Garden Photo of the Day

A Garden Rebirth in Missouri

by Kim Charles

Abelia 'Rose Creek' (foreground), Dahlia 'Gallery Leonardo' (midground), and Oxalis triangularis (right background).

Cheryl and Jim Moon from southwest Missouri have successfully rebuilt their home and gardens after an unfortunate fire.

I am finally taking the plunge to submit some photos of our gardens here in southwest Missouri. We have lived here for 26 years, but in October of 2014, our dream retirement home burned to the ground. We had to have the site excavated to remove all the debris, and what gardening material had survived the fire was mostly killed by the excavation or by the subsequent rebuilding.

I’ve put in some small gardens over the years on the half-acre, or so that is close enough to the house for the hose to reach. The first shot shows what had been the main garden, to the right of the sidewalk, before any renewal efforts. I was able to move the panicum to a new location in a stock tank on the north side of the house where it screens a bedroom window. This picture was taken late in the summer of 2016.



This picture shows what had been the main garden, to the right of the sidewalk, before any renewal efforts. I was able to move the panicum to a new location in a stock tank on the north side of the house where it screens a bed.
Here is the rock wall garden, which was to the left in the first picture, showing plants that survived the fire and construction: Boxwood ‘North Star’, and unknown hellebores (I’ve had them so long they’ve been hybridizing freely in this bed).
Later in spring, some of the bulbs in the main bed are starting to bloom.
I call this our “kitchen window garden” because our kitchen is halfway below grade, and we look out at this rocky hillside when we are standing at our kitchen counter. Here there is Heuchera ‘Sweet Tea’, Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’, some Ajuga reptans ‘Mahogany’, and an epimedium, but it’s not very big yet. Sorry about the weeds—we were very busy this year.
Here is a before picture of my upcoming rock garden. This is actually on bedrock, and we would never have been able to put in a garden except that they raised our sidewalk, giving us room to put pockets of soil between the rocks. The root ball is a gift from the creek we live on, now quite dried and nice.
Here is the quasi-finished product. I’ve added a prickly pear cactus along with some other new plants since this picture was taken in July.
From April this year: Cotinus ‘Royal Purple’, with Itoh peony ‘Julia Rose’.
Callicarpa (native), Hosta ‘Kiwi Full Monte’, wandering Jew, Thuja ‘Glauca Prostrata’. The bush in the background is Viburnum ‘Blue Blaze’.
Papaver ‘Lauren’s Grape’.
Heucherella ‘Pumpkin Spice’, Weigela ‘Spilled Wine’, Dahlia ‘Sights of Summer’, Caryopteris ‘Lil Miss Sunshine’, seedhead of allium, unknown.
This is how the garden was looking by September. 


Have a garden you’d like to share? Email 5-10 high-resolution photos (there is no need to reduce photo sizing before sending–simply point, shoot and send the photos our way) and a brief story about your garden to [email protected]. Please include where you’re located!

Sending photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

Follow us: @finegardening on Twitter | FineGardeningMagazine on Facebook | @finegardening on Instagram

View Comments


  1. perenniallycrazy 11/08/2017

    I'm sorry about your losing your dream retirement home to a fire Cheryl and Jim. It looks as if you have taken the loss and transformed it into a wonderful new beginning with varied garden rooms as well as some nice vibrant and lively plant choices. The rock garden is a great addition. I look forward to more photos from you as your garden matures. Thank you for sharing.

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Hi, PC - the rock garden was born of necessity (spoken as a gardener, of course! ) There is an area between the sidewalks and the driveway that is just bedrock, so a man who frequently helps us around the yard helped me move those huge rocks via hand dolly! I'm still coping with getting the soil settled in well, but things are looking good going into winter> Thanks so much for your comments.

  2. frankgreenhalgh 11/08/2017

    Hello Cheryl and Jim - You have done a marvellous job rebuilding your dream home and resurrecting your garden after such a dramatic and heartbreaking event. It's great that you are again enjoying your gardening. The rocks certainly add to the appeal of the garden and charm of your wonderful new house. All your hard work rebuilding your house, garden and lives is an outstanding achievement. Congratulations and please post updates on GPOD. Cheers from Australia

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Hi, Frank, Always good to read your notes, as we have a son, daughter-in-law, and 12 year old granddaughter in Melbourne area. What a beautiful part of the world you are from. Jim did virtually all the rockwork many years ago, but the 'main bed' wall had to be raised, so he and a good friend did the work on that. Now I actually have dirt to plant in - what a nice treat!

      1. frankgreenhalgh 11/08/2017

        Hey Cheryl - I'm glad you know about and like Melbourne. Our main house is in Melbourne - which has been rated the world's most liveable city on a number of occasions. Hope your relatives are enjoying life here. On Tuesday, the international Melbourne Cup horse race was run (not sure if your family has communicated anything to you on the race). It is a big deal here - it is a public holiday in the State of Victoria, and it is literally a race that stops a nation. The roses are magnificent. This year a horse from Ireland won in grand style. Unfortunately, the sentimental favourite, 'Who Shot Thebarman', was scratched at the last moment. The story there is that it was named after the owner's Auntie who when her glass of gin was empty she would say 'who shot the barman?' - a bit of Aussie humour! If you come down here to visit your family please let me know so that we could show you some of the sights etc.

        You know the grief that was associated with the loss of your house. Imagine multiplying that by thousands for the houses lost to wildfires recently in California. Terrible tragedy. Cheers from Oz

        1. User avater
          meander_michaele 11/08/2017

          My husband just glanced over at me and asked, "Why the big smile?" and I shared 'The Who Shot Thebarman' horse name story. Quite fun and grin worthy. Sorry the horse wasn't able to compete and win. I'll bet lots of sports writers already had some playful headlines ready to use if that had been the case.

        2. cheryl_c 11/09/2017

          Hello again, Frank, We were in Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup 12 years ago, after our granddaughter was born - we attended the equivalent of a "Derby party" held in the states for the Kentucky Derby, the first Saturday in May. My husband remembers that he won the pot for the winner at that party - the locals were not happy that a Yankee had won!
          Yes, we think often of many people around the world who are homeless due to fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, famine, war, genocide - and we realize that we really didn't have it bad at all. We didn't lose our neighborhood and all landmarks, we didn't lose family or even pets, and we still had money in the bank and an excellent insurance company. We have a new and deepened awareness of the plight that millions are in around the world. Thank you for mentioning that.

  3. grannieannie1 11/08/2017

    What pain you have gone through! But your steadfastness in doing something despite great difficulty has paid off as shown by the rebirth of your beautiful garden. I especially like your idea of a kitchen garden at eye level as you look outside, similar to having a window box except in your case it is an extraordinarily large blooming window box! Best wishes to you in your new home.

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Thanks, Grannie Annie! Our contractor for this second home is the son of a woman who was a dear friend, and he had been in our original home when he was just a school boy. He remembers standing at that same window space and looking out into the rocks and crevices when he was there, and was pleased that our architect put the kitchen and windows right back where they had been!

  4. deeinde 11/08/2017

    What a wonderful start! And it will keep getting better and better.

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Thanks, Dee! We're working to that end!

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/08/2017

    I can not even begin to imagine the emotional journey you have been on these past 3 years, Cheryl and Jim as you dealt with such a devastating loss and then started the rebuild and replace effort. Your new home looks warm and welcoming and the garden areas are filling in beautifully. The combination of the cotinus 'Royal Purple' with the peony 'Julia Rose' is super stunning and must have made your hearts sing a happy song that you put them side by side.
    Just as an aside of curiosity...did you try to duplicate the style and footprint of your previous house or did you go in a different direction?

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Hi, Meander, It seemed like a very long time before we were able to actually move into our new home, but now it seems like it wasn't that long ago. Thank you for your kind words. This house is remarkably similar to the one we lost - especially looking from the outside. We did make some tweaks in the floor plan - the 'original' house was actually built around an old stone hunting cabin built in 1939 that my father in law bought in 1943, and my husband grew up visiting on weekends and in the summer. The home we lost was also contemporary/Craftsman style, but this one we really pushed the Craftsman influence both outside and in.
      The cotinus is an amazing plant - there are several plants in its vicinity which were happy surprises when they bloomed against it as a backdrop. There is more purple in many flowers (at least in the ones I choose!) than is apparent. Thanks so much for your always positive and uplifting comments.

