Garden Photo of the Day

Envisioning a Dream Garden

This Canadian gardener turned her vision into reality

Today’s photos come from Petra Donnelly. Here’s what she has to say:

I live in Markham, Ontario. Approximately 10 years ago I had a vision of a totally grass-free property filled with trees, color, succession of blooms, and variation in heights and texture. It has since become a serene space that not only is welcoming for us but also attractive to pollinators and wildlife. The garden is part sun and part shade and is in Zone 5. It hosts a total of seven trees, various flowering shrubs, and hundreds of perennials. The addition this year of 12 yards of compost along with a reasonable amount of rain, humidity, and sun has made this the best year ever for the garden.

With countless perennials in bloom, and more showing buds full of promise, it looks like Petra has achieved her goal of succession of bloom.


Variation of texture was another part of Petra’s vision. Here you can see she’s achieved that, with the tall, swordlike foliage of iris providing a strong contrast to the rounded forms of flowering perennials.


Did someone say color? WOW! Brilliant daylilies (Hemerocallis hybrid, Zones 4–10) combined with yarrow (Achillea millefolium, Zones 3–9) and bee balm (Monarda sp. Zones 4–9) to light up this part of the garden. Grouping these similarly hued flowers together keeps their intense colors from clashing.


Petra was also looking for variation in heights. Here she’s achieved that by choosing different perennials and even different selections of the same plant. In the front of this image, you can see a tall purple coneflower (Echinacea sp., Zones 4–9) on the left, and a much shorter selection on the right.


This path is all cool blues and purples. The colors of the flowers are echoed by the dark foliage of the forest pansy red bud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, Zones 5–9) on the right.


Petra’s garden full of blooms. Looks to me like she has turned her vision for the garden into a spectacular reality.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    user-7007816 08/15/2018

    Your garden is truly stunning. Everything looks so lush and colorful. It has obviously has been a great growing year for you. I particularly like the dramatic way you have mixed the plants.
    Dale - DeWitt, MI

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/15/2018

    Without a doubt, your flowers are spectacular, Petra but I'm also super impressed with your generously wide beautiful pathways. They are very inviting and certainly allow one to be thoroughly immersed in and amongst your garden. Congrats for giving such careful thought, planning and execution on them as well... since together, they have have resulted in a dream come true garden.

  3. joanneniekamp 08/15/2018

    Your perennial garden is one of the most beautiful I have seen. I would love to stroll in your garden. So much beauty!

  4. Maggieat11 08/15/2018

    Congratulations on your dream becoming a reality! Highly successful and Gorgeous!

  5. cheryl_c 08/15/2018

    WOW, what an exciting garden! Great combinations of color, texture, shapes, sizes and hard scaping. And with the compost you added this year, next year will even be better, if that is possible. Thanks so much for sharing your gardens!

  6. btucker9675 08/15/2018

    This is an amazing garden - would never want to leave. You are most certainly an artist!

  7. estertoribio 08/15/2018

    Hi Petra,

    I happen to live in Markham. ON too. I would like to visit your beautiful garden. Can you email me your address if you don't mind. My email address is [email protected]

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