Garden Photo of the Day

Bill’s Massachusetts Garden

June in the front garden

purple salvia with green lady's mantel

My name is Bill Hodgeman, and I’ve been gardening on my property in Sunderland, Massachusetts, since 2015.

My neighborhood was a swamp for thousands of years, then before it was developed, a lot of clay was brought in from Connecticut. So the ground is very nutritious, somewhat poorly draining, and difficult during periods of drought. I have brought in a lot of composted manure to make the soil more pliable. As a result, things grow very well—often quite a bit larger than advertised! But I love gardening here.

In June, I try to work with a restrained color palette. The front of my sunny borders is dominated by May Night salvia (Salvia nemorosa ‘Mainacht’, Zones 4–9 ), ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta × faassenii, Zones 4–9) and lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis, Zones 3–8) this time of year. Peonies (Paeonia hybrids, Zones 3–8), poppies (Papaver orientale, Zones 3–7), bluestar (Amsonia, Zones 5–8), and baptisia (Baptisia, Zones 3–9) provide repeating, contrasting elements. The effect is quite lush! You’ll notice ‘Diabolo’ ninebarks (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’, Zones 3–7) and Ogon spireas (Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogon’, Zones 4–8) in some of the pictures as well.

big masses of Nepeta in a large gardenThe color from the big masses of purple ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint is echoed by the darker purple May Night salvia and contrasts with the brilliant orange poppies.

White oriental poppies with dark centersWhite Oriental poppies with contrasting dark centers.

bird house surrounded by flowersBlue baptisia and bluestar in the foreground, with the dark leaves of ‘Diabolo’ ninebark in the back.

Detail of a peony blossom openingDetail of a peony blossom opening.

yellow peonies with green and red plantsA yellow peony (looks like the variety ‘Bartzella’) with the soft yellow-green flowers of lady’s mantle.

purple salvia with green lady's mantelSpires of May Night salvia in a sea of lady’s mantle.

bright foliage with dark foliageOgon spirea has bright yellow-green foliage. Here it contrasts with the dark foliage of ‘Diabolo’ behind it.

Ogon spirea next to flowersAnother mass of Ogon spirea sets off the plants around it.


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View Comments


  1. runfortheroses 06/17/2021

    Great stuff, Bill! Awesome greens. Love the chartreuse element. The lady’s mantle works so well. Looks like it helps to bring everything together

  2. Rebeccazone7 06/17/2021

    I really love the yellow peony...It's one of those things that are supposed to be easy and I have a difficult time with. I'm envious of the space you have to create mass plantings. The contrasts are so well thought out.

  3. Jay_Sifford 06/17/2021

    It looks like a fun garden to spend time in. Great work!

  4. gardendevas 06/17/2021

    Gorgeous combos! Love the lush colors and textures. Part of my garden is also in a former swamp, so it is always interesting to see what others do in these conditions.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/17/2021

    To those who are interested, Bill was featured in 2019 also.

    1. User avater
      simplesue 06/17/2021

      Thanks for that info "Treasuresmom"

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/17/2021

    Love how the spirea works so well with the other plants/colors.

  7. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 06/17/2021

    Great garden Bill, congrats! Thanks for sharing!

  8. btucker9675 06/17/2021

    Gorgeous garden - your hard work amending the soil has obviously been well worth it! Love the purples with the orange/red of the poppies.

  9. User avater
    simplesue 06/17/2021

    I really appreciate your "restrained color palette for June"- dominantly lavenders and blues with only accents of contrasting yellow and orange, just enough so one's eyes are dazzled by the contrast...and also your attention to foliage color really works beautifully!
    You're garden is like art, like a painting- the way you planned your beautiful colors and compositions.
    Super beautiful!

  10. darylsavage 06/17/2021

    Lovely. I share many of those plants. Thank you for sharing.

  11. blondie3 06/17/2021

    Beautiful, I adore poppies, don’t know why? Love the purple, I just planted 3purple salvia, I hope they display like yours…thank you for sharing

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