Garden Photo of the Day

A Thousand Shades of Green

A collector’s garden full of understated elegance.

Luke Simon shared these images of his neighbor Linda Barnhill’s yard in East Sparta, Ohio. She is a collector of many plants, including rare fruits, but these photos show her beautiful ornamental garden full of lovely colors and textures, often relying on shades of green to create a beautiful tapestry.

Golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ Zones 4 – 8) makes a glowing carpet by Linda’s sidewalk.

Green flowering tobacco (Nicotiana langsdorfii, annual) opens its understated blooms in front of a mass of variegated yellow jewelweed (Impatiens pallida, annual).

A large hosta and a pink cleome (Cleome hessleriana, annual) frame a view of the lush garden.

Hardy begonias (Begonia grandis, zones 5-7) lines a stone pathway.

English ivy (Hedera helix, zones 4 – 9) creeping up the back shed.

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  1. frankgreenhalgh 01/17/2018

    Thanks for sharing Luke, and Linda if you are tuned in - you have a fantastic garden full of atmosphere. All the pics. are great, but the green flowering tobacco and hardy begonias/stone pathway are captivating. Cheers from the Wizard of Oz

    1. user-7009037 01/17/2018

      Thanks so much for saying so Frank. It's a pleasure to share such beauty!

  2. user-6536305 01/17/2018

    Wow, I do love that path, so nature! Thanks for sharing!

    1. frankgreenhalgh 01/17/2018

      Hey Lilian - FYI here is a splash of purple from Down Under (1) Fringe lily (2) Native iris and (3) Erodium carolinianum (no common name). Cheers from the Wizard of Oz

      1. user-7007498 01/17/2018

        Beautiful collection of purples. I just came in after clearing 7 inches of snow that just fell, and what a treat, Frank. The last photo reminded me of hardy Geranium (and when I looked it up, they are in the same genus: Erodiums have 5 stamens and Geraniums have 10). I love the interesting plants you share with us.

        1. frankgreenhalgh 01/17/2018

          Nice work Kev. - you can go to the top of the class. Looks like I need something a little more challenging/rarer. How about this Queen of Sheba orchid, which has a touch of purple?

          1. user-6536305 01/17/2018

            So oddly beautiful purple! Thanks for sharing Frank!

          2. user-7007498 01/17/2018

            Jaw dropping gorgeous. I saw that it is a wildflower that thrives in the dry conditions in Western Australia. Thanks for sharing a bit of Oz.

          3. Chris_N 01/17/2018

            That is striking!

          4. User avater
            LindaonWhidbey 01/17/2018

            Wow! Does this grow in the wild, Frank?

          5. frankgreenhalgh 01/17/2018

            Hey Linda - Yes this orchid is a wildflower of Western Australia. It is fairly rare so it doesn't put on a display on mass like other wildflowers. When you come back to Oz, I highly recommend that you travel to Perth (as part of your itinerary) and have a look at the flora in Kings Park on the edge of the central business district and then travel to the countryside to see the wildflower displays (August-September - depends on when there is rainfall etc.) I guarantee that the experience will absolutely knock your socks off. Cheers my friend

          6. tennisluv 01/17/2018

            Wow, knock your socks off is right. Mine just flew across the room. Absolutely gorgeous.

          7. sheila_schultz 01/17/2018

            A question for you Frank... You have given us a tiny glimpse into the incredible floral world of Australia, and so many of your beauties are exceptional with their frilly edges and bright colors. Do you have photos of as many amazing insects that need to feed upon these gorgeous blooms? Just wondering...

          8. frankgreenhalgh 01/17/2018

            Hi Sheila - Here is one of our butterflies feeding on an everlasting daisy. I will have others - let me include them as the journey continues. Tomorrow it's a pink palette. Cheers from the Wizard of Oz

          9. sheila_schultz 01/17/2018

            Knew you would have a few Frank! I'm thinking I might start calling you Wiz once in a while... so less formal ;)

          10. frankgreenhalgh 01/17/2018

            Sounds good to me, Sheila Cheers from Wiz

          11. sheila_schultz 01/18/2018

            Thanks Wiz... you seem to have a neverending inventory of awesome shots!

