Garden Photo of the Day

Another of Jeff’s gardens in Tennessee

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

Today’s photos are from our very own tntreeman, Jeff Calton. He says, “This is the back yard of one of my favorite clients (they are ALL my favorites).

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

“The house is built atop the highest point in the city so there are massive retaining walls in back. It was NOT easy carting all that stuff up there to plant and it is brutal: western exposure so it fries all summer and takes the frozen winds all winter.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

“The family consists of husband/wife and 4 boys, so they are busy, busy, busy, and wanted color but not alot of “work”, although we do all the maintenance. They like things neat and tidy and with 4-season interest and plenty of summer color. It’s not “gardened” but it is landscaped and nothing in the beds can be hurt by the boys, their friends, dogs, soccer games, or anything else.”

Very nice, Jeff! Those retaining walls are intimidating….you are brave and talented!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

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  1. user-1020932 07/01/2013

    quick note as i do not want to mislead,,,, i did not build those walls, the contractor who built the house built them. plants=i can do,,,,,,,,,,building the walls of jericho=i can not

  2. briandowns 07/01/2013

    The landscaping is well done and quite an effort. But...what an energy suck.The place almost frightens me. Mr Gorbachev, tear down that wall.Interesting how people seem proud of , and I quote being " busy busy busy". I get it, but can't we celebrate " relaxed relaxed relaxed " a bit more without fear of being labelled a slacker? But I digress.

  3. user-1020932 07/01/2013

    thank you briandowns. the family is busy busy busy and they also spend many hours with friends, family and LOTS of children there at the pool so they are relaxed relaxed relaxed. i submitted these photos only to show a different aspect to solving a need for a client. everyone is different and has different needs and desires for their space. not an energy suck at all an no fear of being called a slacker, everyones life is different

  4. bee1nine 07/01/2013

    I have to admit, a bit too formal for my taste! Obviously
    these client's don't garden, at all?! So I'm guessing they
    solely depend on you Jeff, to keep their landscaping grounds
    and lawn looking perfectly manicured and maintained. No doubt
    YOU have! They shouldn't complain! Very impressive work!!

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/01/2013

    That's a great shrub grouping by the pool. With all of the new shrub cultivars we now have with an amazing variety of foliage color, bloom, size, and texture, shrub borders should be de riguer for those who want landscaping with minimum upkeep. I'm certainly adding more!

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/01/2013

    I always enjoy seeing pictures that represent the work of successful and talented professional landscapers. They usually highlight the inclusion of plant material that gives 4 season interest and an appealing play between different textures and colors. Take the plant grouping at the end of the pool...that's going to have visual interest even in the middle of winter. Plus the expansive grass areas look perfect for boys to play a little impromptu soccer or whatever.
    And it wouldn't surprise me if an interest in active gardening took hold of the female member of the household as her children move out and on to their own grown up lives. She'll have great garden bones already in place to play against if the spirit so moves her.

  7. user-1020932 07/01/2013

    same for me, bee1nine but we do what works for the client and at this point in time this is what was needed until the kids are grown and out the door

  8. deeinde 07/01/2013

    Wow, Jeff, your landscaping is lovely! Great use of color, texture and shape. What is climbing the trellis?

  9. user-1020932 07/01/2013

    Cotoneaster parneyi on the trellis

  10. Quiltingmamma 07/01/2013

    Nice job. Yes, formal, but it suits the house and property. > so true. I see a very interesting play house in back of the pool planting. That with the supersized pool house is definitely made with family and recreation in mind.
    Is that Dappled willow you have in several places? Love that plant (as long as you keep on top of the trimming). Definitely lots of interest through various seasons. What also struck me in that photo was the scale of those walls! the pool chairs are miniature in comparison. So the specimens on the tiers must have been pretty big to match. Mammoth job - but job well done.

  11. wittyone 07/01/2013

    Very nice, but not landscaping for a floriferous flowerbed crazy person.

    What are the two light colored fountain shaped shrubs in the top left hand side picture?

    Willows? Those "something Nishiki" willows? I do like the shape of those.

  12. Aarchman07030 07/01/2013

    Interesting how people react to photographs of high-end projects--determined to identify the moral and lifestyle failings of the property's owners.

    I confess I don't see the "formality" to which people have alluded--apart from some very local symmetries, I see a very informal, "natural" scheme--beautiful and comfortably casual. I would say the clients' goals for the landscape project have been met quite successfully.

    As a high-end residential architect I understand the challenges involved in bringing a human(e) scale to monumental projects, and I think you've done a great job, Jeff. Kudos!

  13. janetsfolly 07/01/2013

    Wow, Jeff, this is lovely! Such wide expanses and large scale plantings (not to mention those retaining walls!) can be intimidating to amateur home gardeners like me, but this is so restful. I'm sure these clients appreciate your efforts every time they step outside. I can't imagine being confronted by a job of this scope...ALL of my hats are off to you!

