Garden Photo of the Day

A Gardener Awakened

I got extremely luck with this shot from 2014. Concolor fir on right, deer standing in front to of Black gum.

Dan Callahan's story about how a plant awakened his passion for gardening is beautiful! What plant did it for you?

"I have been in my house for 20 years (Cincinnati, Ohio). My love of gardenIng was awakened about 15 yrs ago I guess when I decided to plant some hostas in a shaded area. That awakening turned into a passion which resulted in a career change. I have now been employed full-time in the nursery industry for almost 12 yrs. My garden has been a labor of love and learning. 

My lot is a little over 1/3 of an acre and the neighbors have allowed me a little overlap. I've been very blessed with a relatively small but multi-leveled lot. I feel it has provided me so much more opportunity & dimension than with a flat lot of the same size. When I moved in there had been some grading work done and some native woodland trees were here and some landscaping which I have replaced. But I have added pretty much everything else. I think I counted 16 trees that I've planted but I haven't bothered to count the shrubs or perennials. One of my favorite garden quotes is 'It is only to the gardener that time is a friend, giving each year more than he steals'." 

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Snowflake oakleaf hydrangea.

'Zagreb', 'Fineline buckthorn, purple loostrife,  'Stargazer' lily.

'Adagio' grasses, 'Skyrocket' English oak, weeping white pine, Veronicastrum 'Fascination', Hypericum calcium (foreground groundcover).

Black gum (left rear), 'Slender Silhouette' sweetgum, 'Skyrocket' columnar English Oak, Redbud (overhanging to right).

Aside from their toughness hostas are so alluring. To see nothing but bare dirt in my bed of various hostas in the dead of winter, then the slightest little spikes protruding when Spring just begins. Then to see them grow several inches daily as Spring continues until they reach their fully expanded glory is nothing short of inspirational. 

View Comments


  1. Jay_Sifford 01/04/2016

    What a lovely space you have, Dan. With all those shapes and textures, I'm sure I could wander around and get lost; to me, that's a great testimony to a garden. Happy gardening!

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/04/2016

    What beautiful fall color on your black gum, Dan. I like how it pulled my attention deep into the picture and then let my eye roam forward and notice so many of your other wonderful trees and shrubs. Love the clematis working its way up the tree and giving the pop of deep purple. What a fortuitous awakening that was some years obviously have a gift for landscaping and how nice to make some aspect of the nursery business your career.

  3. jagardener 01/04/2016

    Really good work done in such a small space. so many different and lovely garden rooms.

    All that is good for 2016.

  4. wGardens 01/04/2016

    Besides all your interesting plant material, I enjoy seeing your birdhouses and other objects in your garden. I also understand the appeal to garden terrain that is more than a flat surface. I guess to some, it could be a hindrance; to others, another dimension for creativity. Congratulations for all you have accomplished!

  5. terieLR 01/04/2016

    Graduated flat rock showing movement, surrounding clematis climbing a tree-trio and an oak leaf hydrangea in the mix ~ Divine! All of your textures and combinations scream passionate gardener Dan.
    For me, so simple a beginning to house plant passion was a little green & white spider plant that went to college with me and found a perfect window to explode, shooting hundreds of offspring. I was hooked. Then years later (1980's) when we had a home of our own a neighbor shared her hosta. It was in the humble green and white variety and it multiplied profusely. I was hooked. 30+ variety of hosta later... ?

    1. User avater
      meander_michaele 01/04/2016

      Oh, my gosh, Terie...same story with me and the humble green and white hosta given to me by a neighbor. She explained that they came back every year ...bigger and better. "What? Really? How amazing!" Up to that point, I was an impatiens in the shade girl and marigolds in the sun. Ha, and so it began...

      1. terieLR 01/04/2016

        The first spring we moved there I remember viewing from my kitchen sink window, beautiful little green and white leaves. They were placed in a row aside the ranch-style house. When I asked Betty about them she explained how they needed shade and she had separated them to advance down that row over the years. That Fall she dug one up for me. It has been with me since... And shared over and over. Thank you for causing that precious memory to resurface. :)

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/04/2016

    Hey, neighbor to the south! What a great story and great yard, Dan. Your lot is amazing and I love your plant/tree/shrub choices. I don't have any, but love columnar trees. Love your Hydrangeas, especially the double H. quercifolia. Like both you and Terie, I think my gateway-drug was Hostas. I've always loved plants and gardens, but when starting my own garden, I had quite a bit of shade and marveled at the variety available. Collect 'em all! I don't have as much shade anymore and have pared my collection way down, but there are so many plants that inspire my passion to grown something beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing your story and Happy New Year!

  7. greengenes 01/04/2016

    Good job Dan! So beautiful! Iam sure working at a landscaping gardening center you dont bring home much of a paycheck! You have done a wonderful labor of love! Enjoy this very much! Happy new year!

  8. Vespasian 01/04/2016

    Just an amazing and very beautiful garden. I love it all and totally agree with you about host as. -15 Celsius here today, just can't wait for spring!

  9. GrannyCC 01/04/2016

    You have created a wonderful oasis. How great to turn a passion into a career.

  10. schatzi 01/04/2016

    You have created a woodsy paradise on a small lot that looks much bigger. Great job! Love the winter scene - and everything else.

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    LindaonWhidbey 01/04/2016

    Dan, you have very lucky neighbors. I definitely share your Hosta lust but so do the four legged critters on our property and our numerous slugs. You have done an amazing job with only 1/3 acre and as Jeanne noted, I'm guessing also that you work to plant. I hope you'll share more in 2016.

  12. Meelianthus 01/04/2016

    Dan, how fortunate you are to have such an interesting lot to work with, really brings out the creativity and you have certainly developed it beautifully. You have so many wonderful trees and it looks like an amazing place. Those little bird houses are very special - any occupants? Thanks for sharing your true labor of love.

  13. VikkiVA 01/04/2016

    Such a beautiful garden you have! I echo your comments about Hosta! Vikki in VA

  14. User avater
    HelloFromMD 01/05/2016

    Hi Dan, Late to the show, but hope Discus delivers. You have certainly branched out from just hostas! Looks like you are blessed with some sun too. Interesting that you have planted 16 trees when it looks like there are mature trees around casting shade. Would like to know more about your tree choices. Beautiful gardens on your slopes. Slopes certainly create visual interest and you can see more all at once, but hats off to you for doing the hard work of creating beds. Do you have some favorite hostas? I'm growing around 80 now.

  15. ptkmwilk 01/05/2016

    Love how you used the slopes to your garden's advantage. Any idea from whom the quote, "It is only to the gardener that time is a friend, giving each year more than he steals" comes?

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