Garden Photo of the Day

Before and After on Long Island

Transforming a neglected space

Today we’re visiting Ellenita Mattera’s garden on Long Island, New York.

Ellenita purchased her property five years ago and has completely transformed the space.

This is the “before” image. The space had clearly been completely neglected by the previous owner.

The “after” shot is pretty amazing! Ellenita added the deck to cover an old, broken concrete patio, and lush plantings all around have really transformed the space.

View from the deck, looking out into the garden. Yellow foliage is a repeated theme in the garden, helping to pull it together. A pair of yellow threadleaf cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’, Zones 4–8) flank both sides of a natural stone path she built after being inspired by an ad she saw in Fine Gardening.

Potted annuals and tropicals bring color to the deck.

orange plantsOn the deck, orange is a theme, from the orange chair, an orange zinnia (Zinnia × marylandica, annual), and an orange lantana (Lantana camara, Zones 8–11 or as annual) pruned up as a standard.

A beautiful monarch butterfly decided to come by and add yet another orange element to the deck! Lantana flowers are a favorite of many butterflies. Just be sure they haven’t been treated with an insecticide when you purchase them to ensure they are a safe landing zone for butterflies.

southern magnoliaA Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora, Zones 6–10). Native to the southeastern United States, this evergreen magnolia is a favorite garden plant the world over for its huge, fragrant flowers and glossy, evergreen foliage.

sweet potato vineA yellow-leaved sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas, annual or tender bulb) spills out of a container on the deck.

A dark-leaved Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) flanked by a yellow threadleaf cypress on one side and a hosta on the other, with colorful coleus in the front, creating a diversity of color and texture just from foliage with a note of pink from geraniums (Pelargonium hybrid, annual).


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. cynthia2020 08/10/2020

    Ellenita - I enjoyed seeing how you created your deck, stone path, and plant combinations. Your color combinations look happy and vibrant. The deck looks like a wonderful place to enjoy being outside and you must get some great views from the windows when you are in the house! Thank you for sharing!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/10/2020

    No email today.

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/10/2020

    Absolutely beautiful!

    1. Ellenita7 08/10/2020

      Thank you so much. With all of the craziness going on in the world, I needed to make extra nice since the deck and yard is where I’m spending Most of this Summer!

  4. Ellenita7 08/10/2020

    Thank you Cynthia for your kind thoughts. This is something I love to do and I’m so happy you enjoyed the photos. I love my Fine Gardening magazine and sent them some pictures not even knowing about the photos of the day!! With the help and inspiration from all of the beautiful gardens I’m seeing, I hope next year will be better. Will try to post again!

    1. cynthia2020 08/10/2020

      Re: With the help and inspiration from all of the beautiful gardens I’m seeing, I hope next year will be better. Will try to post again!

      That sounds great!

      Take care!

      By the way, my most favorite Fine Gardening article is:
      Some time-saving tactics can make your garden easier to care for
      By Sydney Eddison Fine Gardening - Issue 112

  5. Ellenita7 08/10/2020

    That is just what I need, time savers! Especially when I go back to work and am still trying to keep a garden going!! I just copied this info and will check it out later when I stop all the texting and emailing for today.
    Thank you for being so thoughtful Cynthia.
    If your garden has been posted online I would love to see it.
    Well, let’s enjoy our gardens while we have them. Winter comes too fast in my part of the country!
    Thanks again, Ellenita

    1. cynthia2020 08/11/2020

      I enjoyed our exchange yesterday - I used to be a librarian so sometimes I can't stop myself from providing reference material to people (without being asked). :-)

      The link to my Garden Photo of the Day:

      I moved to Raleigh, NC last year, though. And now grow mainly in containers. But have also lived in NY and NJ so can imagine some of your growing conditions.

      Re: let's enjoy our gardens


  6. User avater
    simplesue 08/11/2020

    Oh I almost missed this garden post- I seem to have stopped getting email's from Fine Gardening for some reason.
    So glad I went and found your garden photos- such a great make over!
    Love what you've done with that space- great garden!

  7. cheryl_c 09/08/2020

    I just now found this post - missed it last month, and it sounds like many others did as well! Ellenita, I love your transformation, and am so sorry that it didn't seem to go out as usual with the GPOD. Your improvements are almost incomprehensible - that it could be the same property. I know your neighbors are delighted. I especially love the hot colors you have on your new deck. Please send photos again soon.

  8. carolineyoungwilliams 01/06/2021

    Ellenita, Your garden is absolutely beautiful. I love your use of bright, rich colors. I especially love the deck and you've really inspired me to add more flowers and more color to our ours. Thank you so much for sharing.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest