Garden Photo of the Day

A Quintessential Cottage Garden

By: Kim Charles

The only sunflower seedlings to survive the spring hail storm.

Tom from Minnesota, shares highlights from his cottage-inspired garden. 

"This past February and again in August, I had back surgery that prevented me from doing ANYTHING in the garden. Much better now! This past summer the garden pretty much took care of itself (a big THANKS to my neighbor Carol, who volunteered to weed the front garden). I also saw an article from Fine Gardening, demonstrating how to divide Lady Slippers. I’ll try that next year! It’s a beautiful Fall day here in Arden Hills, MN and I’m looking forward to next Spring."

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Monarch butterfly on Hydrangea 'Incrediball'.

Ligularia 'The Rocket' behind hosta.

Front porch deck where I spent summer reading and enjoying the garden.

Rudbeckia and wren house.

Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’ on the terrace, with a beautiful annual container in the foreground–no more cutting grass. 

Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Shadows' daylily in the foreground, rudbeckia in back. 

View Comments


  1. grannieannie1 11/02/2017

    Beautiful relaxing cottage garden, Tom. Glad to hear you could enjoy the avalanche of color from your porch during your ordeal. I do believe in a garden's healing effect. What a glorious pot of petunias. And like the row of Ligularia by the hosta. I hope next spring has you happily back grubbing in the dirt for the fun of it.

  2. jeffgoodearth 11/02/2017

    It all looks wonderful with the exuberance of form and color. Take care of that back!!! I can't imagine myself ever having to learn to divide Lady's Slippers since I can't get them to survive longer than maybe 15 minutes

  3. user-7007498 11/02/2017

    Sorry to hear about your back, but at least you had a wonderful garden to recover in. I love cottage style gardens, and your terrace garden is beautiful. Love the explosion of color and shapes. The large stone container (which may not be stone) with the petunia is fabulous. I am with Jeff and have killed Lady's Slippers each time I have tried. Best wishes for a full recovery, and hope you can tend your garden next year. Thanks for sharing your garden and your story, Tom.

  4. NCYarden 11/02/2017

    Very beautiful garden slope. Gorgeous visuals to help you in your recovery. I can see how such a well established garden pretty much took care of itself in your downtime. And big praise to your amazing neighbor. Bet your excited to be "back" to health and ready to dig in again. I really like that 'Rocket' Ligularia - kinda reminds me of the foxtail lilies. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jay_Sifford 11/02/2017

    What a lovely garden, Tom. I'm glad that you are feeling better. Back surgery is the worst!
    One of the design principles I'm most intrigued with at present is Immersion, and your garden looks to be a great example of an immersive garden. I'm loving the ligularia. I cannot grow that plant here (believe me, I've tried). And the view from your terrace across the hill that is animated with the flowering perennials is spectacular.
    Happy gardening!

  6. Doxnmomx2 11/02/2017

    So this is the garden behaving more or less on its own? It's marvelous! Thank you and happy to hear you're recovering from your surgeries.

  7. User avater
    treasuresmom 11/02/2017

    My, my, my. Love the way that rudbeckia and daylily look. Gorgeous.

  8. user-4691082 11/02/2017

    I never appreciated ajuga until now. I’m glad you are recuperating nicely! It all blends together so well. Big blessings to Carol, who weeded instead of asking “let me know if you need anything “!

  9. VikkiVA 11/02/2017

    I haven't had any back surgeries and my garden doesn't look half as good as yours does. Good to hear you are feeling better and will be ready to go by the time spring comes and you can get out in the garden. Love that unique "ball" planter you have with the beautiful petunias and verbena. Your ligularia is gorgeous, however, like Jim, it won't cooperate and grow in my area. Vikki in VA

  10. tennisluv 11/02/2017

    Lovely cottage garden that kindly gave you the summer off to take care of your back. Isn't it amazing how a mature, previously cared for landscape can do that. The stacked stone fronted slope is so pretty with all your freely blooming perennials. What a great view from your porch. Thanks for sharing.

  11. User avater
    PKKing 11/02/2017

    I can see why you were able to recover so well. A garden like yours is the best medicine available. Maybe you should consider renting out space on the front porch deck to people recovering from illness/surgery! The array of colors and beautiful flowers is stunning and are a balm. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Chris_N 11/02/2017

    What a wonderful and exuberant garden! Glad you are doing better.

  13. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/02/2017

    Glad you're on the mend and your garden looks great despite lacking your full attention.
    How to divide ladyslippers? I'd love to be able to grow them well-enough to divide. No matter what I've tried, mine only last a couple of years at most. I've given up and will enjoy them in photos and the gardens of others!

