Garden Photo of the Day

A Quiet Week in the Garden

Foliage carries the show before summer bloomers arrive

Janell Frazier-Day sent in these photos of her garden. She claimed, “It’s one of those quiet weeks in the garden, before the roses and hydrangeas really take off,” but I think you’ll agree that even if it’s a “quiet week,” this garden is still pretty amazing. Here’s what Janell had to say:

I’m a landscape designer/project manager in Des Moines, Washington. This is my front garden. It’s actually a double layered, mixed privacy hedge with a path through it. It’s lovely in the summer, when the hydrangeas bloom, but I think of it as my spring garden.

This lush scene is a complex combination of many plants, including Mahonia ‘Charity’ (Mahonia × media ‘Charity’, Zones 7–9 ), forest poppies (Meconopsis cambrica, Zones 6–10), Rhododendron yakushimanum (Yak rhododendron, Zones 6–9), Trochodendron araloides (wheel tree, Zones 6–8), Hakonechloa ‘Aureola’ (Japanese forest grass, Zones 5–9), Oxalis oregana (redwood sorrel, Zones 7–9 ), Digitalis (foxglove), Choisya ‘Sundance’ (Mexican orange blossom, Zone 7–10), and foliage from Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (hardy geranium, Zones 4–8).

A simple color palette of white, yellow, and green is rich with diverse foliage and textures.

By massing bright yellow and variegated foliage together, this scene creates the illusion of a beam of sunlight beckoning at the top of the stone steps.

Red-foliaged shrubs contrast with the soft grey-green leaves and yellow-green flowers of lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis, Zones 4–7) spilling over beautiful stonework.

A study in foliage. Its combination of foliage of different sizes, textures, shapes, and colors makes this scene rich and diverse without needing any flowers. Garden sculptures are tucked in among the leaves so that they complement the plants rather than distracting from or overpowering them.

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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/13/2018

    Hi, Janell, my goodness, these photos of your front garden/privacy hedge certainly show that you don't necessarily need flowers to create vignettes that capture the imagination. I'd be moving along that pathway at a snail's pace as I stopped and admired the unfolding plant tapestry. Those sturdy stalks of bamboo in the 3rd picture down stopped me in my tracks...what a dramatic impression they made. Since your garden is so mature, it must be a very controllable variety of bamboo since it seemed well behaved. Could you share its name and if you have any tips/tricks to keep it in bounds?

    1. jfdplants 06/13/2018

      Hello! The timber bamboo has been in the ground about 15 years. I got it from a friend in the industry, who got it out of a clients garden. I have no idea what it actually is! I do have a 36" root barrier all around it. It broken through the 18" root barrier several years ago, but the larger area we gave it and the taller root barrier have done the trick so far.

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 06/13/2018

        The 18 inch initial root barrier sounds like you put a lot of preemptive thought into containing it and then to go to a 36 inch deep one means you were determined to be able to keep the bamboo...on your terms. It is very handsome.

  2. Maggieat11 06/13/2018

    Lovely! Your paths are so inviting.... I'd love to visit! I'd like to see more photos of your gardens. Thanks for sharing!

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/13/2018

    Wow!!!! I suppose you have no problem with weeds with the plants packed so tightly in there?

    1. jfdplants 06/13/2018

      I'm not going to lie.... part of the reason it's so heavily planted is that I don't like weeding! We also love the play of different textures and vignette's in the garden. We live on a busy road and the tight planting helps us achieve some privacy and a sense of peace in our outside space.

      1. User avater
        treasuresmom 06/14/2018

        jfdplants, do you have any winter pics you could share?

  4. foxglove12 06/13/2018

    Masterful and artistic! Love and enjoyed every photo. What a great talent.

  5. sheila_schultz 06/13/2018

    What a beautiful jungle of textures, so rich and full of interest. That's one heck of a front yard, Janelle, it's gorgeous!
    Funny aside, my eyes stopped reading apparently after you mentioned Des Moines. Looking at your photos, I kept wondering how you could create such a lush landscape in Iowa since it looked like the PNW! Duh... apparently, I need another cup of coffee!!!

  6. cheryl_c 06/13/2018

    Janell, I love the way you used yellow foliage and variegated foliage together to create the 'pools of light' effect. Your stonework is so grounding to your design. I love your mix of the exotic with the familiar. Can you share what hardiness zone your garden is in? Thanks so much for sending in these fabulous photos!

    1. jfdplants 06/13/2018

      We're in Zone 8 technically. But, we're also quite near the Puget Sound and are in a slightly warmer micro-climate than many other areas in Western Washington. We're extremely lucky in the diversity of plants that flourish in the area!

  7. NCYarden 06/13/2018

    Janelle, this is amazing. Totally my kind of garden. A quick aside - I recently received a bit of a back-handed compliment when a friend said that when you pull up to my place it appears "overgrown", but did qualify it, following with a statement that once you get into it on the paths it's all very thoughtful and precise. I use my front garden as a privacy screen as well, and otherwise my refuge and playground. I like the slightly wild aspect, more reflective of natural settings. You have created a wonderful paradise, and I'm sure there's much more we're not seeing. I really wish I could get in there myself. That path begs for an immersive wandering. Love the Alchemilla dangling over the stones and contrasted with the red. So much texture abounds through your garden - I can't get my eyes to slow down. Just love it. Thanks for sharing.

  8. btucker9675 06/13/2018

    You are an artist - what a beautiful garden!

  9. katherine_8 06/13/2018

    A line from a Gordon Lightfoot song ('I'll Tag Along') comes to mind as I look at those serene 'n green photos: "Cups of tea and all of that zen". Absolutely lovely, peaceful, tranquil - a true retreat.

  10. Vezpasia 06/13/2018

    Stunning, what an amazing garden. I love all packed and varied foliage, so beautiful! How big is your garden, any chance of some long shots?

    1. jfdplants 06/13/2018

      The front garden is about 50'x70'. Our total lot is less than a quarter acre. I'm hoping to take a few more photos in the coming weeks, as the flowers start to wake up. I'll make a few of them long shots!

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