Garden Photo of the Day

Enjoying Spring Up Close

Details of the season worth savoring

Today’s photos come from Eric Sternfels. We’ve visited his home garden in Philadelphia before (Big Garden, Small Space: Part 1 and Part 2) and always pleased to see more of his beautiful space.

Developing my very narrow and mostly shady small garden on the outer edge of Philadelphia, I most enjoy this early spring time, even when the broad views are not especially photogenic. But close-up observation of all the early bloomers and fresh foliage excites me each year anew.

Cardamine quinquefoliaI guess this is the best wide view of early April in my garden. The pale pink is Cardamine quinquefolia (Zones 7–9), which I think you showed in a previous GPOD set from my garden.

Here’s a broader view from the opposite direction taken in June. The haze of white is the bloom of Saxifraga stolonifera (Zones 6–9). On the right is another white bloomer, Korean bellflower (Campanula takesimana, Zones 5–8). The pink is Pink KnockOut rose during its first flush of bloom.

Donkey tail spurgeDonkeytail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinities, Zones 5–9) in March.

Dicentra eximiaWild bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia, Zones 3–9) in mid-April.

Celandine PoppyCelandine poppy, aka wood poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum, Zones 4–9), along with self-seeded violets in early April.

EpimediumAn unnamed seedling Epimedium, with one parent likely the variety ‘Domino’.

Epimedium 'Domino'Here’s a nice photo of Epimedium ‘Domino’ (Zones 5–8), which is the suspected parent of a self-seeded hybrid above.

Heuchera 'Caramel'Heuchera ‘Caramel’ (Zones 4–8) living up to its name in early April.

Carolina jessamine vineCarolina jessamine vine (Gelsemium sempervirens, Zones 7–10) with a yellow swallowtail visiting.

Virginia bluebellsMertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells, Zones 3–8) buds are a striking shade of mulberry purple before they open and justify their common name.

trough planterEven though my own garden is a shady one, here’s a trough planter I made with a rock gardener buddy as a fundraiser for the North American Rock Garden Society.


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View Comments


  1. davlinkun 04/17/2020

    Enjoyed your photos, nice garden, beautiful garden country, visit Longwood etc often

    1. nwphillygardener 04/17/2020

      Next time in the vicinity, be sure to visit Chanticleer Gardens and wander the campus of Swarthmore College, aka Scott Arboretum

  2. User avater
    user-7007816 04/17/2020

    I enjoyed your garden and agree that this is the most exciting time of year in the garden. I really like your hybrid epimedium.

    1. nwphillygardener 04/17/2020

      If only we could freeze the early color on Epimedium leaves. There variation on the many species and cultivars is so much a part of their charm but far too fleeting. I'm feeling that way about silver and burgundy fronds of a painted fern that will so soon be less of a jaw dropper.

    2. nwphillygardener 04/17/2020

      unfortunately, that one flowers with blooms that combine pale dirty pink petals with a honey-toned center…..odd-looking. And those flowers don't rise above the foliage as reliably as 'Domino'

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/17/2020

    Everything is lovely but love that brickwork. Is it wide enough to walk on?

    1. nwphillygardener 04/17/2020

      I used broken bricks that were strewn threw this yard, gathered in the last 160 years, to extend the path into that fiddlehead shaped finale. I keep some short clipped fallen twigs as mulch besides the path so it's walkable .

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/17/2020

    What a delightful set of fact, one of them gave me the gift of revisiting some favorite childhood memories. I grew up in the southern NJ seashore town (Ocean City) and I would love spending time on the beach regardless of season. One of my favorite things was watching the seagulls swooping about. And, goodness, the picture of your clump of Epimedium ‘Domino’ definitely conjured up a flock of seagulls circling above and gliding downward in pursuit of some morsel of food. My mom would sometimes give me a container of collected fat drippings to set out for them and, wow, was that ever popular. Thanks for letting me take a trip down memory lane.

    1. nwphillygardener 04/17/2020

      Spectacularly evocative memory. Yes, 'Domino' is a spectacular cultivar of Epimedium, forming a fountain-shaped specimen which seems more available around here in the last few years. The flowers last quite a long time and often the plant pushes forth some bonus sprays just when you think it's done for the season.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 04/17/2020

    Love your garden's winding path and all those plantings along it! Well done! Very graceful!

  6. btucker9675 04/17/2020

    Beautiful garden, and the rock garden you made is perfection!

    1. nwphillygardener 04/17/2020

      It was the first trough I've made and I was pleased to see how it settled in ….this photo two weeks after it was made. And the expertise of the donor of the plants knew precisely what to include to have the composition in full bloom in the following week, when the trough would be part of a fund raising sale for the Mid-Atlantic Group of NARGS

  7. Cenepk10 04/18/2020

    Really Spectacular!!!!

  8. user-5117752 04/27/2020

    A delightful visit to your gardens. Thank you! Love the brick paths and the peacefulness of the vista. Each picture let me bathe in the beauty of spring. Do send more photos as the season goes on if you have time.

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