Garden Photo of the Day

David’s garden in North Carolina, Day 2

Malus ‘Red Jade’ (contorted crabapple), Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Mary Fleming’ (dwarf Japanese plum-yew), Serissa japonica ‘Sapporo’ (Japanese snow rose), Acer palmatum ‘Shaina’, Acer palmatum ‘Beni komachi’, far right past the standing stone in the foreground is Ulmus parviflora ‘Seiju’

Welcome to day 2 of David Sabio’s garden–David (NC Yarden) sent in so many great photos that I couldn’t bear to whittle them down to one day’s worth, so you’re getting all 39 of them over the span of 3 days! In case you missed it, here’s what he said yesterday:

Astilbes, gardenia, spider azalea, Sasanqua camellias

“As much as I enjoy seeing all the gardens with all the delightful variations that everyone creates, I suppose it’s time I should share my garden as well. And with Fall approaching, the garden is yet again about to undergo some big changes.

Dogwood ‘Suwanee Squat’, Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Texas Scarlett’ (flowering quince-hot coral), Michelia figo (Banana shrub), Acer palmatum ‘Green Mist’, Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘White Giant’ (calla lily), Clematis ‘Henryi’, in the very back on the corner of the house is Acer palmatum ‘Kot no ito’

My wife and I bought our 1-acre home in 2001 in a little neighborhood just outside Raleigh, North Carolina. The front was all grass and the back was awesomely wooded, but a complete mess, almost impossible to walk through. We started by cleaning out the wooded area some (still ongoing) to make paths, and soon began to try a little gardening. Wow, did we kill some plants. But we loved it and we got better.

‘Keiko’ (Adored) Itoh peony, Pinus strobus ‘Blue Shag’, Chionanthus virginicus ‘Spring Fleecing’ (fringe tree), Cryptomeria japonica ‘Tansu’

Attention then turned to the front. I am not a big fan of grass. It is so expensive and so demanding, and really quite boring, especially when you consider all the other wonderful and beautiful plants. It has its place, but it only needs to be a small place. I planted my first Japanese maple in the front yard, and little by little we began to remove more of the grass in favor of beds and much more interesting plants.

Unfortunately, tags went missing from the vendor on this Japanese maple but we think it’s Acer palmatum ‘Crimson Queen’, Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) in the back, Rosa ‘RADrazz’ (Knockout shrub rose), Rosa ‘Meipomolo’  (Tequila rose), Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans Nana’, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Crippsii’, Thuja occidentalis ‘Pendula’ (weeping American arborvitae)

Plan? Uumm…yeah, I planned to put a bunch of awesome plants on our property! I consider myself a bit of a rogue gardener. I don’t follow many design rules or plan too terribly much other than what my wife and I find attractive, and certainly what Mother Nature says will or will not grow, despite what the tag on a plant says. I have transplanted so many plants for various reasons you’d think I enjoyed it as some esoteric botanical ritual. But it is a living work of art and therefore always changing.  And so, before long we realized the yard was definitely more of a garden, and thus The Yarden was born.

Amaryllis, Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans Nana’, Acer palmatum ‘Shaina’

The Japanese maples are my favorites, as they are the darlings of the garden. There are currently eighty distinct cultivars throughout. But I am pretty kooky for clematis and dahlias too. It’s the astilbes that charm my wife. But we really just love plants. Variety is paramount. And rocks… well, that could be a whole other monograph, with several funny anecdotes to boot. But there are plenty scattered around, most of which we collected ourselves, even as far away as Pennsylvania.

Clematis Hybrid Red, Juniperus chinensis ‘Daub’s Frosted’, Allium schubertii, Pseudolarix amibilis ‘Golden Larch’, Acer palmatum ‘Seiun kaku’

Over the years, the garden has truly become a 365 display, as there is always something performing, which makes each daily stroll always unique, and a pleasant reminder of what all our hard work has provided us.”

