Garden Photo of the Day

Brian’s garden in Maryland

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs

Today’s photos are from Brian Downs (hey, that sounds familiar–it’s briandowns!) in Elkton, Maryland. He says, “I moved into my current home in Elkton, Maryland, shortly after my wife died in 1999. The nominal acre of boring suburban lawn became a challenge for me to create a garden and dedicate it to my wife and to show my three children that life can go on.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs

“Armed with that perspective , a degree in botany, certificates of ornamental horticulture from Longwood Gardens, and a recent stint as a docent at Mt. Cuba Center, the project began and here I am on a rainy morning taking some photos to share on Mothers Day weekend. An acre-sized garden needs continuity and repeating themes, but in order to get one’s mental arms around it and alleviate boredom, it also needs so-called “garden rooms”. I use herbaceous perennials, flowering deciduous shrubs and trees, and conifers with some emphasis on natives.”

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs

What a wonderful tribute to your wife, Brian. Your garden is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Please send us summer photos, too!! There looks to be so much more to see.

**Brian wanted me to give a special shout-out to the University of Delware Botanic Gardens, where he volunteers. He’s a big fan, and you should visit next time you’re in the area! (Why have I not been there yet?? I’m down in that direction all the time!)**

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs

***OK, everyone, keep going! Dig out your cameras, take a big long walk around your garden, and SEND ME PHOTOS! I love having more than I could possibly process to choose from!***

***One more thing…..have you always wondered what your fellow GPODers are like in person? Never thought you’d get a chance to meet them? Check this out…. While the GPOD isn’t officially a taunton forum, it’s close enough, and I wanted to extend the invite. Anybody at all interested? I’d be willing to search for some gardens to tour…

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Brian Downs

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  1. PeonyFan 05/20/2013

    What beautiful contrasts of textures--thanks for sharing your garden.

  2. deeinde 05/20/2013

    Very nice tribute to your wife, Brian! The gardens are lovely.
    In picture number 2, what is the little white flowered ground cover? The flower reminds me of snow drops, but they are done now and the foliage is different. Also,on picture number 5, is that Camassia? If it is, I better give mine more space!
    I would love to see more pictures later!
    I will have to check out the UD Botanic gardens. All I have been to is the part in front of Townsend Hall. Can't wait to see the Native garden!

  3. briandowns 05/20/2013

    Hi Yardmom,
    The white-flowered groundcover you mentioned is Mazus reptans, a non-native that ironically I learned of at Mt. Cuba Center down at the ponds.
    And yes, good catch, that is Camassia in one of the images, which was given to me by a gardener at Longwood.Always a story! And DO get to the UDBG , out behind old Ag Hall ( Townsend Hall) where the perennial garden always rocks and walk the new-ish Lepidoptera Garden.

  4. flwrgirl2 05/20/2013

    Beautiful tribute..what's the name of the white blooming tree...some kind of cherry?

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 05/20/2013

    Brian, it's hard to believe that this was once a boring suburban yard. It's now a treasure trove of interesting pathways, plants and welcoming seating tableaux. Are my eyes deceiving me or have you also worked in a technique of designers to add depth to a view by strategically placing mirrors? It's all very lovely and must give you and your daughters great joy especially since it is an evolving tribute to your wife.

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 05/20/2013

    Beautiful, fresh, and very emotional. I'm all about rocks and that stone-epimedium combination is great!. Thanks for sharing.

  7. pattyspencer 05/20/2013

    Beautiful! My favorite is the very first picture - I love the contrast of the lime green chairs against the green grass highlighted by the white flowers of the tree.

    I had to view the pictures in Firefox - I still can't view the pics in my regular browser. When I click the pic it jumps me to the top of the page - not open a larger version of the pic. Tractor1 suggested I wait a few seconds to see if it would work but it didn't. Again this has only begun when those pop up advertisments started again

  8. GardenGrl1 05/20/2013

    Your garden looks so serene. I cannot imagine all of the hard work it took to get it from a blank canvas to the beautiful landscape you have created. I think my favorite piece is the large sitting stone. It stands out, it blends in...beautiful...Thank you for sharing!

