Garden Photo of the Day

A Garden for People and Turtles

Everyone needs a garden, even turtles

My name is Melissa McClelland. I am a full-time veterinary technician and an amateur photographer, and I spend my spare time in my garden in Winsted, Connecticut. I maintain a “turtle garden” for turtle fosters through the Turtle Rescue League, as well as a flower garden and a vegetable garden.

Hens and chicks (Sempervivium sp., Zones 3–8). I love the delicate red tips on the green leaves. The amount of red in the leaves of hens and chicks differs by variety and the conditions in which they are grown. Cool, dry, sunny conditions promote the most red coloration; the leaves tend to turn greener in warm, wet, and/or shady conditions.

A perfect white peony (Paeonia, Zones 3–7), possibly the iconic variety ‘Festiva Maxima’, which is known for its huge, fragrant flowers that are flecked with just the barest whispers of crimson.

A purple geranium (Geranium sp.). If you look closely, you can see that the top flower has visible anthers—the male parts of the flower—producing lots of pollen. In the lower flower, the anthers with the pollen are gone, and the stigma—the female part of the flower—has opened up, ready to receive pollen. This sort of flower development, in which the male parts mature first and the female parts second, is called protandry. It prevents a flower from self-pollinating, which promotes genetic diversity in the population.

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia, Zones 4–9) is a relative of rhododendrons native to eastern North America. There are many selections with pink or red flowers, but this is the most common color in the wild—and, I think, the prettiest.

A bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla, Zones 5–11). Hydrangea blooms may be at their most beautiful at this stage, when they’re just opening and beginning to color up.


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View Comments


  1. moyra_b 07/15/2019

    Lovely! Thank you for the information about the purple geranium.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 07/15/2019

    Wow! I have never heard of a turtle rescue. Maybe, come back sometime & tell us about the turtle rescue & what you need to do in your garden for them.

    1. MelMcclell 07/15/2019

      Will do! There are quite a lot of turtle rescues out there. Turtle Rescue League is located in MA and focuses on rehabilitating injured native turtles, however they do get a few tortoise and non-native turtles surrendered to them to find permanent homes.

  3. user-6841468 07/15/2019

    I'd love to see some of your turtles in your garden.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 07/15/2019

    That's not amateur photography! Those photos are as professional as can be! And what a kind person you are to foster turtles for the Turtle Rescue League. I too would have loved to have seen some turtle photos along with the garden photos. Thanks for being kind to animals in need, and I enjoyed your photography of the garden plants.

    1. User avater
      simplesue 07/15/2019

      ps...that is very interesting about the purple geranium, I saved that info.

    2. MelMcclell 07/15/2019

      Thank you so much for your kind words! Feel free to check out my website, there are a few turtle photos in the bunch ;)

  5. btucker9675 07/15/2019

    Love that you have a turtle rescue - I stop my car frequently to pick up turtles trying to cross. People here in NC don't seem to be too concerned about hitting wildlife... I have a wooded area in my backyard and my property backs up to a protected watershed area so I take my "rescues" back there and hope they'll stick around. Your garden is so pretty and I would love to see some of your turtles.

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