Garden Photo of the Day

A Garden Like Heaven

A Pittsburgh gardener shares the secrets of her divine garden

My garden is on a quarter of an acre, and I have planted it for 50 years. Due to massive compost enrichment, I do not spray or fertilize. Last summer it was registered in the Archives of the Smithsonian Institution. In order to display my collection of plants better, I divided the garden into rooms. I created paths with round stepping stones set into blue river stones. The paths pull the visitor magically into the garden.

I have several garden tours every year, and a lady told me once, “When I die and go to heaven, I want heaven to be like your garden.”

The palette of my garden is blue and gold. Here is golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, Zones 4–8) backed by ‘Sweet Kate’ spiderwort (Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’, Zones 4–9).

I placed variegated plants where the green was overwhelming and in areas that are dark and uninteresting. I also use a lot of blue-leaved plants. Plants with large leaves have a presence that a garden needs. Brunnera ‘Alexander’s Great’ (Alexander’s Great Siberian bugloss, Zones 3–7), Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, Zones 5–8), and Hosta ‘Frances Williams’ (Zones 3–8) lighten up a whole planting underneath a towering dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Zones 5–10).

More beautiful foliage fills in a shaded area.

I also created small water features. The trickling of water adds to the charm and magic of the garden.

My front garden is the “Asian Garden.” The golden Buddha is sitting underneath a Styrax japonicus ‘Pink Pearls’ (Japanese snowbell, Zones 6–8). In early June when I was walking through the garden, I was enthralled by the light pink petals that had fallen overnight and covered the whole area.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/10/2018

    Your 50 years of gardening in this one special space has been time well and gloriously spent. I'm sure many plants have come and gone and you are always adding and tweaking...that's the nature of the beast of a true gardener. Everything is truly beautiful and congratulations on the honor of your garden being registered in the Archives of the Smithsonian Institution!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 12/10/2018

    Wow, I have never heard of being registered in the Archives of the Smithsonian Institution. Your garden is amazing!

  3. cheryl_c 12/10/2018

    I'm sure we are seeing just small areas of a grand and glorious garden - so I hope you have more to share. These pictures are beautiful and show a serene garden that is none-the-less brim full of exciting variety and beauty - yes, I hope heaven is like that too!

  4. paiya 12/10/2018

    we are so happy that we can experience your heavenly garden today -each plant is so beautiful, and so well situated. How do you keep the slugs from visiting?

  5. Sunshine111 12/10/2018

    It is breathtaking! Thank you for this Christmas gift of paradise in a garden.

  6. Maggieat11 12/10/2018

    Indeed! A gorgeous garden! I'd love to be in on one of those garden tours. Please send more photos.... Thank you for sharing. And Congratulations!

  7. Musette1 12/10/2018

    a gorgeous garden, showing a deft hand and a discerning eye! Thanks for sharing - would love to see more!

  8. btucker9675 12/10/2018

    Definitely heaven on earth - what a wonderful place you've created! The blue of the spiderwort in the first photo is electric.

  9. Speyer 12/10/2018

    I have NO slugs, believe it or not! I think the foot of compost I spread over the years keeps them away...

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