Garden Photo of the Day

A Professional Gardener at Home

What a garden designer grows for herself

Welcome to the home garden of Kathleen Cope in Colorado.

While I garden for others to make a living, my own garden will always hold the most special place in my heart. I started with a bare piece of dirt 22 years ago when the house was built, and I love every day that I can sit on our deck and enjoy the flowers. This time of year, when we are expecting snow tomorrow in Colorado, really makes me long for those summer days.

This picture was taken in late June. The purple salvia (Salvia nemorosa, Zones 4–8) is quite abundant, and I am constantly pulling some out and hoping nearby neighbors will take some. June is an exciting time in the garden for those of us living at 7200 feet.

In this picture, the garden is coming to life with Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale, Zones 3–9), Rocky Mountain penstemon (Penstemon strictus, Zones 4–9), painted daisies (Tanacetum coccineum, Zones 3–9), bearded iris (Iris hybrid, Zones 3–9), catmint (Nepeta sp., Zones 4–8), and purple salvia. This is when I get the most people stopping and staring and even taking pictures of the garden. There is a lot going on because this garden has a mind of its own and does what it wants to do. I am happy to let the perennials reseed and find their own spot in the garden. I think the flowers sometimes have a better idea of where they want to be than I do.

This is a perennial combination I love and use frequently. Purple salvia, dianthus (Dianthus sp., Zones 4–8), and pink thyme (Thymus sp., Zones 4–9) make a pleasing combination of colors, texture, and different heights.

One more shot of this perennial combination because it has ‘Husker’s Red’ penstemon (Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker’s Red’ Zones 3–8) in the background, and I love the purple foliage with the purple salvia and pink dianthus.

This part of the garden tends to looks its best later, when the daisies and coneflower are blooming, but for now purple salvia and tall yellow columbine (Aquilegia sp., Zones 4–8) seem to be happy. (Darn purple salvia, even though it is a great workhorse in the garden.) This part of the garden keeps changing as the aspen tree gets bigger and bigger. I never wanted an aspen tree in the middle of my garden, but the contractor put it in and of course it is the prettiest aspen tree in the neighborhood.

Thanks for letting me share photos of my garden on a gray day in April in Colorado!


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 04/18/2019

    Hello Kathleen, I love your gardens with all the lovely pinks and purples and yes, I love the salvias. I love gardening in Colorado. No matter what Mother Nature throws our way our gardens bounce back, and yours is beautiful so enjoy the moisture and all those tough plants in your garden!

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/18/2019

    Your garden is deliciously abundant, Kathleen, and shows off your passion for plants beautifully. I'm glad you added the second picture of one of your fave perennial combinations that included the ‘Husker’s Red’ penstemon. It showed how those those dark red stems contributed a perfect touch of additional verticality and the complimentary contrast of color...pure magic.

  3. nwphillygardener 04/18/2019

    That photo showing both the lush garden with the cozy deck from which to settle in and enjoy it is compelling.
    So, Kathleen, why "Darn purple salvia" when it is adding such richness in that photo and can be cut back and likely yield some re-blooming magic later in the season?

  4. cheryl_c 04/18/2019

    Kathleen, thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures and delightful commentary. I love your plant combinations and your gentle humor.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 04/18/2019

    I can learn a lot looking at your perennial combinations. You have something amazing blooming all the time, which is a goal I'm working on. You did a fabulous job with this garden. Thanks for sharing!

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/18/2019

    Love it all!

  7. Cenepk10 04/18/2019

    Beautiful garden & I’m sure anyone fortunate enough to have you as their gardner is feeling they hit the jackpot. I’m partial to the cottage style so this speaks to me personally. Beautiful work horse combinations & really glad you shared !

  8. btucker9675 04/18/2019

    Your garden is just the kind I love and the pale pink poppies are especially beautiful. Keep up the magical work for yourself and others!

  9. wittyone 04/18/2019

    Love all those pinks and purples. I'm snarfing off that combination of salvia, dianthus, thyme and penstemon. It looks beautiful together and deserves to be stolen and used.

  10. [email protected] 04/18/2019

    I'm with the wittyone- that pink thyme looks so much better than any thymes I have come across. Love all the pix- Thanks!

  11. anibanani 04/20/2019

    Love your colors and your garden shows that you love your work.

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