Garden Photo of the Day

A Garden’s Healing Power

By: Kim Charles

Taken during a hard spring drizzle.

Liz Cruz Cordova has used the healing power of her garden to assist with moving beyond a serious health obstacle.

"Hi there, from sun drenched California! The last winter rains gave my garden more vibrant life! It gave me more hope, too. Passion, perseverance and resilience overturned a severe drug reaction that left severe ocular complications preventing, me from visually functioning in the busy Independent life I used to know. While it's still very visually challenging to do anything, let alone garden, I've found ways to beat the sun & wild summer temperatures even soft breezes, and be out there to still enjoy each beautiful moment.

Life may throw me lemons but I still make Meyer lemon curds!  And share them with friends and neighbors."

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Mixed succulent planter grown from cuttings from mother plants that I've gifted to dear friends..

Sky blue dwarf Buddleia often visited by honeybees & hummingbirds.   

On days when the wind is still, I sit here and enjoy the demure fragrance of Michelia Alba Champaca that I rescued & replanted after wild winds toppled it down.

Pink Brugmansia – Angel's trumpet, in the secret garden entrance, a gift from my Dad before he left this earth. He raised this from a tiny seed & gave it to me with just a couple of tiny leaves in a gallon plastic pot. He'd be so amazed how much it grew in two seasons!

Goldflame honeysuckle, a gift from a dear friend survived the wild desicating winds.

Vibrant oriental lilies twirling around the bluebird nest box now. I enjoy those blooms from my kitchen window.

The nectarine colored swirls of Kauka Wilder' plumeria blooms welcome the heat. 

I just love English roses, and their unparalleled elegance.

View Comments


  1. christianesterges 08/17/2017

    wow I'm amazed by your gorgeous plants .... and your admirable courage.... the best of luck to you !!!

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Thanks Christiane! Love your name!
      It's Gid's strength shown in my utter weakness that has kept me going!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/17/2017

    I have that honeysuckle as well. The hummingbirds just adore it.

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Yes the the hummer's love them
      But this Goldflame honeysuckle nearly succumbed to the heat as I can't go out & water daily,(my eyes can't take the dry heat) but it survived! The pollinators help!

  3. user-7007498 08/17/2017

    Liz, thanks for inviting us into your lovely garden and sharing your touching story. It could have been all too easy to give up and define your life as a "victim", but you chose to live under the new circumstances. Kudos. I am glad you found the power of the garden to assist you in your struggles. Plants do have almost magical powers in guiding us through life's challenges. Best wishes.

    Your garden is fabulous and filled with many plants I can't grow in the landscape. Great photographs. The brugmansia is awesome.

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Thanks Kevin! "Great photographs"- not bad for a visually challenged ?!
      The garden continues to heal me & others who I share it with. The many pollinators are the biggest helpers- honeybees visit the lavenders daily, the Monarch butterflies, on the asclepsias, Buddleias, the hooded Orioles in the orange tree hummingbirds, bluebirds,
      song sparrows & even the annoying Northern mockingbirds who can sing a car alarm, a cat's meow, another bird's tweet all in a NY minute!
      They give the garden song & symbiosis.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/17/2017

    I'm so glad to read that you are finding comfort and inspiration from and in your garden, Liz. You certainly have many beautiful flowers and it's particularly special that some hold fond memories of family and friends. That Angel's Trumpet from your dad is truly spectacular...I can't even imagine having such an impressive and exotic (to me) beauty like that growing in my very own garden. Sincerest best wishes for continuing to take small steps towards a full recovery.

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Thank you ! thank you !thank you!

  5. Sunshine111 08/17/2017

    Gorgeous! I love all the colors and textures. Your brugmansia is breathtaking! So lovely. I am impressed that your father grew it from seed. I didn't even know that was possible! Although if you think about it I suppose it is. ?

    I also really enjoyed seeing the succulent collection that you have. I loved it all, quite lovely, quite beautiful I am impressed!

  6. thevioletfern 08/17/2017

    Such a beautiful place to recover, and such healing powers in your garden. I am dazzled by the brilliant colors of your plant collection! Of course, the star is that Brugmansia. Look how a seed of love blossoms! I have a very young Brugmansia that I will be toting with me to Florida soon where he will reside in his forever home. I can only hope for blooms like that!!! I predict you will make a miraculous recovery with such magic surrounding you.