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 11/08/2017

        I really enjoyed reading about the family history associated with with the property and your original home. And, wow, that view of the picturesque stream/river that you posted additionally is like a dream come true. I find water moving over boulders and filled with mini waterfalls so wonder your husband played his trump card to rebuild in the original location.

  6. user-7008986 11/08/2017

    I'm so inspired by your garden and work! I live in southwest mo too and am starting from scratch on my landscaping. Thank you for the beautiful photos.

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      We are in both a tough climate, with the summer humidity and usual drought in July and August, but we have the advantage of milder winters. Good luck on your plans for your new gardens. Any books you are using for getting started?

  7. tennisluv 11/08/2017

    What an amazing transformation you two have made. The difference between the before picture and the last one is night and day. Glad to know you were able to salvage some of your plants from before the fire. The new plants added in along with all the beautiful rockwork makes a beautiful, unique setting. I cannot imagine losing everything the way you did. This garden is a testament to your resilient spirit. Definitely a Phoenix rising from the ashes.

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Thank you, Sonya. We were lucky to be able to stay next door during the rebuild, as it is a summer home owned by my husband's cousin. That made salvaging a lot easier. And, we have friends, a couple, who are both master gardeners, and the just told us, two weeks after the fire, that they were coming out for a Saturday just to do whatever we needed them to do to help. They helped me dig and move all the plants that were salvageable. We put them in what I considered my future water feature in my Japanese garden, and they stayed in that protected pocket for over two years! Friends like those are a big part of why we were able to bounce back.

      1. tennisluv 11/10/2017

        As I know that you know, in spite of your horrific lose you discovered real treasures in your friends and family and rescued plants from what you thought would be your forever home. Sometimes it takes a catastrophe for us to realize the true gifts we have around us all the time. That said, you have rebuilt a beautiful garden and home that I know you and your husband will continue to enjoy and cherish for many years to come. God be with you.

  8. User avater
    treasuresmom 11/08/2017

    Losing a home to fire is devastating. Everything you have done & are doing looks grand. Thank you for sharing your story & photos.

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Thanks so much. Part of the healing process was dreaming of what new things might be in store. We have much more sun due to the fire destroying so many trees (after the ice storm of 2007 devastating more than a dozen as well). But suddenly I could grow things I'd not been able to grow! Thanks for your kind words.

  9. user-7008421 11/08/2017

    Beautiful home and gardens! Love the rocks used to form the beds. Lovely mix of plants. Hope you enjoy this new home as much as your other home which you lost.

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      We love this new home. We were able to make some changes that have made it more accommodating to our friends who all seem to be getting older, and with new building materials, it looks like we should, theoretically, have a nearly zero need for maintenance for the next 20-30 years - probably longer than we will live here.

  10. floreyd 11/08/2017

    I'm so sorry for your losses--house AND garden? Hard to fathom. Still, it looks like you're well on your way to being "re-established!" Keep on digging--your story is very inspirational!

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Being part of this blog, opening everybody's pictures each morning and hearing about how many of you have also gone through losses, not just of things but of dear ones, really helped buoy us through those early dark days. I so appreciate this gardening community. Thank you!

  11. Sunshine111 11/08/2017

    Your rebirthed garden is wonderful! May it bring you happiness and joy all the days of your life .

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Thank you so much. We love it every day.

  12. themother10 11/08/2017

    I'm sorry for your loss as well. Luv your new home & gardens. Gives me more inspiration as to what I can achieve with mine. I'm looking to get hellebores my new favourite. The poppy is stunning.

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Hellebores do very well here, even in more sun than they supposedly like. I'm giving 'unnamed seedlings' away every year, but just saw another last night "Monte Cristo" that I've decided I need to add to a lower bed. I didn't have good luck with that poppy - It had lots of blooms but each one would open during the night, and then would completely lose its petals by 10:30 the next morning. I've moved a dwarf plum holly hock into that space instead.

  13. sheila_schultz 11/08/2017

    The last photo says it all Cheryl and Jim, your home and gardens have been successfully reborn with a beauty that must make you smile every time you look out your kitchen window or walk up the path to your front door! I'm particularly fond of your rock garden, it's wonderful!!!