Clematis ‘Versicolor’ – this was new to the garden this year and has been one of the most impressive clematis vines I have ever grown as it bloomed from spring all the way through summer (still has a few blooms in fact), and was quite vigorous–so much so that I wound it around the nearby Chamaecyparis obstusa ‘Gracilis’ (Hinoki false cypress) and it was like a decorated summer Christmas tree

David, you have such a nice mix of shrubs and trees, and bodacious blooms. Gardeners are so often obsessed with one more than the other. It’s all wonderful! *** We’ll wrap up our tour of David’s garden tomorrow, when he’ll show us just how much he loves his plants….. ***

Addison’s clematis beneath Acer palmatum ‘Villa Taranto’, Aster ageratoides ‘Ezo Murasaki’, Sempervivum ‘Carmen’
One my favorite new plants in the garden is Lychnis coronata ‘Orange Sherbet’, next to Acer palmatum ‘Aratama’ 
‘Crème de Cassis’ dahlia
Acer palmatum ‘Rhode Island Red’, Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’, Heucherella ‘Solar Eclipse’,Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’

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View Comments


  1. perenniallycrazy 09/24/2014

    Totally mesmerized David! Can't wait till tomorrow. This is like watching my favorite TV show.

    I'm making a list of all your trees and shrubs especially the Japanese maples. I really wish I had more real estate for them. Dreaming on.

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Hi P Crazy. Don't change the channel! I hope something from the list makes it into your garden. There's room in there, I'm sure. Thanks again.

      1. perenniallycrazy 09/25/2014

        More containers! Actually, been planting up friends' gardens these days, but unfortunately, they do not appreciate the same type of plants that we do. Need to work on infecting them more...

  2. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/24/2014

    Really an amazing collector's garden. It's all very well integrated. Your standing stone is superb. I can't believe you are able to keep track of all of those names!

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Good morning, Tim. Yes, I'm very guilty of the collector moniker. As for the names, with my academic Latin background, I'm pretty good with housing them in my head (at least for a little while longer), but the real credit goes to Christine. She is very meticulous about keeping track of the garden, certainly as best as she can. She keeps a spreadsheet of the "inventory," location in the garden, even a tab for the R.I.P.'s. As back up, plant tags are alphabetized on loose-leaf rings. And the few that get mixed up or somehow lost in the shuffle drive her crazy. But the log is impressively comprehensive. She is a champ, both in the physical garden and with the digital garden. We try to make signs for a lot of the plants, but have yet to find a full proof weather resistant answer. We are trying a new ink pen that was suggested to us, as most of the signs we made early in the season have pretty much faded already.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/24/2014

        I will admit to having an idiot-savant talent for latin names of plants in the garden, although sometimes it is more idiot than savant. "I knew the full name of that yesterday......." I've taken to snapping a picture of newly planted specimens and then their name tag, but never seem to have the time to organize those photos. My hat is off to Christine! You guys are a dynamic duo! I am a little too controlling (OK, A LOT) for my wife to find any joy in gardening. She enjoys the garden itself and expresses her opinions and I am trying to be accommodating!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/24/2014

    Sigh, David, I lingered for a bit over the Keiko Itoh tree was such a treat to see all those sturdy stems holding up so many blossom heads and big fat buds. I got one last year and had to be satisfied with just one a teaser for what I hope is to come! Your picture is one I am filing away in my head for spring dreams.
    Ha, and speaking of "filing" answered for Tim a question I was wanting to ask...what the heck is your system for keeping track of the names of everything? I humbly confess that it sounds much more organized and searchable than my approach which is to stick tags in a Zip-Lock plastic freezer bag marked by year. They sit on a shelf in my garage. Maybe I will be inspired and motivated by your description of Christine's system...and make it my winter project...emphasis on the "maybe".

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Hi meander1. The Keiko looks pretty hurt at this point between the heavy rain and Summer's last hurrah for about week in early Sept., I hope it comes back even stronger, but I can tell it's tired. Luckily Fall has set in pretty good this week. Yeah, the organizational aspect is not my thing, but Christine loves it despite the occasional frustration. In addition, she also tries to mark the year, like yourself, and even where we got the plant, and also wants that information on the signs when we make them. Maddening to me, but I do help, so I'll have something to do this winter as well...maybe. Ha.