  7. user-4691082 08/17/2017

    Dear Liz, I have just prayed for your eyes! Expect good things! Your garden is so beautiful, all it produced I'm me was envy! I know Southern California has droughts, but your roses are unparalleled with no humidity. I know different regions grow different plants. Is there an east coast plant you wish you could grow? Everyone here has a sinus headache from the high humidity. Ugh. Those bluebirds are so cute. We only get them occasionally... I will look at your photos again and again. Thanks.

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Oh thank you Rhonda! Yes I hope & pray expectantly everyday & claim God's promises of healing & restoration. I'm like a modern Job
      or Joseph in the pit.But one day I know I will come out even better than before! God always has a purpose
      and he laughs at my impatience when I ask, "Can I have the complete healing now Lord?!"
      East Coast plant that I wish I can grow? Of course the white Dogwood
      & Cherry blossom tree! They need so many chill hours I can't grow them down here. They're so gracefully elegant! Lucky you! I'd dot the garden in each corner & the front! I have Japanese Maples but the leaves are so singed from the CA crazy heat.

  8. NCYarden 08/17/2017

    Nothing like a garden to lift you up and impart renewed life. So pleased to hear your garden still provides this for you. I bet that Michelia smells heavenly, along with the Plumeria. And how nice to have the company of the bluebirds as you enjoy the garden. Your plants look amazing, I guess that unusually wet season really did give a boost of brilliance. Thanks for sharing.

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Thank you! Yes the Winter rains woke the garden up from a slight slumber!
      You know as you turn into the secret garden you can enjoy that demure fragrance of that champaca. Not strong just lovely. The wicked Santa Ana winds toppled it down. But this January after one storm I got a bigger glazed pot (had to skimp on groceries that month!?) & transplanted it. It was rather hard doing it by myself but did it. Tall & lanky I pruned off the broken branches & prayed itbwoukd survive. Now it's as tall as the 2nd story window! So I bought another one where I can enjoy the fragrance at my level when I sit next to it!

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 08/17/2017

    Heavenly, Liz. We've seen your garden before, haven't we? It's a delight and I can almost smell the delights just looking at the beautiful pictures. How wonderful it is, too, to have growing living, plants as mementos of loved ones who have departed before us. Beautiful!

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Hey Tim! Thank you! Yes you're right you've seen parts of the garden before! When mom & dad were around, the first thing they did was go to the potting bench & take snips of whatever they like to plant in their garden. They'd take home grocery bags full of lemons, oranges & plants
      plus whatever dishes I might have prepared using herbs from the garden. Beautiful memories yes.

    2. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

  10. user-6896190 08/17/2017

    So nice. Lots of variety of plants. Beautiful

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Thanks Dana!?

  11. cynthiamccain 08/17/2017

    Wow! Such beautiful blooms and gorgeous color! And I love the bluebird couple. Thank you!

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Thank you Cynthia!??

  12. sheila_schultz 08/17/2017

    Liz, I truly hope color has not been lost with your visual impairment because the colors in your beloved gardens are vibrant, and as I scrolled through the photos I kept imagining all the fragrances that must float in the air from many of the blooms. Wow! As Tim said, your gardens felt familiar, but when I saw the shot of the bluebirds I knew I had seen them before. There is something about your photographs that elicit strong feelings that touch my heart. Your passion has not been diminished with your vision. You are surrounded with beauty. Thank you for sharing your gardens with us.

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Yes Sheila & Tim, you have seen part of the garden before. It's never still, always evolving! Every morn, with artificial tears in my back pocket, instilling every few minutes, I enjoy the garden's peaceful moments before the roar of the urban noise drowns it.
      That's when I take pics. I click many times as I can't really see in the bright daylight what I'm really taking pictures of. Somehow one of them turns out good! Thank you all for the warm comments. They made my heart ten sizes bigger! ?

  13. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

    Thank you Diane! Yes, I try & do with whatever I've been given. God knows that he gave me that creativity so he allowed this to happen for a purpose. I still share all my gifts & blessings especially through the garden. Dad would be awed what that tiny seed
    is now! Confession: actually I doubted that it were a pink cultivar without the flower, (you know colors in the garden can clash if you don't plan), so I left it in the plastic gallon pot he planted it in. But when he had the stroke I felt so guilty about that gift. So I planted it & it just took off like crazy!

  14. foxglove12 08/17/2017

    There is truly something to be said about the healing powers of nature. Beautiful garden! Love the brugmansia tribute to your father. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Thank you Lori!

  15. greengenes 08/17/2017

    Your special retreat is so very nice, Liz! I love the brugmansia entrance! Every photo is so stunning! Wishing you a speedy recovery! Thank you for sharing!

