Garden Photo of the Day

A Creative DIY Garden

Hard work and creative ideas make this garden unique and beautiful

Today’s photos come from Randy Potter in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

My wife and I love gardening. In the spring and summer we work in the garden almost every day. Rosalyn is involved in trading and collecting seeds. Then when it’s time, she starts hundreds of seedlings.

This is our climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris, Zones 4–7). It covers the whole 12-foot-long side of the shed and has now come around the front of the shed. We have to keep it trimmed away from covering the sliding doors.

Five years ago, Rosalyn and I built a 12-foot by 12-foot lotus (Nelumbo nucifera, Zones 4–8) pond. This is the first time that we harvested lotus tubers. After replanting many of them in the pond containers, we planted leftovers in ten separate pots. We also gave many of them to friends to pot up. Also, this is the first year that we have deadheaded the lotus seedpods. We are having a record number of blooms. We have had 72 blooms so far, and the pond is full of buds.

From the deck you can see the gates to the lotus pond. On the flagstone firepit area are two potted lotus plants. In the foreground are hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata, Zones 3–8) and bonariensis verbena (Verbena bonariensis, Zones 6–9 or as an annual). We garden every day if possible. We do everything ourselves, including patios, stonework, and structures.

We extended our Asian theme to the front yard with begonias, tall miscanthus grass (Miscanthus sinensis, Zones 5–9), a small elderberry (Sambucus sp.), and a seven-son tree (Heptacodium miconioides, Zones 5–9).

A few years ago, a friend gave me a pedestal sink. I hooked up hot and cold quick disconnect hoses from the basement. We keep a bar of soap in a plastic case on the sink. If our hands are covered with soil, we can wash off before going back into the house. When we have a party, we close the sink’s stopper and then fill the sink with ice, beer, and wine. Around the sink is a ‘Ballerina’ rose, a Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’ (Zones 4–7) and an ‘Alice DuPont’ Mandevilla.

This 24-foot trellis is made of PVC pipe and electrical PVC pipe. When we have guests over, we hang colorful umbrellas from it.

The trellis makes a more elegant entry to the backyard and the garden.

This photo shows the waterfall in our koi pond, although we turned off the waterfall for this photo so that we could get a serene and still water scene. The pond is roughly 16 feet by 20 feet, and it supports water lilies, lotus, and about 40 koi fish.


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View Comments


  1. nwphillygardener 09/11/2019

    Great ideas and photos! How convenient to have a sink right within the garden. It's so useful and yet provides some real whimsy to that garden bed. The pond shot was especially well composed and, together with the knowledge of the lotus blooming so well for you, I wish I could see more of it. In the front yard bed, beneath the seven sons tree (which looks a bit like a crape myrtle to my eye), what are the colorful spikes poking out of a green ground cover?

    1. user-7057644 09/11/2019

      Thank you nw for the very nice compliments.
      For the life of me I can’t remember what the green ground ground cover was. I took that photo about 3 years ago.
      If you are talking about the light pink spike flowers, they were more begonias. We got them very late and they were a bit scraggly. The Seven Son tree was about 4 years old. As you can see in the picture it was in it’s fall bloom. Thank you again. Roz and Randy

      1. user-7057644 09/13/2019

        Hi again, I was wrong about that photo of the Seven-Son tree. The photo was taken in the spring. Right now the tree has white flowers starting to bloom.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/11/2019

    Gosh, Randy and Rosalyn, I feel that my WOW should be in giant colorful letters with fireworks shooting out...your DIY projects are amazing and impressively ambitious. All your structures look well built and enhanced with charming details. The plant covered trellis walkway is spectacular and quite a showpiece. And, it has to be quite a gratifying tickle to have all those "free" potted up lotus tubers providing glorious flowers in unexpected places. Congrats on a spectacular garden.