  4. greengenes 09/24/2014

    Its all truly a labor of love! Simply beautiful and it all flows very nice! It makes me want to go out this morning and play around in the dirt! That big standing rock is very impressive and I want it! ha ha. Your knowledge of all the names blows me away and that is wonderful that Christine files like she does! I just through mine in a couple of big ziplock bags and try to remember the names,[exercising my brain]. Yah right...The "versicolor" clematis is nice, too. Did you know that there is one like that in a bluish purple and is very prolific on the blooms? Its called, "ragochi". It has done so well. The white rock pathway next to the house is nice with the henryi clematis. Ive looked at the different colored rocks at quarries and I wondered how to use the colors. Its amazing how these pictures show so much and you have only one acre! Oh I could keep going on and on... Thanks so much for encouraging all of us! Have a wonderful fall!

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Good morning, greengenes. I like to think banging those names around my head is keeping my brain sharp too, but alas it seems maybe the shovel and pruners are sharper these days and I'm thankful for Christine's insistence on the catalog.
      And guess what? we just picked up and planted 'Rooguchi' this past weekend. I received your "signal" on Saturday apparently...haha, thanks. We have it opposite from 'Versicolor' over the little step through path and hope it snakes its way up around the Daub's frosted junipers and into the golden larch and contorted white pine. Fingers crossed. Maybe a colorful update next season.

  5. terieLR 09/24/2014

    David & Christine = the definition of fine gardening! OH that daliah. Stunning photography and wonderous yarden.

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Hi Terie, I really appreciate that compliment.
      I'm such a big sucker for the dahlia blooms, despite its maddening inability to support itself...uuugh. Some odd evolutionary trait there. And yet I will make sure they get all the support they need - over and over again.
      And in response to yesterday, you did see a handsome little kitty. He has truly been the cat who has enjoyed the garden the most. He has also been a great mouser, especially against the voles, our most hated garden nemesis and a huge problem for us. He is an old man now, and we will miss this function for sure. But he won't be forgotten, as you may have noticed a couple of the inscribed stones. Each cat is memorialized in the garden.

  6. user-5829577 09/24/2014

    I can't wait for the 'Grand Finale' tomorrow. Your photography is spectacular. Your gift of placing plants for texture and color - one color showing off another is a "WOW". I wrote down plant names (thank you for providing them) to check on zones for next year and thank you for giving us inspiration to change up a few areas. I've so enjoyed your photos. I agree with Terie Rawn that you exemplify the definition of fine gardening.

    1. NCYarden 09/26/2014

      Hi EJRebman, I'm pleased to know we have provided some inspiration, and information, for you to continue modifying your garden. May all our efforts be rewarded with healthy plants and peaceful retreats. Thanks.

  7. wittyone 09/24/2014

    Oh I love Christine's system especially the RIP tab. If I had ever tried (in even a limited way) to keep track, my RIP's tab would be full and running over!

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Hi vwitte. Yes, the size of our R.I.P. section saddens me, but it was definitely a neat addition on Christine's part. Sort of a memorial, I suppose.

  8. user-2077552 09/24/2014

    To all you fellow GPODers, what is the best method for lasting plant ID. I've written on wood tongue depressors, cut up window blinds and plastic knives with Sharpie markers, as well as using the special marking pens bought with my metal Everlast plant labels. Nothing lasts much more than one season. I've lost identification of so many plants. Help!

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      I hope you get a solid solution so I can use it too. Wouldn't that be a pleasant surprise to present to Christine?

  9. zabhaway 09/24/2014

    splendid ....

  10. thevioletfern 09/24/2014

    Another "wowing" tour - I just love all the curves and stone incorporated into your garden. It truly is amazing. So many intricate textures and companions. I'm so inspired - I am going to work out in my garden all day!

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Hello Kathy. I really dislike straight lines. Curves just seem more organic like everything else in those beds. I can appreciate very formal gardens, but it's not my personal style. Maybe from growing up playing in the woods and creek beds where I rarely ever saw a straight line. Definitely have fun in the dirt today.

  11. keithwadams 09/24/2014

    The sedum Angelina has become a favorite of mine to fill in areas. It's so bright and looks great against darker plants....

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Hi Keith. It is quite a little hero of a sedum in the garden.

  12. GrannyMay 09/24/2014

    Another happy morning wandering through your beautiful garden! I can see your separate interests coming together into a wonderful and lasting horticultural showplace. Thank you David and Christine for sharing it with us on GPOD! I hope you will share it with your community as well.