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      ?Thank you Jeanne!??

  16. User avater
    gringopeligroso 08/17/2017

    Ms. Cordova!!
    The older I get, the more aware I become of the nutritive value of both wilde places and, in lieu of such vistas, cultivated spaces. As evidenced by the sharing of plantings and stories on this site in present and past postings, the therapeutic value of being outside among familiars, or, in the cases of more severe circumstances, bringing those comforting elements inside may be difficult to measure or prescribe. This does not mean those values are not real, but I argue they are even more powerful than some "lab coats" may realize. The Human spirit, (soul, psyche, energy, or what ever vernacular you wish to frame this sacred "thing" with,) is SO much more than numbers or graphs, and even more effective than the strongest, manufactured prescriptions. I'm becoming ever more amazed at the healing and regenerative properties of the Human body, coupled with our Spirit. (I'm not suggesting anyone quit taking their "aspirin" however.....there's some mighty fine/helpful products offered from the laboratories!) But, I've a feeling I'm preaching to the choir, here. I DO wonder WHY the healing institutions of our society do not have beautiful walks, colourful beds, and whispering willows planted and attended to. The slowing down contemplations of decisions or insights; the stimulations of colours and scents, the serenities of green, and the perserverences of stone I believe we all recognize these medicines. Perhaps there's no profit in such therapies, but parking lots, however clean, offer no comfort, no hope, and no memories.
    Your Dad's Brugmansia, grown from seed made me smile. Outside our front door is a hanging basket of simple, common variegated Hoya. (Wax Vine.) When salesfolk or dignitaries landed on my Mother In Law's stoop for a visit, they were at her front door and welcomed with respect accordingly. When family and true friends visited, they knew to enter through the sliding back door, just off the less busy cross street. Upon entering, they, and me, were greeted by an exuberant and jubilant Hoya entanglement, kinda controlled, but kinda not. And, it always seemed to be in bloom! Mom Greer was like that....thriving in the most un-expected places and flowering freely, even when the outside world was cold and grey. I smile everytime I pass and water that basket, as I'm sure you do when you focus upon that "tree" or inhale it's perfume from a breeze!
    And, your comment about your photography made me chuckle! I do the same thing...shoot like a maniac, and hope at least ONE of the images comes out decently!! Thank goodness for digital "film" and large screens!!!
    Via con Díos, Amiga! jesse

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Wow Jesse! Thank you! Come & get me & we'll both stsrt a grass root horticulture corner, a walking garden so patients confined in the ICU despite the many drips on IVAC machines as long as I don't need to bag them if they're on traches can heal faster than what the bottom of a pill bottle can administer. We are/ were all "wonderfully & fearfully made". When I was so sick in the hospital, this one kind ICU internist wrote an order for me to be wheeled out to the patio of the hospital so my spirits can heal. I couldn't even sip from a straw, that's how horrible all my Mucous membranes were so burned. SJS. They were all sipping juices & smoothies from the juice bar,
      I never even had a patient with severe ocular complications from it.
      On discharge (I was ready to sign out AMA because I couldn't sleep. The nurses would wake me up to ask
      Me how much
      my pain level were on PCA morphine!) my dad picked up all the meds I were given. One of them was Prozac! I got so livid (of course I was on high doses of steroids!) I never asked for that! I dumped it in the toilet! Bent & stubborn that I will heal from this!
      The garden became my anti depressant... so let's do it!
      Cultivate each & every inch of dirt around a hospital to heal patients & get them away from meds! Yeah..?!
      My Hoya has been shared many times more than it's given me blooms.
      And that's what you do with blessings.,.?

      1. User avater
        gringopeligroso 08/18/2017

        True That on the blessings!! I've also learned they (blessings) become much more powerful when shared!!! (Experience talking!)
        If we start this movement, we'll need to enlist Chris N (sorry, Chris, I can't remember the rest of your surname) from Wisconsin, who drops a note often here and posts pix every so often. He works at a Senior Centre where horticulture is appreciated. Some of the residents even help, I believe. His experience and perspective would be invaluable. We should pay him what ever he asks!!!

        Back in the day, before the Y2K scare, there was a catch phrase floating around about "Horticultural Therapy" or something similar. It was all the rage, it seemed. I'm not sure what that term encompasses , but Grant writers at various facilities and institutions were applying for funds which were available at that time. About that same time frame, I changed jobs and zip codes, and my focus was necessarily narrowed. Shortly after that personal page turning, the calendars also marked a milestone, and then it seems our society also made a turn from what ever direction we were heading in. Now that my head is now re-surfaced, I don't hear much about these programmes anymore. Perhaps I'm just not looking in the right directions.

