Garden Photo of the Day

Another design by John in Virginia

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Magee

Back in September we featured a beautiful woodland garden John Magee designed for a client in northern Virginia. (Refresh your memory HERE.) Today he’s back with another of his creations. 

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Magee

He says, “Here is a garden I created in Reston, Virginia. These people had a very steep and dangerous hillside of grass and enlisted my help to improve their means of traversing the slope. My suggestion? Rip out the turf, put in some stone steps, plant the hillside with beautiful plants, and enjoy!”

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Magee

Beautiful, John! Those chairs at the bottom really make you want to go down there, and the plantings are beautiful. Thanks for sharing this with us!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Magee
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Magee
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Magee

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View Comments


  1. user-1020932 03/28/2013

    very nice! loving the stone steps. when working with stone, for me, the most beautiful stone is the LAST one to be installed,,,,,,,,,,then i'm happy

  2. bee1nine 03/28/2013

    It's hard for me to fathom the physical work it took for
    creating this masterful hardscape! How can one not resist
    this absolutely beautiful backyard OASIS for relaxing?
    Only in MY dreams!!

  3. wGardens 03/28/2013

    I too, love the stone steps. A challenging task and solved beautifully! Would enjoy seeing more of your work!

  4. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/28/2013

    Great solution and it looks like the plant palette is both beautiful and not fussy.

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/28/2013

    Talk about having a worthy destination...who wouldn't want to enjoy the walk down on those sturdy looking steps, settle into a comfy Adirondack chair and relax by the water. I've gotten to the age where I especially appreciate well thought out (meaning safe and visually interesting, if possible) ways to get from one part of a yard/garden to another.Each stepping stone looks generously sized and allows room for feet as well as adorable groundcovers to gentle their edges.

  6. tractor1 03/28/2013

    Those stepping stones look like they're from an old stone wall, all covered with lichens.

  7. janetsfolly 03/28/2013

    Love it, love it, love it! The contrast of textures, stone and foliage, keeps the eye moving and delighting in the subtle plays of color. Everything looks so healthy and lush, these must be some very happy clients. Thanks for sharing!

  8. trashywoman62 03/28/2013

    John, although you don't live at this garden, I can see that you design with the passion of a gardener! Both of the gardens appear as though they were done by the homeowner, none of that out-of-the-box look. You must spend a lot of time with your homeowners understanding what they like and want from a garden. The gardens appear so natural and timeless. And I love the variety of flowering and non flowering plants you have chosen.

    What have you done to direct the flow of heavy rainfall down the slope? Is that why you have the gravel flowing from one side of the walk to the other?

    What variety of fern do you have planted on the right side of the top photo, right side? It is below the daylily and oakleaf hydrangea? The fronds appear extremely sturdy almost palm-like.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. MrEuphorbia 03/28/2013

    Thanks everyone for your kind words. To give you a little background on this project, I was one of three designers asked to come up with a plan and bid. Of the three, I was the only one to come in under budget (20G) and my design was also the clients favorite, so it was a win-win for both of us. The foreman who executed the project was new to stone work, so I had to help guide him on getting started, but obviously, the whole crew did a very nice job. If you'd like to see more of my work, you can check out my web-site at Thanks again for all the wonderful comments. -John

  10. trashywoman62 03/28/2013

    John, can you tell me the type of fern?

  11. MrEuphorbia 03/28/2013

    To answer Trashywoman's comments (nice name BTW) I believe it's a Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum 'Rochfordianum')(not native- Japanese). We've not done anything to re-direct water. There's simply not much that runs down it other than what falls directly from the sky, so the plants do most of the 'erosion control'. I work very closely with all my clients to ensure their gardens are true reflections of their own passions. Thank you for noticing.

  12. trashywoman62 03/28/2013

    Thank you

  13. MichelleGervais 03/28/2013

    John, I LOVE the patches of pebbles on either side of the steps.

  14. trashywoman62 03/28/2013

    Oh my gosh, you went to the Galapagos Islands! What an amazing place to see!

  15. sheila_schultz 03/28/2013

    What a lucky family to have you as one of the 3 designers bidding on this job. The concept and end result is perfect, and the plantings are perfectly at home on this site. Beautiful in so many ways.

  16. Happily_Gardening 03/28/2013

    Home sweet home!

  17. MrEuphorbia 03/28/2013

    Thanks Michelle, to me, that was the 'design element' of the hardscaping. It's hard to see, but the deck and an upper patio have the same curve to them to reflect that element and tie the landscape together.

    To Trashywoman; I've been to the Galapagos four times and even started the "Gardening for the Galapagos" initiative with the Galapagos Conservancy. I used to host a GFG garden tour of my designs to help fund raise money for the project, but haven't in quite some time. My wife is Ecuadorian and was the Associate Director of the Galapagos Conservancy for many years and she also did her thesis on the Galapagos Hawk, so we have quite a history with the 'enchanted islands'. Hope you make it there someday as well.

  18. cwheat000 03/28/2013

    That hill must have been no fun to mow. It is now such a much more interesting space. Nice plant selections. I would love to see a few more closeups.

  19. ancientgardener 03/29/2013

    Beautiful. It looks so natural like is just "grew" there and had been there forever. With this lovely landscaping and such a view, I'd never get any reading done in that Adirondack chair.

  20. thegardenlady 03/29/2013

    Fabulous design and project. Those do look like holly ferns to me, which we grow a lot of in TX, but I hadn't thought winecups, which we also have, would grow in VA. (At least they look like winecups, but perhaps they are some sort of geranium?) Gorgeous setting, great way to enhance it for the homeowners.

  21. MrEuphorbia 03/29/2013

    Those are indeed Wine cups (Callirhoe involucrata) which are native to VA and a great plant to crawl between the rocks. I have a few more pictures of this garden posted on my Facebook page here:!/media/set/?set=a.370339636353013.118064.108365592550420&type=3

    You can also see some other projects by clicking back to the 'Magee Design' page if you'd like some inspiration for spring. I know I'm hoping to get out into the garden myself this weekend!

    Thanks again for all the nice comments and happy spring!

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