Garden Photo of the Day

Regina’s Wildlife-Friendly Garden in Connecticut

Finding ways to make a backyard garden work

My name is Regina Melo, and I am a Brazilian American who has been living in Connecticut for the last 25 years. I started gardening about 16 years ago when we sold our condo in Bethel and bought a house in New Milford. It was a new construction, and my husband and I had a whole new blank canvas to tackle—the yard. You can see more of my garden on my Instagram as @gigi_a_melo.

My husband has focused on growing an edible garden. In the first year he built only one bed; later he added two more.

I wanted to create a backyard with some fruit trees and a mix of shade and sunny bed flowers and attract plenty of wildlife. I soon learned I would have to change my plans. The septic system in the backyard is huge, and it wouldn’t be wise to plant trees and have lots of structures built on it, so it’s a very sunny yard. I decided to make one big flower bed in the back, away from the septic system, and flower beds on the sides of the house. Thanks to the neighbors’ trees, there is a small shady area in the back (east side) where I planted some ferns, and in the summer I add some colorful annuals, especially impatiens. I have focused on design and growing plants. I admit I made quite a few mistakes: I wanted to see everything blooming and shining quickly, so I didn’t give some plants the proper spacing, I planted invasive ground covers, and so on. Bottom line, I didn’t have patience when I started gardening, and soon enough it became too overwhelming to care for, and throughout the years I started downsizing.

purple coneflowersBumblebee visiting purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3–8)

orange coneflowerAn orange hybrid coneflower (Echinacea hybrid, Zones 4–8)

Black-eyed SusansBlack-eyed Susans around a birdhouse (Rudbeckia fulgida, Zones 3–10)

lily-flowered tulipA lily-flowered tulip (perhaps the variety ‘Ballerina’, Zones 3–8)

violasCheery violas (Viola × wittrockiana, cool season annual)

dark red roseA rich dark red rose (perhaps the variety ‘Europeana’, Zones 5–10)

A tiny tree frog hanging out in a fading rose bloom.


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View Comments


  1. cynthia2020 09/21/2020

    Regina - thank you for sharing your gardening story with us! I especially like the composition and bright colors in the photo that includes the birdhouse.
    I have some of that vibrant tangerine colored cone flower, too!
    Your back garden looks peaceful and the lush expanse of lawn looks versatile for entertaining and or having children over to play.

    1. reginamelo 09/22/2020

      Hi Cynthia, thank you for your kind words.

      Yes, it's a peaceful garden, it's priceless to seat down at the deck and enjoy the view, birds, squirrels and chipmunks feel safe and welcomed in our garden. Every year we have 'tenants' making the birdhouse their home :)

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/21/2020

    Love the black eyed susans & birdbox. The colors are wonderful together.

    1. reginamelo 09/22/2020

      Thank you! I love using complementary colors in sunny gardens, I think these colors invigorate and energize a garden.

  3. bdowen 09/21/2020

    What a beautiful color in that red rose and the orange echinacea. Thank you for sharing.

    1. reginamelo 09/22/2020

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. The orange Echinacea is a new addition to my garden.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 09/21/2020

    Your photography is fabulous! Wow a little frog in a rose!? How amazing is that!!!
    I always enjoy hearing the story behind the garden, thanks for sharing!

    1. reginamelo 09/22/2020

      Hi Sue, isn't amazing that little tiny frog making a rose petal its home? It was the first time I saw one and I couldn't believe how tiny they are.

      I'm glad your like my photos, thank you!
      Gardening & photography are a way that I can express my creativity and give me a chance to practice patience and focus, and I love it!

  5. btucker9675 09/21/2020

    Love the colorful birdhouse and the little tree frog! You have created a lovely garden space and should be proud of yourselves!

    1. reginamelo 09/22/2020

      Such nice words, thank you so much, I do appreciate it.

  6. user-5117752 09/21/2020

    Love your photos! Must tell you that I went to a summer camp in New Milford for 2 summers way back in the young ages. Bucks Rock Work Camp. Wonder if it's still there. Even though I was but a child, I remember a beautiful, rural countryside where we rode horses and played games, sang songs and had delicious meals and, of course, flirted with the boys. But, then, that was soooooo long ago. I'm not sure there was anything called "new build" then. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us all.

    1. reginamelo 09/22/2020

      Thank you, I'm glad you like my photos :) , and thank you for sharing your story about Bucks Rock Work Camp, and yes, it's still here, now it's called Buck's Rock Performing & Creative Arts Camp, it's a wonderful place.

  7. [email protected] 09/21/2020

    Thanks for showing us your garden. I, too, have a septic system that limits us from using a large part of our backyard, but we have also learned how to work around it. As we are in our 70's, maybe it's okay to not be able to put a garden in every possible spot! Love what you have done, and hope to see more from you.

    1. reginamelo 09/22/2020

      Ooopppss, I made a mistake, I hope now I am replying the right way :)

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

      So you know how limited we can be when design a garden around a big septic system, on the other hand it 'forces' us to be more creative and find a way around it.
      Enjoy your day!

  8. reginamelo 09/22/2020

    Thank you so much for your kind words!

    So you know how limited we can be when design a garden around a big septic system, on the other hand it 'forces' us to be more creative and find a way around it.
    Enjoy your day!

  9. dragonfly5 10/12/2020


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