  14. briandowns 07/01/2013

    I guess I was having a bad morning. Didn't mean to be so cryptic or condescending. It really is a spectacular landscape! I totally appreciate what went into that work-wise, and the ends certainly justifies the means. I guess I'd rather see a more personal garden than a brought in landscape, but the talents of the tntreeman are superb!

  15. cwheat000 07/01/2013

    I think the property is crisp, clean, beautiful and elegant. The property owners were probably wise to keep it low maintenance for now, with 4 boys. I have the total opposite flowery cottage garden, but I can appreciate other styles. I have only one child ( and three pets) and I wonder sometimes if I have bit off more than I can chew. I think it would be unwise to assume we know everything about someone from looking at their garden or resent them for having something high end.

  16. GrannyMay 07/01/2013

    Such a challenging area, microclimate and set of client requirements to deal with - the results show how well you overcome all. Beautiful, Jeff! Your clients are lucky indeed.

  17. cwheat000 07/01/2013

    I second you briandowns. I think the talents of tntreeman are amazing.

  18. user-1020932 07/01/2013

    brian, i did NOT mean to be snippy at all but i guess i was, too early in the morning. i've sent michelle naturalistic photos, flowery gardens, we work with all kinds. i call myself a gardener rather than a landscaper,,,big difference, this planting suits this client perfectly for now with their schedule and there are LOTS of pool parties for elementary and middle school kids. meander was right, the mother grew up on a farm in Iowa and has a small vegetable garden behind the pool house and does containers for now but as the boys leave the nest she will definitely be doing more personal things. everything at that house is BIG so no matter what we plant or do it looks small and will for a number of seasons. i enjoy and have fun with all different sites and it's a pretty good deal to get paid to spend other people's money doing what i love to do. rain stopped i'm out the door to make a dollar which lately seems to be my profit margin

  19. janeeliz 07/01/2013

    Jeff, you've done a great job meeting all your client's expressed needs/wants. You created a beautifully landscaped place in a very challenging area.. I'd like to be one of those kids at a soccer/pool party among that awesome setting!

  20. sheila_schultz 07/01/2013

    I appreciate the beauty you have brought to this design, Jeff. 4 boys, a huge space and lots of entertaining often = little time to dig in the dirt, even if you are so inclined. With all the action that probably happens in their lives, I think these folks have their priorities straight... spending time with the kids.
    Designing for clients with different needs is challenging, but for me, it's those differences that make me appreciate all the possibilities just waiting to happen. If all gardens and containers were the same, it sure would be boring. I love your attitude, Jeff!

  21. tractor1 07/01/2013

    tntreeman is correct, everyone's desires, needs, and capabilities are different.... obviously in this instance fulfilled needs are dictated by resources and topography. I don't think I need to elaborate on the fact that the property owner is very well heeled so resources is not a burdon. But also that property, even though I don't think it's very large acreage wise, presented many challenges even before the first planting was installed... tntreeman did an excellent job of landscaping in such a way as to as much as possible give it a natural look and at the same time minimize all the detailed maintenence typically required of supporting a natural appearance to a property that has been taken far from its original natural state. Many of those plantings I don't recognize as they are probably more likely found in a southern clime, but I'd be interested in knowing about those twin multi-trunked trees that seem to dominate.

    I'm a bit confused, but mostly surprised, by meander1's remark regarding that it would be the female member of the household who would eventually take the most active role in gardening... in my experience it's most typically the male who once they retire from their career who becomes much more involved in gardening than all other members of the family combined, to occupy all their newly found free time that's been suddenly thrust upon them, not everyone takes up golf... I don't think of gardening as gender specific at all... and in m any instances with older folks gardening ((and all else) becomes a team effort.

    I think people do what they are able.
    Good job, tntreeman!

    I've had several property types in my past, mostly those on the smaller size but fussy, and being a natural perfectionist I'd be out weeding with flashlight and tweezers... but now for retirement I prefer to keep gardening less demanding yet still well cared for... the secret is experience, good planning, and being realistic. Yesterday I was out with my chainsaw annialating two large dead trees that had fallen accross where I mow a forest path, was hot and buggy and I barely finished when a deluge sent me running for shelter. After cleaning myself up the sun appeared and the late afternoon view of my back yard made it all worth it:

  22. briandowns 07/01/2013

    And a final thought for tntreeman- I SO respect anyone who can do what you do- that is plan and successfully implement a garden/landscape design for anyone else. I have to literally LIVE somewhere to do a garden justice.I have people asking me for advice( haveing seen what I've done ), and realize the depth of knowledge one must have to garden for anyone else ( and being able to match up with their taste, wnats, needs etc. A licensed landscape designer has to know more than a medical doctor in my opinion. And your previous photos of your own garden and other clients' are, to my recollection, stunning and right up my proverbial alley.