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Thank you so much. Yes, I walk from window to window smiling at all that is growing. My husband says that he just smiles every time he looks at one of the gardens. There will be some editing, as I did a lot of 'onesies' this year to see how they would fare in the garden, but I do love the results. The rock garden was a new venture for me, so I'm pleased that you like it.

      1. sheila_schultz 11/08/2017

        Now that you have created your first rock garden, you just might have gotten the itch to do a few more! When I did my gardens in Denver, my good friend who is a wizard when it comes to positioning the natural stone in our area did all of our rock work. It is definitely an art and takes a special eye to make everything look natural... one that I don't have! I loved planting those pockets though!!!

  14. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/08/2017

    Just breaks my heart to hear about your loss, but I'm so glad that you've rebounded, rebuilt and replanted. Your home and its colors are gorgeous and that's an incredible site. Your beds and plant choices are wonderful. Carry on!

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      My father in law purchased this property in 1943 when it was a stone hunting cabin. It sits just below a pre-Civil war dam and mill site, on a wide creek (called a river around here) that flows year round. Here is a photo from hyjust off our wrap around deck of it last month at about the lowest flow we usually get. We have canoe convoys come through during summer month - it's great fun! m

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/08/2017

        Oh my, is that ever stunning. I love the view of your house and deck from below as well!

  15. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 11/08/2017

    Good morning, Cheryl and Jim. You two are definitely survivors and how great that you were able to rebuild your beautiful home. The setting looks unique, too. Do you have a great view sitting up on the rocks like you do? I love the photo of the cotinus with the itoh peony and that poppy is stunning. You’ll have to give us progress reports on your rock garden. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Here is a picture from the creek side of the house - those windows look right out at the dam in the picture I attached below to Tim's note. Thanks so much for your comments. This group has been a real balm for our souls over the past three years.

  16. anitaberlanga 11/08/2017

    this is glorious! and a testament to the resilience of nature and of the human spirit. I'm so happy for you both (and the house is stunning as well!)

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I have enjoyed the gardens AND taking pictures to capture some of the glorious beauty of God's creation.

  17. NWAgardener 11/08/2017

    Cheryl - what fortitude and courage you and your husband have shown! I'm not sure I could start over if I lost my home and garden. Your "new" gardens are lovely and thanks to you I am inspired to purchase 'Julia Rose'. I love the Itoh peonies but had only ever seen pictures of 'Julia Rose' in catalogs and online and I like it in your "real life" photo even better. I also love the way 'Sweet Tea' plays off the color of your house. By the way, we are "neighbors" as I live in Bella Vista, Arkansas. The Ozarks are a wonderful and under-appreciated retirement destination.

    1. cheryl_c 11/09/2017

      Hi, NWA , somehow my response to your wonderful note ended up above your note, so you were probably not aware of it - I wanted to reply again to make certain you saw it. Thanks again for your nice note. I agree about life in the Ozarks!

  18. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

    Good morning NWA! We've been to and through Bella Vista many times - used to horse camp at Huckleberry Ridge. So, howdy neighbor! Yes, if it had been up to me, I'm not sure I would have tackled the rebuilding and replanting, but Jim is a rock, and the property has been in his family since 1943, so he was determined. He gave me Julia Rose for my birthday in April - it is such a complex color, and keeps changing as the bloom ages. I also love the slight purple tinge to the leaf edges in the springtime.
    I was able to get it locally.
    I'm adding two other pictures to show a corner of the main garden that doesn't show up well in these pictures but also shows how I've played with the color of the stone facing:

  19. user-7008735 11/08/2017

    That's certainly a happy ending to a sad story, Cheryl and Jim! You have both shown great resilience in rebuilding your home and garden. From your additional photos of the little river, I can see what a special spot you're in. Some gardeners might see bedrock as a disadvantage, but I appreciate how you've turned the rock into a beautiful feature in your garden. May you both find much joy in the old associations of the place and the new growth, too.

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Hi, Lorraine, We certainly are happy now. We are in a very beautiful place, and we tell people that with the fire, we lost everything except the views~ and the views are the reason we rebuilt. Yes, I have a habit of seeing gardens where there is only rocks and brush (next year I'll share pictures from my Japanese garden which was far enough away to have not been affected by the fire, but which was originally just a rocky hillside with lots of overgrown brush), much to my husband's amusement!