    1. user-7057644 09/11/2019

      Thank you Michaele.
      Very kind of you. I especially like the fireworks comment.
      Happy gardening to you.
      Roz and Randy

  3. User avater
    simplesue 09/11/2019

    The white doors next to the climbing hydrangea are beautiful, with each of them matching yet with unique plant designs on each. Love that PVC pipe arbor with the umbrellas and the lattice gate to it, the pond and lotus... oh I just love all of it to be honest! You've both really set the stage for a magical garden experience! Such a wonderful garden!

    1. user-7057644 09/11/2019

      Thanks Sue,
      Very kind of you to comment.
      Just for fun if you can blow up the photo of the doors you will see when I built the doors I used real Lotus seed pods and stems. Everything else I carved out of wood and applied many coats of paint. In the winter I slide the doors open and cover the opening with sheets of thick styrofoam.
      Thanks again and happy gardening.
      Roz and Randy

  4. btucker9675 09/11/2019

    Oh my.... what a spectacular garden! And the clever use of the pedestal sink will be stolen by me very soon - what a great idea and so much prettier than the usual outdoor sinks. Your friends are very fortunate to be the recipients of the extra lotuses. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely space.

    1. user-7057644 09/11/2019

      Thank you so much for the kind comments BTucker.
      I will be posting a guard near the sink or if I know you are coming I will be icing some drinks.
      Happy Gardening
      Roz and Randy

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/11/2019

    All of it is amazing!

    1. user-7057644 09/11/2019

      Thank you treasuresmom
      Happy gardening.
      Roz and Randy

  6. wittyone 09/11/2019

    What a wonderful garden you and your wife have created. How long have you been working on it? So many things to compliment you on.

    The umbrellas are just over the top! The outdoor sink is a great idea----no more grubby door handles.

    I was interested in your seven-sons tree. I am planning on planting one this coming spring and wonder how long yours has been growing to get to this size and have you had any problems with it so far?

    1. user-7057644 09/11/2019

      We have had no problems at all with Seven-Son. It’s about 4 years old it seemed to grow very fast.
      Good luck with your Seven-Son, get one, you will be very happy with it.
      Thank you for the compliments.
      Roz and Randy

  7. cheryl_c 09/11/2019

    Lush, lush, lush! What a wonderful garden you have shared with us today. Just when we think we've seen it all, we see you front garden bed! Amazing. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. user-7057644 09/11/2019

      Thank you for your kind compliments cheryl_c.
      Happy gardening,
      Roz and Randy

  8. mjensen 09/11/2019

    beautiful,love your garden,

    1. user-7057644 09/12/2019

      Thank you for your kind post.
      Roz and Randy

  9. Cenepk10 09/12/2019

    That garden is fabulous!!!!!! Love all the fun destinations & routes to get there. Umbrellas are so fun !

    1. user-7057644 09/13/2019

      Thank you Cenpk10 for the very nice!!!!! Compliment.
      Roz and Randy

  10. mjchev 09/12/2019

    Randy and Ros, your garden and ponds are magnificent! Who would think that in Wisconsin you could have so many beautiful and thriving lotus plants. I am a friend of Randy’s and while I see their garden all the time, I kind of take it for granted because I constantly see the amazing garden concepts that Randy and Ros come up with. The photos are great of their garden but in person the garden is absolutely gorgeous and even more impressive. Thank you Randy and Ros for letting me have a front row seat to your garden.
    One more note, Randy is a true craftsman and can design and build just about anything his mind can think of. And Ros has developed a super organized system of collecting, sorting, categorizing and startling seedlings for all the plants in their garden. They make a great team. Happy gardening!

    1. user-7057644 09/13/2019

      Oh shucks !

  11. rtknoth 09/15/2019

    Thank you everyone for all the kind words and compliments. Thank you, Marc, for your write-up.

    Randy & Rosalyn

  12. User avater
    pattyeckels 09/18/2019

    MJ arent you lucky to be a Neighbor! I would probably make a pest of myself! Lol. Gorgeous! Gorgeous!

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