  23. user-7006947 07/01/2013

    What gorgeous green! Oh, to live somewhere where there is adequate water and summer rainfall to keep everything so green. And a terrific kid friendly yard. Lots of space for soccer and footbal, room for the whole neighborhood to swim, and not tons of time spent pruning every winter. I live in the hot, dry Central Valley of California and cannot imagine having that much open space in grass. The little bit of lawn I do have is in buffalo grass--drought tolerant and I mow in maybe 3 times a year. I cover my "comparative" small backyard (5,000 square feet)with water wise trees, shrubs, perennials, ground covers and mulch. Something is always in bloom, but nowhere as much green.

  24. Happily_Gardening 07/01/2013

    Well I'll be darn, haven't received a "GPOD" wake up email for months, since the delivery problem time and goodness how funny I received today's. Well with that said it is great to see all the wonderful gardeners-people are still here...what a treat! I certainly do love all the green of the yard...soothing and the to roam. I know the children are thankful for the room so they can be just children. You've done an admirable job Jeff putting it all together and most importantly honoring your clients-bosses wishes.

  25. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/01/2013

    Oops, tractor1, looks like my inner narcissist escaped for all to see...I was just reflecting on my own journey to becoming gardening addicted. It was fully unleashed when my only child left for college and the nurturing instinct that had been directed on a daily basis to her got channeled into planting bushes, bulbs and flowers and seeing them grow and thrive. Didn't mean to diss the guys. Lots of the wonderful gardens shared here are created or co-created by men.

  26. user-1020932 07/01/2013

    tractor1 those twin trees are Crape Myrtle that we keep limbed up in tree form. the property is i think less than 5 acres but most of it is above the GIANT retaining walls to the top of the ridge,,, it's the wilderness and used by the boys and their friends, the view from up there is great. one can always see into Virginia and through Wadlow Gap toward Hiltons where the country music Carter Family hails from
    everyone else,,, those vase shape willowy shrubs are indeed Dapply Willow (nishiki something or other) and you're right about trimming them which i did just after the photos. you trim and run to get out of their way, i'm sure they are now wooly again.
    briandowns you're right as well, it's NOT easy to garden for someone else but all my clients are great and pretty much give me free rein, , once you know a family and their needs and likes it's not so difficult. we garden 32 properties and each one is different , my personal garden always is last on the list but i do try to keep it in shape. everyone feel free to come help :) i'll make the Beergaritas for AFTER the work is finished and for anyone nearby, 4 July it's open door here at home and you're all invited no work required

  27. user-1020932 07/01/2013

    grrrrrrr, dappled willow NOT dapply willows,,,,Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki'

  28. LauraAllen 07/01/2013

    Everything about these gardens is beautiful but I have to admit that my very first thought was "Oh, how I'd love to take my shoes off and walk through that luscious, green lawn!" Bare feet & grass the essence of summer!

  29. user-1020932 07/01/2013

    ok, i can die happy now,, , Jane Eliz likes my garden work! and we all know her garden so i'm flattered.
    LauraAllen there are LOTS of bare feet in that grass and you could stop by anytime and be welcome. This family is great and Gracie the yellow Lab is especially loving

  30. Jay_Sifford 07/02/2013

    Jeff, I think you've done an excellent job with regard to incorporating the homeowners' requirements and desires with your desire to provide them with something unique. I think, from personal experience, that the billowing cottage gardens go over better on this blog but people need to keep in mind that not everyone is a gardener, and that some folks want something more practical and more easily maintained. Some people even want (gasp).... a lawn, although personally I'm not generally a big fan. A truly good gardener/designer/psychologist can pull all of that together and make something the homeowners truly love. I'm pretty sure you've done that here, Jeff, and I take my hat off to you. Well done!

  31. user-1020932 07/02/2013

    thanks, Jay! and so true,,,,,,,not everyone is a gardener. if that were the case i would be OUT OF BUSINESS and if you have kids you need a lawn or else spend all your free time screaming for them to stay out of the beds. i have grassy areas, i hesitate to call them lawn areas because i do not now nor will i ever strive to have a golf course lawn. i do have weeds and clover and i'm happy to have them as they are green

  32. delancey 07/02/2013

    Treeman Jeff:
    Just admired the photos-- a beautiful job! I love beds full of colourful blooms, but due to health problems, can't garden as much as I'd like. I can see the wisdom of simplicity in one's yard, in fact, much to my shock, as I walked through mine yesterday, I actually understood the desire for more lawn and fewer garden beds! It was a shock because I've never before thought that way, and don't I like the idea, not even a little bit. For now, I'll continue adding shrubs that don't need pruning and sturdy perennials that won't take over, and hope it never comes down to more lawn...

  33. tiffyc 10/09/2013

    I love this garden. I'm just like Jeff's clients. I just moved into a new home (with very little landscaping) and just added my fourth child. This low maintenance kid friendly plan is just what I need.

    In the pool grouping with the arborvitae what are the 3 plants above the small retaining wall (in front of the play set)? Thanks so much for showing this beautiful space.

  34. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/18/2023

    Thanks Jeff for sharing the photos. Everything looks amazing!

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