Garden Photo of the Day

Barb’s trial-and-error garden in Michigan

Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Vanderhoof

Today’s photos are from Barbara Vanderhoof in Mears, Michigan. Barb says, “Mears is a little town in middle western Michigan about a mile from Lake Michigan, so I garden in a lot of sand amended with compost.

Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Vanderhoof

“Prior to moving here from the Chicago suburbs I had never gardened in my life, but now that I had a little property, I decided to try it! I’ve learned a lot through trial and error, but now I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’ll never say my garden is finished, because, as we all know, it never will be!

Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Vanderhoof

“I have only about 4-5 hours of sun a day, so I grow a lot of shade-lovers, such as ‘Annabelle’ ‘Limelight’, oakleaf, and ‘Invincibelle Pink’ hydrangeas. I also have a number of different hostas throughout my gardens.

Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Vanderhoof

“My yard is separated into sections. One of the pictures is of my side yard with a bubbler fountain and cement bench. There is also a picture of my newest addition, an old cast-iron bathtub that I made into a shower fountain. It even has some little goldfish swimming around in it! The other two pictures are of my bog garden, the pond was actually 2 separate ponds, with a wooden bridge over the center to make it look like one big pond.

Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Vanderhoof

“Last year, the smaller pond sprung a leak, so instead of digging it up and starting over, I filled it in with dirt and decided to grow all the plants I can’t grow elsewhere here, such as astilbe, some flag irises, and ligularia.

Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Vanderhoof

“The last picture I put in for my wonderful hubby, who doesn’t garden, but he does build me great decorative items, such as birdhouses and that beautiful barn wood shed!”

Wonderful, Barb, and you’re so lucky to have a handy husband to help you out! Thanks so much for sharing with us.

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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/23/2012

    Barb, looks like you have a very effective learning curve with your modest admission of being a "trial and error" gardener (ha, trust me, we all share that description). All your plant material looks like it's thriving and I love the sense of whimsy that abounds throughout. Your most recent project of the cast iron tub is a sure smile generator especially if little fish are swimming about. Your husband does great work and I know how important his contributions are.

  2. gloriagene 10/23/2012

    Absolutely delicious! I am so envious of your goldfish!!! Oh to relax under that shower! What a blessing to share your love of gardening with a very talented husband. It is obvious you both love and enjoy your property,gardens and each other!
    You are doing fabulous as a new gardener! Love the fact you can see them from the windows, I just know your planting bulbs and evergreens for winter interest and spring's arrival! Looking forward to next year's photos. As winter sets in and dream season arrives ah! a cup to tea and garden catalogs and books with snow on the ground,as the gardens and gardeners both rest.
    Thanks for sharing...

  3. Wife_Mother_Gardener 10/23/2012

    I love your pond planting! Thanks for sharing, Barbara!

  4. tractor1 10/23/2012

    Barbara, your garden looks very relaxed and low maintenence... weeds pop up just smother them with a bathtub! lol I really like that bathtub with a shower, great kitch. One thing I'd suggest to let more sun in is to remove a lot of those old spindly limbless conifers, they are also dangerous so near your house as they're shallow rooted and with all their resistance on top and growing is sandy soil they'd come down easily in a wind. I'd take down all of them and plant some shorter growing conifers and small understory trees, redbud forest pansy does very well in partial shade. Thank you for sharing.

  5. davsav 10/23/2012

    Love the little house in the woods with the bird house nearby.
    The plantings are so beautiful and natural.

  6. wittyone 10/23/2012

    I can see that a lot of work has gone into the making of your garden. I especially like the little shed with the quartet of birdhouses nearby. Hooray for accommodating husbands!

    I think Trial and Error is the only way to go----"Oh, that didn't work, well what can we put in its place that will thrive?" It keeps you interested and trying new things.

    Keep at it!

  7. PeonyFan 10/23/2012

    Barb, you have exactly the right approach to gardening! When the smaller pond sprung a leak, you looked at the upside and put in plants that like the moisture a leaky pond bed would provide. Smart thinking and less work!

  8. greengrowler 10/23/2012

    Barbara, we share the same "mostly shady" garden; you've done a fantastic job with plant selection. This year, I added one hydrangea 'Twist & Shout', which did OK they don't typically love our dry climate & alkaline soil. I've been wanting to try the oakleaf hydrangeas as I read they are more adaptable. Love anything lime (and of course purple! Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. bugiba 10/24/2012

    Hello my dear
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    back in my e-mail address [email protected] and I will give you my picture and further details thanks.

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