Garden Photo of the Day

Before and After in British Columbia

Gardening brings peace through difficult times

Today we’re visiting Kim Herman’s garden.

My husband and I live in Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada. Our area is one of extremes. We can have hot summers with drought, cool winters, and cold springs. It is hard to say what zone we are in, as the climate is getting more unpredictable, but to be safe I would say it is a Zone 3, but I do grow some Zone 5 plants. We bought our house in 2012. There was lawn, two badly planted sand cherries in a standard, a lilac, an awful false spirea hedge, and some self-seeded chokecherry trees in the front. We dug up the lawn and put in paths and beds.

The front early on.

front garden The front garden grown in and full of flowers.

View from inside the front garden.

What was an empty space is now filled with flowers.

tulips in bloomTulips bloom in abundance.

Planting lots and lots of tulips ensures an explosion of color in spring.

The backyard was another basic lawn and had four huge lombardy poplars and a terrible overgrown lilac hedge. A professional tree faller and crane were used for the poplars, and my husband, Michael, dug the lilacs out with hard manual labor.

The backyard before and after. Every year more lawn was removed and replaced with paths, veggie beds, fruit trees, shrubs, and flowers.

The lawn was transformed into a rich and beautiful garden.

The last four years have been years of crisis. Wildfires in 2017 caused the city to be evacuated. In 2018 the last of the lawn was removed, and it was the last of the major work by Michael. That year also came with water damage to our house and Michael’s diagnosis of a rare bone-marrow cancer. It was another year that gardening was put on the back burner while we managed an almost rebuild of the house and Michael’s rapid decline. This year brought Covid-19, and Michael has been facing complications that had him hospitalized for three months off and on. Through all the stress and tribulations, the garden continued to grow and bloom and bring peace and happiness not only to us but to the many who walk by and give their appreciation and compliments. In January, Michael was hospitalized. When given a poor prognosis, seeing the garden bloom was his goal. Now that the diagnosis has improved, the garden is giving him a bit of his old life back photographing the flowers, as he has many restrictions because of his compromised immunity and weakened body.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/11/2020

    Thank you that even through all the trials you & Michael have experienced, you continued to garden & shared it all with us. It is all so lovely.

  2. User avater
    user-7007816 06/11/2020

    What a remarkable story and a beautiful garden. Hope Michael's health keeps improving.

  3. user-7525974 06/11/2020

    What a traumatic year you had in 2018. I cannot imagine the stress, and it is good that the garden is an inspiration to Michael. I particularly love the large island bed in the back yard. May you both make it through the rest of this year with only GOOD news and good health.

  4. sagebird52 06/11/2020

    What a gorgeous transformation!! Wonderful. I am so sorry to her of Michael's illness - I hope he feels better and is able to enjoy your lovely space of beauty

  5. cheryl_c 06/11/2020

    You and Michael have brought health and beauty to the corner of earth that is under your stewardship. I pray that health and beauty will continue to grow and be a blessing to you both and to all who see these pictures or are your neighbors. Thank you so much for sharing such an inspiring story.

  6. User avater
    bdowen 06/11/2020

    I love your photos! The contrast of before and after is so striking. I’m sure your neighbors appreciate the changes, maybe are inspired by the view. Then the rest of your story...I think we all are restored by our gardens but how helpful that you and Michael have your garden looking so beautiful right now. Wishing you both good health and many years to enjoy your beautiful garden.

  7. btucker9675 06/11/2020

    What an incredible transformation you and Michael have made - just lovely! I pray that Michael's body will continue to heal and he will have many more years in the garden. I believe that the blood, sweat and (sometimes) tears we put into our gardens strengthen us physically, emotionally and physically.

  8. wittyone 06/11/2020

    Well bless your heart what a combination of difficulties to surmount. But all your work on your landscaping shows that both you and Michael have lots of determination and persistence to deal with whatever problems stand in you way.

    Prayers for Michael's continued improvement and good days ahead for you both.

  9. schatzi 06/11/2020

    What a collosal job you both have done! Thanks for the before and after photos. They really show the scope of the work done. Beautiful garden. Best wishes for Michael's continued recovery and good health to you both.

  10. [email protected] 06/11/2020

    Wish I could give you both hugs- Can't imagine the stress and worry and fear you have been living with for such a long time. Gardeners are fortunate to have such an outlet that gives us some calm and restoration. You have achieved so much in your lovely environment, while enduring extraordinary challenges, and thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Sunshine111 06/11/2020

    What a lovely and beautiful transformation. Wishing you both good will, happiness and peace❤️❤️❤️

  12. User avater
    simplesue 06/11/2020

    Every garden has a story, and your story was so touching...sure glad your husband and you are able to enjoy the healing effects of your garden. So nice seeing the before and after photos of such a great accomplishment and beautiful transformation.

  13. madcosta_7 07/15/2020

    Your garden is beautiful and reflects all the hard work that went into it. That garden in the back is beautiful. We pray that Michael does well so he can continue to show off his talent. Thank you for sharing.

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