Garden Photo of the Day

Creating a Secret Garden

Turning a new yard into a garden

Today’s photos come from Debby de Groot of Toronto, who is sharing some images of her “secret garden” tucked away in a secluded corner of her house. This is only her second year in the house, but the garden is already looking pretty great, because she’s wisely using exciting, established plants and carefully adding new plantings to bring in more color and interest.

As you come in from the east side of the house and open the gate, my secret garden is revealed as it slopes steeply down.


I am working with some ancient plants (such as this massive rose bush) and introducing new perennials and Japanese maples (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–8), with a dash of color from annuals, but I am trying to keep the garden as close as possible to the incredible nature beyond us.


Another view of the garden, showing how the planting is coming together.


I have also started floodscaping by introducing a dry stream bed to move the water down and away from the house to the pond area.


A long view of the dry stream bed


The pond is full of plants and ready to accept water from the dry stream bed. (Editor’s note: Floating on the pond surface are plants of water lettuce [Pistia stratiotes]. In a cold climate like Toronto’s, it’s a charming summer annual for ponds and will be killed by the first frost. However, it should not be used in tropical climates without freezing temperatures, as it can be very invasive.)


Finally, I can sit under the covered deck to plan and dream about next summer!


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/13/2018

    That's a lovely scene you have to look out on, Debbie, as you sit at your (enviably clean) table and think about future plantings. I'm assuming that the evergreens behind your pond were already in that location and they serve as a nice naturalizing backdrop for all your creativity. You've accomplished a lot in the short time you've been in your home...congrats.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/13/2018

    You have done an incredible job. I can see why you would like sitting out & enjoying the view.

  3. cheryl_c 09/13/2018

    Debbie, I'm so glad you included the last shot to pull the whole group together - I couldn't quite get the perspective until then. Nice job for taming a steep slope and the backs of so many buildings! You really have created a place that speaks of seclusion and peace. Great job!

  4. btucker9675 09/13/2018

    What a wonderful garden space!

  5. [email protected] 09/13/2018

    Very nice- really enjoyed seeing the results of such a short time- pretty impressive!

  6. ancientgardener 09/13/2018

    Absolutely lovely! I would probably not have been able to restrain myself and put in more color, but all the green with just touches of white is so serene and cool. I commend you.

  7. User avater
    grantwilson 04/01/2019

    Brigham Young University-Provo botanic garden uses its garden space wisely. Of course, there's a difference between a home garden and a college garden. More often than not, personal gardening expert is an ex-gardener from the botanic community.
    Pro expert about gardening tips for college botanic gardens.

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