/2020

      I keep my tuberous begonias in pots on my porch. I usually don't bother to dig them up in the fall, and they usually survive. I also cannot resist buying new tubers every year, so if some old ones don't make it, there's always some to take their place. They do seem to need some sunlight, but they can't take the heat. But once they start blooming, they seem fine in the shade. Good luck with yours.

  12. bdowen 07/27/2020

    The red with the many blossoms of the purple clematis makes such a striking combination- beautiful garden. Thanks for sharing.

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/28/2020

      Thanks so much. It's so nice to have others appreciate our garden as much as we do.

  13. User avater
    simplesue 07/27/2020

    I got a late start to my day, but wanted to say I enjoyed seeing your beautiful garden, your story and photos.
    Wow that little hummingbird really is deep into that Hardy Fuchsia!

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/28/2020

      Yes that hummer was really deep into the fuchsia, and I was sitting less than 3 ft away when he flew in. I got a great video of him too :) We feed the Annas year round. In winter they are pretty dependent upon our feeder. If it's below freezing, we'll bring the feeder in over night and put it back out first thing in the morning and often before we can get back inside, the hummingbird is there drinking.

      1. User avater
        simplesue 07/29/2020

        Oh that's so kind. of you to be so kind as to feed all year round.
        Ours migrate away for the winter but I leave it out way after they seem to be gone just incase some are still coming down from Canada through Pennsylvania to go south!
        I do know when ours first arrive in spring it's often freezing temps and they move slower and feed at the crack of dawn!

  14. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 07/27/2020

    Wonderful garden and photos. Thank you so much for sharing!
    I'm wondering if the purple clematis might be 'The President.' Take a look online and compare.
    Wishing you continued success and happiness in your garden and in life.

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 07/28/2020

      I think it is "The President" but since I wasn't certain, I didn't want to state that in my introduction. But I believe you are correct. Thank you for the good wishes.......we all need some during this time. To you as well.

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