          12. user-7008735 01/18/2018

            What a great photo, Frank! I'm looking forward to your pink theme now. Your purple theme today was spectacular.

          13. frankgreenhalgh 01/17/2018

            Just found this one, Sheila.

          14. user-6536305 01/18/2018

            Already knocked my shocks off! Hey Frank, You should work for Australia Tourist Bureau or collect a salary or a pension from them! You are at top of the class for photography. Thanks for sharing!

          15. user-7008735 01/18/2018

            We are all sockless on GPOD today! I love that glowing yellow against the swathe of purple behind it.

      2. user-6536305 01/17/2018

        These are as purple as purple can be. All my that Fringe lily is breath taking. Native iris is like our trillium but purple. Thanks for sharing!

      3. User avater
        meander_michaele 01/17/2018

        My goodness, could that fringe lily be any more delicately fringy? And those are are the colors that we all want more of in our gardens.

      4. user-6536305 01/17/2018

        Ok, Frank, something odd for you Muscari comosum 'Plumosum'. It is a bulb.

        1. frankgreenhalgh 01/17/2018

          Thanks Lilian - Your grape hyacinth is definitely a conversation piece. Is this in your garden? Cheers from the Wizard

          1. user-6536305 01/18/2018

            Yes! It is in my garden and rats and squirrel prove.

        2. sheila_schultz 01/17/2018

          Hey Lilian... I've never seen that Muscari before! Love the fluff!

        3. user-7008735 01/18/2018

          That's a pretty one, Lilian. Does it send up its leaves in the fall but bloom in the spring like the common Muscari?

          1. user-6536305 01/18/2018

            It does not send leaves in the fall. It is like regular hyacinth sending out leaves in early spring and die down after flowering. The blooms last longer than regular hyacinth. I got them from Master Gardener's monthly meeting and Spring Seminar.

          2. user-7008735 01/18/2018

            That's nice that the blooms last longer, Lilian. I love grape hyacinths; they go so well with other spring flowers. I really appreciate that the leaves of the ordinary grape hyacinths do come up in the fall, months before they bloom. I plant them around my other bulbs so I can tell where they are when I'm planting new ones. I still sometimes experience that sickening feeling of slicing through a big bulb underground, inevitably a giant, expensive Allium, but it happens less often since I started planting the Muscari over my other bulbs.

      5. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2018

        Wow! I'm especially enchanted by the fringe lily. I can't get a sense of the scale. How big are those flowers? Thanks for Southern Hemisphere color bursts, Frank!

        1. frankgreenhalgh 01/18/2018

          Thanks Tim - around 0.6 - 0.7 of an inch, Tim.

  3. user-7007498 01/17/2018

    I love the 4th photo of the path. The stone is gorgeous, and the view is limited, pulling us farther in on an adventure. I also love tall nicotiana. The plants are great accents, and are fabulous when paired with purple leafed plants.
    I can't say I am a fan of the creeping jenny in the landscape, though. Too much of a thug.

    Thanks for sharing the photos.

    1. tennisluv 01/17/2018

      Speaking of thugs, so is the English Ivy.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/17/2018

    Such beautiful photos, have done your subject matter proud. Linda must be delighted to have her garden be on the receiving end of your discerning and artistic eye. The path vignette is perfect.

    1. user-7009037 01/17/2018

      Very kind of you to say that. I certainly enjoy the privilege of being in such a place, and am more than glad to share. Thank you.

  5. Chris_N 01/17/2018

    The first thing I noticed in the third photo was neither the hosta nor the cleome but the delicate fern fronds against the weathered stone pineapple. Then, of course, the begonias by the stone steps. I seem to have a thing about plant/stone combinations. Great photos, Luke, and great garden, Linda. Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-7009037 01/17/2018

      I entirely agree. Thank you Chris!

  6. tennisluv 01/17/2018

    Luke, great pictures of green areas in Linda's garden. They are all pretty, but what to me, made each vignette sing were the tiny touches of color ..., the little deep blue blossoms behind the green flowering tobacco, the pink geranium & cleome and the tiny snippet of purple agerantum along the stone steps, the grey cement & shed wall playing supporting actors to the ivy and creeping jenny's unexpected diva role. All grabbed my eye and pulled me into the scene. Sometimes it is just the little things.