  14. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/02/2017

    I share everyone else's sighs of admiration and envy for the the appearance of your garden taking care of itself. You must be a very gifted "plant whisperer" and your murmurings of encouragement from your porch convalescence sitting area must have convinced your plantings to be on their best behavior. Everything looks exceptionally beautiful. The backdrop of the ligularia behind the hosta is awesome...such a fantastic pairing.

  15. edithdouglas 11/02/2017

    I'm sorry you had to be inactive, but isn't it wonderful to be able to sit and LOOK at it? I confess that is one of the main reasons why I garden. As Jane Austen sit in the shade and look upon verdure...", though in our cases it's looking upon color upon color, one after the other, and all together sometimes. Lovely photos, and thanks for sharing them.

  16. user-7008421 11/02/2017

    Beautiful garden! Glad you are feeling better and can work in it. Gardening is the best medicine of all!

  17. user-7008735 11/02/2017

    You have a lovely garden, Tom! The Japanese have a term that translates as "forest bathing" and doctors have measured health benefits such as reduced blood pressure from spending time in the woods and even in a lab from breathing air that had been collected from the forest. Your view from the porch of the garden and trees looks like a very healthy zone. I'm glad you're on the mend.

  18. user-7007140 11/02/2017

    i am so happy to know that your back surgery is giving relief and hope for next year to play in this lovely garden. There is no doubt in my mind that being outside, breathing in the scents of the garden and just listening to the rustling and whistling around you brings tremendous peace and allows one to heal through nature. I have read of the Japanese Forest Bathing and have no problem believing the benefits.
    The garden is beautiful and your kind neighbor will have allowed you to enjoy it so much more after her work in weeding it. Lucky you to have such a good neighbor.
    Lots of luck Tom, get well soon and thank you so much for sharing your garden with us today.

  19. user-7007140 11/02/2017

    Oops! Completely forgot to tell you that I love the round pot, all the stonework and the whole sense of calm and beauty. Well done.

  20. huskerpower 11/02/2017

    Beautiful gardens! Thanks for sharing, praying your back is regaining strength.
    I am wondering if the pictures are different on a pc versus my iPhone, as my picture #2 has an orange male Monarch butterfly on a Hydrangea panicle with Echinacea in the back.? Not a swallowtail on Rudbeckia... #3 The Rocket is exquisite! How envious of you! #4 your front porch must have heavenly fragrance with the large Gardenia plant, you must bring it in during your wonderful ‘balmy’ winters! #5 I think the plant is Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) instead of Heliopsis with the wren house. #6 I love the purple petunias with the verbena in the large cement planter! #7. How marvelous is the view with the depth of waves of Rudbeckia and the splash from Daylily! I don’t think I would get much work done, just sit and admire the beauty! Thanks again! Wow!

  21. alohaland 11/02/2017

    So tranquil, yet chocked full of lovely and colorful specimens along with a sense of carefree planning.......if this is what you get through neglect I think I'm working too hard in my garden! So very glad you're well on the mend, but I can't help but suggest that your garden had a lot to do with your progress.

  22. BetterHomesteading 11/02/2017

    Absolutely beautiful, that really could be in some beautiful village in England!

    Love the one with the butterfly, amazing!

    Having lived away from England for some 6 years, the lure of the English garden and beautiful countryside pulled me back. I now live in a lovely village in West Dorset, the epitome of a rural English village.

    Do you visit England at all Tom?

  23. Cenepk10 11/02/2017

    Yes Tom - very lovely garden. Sure would like to see more. Hope you are good as new soon !

  24. btucker9675 11/02/2017

    What a wonderful garden - such joyful colors. Must have really lifted your spirits as you recuperated! Love the snazzy wren house.

  25. greengenes 11/03/2017

    Hi glad to hear youre doing better now! That would be so hard to not be able to do anything in the gardens! What a wonderful neighbor to help you out! It all looks so lovely, Tom!

  26. JoannaAtGinghamGardens 11/03/2017

    Beautiful gardens, Tom! We're practically neighbors - I live in Savage. Take it easy and heal, so you can get back out there next spring.

  27. user-6536305 11/08/2017

    Stunning Tom! If this is called the garden cares for itself, I don`t know what to say. I am speechless anyway after seeing this post. I somehow missed this post until now. Speedy recovery Tom and get back next spring and give it a blast! Thanks for sharing!

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