      1. user-7008735 11/08/2017

        I am really glad that everything has worked out for you, Cheryl, and look forward to seeing the next set of photos.

  20. user-6536305 11/08/2017

    What a resilient couple and rebuilt in just three years! That is lots of hard work and courage. Your garden and house are beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story and your beautiful home. Your story is very inspirational!

    1. cheryl_c 11/08/2017

      Thank you for your kind words. We have a wonderful friend who is an architect who designed both the original house and this new one - she worked hard to tweak the old plan in ways that have made the new one so much more charming. It's good to hear from you - I always enjoy your pictures and your posts.

  21. NCYarden 11/08/2017

    Such a terrible loss, but a wonderful redemption with the help of the garden. The new house is very cool, and the garden even cooler. Loving all the stone. Nice selection of beautiful plants. They really have a way of reminding us of our ability to persevere. Enjoy the new digs, which seems you are already doing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. cheryl_c 11/09/2017

      Redemption is a very good word, and the garden was definitely part of the healing process - and still is! Thanks for your very nice comments. The plants have so many ways in which they are beautiful, I love discovering new things about each plant as the light hits it differently or as the seasons cause changes. Thank you for your regular contributions to this blog - I always enjoy reading your comments.

  22. VikkiVA 11/08/2017

    Wow Cheryl congrats to you and hubby for dealing with the heartache and rebuilding a beautiful home and garden. I love all the plants but especially like your purple front door. How fitting as purple is a color reflecting passion and hope. Vikki in VA

    1. cheryl_c 11/09/2017

      It's funny - Jim wanted a red door and I wanted a dark purple door, and we ended up with this Benjamin Moore "Carter's Plum". Now all of our birdhouses have plum roofs, and our wooden bird feeder as well. I love the color, and the folks on Pinterest were re-pinning it more than any other pins that I posted, for a long time. I did not know that it reflected hope - only that it reflected passion. I love mixing it with shades of orange and chartreuse!

  23. Cenepk10 11/08/2017

    Looking fabulous ! Love the cotinus with the peony. And the rose campion Your home is gorgeous & beautifully situated. Gardens look fabulous !!!

    1. cheryl_c 11/09/2017

      Hmm, I'm trying to figure out which plant you have identified as rose campion... you must be reading my mind because I am planning on adding them next year, but haven't yet. Thank you for your wonderful compliments. We truly love it here, and have to keep pinching ourselves to make sure it is real!

      1. Cenepk10 11/09/2017

        Sorry - was looking on my phone - those are lambs ears in front of the Lenton roses... ( helloborus ) Well do yourself a favor and plant the fabulous rose campion- they are magnificent and I spread their seed all over ! When I compost them and top dress the beds- I have them all over. They die in 2 years So they don't take over. Truly a most fabulous plant. Shade, sun, too much or too little water ? They simply do not care. Gorgeous colored flowers and the leaves look like lamb's ear ( from a distance ) - which dies out here when it rains for a week.

  24. Cenepk10 11/08/2017

    It's so fun for me to see the personality of the garden owner come through with their combos of plants. Funny - I have nearly all the same plants and love the interesting way you've paired them. Looking at the plants with your eyes is very nice indeed.

    1. cheryl_c 11/09/2017

      I love your comment! And I know just what you mean. Each day I look at the pictures sent in by another gardener, and I delight in seeing the different personalities that are shown! It is especially fun when the gardener has chosen some of the same plants and you see them in a different combination - all of a sudden the plant also has a new side to their personality that you hadn't realized before! That is what makes this blog so very special. Thanks for your comments!

  25. user-7007562 11/09/2017

    What a job to tackle. Looks like you won the battle, you gardens are beautiful. Your hard work has paid off. It must have been fun purchasing new plates and deciding where to place them. Good Job

    1. cheryl_c 11/09/2017

      Yes, even figuring out how we wanted to re-think the gardens, adding more berry bushes for winter bird watching, working in more oak leaf hydrangeas. I actually had a plan this time for the main garden, and have used that approach again for reworking or adding new gardens. It sure helps to have a plan~. Thanks for your kind words.

      1. user-7007562 11/09/2017

        Congratulations on a job well done.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest