Garden Photo of the Day

A Pollinator Garden on Lake Huron

Adding native plants to a beautiful garden

swallowtail butterfly on a bright purple flower

Today we’re visiting with Laura Pisko and her lake-house garden on the east shore of Lake Huron in Ontario.

For 10 years I have been developing a pollinator garden in Zone 5. It’s an experiment, amd I have been introducing many native plants. It’s also a monarch butterfly waystation, as it is on the migratory flight path for monarchs.

monarch butterfly on a white hydrangea flowerA monarch fuels up on the nectar of a blooming panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Quickfire’, Zones 3–8) prior to its long flight to Mexico.

long sunny garden bed with pink flowersA long bed of very floriferous daylilies (Hemerocallis hybrids, Zones 4–9) fronts wild indigo (Baptisia australis, Zones 3–9) and other perennials.

swallowtail butterfly on a bright purple flowerA swallowtail sips from a purple cornflower (Centaurea montana, Zones 3–8).

large and small purple flowers backdropped by greeneryThe stately allium ‘Purple Sensation’ (Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’, Zones 3–9) contrasts with a foliage medley: a variegated chartreuse Hosta, purple geraniums (Geranium × magnificum, Zones 4–8), white Canadian anemone (Anemone canadensis, Zones 3–8), and peonies (Paeonia hybrids, Zones 3–8) in the background.

planting of light purple and yellow flowersIn the fall, native perennials predominate in the lakeside gardens, including black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida, Zones 3–9) and a tall smooth blue aster (Symphyotrichum laeve, Zones 3–8).

small frog statues on a large rock beside purple flowersI love frogs! These little guys are perched above Dalmatian creeping bellflower (Campanula portenschliagiana, Zones 4–8), sheltered under a dappled Japanese willow (Salix integra, Zones 5–7).

close up of lady slipper orchidsI have several clumps of these stunning native showy lady slipper orchids (Cypripedium regale, Zones 2–5). The clumps are expanding in the moist woodland soil.

close up of large pink peonyPeonies are another favorite—gorgeous colors, forms, and scent!

tall plants with large, uniquely shaped pink flowersExotic martagon lilies (Lilium martagon hybrids, Zones 3–8) thrive in dappled shade. I have been planting more of these, although they are not native.

close up of Lollipop itoh peonyA beautiful Itoh peony ‘Lollipop’

garden bed full of ferns and other foliage plantsA composition beside the front entrance includes purple clematis (Clematis hybrid, Zones 4–9), blue hostas (Hosta hybrid, Zones 3–9), panicle hydrangea, weigela (Weigela florida, Zones 4–8), male ferns (Dryopteris filix-mas, Zone 4–8).

paths winding through the garden and leading to a lakeA view toward Lake Huron with the daylily bed in the foreground

close up of dark pink peoniesThis gorgeous Itoh peony reminds me of red roses.

woodland garden bed with ferns and pink flowersEarly summer border with geraniums, Canada columbine (Aquilegia canadiense, Zones 3–8), variegated hostas, male ferns, and Canada anemone.


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View Comments


  1. barbmrgich 01/24/2023

    Beautiful photos, Laura! I especially like one showing the path through to the trees to the lakeside. The trees make a great riparian buffer to protect the lake, and also a beautiful backdrop for your gardens. The frogs are adorable.

  2. islandlover 01/24/2023

    Oh my, this is a dreamy garden. Looks so natural and colorful. Thank you for sharing.

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 01/24/2023

    A stunning garden. I (and the butterflies) enjoy the wonderful plantings. Great Job.

  4. fromvirginia 01/24/2023

    Lovely and diverse plantings. Love everything. Thanks for sharing.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 01/24/2023

    I'm in love with your garden! I'm so impressed with the layout and the plants you have chosen! I saved several of your garden photos to my Pinterest folder called "Gardens of Inspiration". Your Lady Slippers are thriving, your choices of peonies are not the usual multi petal types and yet they are stunning! Those little frogs on the rock with the Dalmatian creeping bellflower is a nice surprise to come across on the garden path- I just love it what you've created with this garden!

  6. sheila_schultz 01/24/2023

    What a beautiful garden! I'm in love with your beautiful peonies, they are stunning... definitely a pollinator heaven!

  7. btucker9675 01/24/2023

    Your peonies and lady slippers!! Gardening envy has struck again... what a beautiful Eden you've created and the royal frogs are obviously excellent guardians watching over it all.

  8. gardenconcierge 01/25/2023

    Stunningly beautiful photos! Congratulations on such a beautiful garden. It's difficult to choose, but my favorite might be your lady slipper orchids.

  9. Tz_Garden 01/26/2023

    So tranquil, beautiful!

  10. User avater
    cynthia2020 01/30/2023

    Gorgeous site - please share more photos in the future!

  11. sagebird52 02/06/2023

    Idyllic and wonderful. My idea of a peaceful beautiful place. Congratulations on Paradise on Huron

  12. jeremywalsh 07/11/2023

    Beautiful garden. I also live near Lake Huron in Ontario, in Sarnia. Your gardens are an inspiration, as we are also starting to plan a pollinator garden on our boulevard strip at the road. Thanks for sharing!

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