    I have tried various methods of keeping track of my plants. I started with a general spreadsheet of the whole place, giving individual flowerbeds a name, to help locate the plants within it. I gave that up, as so many plants died or were moved that it became too time consuming to keep it updated. I now only have separate binders for plants I have concentrated on - roses, rhododendrons, and a few others. Thanks to digital cameras, now I take pictures instead. When I buy a plant, I take pictures of both sides of the label and the plant itself. When I plant it or move it, I take pictures of it in its location, or of its demise. I do give each photo the appropriate filename so I can do searches by name - e.g. Planted Acer palmatum 'Rhode Island Red' SW lower flowerbed. I bury the original plant tag beside the plant and also try making my own. Some tags made with copper that you press writing into are still OK, others using various inks tend to fade over time.

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Hello GrannyMay. I like your method. I have always wanted to piggy back on Christine's system by doing much of what you are saying, by taking a photo, and placing it in a document with pertinent info, and archiving it in a digital catalog.
      I really want to, but I always end up outside in the dirt instead. Even the photos of the garden we do take (and it's lots it seems), it's Christine who likes to go through and name them so it's not just some dsc#.

      1. GrannyMay 09/24/2014

        David I take so many photos that I learned to place all of them them into monthly subfolders within yearly folders as I put them on the computer. That way I have a fighting chance of finding a specific photo, even if I haven't given it a meaningful name. My memory has always been terrible, so I've had to try to compensate with aids :). Meaningful names are the most work, but easiest to search on later. I don't separate out the garden photos from the rest, all go into the same folders.

    2. Meelianthus 09/24/2014

      GrannyMay ~ I finally figured out, after losing so many plant names thru fading that if you paint over them with clear nail polish they are good 'til the end of time. ^_^

      1. GrannyMay 09/24/2014

        Thanks Meelianthus, I'll certainly give that a try.

  13. sheila_schultz 09/24/2014

    David, I just had the chance to view yesterday's photos and conversations. Your gardens are so beautiful and there is no doubt they are the work of an artist. The thoughtful details, color and textural combinations, the perfectly placed rocks... I could go on and on. I'm blown away and can't wait for tomorrow!

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Hello sheila, Christine and I certainly view the garden as a living canvas. We really work well together to get what is usually a pleasant result. When it comes to the rocks, I'm not sure which is more fun - finding and collecting them or placing them.

      1. sheila_schultz 09/24/2014

        Placing rocks/boulders is an art form I have discovered. A friend of mine happens to be a 'rock whisperer' and her placements are perfection. I definitely don't have that eye, I just know when they don't look 'right'. Case in point... our tiny waterfall started losing water and we realized it was caused by some of the rocks being readjusted by the big feet of our German Shepherd. When we removed the rocks to make sure the liner was intact, we were very careful to place them in such a way that it would be obvious where they belonged. NOT! Many hours later our tiny waterfall was back together... kind of ;(

  14. schatzi 09/24/2014

    OMG!! All this on one acre? and there's still tomorrow to look forward to? I am totally awed by your gorgeous yarden. I will enjoy visiting and revisiting these pictures and wish I could see it in person.
    You and Christine really should consider a community garden tour. It is just amazing how much you have packed into that acre without it looking at all crowded. Gorgeous colors and textures. I love everything about it. As for record keeping (not my strong point), a digital camera and a husband adept with the photo software helps me tremendously. If I had kept a record of all the plants I have killed, it would be an impressive list. But it does allow us to try something else, doesn't it. To garden is to hope.
    And it's cheaper than therapy...or not. But much more fun.

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Hi shirleygraves. You are so right, to garden is to hope, especially when it's a new plant that I really really hope makes it or a perennial that I hope comes back after it's first season. Ha. And therapy it is. Clears the head and keeps the body moving. Cheaper? hmm...ultimately yes. Definitely more fun, and we have become "experts" at buying off season (I know what the plant can look like), or rescuing distressed plants at garden centers, we're getting a little better at propagation, and in some cases we have participated in plant rescues where a developer allows us to come in a dig plants before the area is bulldozed. This has been particularly good for obtaining natives. Usually the greatest expense it just time, but the reward is tremendous. I wish you could see it in person too. I'm sure like many others, I never really feel the photos capture it as our eyes do. But thankfully we do have photos.