    1. user-7009037 01/17/2018

      You have an eye to detail I so appreciate Sonya. You just brought new life to the images for me. Thank you.

      1. tennisluv 01/18/2018

        Went to your blog ( Is your neighbor older and beginning to no longer be able to take care of her garden or just a loving mentor or perhaps both for you?) Doesn't matter, you obviously love both your neighbor's garden and your own. (Please share some of your own with us). That said, every picture you posted on your personal blog had just a touch of color that called to the viewer, realized or not when you took the picture, for drawing the viewer in. Thanks again for sharing with us.

        1. user-7009037 01/18/2018

          Both. She hires help somtimes in addition to me. She often has me make the choices of where to build new beds, or what trees need trimmed and how, then has others make it happen.

          I appreciate you taking the time to go look at the blog. And yes, I do intend to share the aesthetic qualities of my garden Mortal Tree (the blog is bamed after the garden) with Fine Gardening. Very kind of you to ask.

          I actually sell many of my images through Shutterstock: I of course have my own taste for photography, but their stringent demand for quality has caused me to really scrutinize my photo's details. I also have an Instagram for Mortal Tree:

          Thanks again for offering feedback.

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/17/2018

    So nice to see Ohio green, as we are in the single digits this morning and under a deep blanket of snow. Love that Nicotiana; it popped up in my garden last summer. I don't remember spreading seed, but I collected seed to perpetuate it.

    1. Meelianthus 01/18/2018

      Wow! single digits and deep snow! Do you go out at all in your weather Tim? Hope it doesn't last long for you. 45 and torrential rains here on BI today, rain forecast all week with many feet of snow projected for the mountains. I know how much you are longing for Spring;) me too.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2018

        It's a mad dash to and from the car when the weather is this cold and a hat is de rigueur inside my house. This morning was bitter but we're having a warming trend and may cross above freezing by the weekend. I hope you're staying warm. That wet cold can go right to your bones!

        1. Meelianthus 01/18/2018

          You must be very hardy people to live in such cold areas! Not sure if I could handle being so cold all the time. Mother Nature really released her rash on the PNW last nite with thunder, lightening, strong winds, high tides, and rivers of rain. A person must develop webbed-feet to live in these areas!! Good luck to you with the rest of winter Tim.

  8. cheryl_c 01/17/2018

    Great photos, Luke! And as Frank said, each one evokes an intriguing atmosphere - masterful gardening, Linda! I also enjoyed the path picture the most, spotting some aquilegia in the mix (the canadensis form is all over this part of Missouri). The creeping jenny did give me 'the creeps', even though it is a favorite shade of green - but the ivy against the door is a downright spooky combination. We have been pulling out that very form for years since it 'escaped cultivation' on our hillside. At any rate, that photo could win a prize!

    1. user-7009037 01/17/2018

      Thanks so much Cheryl! The blue-gray color really sets it off for me. If you look closely, my silhouette shows faintly in the glass, which I thought was a subtle, but warming detail of presence.

      1. cheryl_c 01/17/2018

        I had missed that ! Thanks for pointing it out!

  9. sheila_schultz 01/17/2018

    These photos of Linda's garden have such a secretive feel about them. I'm thinking the next clue to the mystery just might be found after I reach the top of the stone path! You have given us an enticing view of your friend's garden, Luke.
    I have to say that the shot of the golden creeping Jenny made me smile. Yes, it is definitely a thug, but between the color and texture, most plants that grow through those tiny yellow leaves are showcased to their glory! I love that delicate looking groundcover.

    1. user-7009037 01/17/2018

      That's so kind of you to say. Thank you Sheila. Linda actually has a very large patch of the creeping jenny which she transplants her dahlias into in spring. They grow very well with this ground cover over their feet. As you can imagine, Linda can sit back and enjoy the beauty because she doesn't have to weed!

