Garden Photo of the Day

A Passion for Perennials

Filling a new garden with blooming perennials

Today’s photos come from Martha Ruhl.

Gardening is my passion. I’m really a novice and just buy what I like. We moved to the northwest suburbs of Illinois six years ago. I had lived in Southern California for more than 30 years and was so used to gardening all year. As soon as spring starts to come around I am outside nurturing my gardens every chance I can get. When we bought this house there was nothing in the flower beds except a few shrubs. Most of my neighbor’s landscaping is more shrub based, but I am a perennial lover. When we moved in, the back yard just had the pine trees and a crabapple. One pine tree died, so we had it cut down and planted a service berry. I had never had a woodland garden before, so little by little I started to build that out. Wow, it sure takes a lot of planting! I have purchased from our local nurseries and some in Wisconsin, as well as gotten plants from people (purchase, swap, and some freebies) on Facebook marketplace. I love to see other people’s gardens!

catmintThe backyard garden. Masses of catmint (Nepeta × faassenii, Zones 3–8) bloom in the front of the bed.

Another view of the backyard garden.

My husband build this trellis from the pine branches I cut to let light into the garden.

Another structure built from cut pine branches.

hostasView to the right of the backyard woodland garden. Very happy hostas, with color from impatiens (Impatiens walleriana, annual) in the front.

meadow rueThe back of my house. My meadow rue (Thalictrum rochebruneanum, Zones 4–7) is even fuller now. This photo was taken in 2019. I’ve planted lots of meadow rue in my woodland gardens.

Garden beds in the front of my house.

Red PenstemonRed penstemon blooming in the front my house.

orange geumAn orange geum blooming in the front of my house.

A shade planting in the front garden.

A year after we moved in we had the end of the driveway hardscaped with stone, and then I planted the area.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/29/2020

    "Happy" hosta is an understatement...yours look positively euphoric and jubilant. It certainly has to be super gratifying to see them come back bigger and better each year. What is the orange vining plant that is such an eye catcher in your backyard border? some variety of honeysuckle?

    1. redytowear 04/29/2020

      Hi! I call those hostas ‘ my big boys’ they are huge! The flowering vine is honeysuckle. I have another in a multicolor but the yellow one is much more hardy

  2. Cenepk10 04/29/2020

    That is gorgeous!!!!!

    1. redytowear 04/29/2020

      Thank you!

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/29/2020

    That catmint is out of this world. Love how your color choices work so well together.

    1. redytowear 04/29/2020

      Thank you! The catmint is definitely happy. I love purple as a base color

  4. Patchworkgardener 04/29/2020

    Hi Martha....what a beautiful garden. Those Hostas really are huge. What are you feeding them? I love the catmint. The perennial borders are beautiful, and everything looks so lush and healthy. Can’t believe you’ve done all that in 6 years. Bet that honeysuckle smells divine 😁 Thanks for sharing. Hope you’ll send more pics soon.

    1. redytowear 04/29/2020

      Hi! They are a large type to begin with. They don’t need food but I do have to spray them with animal repellent do the rabbits and deer don’t eat them all! I learned my first year.. There are fields behind me so easy access. Plus living in Southern California 30+ years I had never seen deer so my first year I was actually luring them in with apples. Not anymore lol lol

      1. Patchworkgardener 04/29/2020

        Thanks 😊

  5. User avater
    simplesue 04/29/2020

    Excellent garden! Nice blend of perennials and existing shrubs and trees! You had me at the mass planting of catmint in those graceful curves! You sure have luck with Meadow Rue, I'm still trying with mine and it's been about 4 years.. What makes your 6 year old garden even more amazing is that you had to learn about new plants in a zone totally different from California plants.

    1. redytowear 04/29/2020

      Hi! Thxxx. Yes since I had such a large border I thought the catmint would define the edge then I could have lots of fun things going on behind. These photos are from last summer. I planted so many more perennials that I will definitely submit photos later this summer. Meadow rue like a lot of water. Mine are delavayi

      1. User avater
        simplesue 05/01/2020

        Thanks for that info on Meadow Rues likening water- didn't know that, hope it helps mine. Looking forward to seeing more of your photos later this summer. Eventually I too will submit my new garden (submitted my beloved "gone garden") but its just not mature enough yet. Nice talking with you!

  6. User avater
    bdowen 04/29/2020

    Your garden is a beautiful statement of your effort and success in jumping into a very different gardening zone and plant world. More photos?

    1. redytowear 04/29/2020

      Thank you so much! I just wish we had a little longer growing season. These photos were from last summer. I added a lot more perennials so I will definitely submit later in the summer

  7. btucker9675 04/29/2020

    Your beautiful garden doesn't look very "novice" to me! That orange geum is lovely - reminds me of California poppies only taller! : )

    1. redytowear 04/29/2020

      Thank you! I’ve been gardening for 40 years as a hobby and just buy what I like. I don’t always pay attention to the names of plants though..

  8. Musette1 04/29/2020

    Welcome to Illinois! Your garden is gorgeous - love the hostas - as meander_michaele said, they look positively euphoric! Your penstemon is lovely as well - I was just thinking I need to move mine - they're in thin soil and … well, they are definitely NOT 'positively euphoric'. Here's hoping the move results in a grouping that is as lush as yours!

    1. redytowear 04/29/2020

      Penstemons are so beautiful and the hummingbirds and hummingbird moths love them!

  9. Sunshine111 04/29/2020

    I love your garden! I would not consider you a novice at all. Nice photography too😊

    1. redytowear 04/29/2020

      Thank you!

  10. calliopegirl 04/29/2020

    Your garden is so beautiful and makes me realized that I need to mass plant more.
    What is the tree over the hostas in the 5th picture? I love the size and shape of it so much.

    1. redytowear 04/29/2020

      It’s a crabapple. It blooms light pink. I have one in the front of my house that blooms dark pink. Yes, mass planting gives the gardens depth. It just takes so much planting!!

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