  15. imlawoman 09/24/2014

    Day 2 didn't disappoint. Thank you.

  16. Nurserynotnordstroms 09/24/2014

    Ok,so I finally got a chance to sneak a peak at your photos(at work so I must be quick)another big WOW I certainly have two wishes this morning a larger garden space and a brain that could remember all of the names of all of my plants, Ha I have CRS to bad for me (can't remember shit)thank you for all of the pictures, you two are a great team and I have again enjoyed the morning tour. I have a new list of plants I must have after seeing some of yours have a happy day you two see you tomorrow.

    1. NCYarden 09/25/2014

      Man, Nurserynotnordstrom, you are witty with the words and acronyms. CRS seems to be creeping on me too, which again is why I am glad Christine does such a superb job with the plant inventory. I'm really glad you have enjoyed the garden pics. I will interested to know which new plants make it into your own garden.

  17. Meelianthus 09/24/2014

    Hello again David & Christine ~ I just spent day 2 wandering through your botanical wonderland. What a beautiful and inspirational trip. Do you spend every day out in your gardens - I mean how could you possibly leave to go to work?! Not only are the plantings so healthy and robust looking, the arrangements of all are really stunning. I really love the 'Clematis Hybrid Red', is it a shorter clematis? and all of the trees are just beautiful.
    Your photographs are amazing too. Thanks for this day in your yarden.

    1. NCYarden 09/24/2014

      Good afternoon Meelianthus. Believe me it is hard to go to work. We so often fantasize about "just think what we could do if we could stay home all day and work in the garden." Hopefully one day. But I do usually get out to at least stroll, which usually leads to some little garden chore or modification - at least a plan to do something later. As I am a night owl, I've even begun to do little night tours sometimes, awesome under a bright moon, but even a flashlight occasionally. The garden takes on a very different appeal.
      The hybrid red seems to climb to about 36 to 48 inches (we have it on a small trellis but it doesn't seem to really grab one of the bushes or trees near it and go much further), and when fully open, the blooms are about 4 to 6 in. Thank you so much for the compliments.

  18. user-6807720 09/24/2014

    I love the curvy masonry bench! did you buy it or make it or have it made for you?

    1. NCYarden 09/25/2014

      Hi Rob,
      This was a purchase. Whenever I am up in Harrisburg, PA (where Christine is from) I always stop by Jim Doyle's place, Nature's Way nursery. If you are not familiar with him, he is a renowned bonsai artist, and he also specializes in Japanese gardening. He has some really unique things at his nursery and this bench was one of them. We had to have it. I just need to straighten again after all the rain we have had this season. Thanks for noticing. It is a really nice bench - all polished granite, and as you can imagine, very heavy.

      1. user-6807720 09/25/2014

        Hi David,

        Thanks for the info. I took a look at Jim's website--what a great place! I'll have to convince Michelle that we should stop at Nature's Way the next time we're down that way.

  19. schatzi 09/25/2014

    yes,plant rescues are fun, aren't they. I have done native plant rescues, and once a field that had belonged to a day lily breeder, which was going to be turned in to a parking lot. We carted off all we could carry for our master gardener plant sale. One I kept was a double orange that multiplied nicely so it could be shared. It's always better to be there in person, but your photos are wonderful. A very joyful and peaceful garden. I don't "do" formal either - curved lines, natural growth patterns, and minimal pruning. Plants are not meant to be square or spherical or flat-topped. Yours are obviously natural and happy. Thank you so much for sharing.

  20. NCYarden 09/25/2014

    Thank you all, and to those who complimented the photography, I really appreciate it. I am certainly no photographer (I am an illustrator, in fact), but if Christine's meticulous plant inventory and signs drive me crazy at times, it's me and the camera that sometimes drive her just as mad. Even with the point and shoot, I like to play with the settings. I so badly want it to look how my eyes see it; and all my adjustments can really test her patience sometimes. Ha! So we're even, because despite the process, we both love the results of each others' idiosyncrasies. So again thanks for noticing the "good" pictures. I really try to capture a vibrant perspective and hope it was projected here.

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