      I published more images, and an article about the functionality of the garden on my blog, Mortal Tree if you would like to see more:

      Thanks again for your kind words.

      1. sheila_schultz 01/17/2018

        I can easily see dahlia's poking their green leaves up through the yellow of my fave lysimachia which you may have guessed I used in some of my Denver garden beds. (Sedum Angelina was my other favorite.) The contrast can be pretty amazing... you just have to be mercilus about ripping the heck out of it every Spring, but there's gratification to that, too! Weeds? Nah... none could compete with Jenny!
        I'm heading over to your blog... you've made me curious, thanks!

        1. tennisluv 01/18/2018

          Oh, I like lysimachia, given that I have a couple of places where I can plant and contain it (Sedum Angelina is becoming another favorite) and have begun to think about adding dahlias to my garden (since my landscape/yard is nowhere close to a garden, I always cringe when I use that word - shrubs and trees as I begin to rebuild a sadly neglected yard). More interesting plantings are part of my five year plan.

          1. sheila_schultz 01/18/2018

            Sonya... if you have a hot and sunny dry spot, Angelina is your gal. Her texture is thready with the color of a gentle sunset. She is also a thug, but she can be pulled out as easy as taking a sip of soda! She adds so much short texture to any garden bed. Have fun with your imagination leading you into the new adventures with your gardens!

      2. sheila_schultz 01/17/2018

        I just took a quick look at your blog Luke. You have a very comfortable way with words and your knowledge tells a bit of the story of your history. I'd like to see you post some more.

        1. user-7009037 01/17/2018

          I'm flattered. Thanks for taking the time to look. Mortal Tree currently has over 130 articles on it, many of which I have archived through a visual map here: This time of year I publish new articles about once a week. You can subscribe to get these straight in your inbox. Just check the side bar, or below the comments on any of the posts, for the signup box. I've also authored two books: 'PASSIVE Gardening' and 'Mastering the Growing Edge.' So if you wonder how I got a way with words, it's certainly not because I'm gifted. I just write a lot.

          I certainly hope this sates your appetite of story for a while. Do you have any internet sites where I can find out more about your gardening ventures? If not, feel free to comment on any of my articles, or email me direct: I'd love to hear more from you.

          1. sheila_schultz 01/18/2018

            Luke. I'm not at all surprised that you have authored a couple of books. I'm a lazy reader and researcher these days but your titles are intriguing as is your writing style. Like I suggested before, keep posting. The beauty of GPOD is that we all have different passions when it comes to gardening and gardens, but I'm pretty sure most of us also appreciate every gardener's point of view. It's a win win.
            I'm curious, have you been reading GPOD long?
            Kind of a PS... The garden that gave me passion was my very first one in Denver. I gave birth to it 11 years ago..We now live in Mexico next door to our grandkids. Container gardens are what really make my heart sing though.

          2. user-7009037 01/18/2018

            Thanks for your encouragment. I have been familiar with GPOD for several years second-hand through Linda actually. She sends me any that she likes, with comments on what she thinks.

            My mother container gardens a good bit. You might think it sacrilege, which I can't blame you for, but she actually has filled some pots with creeping jenny. She has them in several pots at different levels to create a cascade effect.

          3. sheila_schultz 01/18/2018

            Haha, not sacrilege at all! I've used it for years in containers. Interesting trailers are often hard to find!

  10. Cenepk10 01/17/2018

    Gorgeous Evokes a really nice feeling of lush & quiet.

  11. greengenes 01/17/2018

    What a wonderful sight to see on this dark and gray day. Thanks for sharing with us! I love all the shades, textures and varieties of green! The ivy is great!

  12. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 01/17/2018

    Good morning, Luke and Linda. This has such a secret garden feel and even though I’ve spent many hours pulling out invasive ivy, that is a beautiful photo.

  13. foxglove12 01/17/2018

    All so lovely! I particularly love the green combination with the green flowering Nicotiana. So pretty!

  14. user-7008735 01/18/2018

    I love this kind of garden where plants are tucked into crevices or allowed to seed themselves about where they'd like to grow. Are we sure that's the image of the photographer reflected in the shed window, or might it be the garden ghost?

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