        I DO know that some of the most magical gardens I've visited had rows of carved stonework with inscriptions. The MOST memorable being the Spring Grove Cemetery, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and there are several others. I reckon my question is: Why do we save our beautiful trees, turf and flowers for AFTER life? I'm sure there's some important reasoning for this, but I just think using some of those green, living spirits for the living, and especially for the ailing, (physical, emotional, spiritual, etc) should prove much more efficacious; not forgetting to mention "timely".
        Just imagine, (taking your personal example for this imaginary ride,) if your caregiver had prescribed for you to be wheeled to a conservatory filled with colour, draped with lianas, a respectable cascade, and shaded by palms, etc. And, perhaps there's another conservatory on the other wing which contains aloes, agaves, Euphorbs, and echeverias for those needing less humid conditions? And even more cost effective: what about container gardens on the patio you were taken to? We've seen some fantastic possibilities on this site of what can be done and what is possible! (Being an apartment gardener for years, I've dabbled a bit in these possibilities.) How about a Zen Garden for those waiting for loved ones to re-emerge from the OR? And, what about Children's Hospitals?? I can't think of anything which can bring a smile to even a tired young-un's face quicker than a butterfly or two landing upon a bright flower inches from the youngster's nose!
        Your story and following notes has obviously fired up my imagination and all three brain cells!! And, perhaps just as obvious, I've been thinking about this for some time. The Cherokee Nation here have just broken ground on a new facility for their growing numbers....I wonder........

        I'ld better get to bed or I"M gonna be the one ailing!!!

        Nite, Sweet One!!!

    2. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      What color blooms is your Hoya?
      I snip & start new plants, twirl them into a wreath or heart shaped ones using a wire hanger. I dyraighyennout the hook part that goes into the pot
      Then fashion the hanger into a heart
      Give them as Mother's Day gifts or who ever walks in & fancies that plant .

      1. User avater
        gringopeligroso 08/18/2017

        I have the same one as your picture above, Hoya carnosa! I know there's a ton of others out there with many more morphologies and traits. Mine's in a macrame hanger, (olde hippy) but your's looks beautiful in that standing basket and is obviously happy!!! I believe they thrive on Good Vibes!

  17. schatzi 08/17/2017

    Liz, your garden is exquisite! Vibrant colors on beautiful flowers - your roses are gorgeous, also the lilies, plumeria, brugmansias, etc. Love the succulent planter. The colors are amazing. What is the orange flowering plant in the 5th picture? Good luck with continued healing. What a wonderful healing place you have created.

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Thank you!? The orange tall blooms? by the patio seats? Anigozanthos. Kangaroo Paws.
      I mixed it with different succulents from 4" plants. All I could muster. It grew like crazy even when I snip somebto make another planter for friends.

      1. schatzi 08/18/2017

        Thanks for the plant ID, Liz. It is a beauty - I don't think I have ever seen one bloom before. Your additional photos of flowers and insects are beautiful too. You have a wonderful spirit and attitude so you should heal beautifully. Jesse, you too have a beautiful spirit, and a way with words.
        It is such a blessing to get to know each other via this blog.

        1. User avater
          gringopeligroso 08/18/2017

          .aaaahhhh, garsh..... you silver tongued Angel, you!!!
          And, Yes: There's some mighty fine folk hangin' around and about these galleries!!! (I'm surprised they put up with me and let me hang with them!!!!) ;-)

          1. liz_cordova 08/18/2017

            Haha! I second that sentiment Shirley! Jesse & the Hoya! Ooh I can concoct a beautiful essay on that' ?

        2. liz_cordova 08/18/2017

          You're welcome!

  18. user-7008735 08/17/2017

    Such beauty, Liz! I love the glowing colours of your garden and can imagine the scent of your giant Brugmansia, plumeria, lilies, honeysuckle, lavender, and roses. At first I thought the bluebirds might be ornamental rather than living; we don't see that species here in Vancouver, BC. Do you grow Meyer's lemons in your garden? Their flowers have a heavenly scent as well, but I can only buy the lemons in grocery stores. May your garden bring you joy, continued healing, and happy memories of your parents. They must have been special to have created a daughter with such a positive attitude to adversity, but of course, they were gardeners, too!

