Garden Photo of the Day

Early Summer in Virginia

Roses and other favorite flowers

Hi GPODers! This is Joseph, your GPOD editor, and today I’m going to share a little bit of what is going on in my garden in Williamsburg, Virginia.

sweet peas in a vaseFirst up, some sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus, annual)! I’ve been getting better at growing sweet peas since I learned that in Zone 7, where I garden now, they do best when I plant the seeds in the fall. The plants germinate in the fall, overwinter as small plants, and burst into vigorous growth as soon as spring arrives. Then they bloom their heads off until the real heat of summer sets in. In colder climates, they’re best started in the early spring. However you grow them, they’re incredible cut flowers with an iconically strong, sweet fragrance.

Oakleaf hydrangeasOakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, Zones 5–9). This lovely shrub is native to the southeastern United States with beautiful flowers and foliage.

Ceanothus ‘Gloire de Versailles’Ceanothus ‘Gloire de Versailles’ (Zones 5–9). Ceanothus goes by the common name of California lilac, because many of these blue-flowered shrubs are native to the west coast of North America. Unfortunately, most of them are not very cold hardy and need very dry conditions during the summer. This variety is a hybrid between one of those beautiful but fussy species and a much hardier white-flowered species native to eastern North America. The result is a very easy-to-grow, hardy shrub with big clouds of powder-blue blooms. The plant is a bit floppy, but I’m hoping if I do some careful pruning I can get it to stand up better.

Daphne cneorum x arbusculaDaphne cneorum × arbuscula (Zones 5–7). Alpine daphnes are compact little shrublets. When I moved from Michigan to Virginia, everyone told me they wouldn’t thrive in my new climate. Many of them haven’t, but this little gem has been great. This is its second time blooming this year, and it’ll put out a few more flushes through the rest of the summer and fall too.

Aloe aristataThis is a hardy aloe—Aloe aristata. I have heard that it can be hardy in places as cold as Zone 5 provided it has perfect drainage through the winter. I’m in Zone 7, but it is a wet, rainy Zone 7, so I wasn’t sure it would make it for me. But going into its third year, this plant look great and is even flowering!

pink old-fashioned roseI love roses, especially old-fashioned fragrant roses, and this plant I bought under the name ‘Erinnerung an Brod’ checks all the boxes. Unfortunately, ‘Erinnerung an Brod’ is supposed to be a much darker color. I’m not sure what this rose really is, but I do love it!

Speaking of roses—this English rose ‘Golden Celebration’ isn’t from my garden, but one I saw on a visit to Norfolk Botanical Garden. Incredibly beautiful, and fragrant to boot, it’s going on my shopping list for sure.


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View Comments


  1. mgol1068 06/19/2020

    Just lovely. Probably too far north for me to try a Ceanothus ‘Gloire de Versailles’ in the DC area?

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/19/2020

    I had no idea there was such a thing as an aloe that could be considered hardy for zone 7 (maybe even 5 or 6)...has to be downright gratifying to have found the perfect niche for it in your garden. Your alpine Daphne sounds like a real treasure...adorable to look at and generous with its repeat blooming flushes.

  3. fromvirginia 06/19/2020

    I had a ceanothus (bought at Kifisgate in the UK!) in McLean for several years that thrived until the polar vortex a few years ago. And that was probably because I didn’t mulch it for the winter.

  4. fromvirginia 06/19/2020

    Thanks for sharing Joseph. The alpine Daphne is glorious.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 06/19/2020

    I always wondered about the GPOD editors-gardeners working behind the scenes on this online web page!
    So it's nice to see your garden photos and hear your story.
    You're growing some interesting plants and I've already learned some things from your post!
    Amazing how that hardy aloe plant grows in those zones, I've seen those plants and never would have guessed they were hardy!
    Also learned from you that there is a variety of the California Lilac that grows hardy!
    Thanks for a cool post, I've enjoyed it!

  6. madcosta_7 06/19/2020

    Love your Oakleaf Hydrangea and wonder if it's "Ruby Slippers"? I have Ruby Slippers and it has the most fantastic fragrance. I will have to get more and thank you for providing the name of that beautiful rose, Golden Celebration.

  7. CTpat 06/19/2020

    Beautiful plants--I will have to look up details on that ceanothus--but what got me excited was the possibility of actually getting sweet peas to live long enough to bloom. Do you know if that trick of autumn planting would work in a borderline Zone 7-6? Or could you tell me where you got the info so I can check it out? We're in coastal CT and winters vary greatly. Thanks!

  8. btucker9675 06/19/2020

    Love that your kitty enjoys the sweet peas, too! Thanks for the photo of the Golden Celebration rose - fabulous. Will be on my shopping list as well even though I am in a life and death battle with Japanese beetles at the moment.

  9. Cenepk10 06/19/2020

    Gorgeous, Joseph!!! I love roses too. And oak leaf hydrangeas. Mine never have looked that good. Guess they need more age. This was an excellent spring for roses in my garden, though !

  10. cheryl_c 06/19/2020

    Hi, Joseph - Great to see some of your gardens now that you've had some time to settle in and experiment! I also love oak leaf hydrangeas, and at last count had 5 different varieties - just can't get enough of them! Their autumn colors then winter peeling bark are fabulous. Congrats on getting your alpine daphne through the change in zones, and in figuring out the sweet pea problem - I'm going to have to try that here in zone 6 a.

  11. Camamum27 06/19/2020

    Lovely Joseph, just lovely! I am going to look for that Daphne, very different from “ Carol Mackie”. Thanks for sharing.

  12. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 06/20/2020

    Great garden!
    Joseph, I'm wondering about the final photo 'Golden Celebration' -
    We are growing several D.Austin's varieties, but I've overlooked that particular rose because I was frankly a bit put off by the bright yellow color.
    That item you posted is much more appealing. What contributes to such a dramatic difference in floral color of a named/cultivated species?

  13. Meelianthus 06/20/2020

    What fun to see your beautiful flowering plants Joseph! Your roses are outstanding and I could almost smell the sweet peas, a real favorite of mine. Thank you for posting and happy gardening. ;)

  14. coastalgardener 06/22/2020

    It's so interesting to see what a GPOD editor is growing in his garden. I also grow oakleaf hydrangeas and love how their color morphs from pure white to rosy pink over the summer. Loved seeing all of your plants.

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