Garden Photo of the Day

Artful Gardening

Rare plants and great design come together


Elissa Steves of Blacksburg, Virginia, has an unusual and very beautiful garden. Typically, gardeners either focus on collecting the most rare and exotic of plants, OR they focus on arranging plants into beautiful designs and patterns, but rarely do the two go together. Elissa is one of the exceptions, growing all sorts of exotic, unusual plants, creating great designs with those plants, and highlighting them all with an eclectic collection of garden art to create an artful space.

By the driveway, a set of containers show off in the same colors—the pots and the plants in them are all shades of brown, orange, and terra cotta. For contrast, the pots are surrounded by yellow and green plants. The result is a sophisticated and eye-catching color scheme. View our suggestions for container TLC.

Elissa is not afraid to take risks in the garden. Here a rich tapestry of green and yellow foliage is set off by a very unusual piece of garden sculpture—a tree that died and has been painted a bright blue.

A dramatic container full of succulents stands against a backdrop of ‘Carolina Sweetheart’ redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Carolina Sweetheart’, Zones 6–9).

A river of Allium christophii (stars of Persia, Zones 5–8) running through the garden.

Different parts of the garden have strong color schemes. Here, red comes from the arbor and painted furniture, accented by bright gold foliage from a yellow-leaf jasmine (Jasminum officinale ‘Fiona Sunrise’, Zones 7–9). Learn how to create beautiful garden passageways.


A view down one of the garden paths, inviting the visitor to explore what beauties hide behind the next bend.



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View Comments


  1. Maggieat11 06/06/2018

    A very enjoyable post! I'd LOVE to see more!

  2. User avater
    user-7007816 06/06/2018

    Elissa, What an interesting an beautiful set of gardens. I love the bold use of color, texture, and architecture. I would also like to see more!

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/06/2018


  4. Vezpasia 06/06/2018

    Lovely, what a labor of love. I particularly like the red archway area and the path down the garden!

  5. Cenepk10 06/06/2018

    Man o man—- I need to open this up on the Mac ! Outstanding ! I want to see the house too ! Spectacular

  6. cheryl_c 06/06/2018

    Wow, what an eye-popping start to the day! I love the idea of painting a dead tree a bright color and incorporating it into the landscaping! Is the yellow trunked tree behind the blue vases also painted? If not, what type of tree is it? I, too, hope we might see more views of your artistry in the future. Very exciting post!

  7. user-7017435 06/06/2018

    Good afternoon. Yours is such a peaceful & soothing garden Tranquility would be a suitable name for it if you were so inclined. I believe the woven path leading to the bench is unique & compliments your garden perfectly. Good luck , Joe

  8. btucker9675 06/06/2018

    What a lovely garden and I love the idea of painting the "dead" tree, turning it into a garden sculpture. So creative! Would love to see more.

  9. [email protected] 06/07/2018

    Really wonderful. I have a hard time keeping all of my container plants watered. Do you have a secret! And I love the allium "river".

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