  9. briandowns 05/20/2013

    Wow, the comments are so interesting, kind of like when people visit and see things with fresh eyes. I took the day off today to work in the garden, but I'd rather peruse these observations; the weeds can wait!
    The white blooming tree with the lime chairs is Halesia tetraptera- Carolina Silverbell- a real gem. Get one!I got mine at the U. of Delaware Botanic Gardens Amazing Spring Sale.

    Also, yes I've employed mirrors on the fence- just a whim I had last year and I acquire the mirrors mostly at yard sales.

  10. cwheat000 05/20/2013

    Lovely, Brian Downs. You have done so much to that once boring acre. Did you keep any lawn? Some of my favorites are the Carolina silverbell picture and the fern picture. Those ostrich ferns? are so architectural. I must find a shady nook for them in my yard.

  11. bonemealcharlie 05/20/2013

    I have had the absolute privilege of visiting this garden and with 70 some years of life experience I can tell you it is
    beyond exceptional. An equal privilege
    is having met Mr. Downs.

  12. LoveNatives 05/20/2013

    Hi Brian - this is your sister Janet. Congratulations on your garden being featured today! It just looks wonderful! OK here's my question - What is the plant with the purple blossom - the blossom reminds me of chives, the rest of the plant reminds me of a tulip. I walk past the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on my way to work each day, and these plants are in bloom in there landscaping there. Common name and Latin name please!

  13. tractor1 05/20/2013

    Brian's garden is quite a transformation from a typical surburban lot, it's lovely and looks like more than the acre... it's a wonderful tribute to his wife. I also like the first picture, it does show a lawn and I'm not sure about that tree but with its bell like blossoms I don't think it's cherry. Everything is so green, fantastic vernal photos! Thank you, Brian.

    As an aside, Peachie is finally doing better, last night she finally ate on her own (we've been force feeding her with a syringe), and she's out of isolation and is looking out her favorite window where she can talk to the birds on the electric wire. She's still on antibiotics and will be checked again in a few days. Her liver was failing so if she didn't start eating we'd have to put her down. She's still not out of the woods but we are now very hopeful. Thank you all for your support.

  14. hummergirl 05/20/2013

    I love all aspects of your garden Brian! What a great tribute to your late wife. So many little garden areas and walkways to enjoy! I love the rock, where I would sit and observe the wildlife activity that has to be going on around there! And those ferns are gorgeous!! I just had the priviledge of doing a couple of walks at Mt. Cuba, and can see some similarity with your gardens and walkways. Next I HAVE to check out the UD Botanical Gardens!! Thank you for sharing with us and reminding me to get to UD!!!

  15. briandowns 05/20/2013

    To Janet, the tall purple blossomed plant ( well, blue )behind the bird-bath, native to America's west, is Camassia leichtlinii,or Camass or Quamash, and can stand wet conditions ( as opposed to almost any other geophyte/bulb). A gardener at Longwood gave them to me.

    And yes that is Ostrich Fern- beautiful but aggressive where happy ( it you're happy and you know it clap your fronds...)

  16. mitchdowns 05/20/2013

    Brian's son here. I don't know anything about gardening, ironically, but what makes it so special and unique to me is the setting it's in. The house and garden are in a fairly new neighborhood, surrounded by acres of open green lawns and above ground swimming pools. It was done from scratch, by hand. Rocks were hauled in by a wheelbarrow from the end of the street, the boulders were dug up on site. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this is an acre of oasis in an otherwise very boring setting.

  17. LoveNatives 05/20/2013

    No Brian, I'm not talking about the Camassia. In the picture to the right of the green chairs picture are plants with puple blossoms in front of your blooming reddish azalea. What is that plant with the purple blooms in kind of a globe shape?

  18. cwheat000 05/21/2013

    Brian, thanks for the I.d. on the ferns. Love natives, I think the purple flowers you are trying to identify are allium, most likely Allium 'Purple Sensation'.

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  23. mirandadawn 05/30/2013

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  24. mirandadawn 05/30/2013

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  25. MJVfloraOhio 06/03/2013

    Wonderful compositions! Great to meet you at Ault Park's gardens. Just delightful-- made my day. Plant nerds are the very best. Up the bar!

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