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Oh thank you Lorraine! I've used all my blessings even in adversity to share with friends & neighbors. It gives back so much joy! I do have 2 improved Meyer lemon bushes. I mix the Meyers & Eurekas & an orange from the tree when I make lemon curds around the holidays. Would you know our church chef would return the Mason hat to me with a hug & "Refill please?!"
      Someday I hope to go back to Victoria & walk slower to enjoy Butchart Gardens.
      The bluebirds, ate a joy to come to the window begging for mealworms.

  19. Meelianthus 08/17/2017

    So nice to enjoy your gardens again Liz. Your first photo of the garden entrance is beautifully welcoming. What a delight to see all of your lovely flowers and the stories behind them. Good to hear that you are still able to enjoy all even with your disability - a true gardener! Thank you for sharing your bounty Liz.

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Thank you!!! A true gardener yes! LOL
      I dream about what I can do even in the middle of the night waking up
      Many times to refresh my eyes with artificial tears. Passion?!
      That teak arbor is entrance to the secret garden. There was nary a plant in & around the property. Slowly, I carved a garden. With different rooms.It's become a healing garden????and all the different pollinators help me:Monarch butterflies, honeybees, different species of birds including hooded Orioles, bluebirds, hummingbirds, black grosbeaks, says phoebes, the titbush, house & purple finches, the ubiquitous sparrows & the annoying Northern mockingbirds.

  20. JoannaAtGinghamGardens 08/17/2017

    So beautiful and serene! Best wishes for continued healing.

    1. liz_cordova 08/17/2017

      Hugs! Thank you!

  21. Cenepk10 08/17/2017

    What ??? Where do I begin ? The beauty. The beauty. The roses, the lillies the succulent planter !!! The porch !!! The precious stories. We are so blessed.

    1. liz_cordova 08/21/2017

      Thank you, thank you! Such a warm gardener's beautiful heart! Dwarf Singapore plumeria

      1. Cenepk10 08/21/2017

        That pic made my eyes water. Stunning!!!!!

  22. Maggieat11 08/17/2017

    Thank you for sharing your story and your lovely garden. Gardening is wonderful therapy, for sure. That certainly is a stunning Brugmansia! Best Wishes to you!

    1. liz_cordova 08/21/2017

      Thank you Margaret!? Wonderful therapy indeed when I can go out there..

  23. digginWA 08/18/2017

    So much luscious color!

    1. liz_cordova 08/21/2017

      Thank you Tia!?

  24. user-7007125 08/18/2017

    wow! I too grow big angel trumpets! Mine are yellow, grown from a cutting 8 years ago. When they get too big I have to sell them, wintering them becomes a problem in BC Canada. What a beautiful garden you have!

    1. liz_cordova 08/21/2017

      Thank you Diane. ?? For years when I was acutely sick, I let go of the garden. I needed to take care of me & my eyes. Until just recently slowly am able to go out there before the sun rises, or after it's set..
      The garden keeps me going. Despite. The. Gritty. Pain. Where it used to be the stage for Afternoon Teas, BBQ's, Summer nights alfresco dining, or family & college or high school reunions...

      1. user-7007125 08/22/2017

        So glad you are able to enjoy and work in your garden again! I so understand your comment about your garden once being the stage ... as I grow, old friends are rare or no longer with us. My garden is my sanity, it is a place for reflection, smiles when curious hummingbirds visit, and birds line up for a bath on the fence.

        1. user-7007125 08/22/2017

          meant to say as I grow older...

      2. user-7007125 09/12/2017

        Hard to find flowers that last into Sept.My garden is still full of color annuals and perennials. DEADHEAD! Water, split at this time of year your plants, Don't rush, don't worry if no one understands your healing mode. Do what you can and what you enjoy!

  25. bsavage 08/19/2017

    So beautiful... I love the purple entrance to the secret garden, the brug and plumie are stunning as well. I can almost feel your gardens healing powers from here!

    1. liz_cordova 08/21/2017

      Thank you Brenda!?It must be the rain drenched teak arbor that made it look like purple.

  26. user-6536305 08/21/2017

    Well that drug reaction did not prevent you from gardening. Your garden is so full of life and hope this reflexes your health situation. Hope you have a speed recovery and take care. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work under such circumstances. You are also so inspiring.

    1. liz_cordova 08/21/2017

      Thanks Lilian!? God infused strength in me through gardening. The garden brings color, & Hope.. Even when I can only view it from the French doors when it's too bright for my eyes.

  27. TweetersUnite1 08/30/2017

    Liz, thanks for inspiring me!!

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