Garden Photo of the Day

A New Garden, Seven Years In

Hard gardening work pays off

Today we’re visiting with Rebecca Downie.

This is my second submission to the GPOD. I had garden photos from our old house featured in “The Element of Surprise” several years ago. We’ve now been established in a new home in Southington, Connecticut, for almost seven years. Not a single plant existed when we moved in, as this was a new neighborhood, and it has been slow but fun to establish landscaping and gardens! Always a work in progress, of course.

Pinky Winky hydrangeaThese are the ‘Pinky Winky’ hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’, Zones 3–8) near my front steps, with a pot of zinnias (Zinnia elegans, annual) and geranium (Pelargonium hybrid, annual) in front.

globe thistleThis is my favorite garden photo, with globe thistle (Echinops ritro, Zones 3–8) just coming out, a daisy that my aunts gave me, and yarrow (Achillea hybrid, Zones 3–9) behind it.

Sunset hyssopThis hyssop (Agastache, Zones 5–9) variety is ‘Sunset’ and is later flowering but very long lasting. I have different varieties of hyssop, and they are such hummingbird attractors that I see hummingbirds every time I look out the window, dozens of times a day, in the summer.

clean garden bed edgeI love clean, defined garden edges because it gives some order to the gardens when the plants get messy looking between seasons. I planned this garden to address the slope difference between two lawn areas.

white daisiesSimple combinations that the bees and butterflies love—‘Tiny Tuff Stuff’ hydrangea (Hydrangea serrata ‘Tiny Tuff Stuff’, Zones 5–9), echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3–9), daisies, butterfly bush.

echinaceaMore of the same!

monarch butterflies on a butterfly bushOn one particularly good year, I saw 22 monarch butterflies at once on the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii, Zones 5–9). It varies so much year to year.

annuals in plantersI like to have most of my annuals in planters for a cheerful look when perennials are between blooms.

white peoniesAround the side and front, I use mostly white roses and these beautiful white peonies, and because the peonies don’t flower long and they’re so bountiful, they’re fun to make arrangements with to gift.

A mama bear and cub in our woods.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

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To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

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View Comments


  1. blondie3 01/05/2021

    Love your plant choices, love the thistles pic. Very healthy looking plants...I would be scared to work in the garden if I knew there was a bear in the woods! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Rebeccazone7 01/05/2021

    I'm not a "defined edges gardener", but I can appreciate the work involved in getting that look. Also, I love the globe thistles...I've tried but have such trouble with them..not sure why. Love the color of the agastache. Love the picture of the bears...glad they're in your woods, not

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/05/2021

    Oh, my, how lovely!

  4. madcosta_7 01/05/2021

    What a beautiful garden and I'm sure it's a lot of work. However, it's worth the work. You make me want to get out there and start working in the my yard. 2 more months and I'll be out there. Love, love your beautiful garden, thanks for sharing.

  5. jtaert 01/05/2021

    This is one of the best gardens I've seen in a long time. Just perfect in my opinion.

  6. coastalgardener 01/05/2021

    You've done a masterful job with your new garden. I, too, began my garden from scratch and loved that I got to choose just the plants that I wanted. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos with us.

  7. User avater
    simplesue 01/05/2021

    I'm glad you mentioned that you've been at this new house and garden for 7 years because I too am at a new house and starting a new garden for 8 years...and it's good to see all of your progress, and I agree that it is hard work and agree that it does pay off!
    I like that you enjoy the wildlife around you from butterflies and hummingbirds to the bears- what a great photo of mama bear and her baby!
    Love the clean cut edge with the garden on the little hillside, and all your flowers!
    Your nice big Purple Cone Flowers inspire me to get my little plants established!

  8. user-5117752 01/05/2021

    Yes, your gardens are an inspiration! Lovely photos, lovely colors, lovely design. Your hard work has certainly paid off. Did we ever see a photo of those 22 Monarchs on your Buddleia? This shot is just beautiful but I must say, the Momma and cub is my favorite. I've had families on my deck and in my garden often and the sight of them never ceases to amaze me. I almost miss them when they hibernate. They can be scary.

  9. carolineyoungwilliams 01/05/2021

    Rebecca, Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful garden. I love your choice of flowers and your color combinations. I especially love your Peonies, Coneflower and Zinnias. You have made great progress in your 7 years...keep up the great work....everything is beautiful.

  10. btucker9675 01/05/2021

    Thank you for these wonderful photos of your most charming and beautiful garden - they have brightening my day! Those peonies.... I miss the many I had in my northern NJ garden - had a house filled with vases of them during the bloom season. I also had bears visit, but never a mama and cubs. I am going to get myself some hyssop for my pollinator gardens here in NC - so beautiful.

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