Garden Photo of the Day

Experimentation in the Garden Pays Off in SC

By Kim Charles

Backyard overview

Gardening is truly a backyard passion for Laura Sheets.

"My garden is in South Carolina on the warm side of zone 7B, with partial sun and sandy soil.  I work in an office, on a computer, for many hours a week, and I spend as much of my free time as possible in the garden.  My (teenage) children's friends find it odd that I'm never inside.  They are always questioning and making remarks to my children – "How can your mom find so much joy in the back yard?" and "I see your mom is out in her natural habitat!"

I was once asked to give a class on shrubs, and the organizer asked for a biography.  I felt a little inadequate when I saw the horticultural credentials of the other presenters – from being a Master Gardener to a doctorate degree.  Mine was along the lines of, "I've killed a lot of plants over the years…"  I have finally figured out what grows well for me, but I'm not done experimenting!  I love japanese maples, conifers, hellebores, daylilies, hydrangeas, lantana, coleus, and the list goes on and on."

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Front yard overview

Japanese maple focal point

Front corner

Daylilies in back

The Magic of Oz

Canna in the back yard

Back overview

Backyard hydrangea 

View Comments


  1. frankgreenhalgh 10/14/2016

    Hey Laura - There is nothing wrong with good old 'trial and error' and killing a few plants if you are continually learning in the process. And your wonderful wooded garden is testament to the fact that you are an excellent 'student' of gardening. I hope your children say that have a talented, fit, mentally active and creative 'mom' (how is that for an Aussie getting into the swing of lingo in your neck of the woods?) when their friends question your outdoor recreational activities. Cheers, Frank

  2. user-7008273 10/14/2016

    Beautiful garden!

  3. user-3565112 10/14/2016

    Diane, Your time spent in your natural habitat is paying off big time for you. All of your photos are terrific & your back yard overview with the small island & the front corner are outstanding in my opinion. Good work & good luck, Joe

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/14/2016

    Laura, I would much rather attend a presentation of a hands on, home gardener sharing stories of her sweat equity successes and failures than someone whose claim to fame is a horticultural degree. In picture#4, I was struck by what looks like a healthy and full clump of aloe in the lower left corner and then a nice sized Agave in the background...are these hardy through the winter for you? I couldn't tell if they were in containers. I love the plants sharing the stage together in the last photo...the dainty ferns compliment the big blue blooms of the hydrangea so nicely.

    1. flowerforce 11/27/2016

      Thanks for your support! The Agave is hardy for me. I believe it is an Agave ovatifolia "whale's tongue" that I got from Plant Delights. As for the aloe, it is one of the plants that I dig up in November before frost and overwinter in a sunny window in my garage (which only gets down to 40 deg in winter), and I replant outside in April.

  5. mjensen 10/14/2016

    beautiful, i too love being in the garden

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/14/2016

    Totally jealous of your woodland setting. Everything is so pretty.

    1. flowerforce 11/27/2016

      Yes, some people like an ocean view, but I'm happier with a woodland view!

  7. annek 10/14/2016

    Your gardens are beautiful and that Japanese maple is a stunner. You've created a lovely paradise...keep on with the trial and error as the effects are grand

  8. user-4691082 10/14/2016

    Laura, you have created a backyard wonderland! Is coleus hardy where you are? If so, I'm jealous. The dark tradescantia is a wonderful foil to the petunias? in photo #4. I agree with Michaele, I would rather listen to someone who gardens like yourself! Great job! And good morning, Frank!!!

    1. frankgreenhalgh 10/14/2016

      Greetings Rhonda - Your early 'bird' postings are very impressive as our mate Kev. has previously commented. I had to escape from my watching brief and comment on Laura's absolute cracker of a garden. Cheers from Oz

      1. user-4691082 10/14/2016

        Hi Frank! GPOD is never the same if you're not part of it! G'day!

        1. frankgreenhalgh 10/14/2016

          Lovely to hear from you Rhonda. I come out of the woodwork now and then, and stir the pot a little. Hope you guys don't mind the side issues/comments.
          I won't refer to the elephant in the room again though. Linda and Kev. have already summarised the situation well with their tactful comments. Cheers, Frank

  9. user-7008274 10/14/2016

    Laura, your hard work has made such a beautiful landscape! It's as professional as I've ever seen. I love how you haven't crowded plants into areas. It allows one to see the beauty of the whole plant. I'm in love with maple trees even though I only have one. Gibbs Gardens in North Georgia has an amazing selection of maple trees and has been very inspiring to me. It's worth a trip in the fall to see them.

    1. flowerforce 11/27/2016

      Wow, I just checked out the Gibbs Gardens website - I can't believe I never heard of threm. I'll have to make the trip!

  10. greengenes 10/14/2016

    Hi have done a wonderful job in your piece of paradise! You don't need a title just a passion for gardening, willing to accept failure to learn from and a desire for creativity! You've got all that! Hopefully your youth will see and desire what you have experienced! Enjoy your beautiful gardens!

    1. frankgreenhalgh 10/14/2016

      Wise words Jeanne!

  11. user-7007498 10/14/2016

    Laura, you have a beautiful garden.

    I had read a wonderful article on gardening recently, and the author said "gardening is bringing a creative vision to life without knowing if it will work. The point is the exploration; success is a bonus"

    You have definitely achieved success with a balanced design and pleasing textures and plant selections. Well done.

    1. frankgreenhalgh 10/14/2016

      Yeah it's all about the journey Kev!

      1. user-7007498 10/14/2016

        Absolutely, Frank. The best part of every day is getting home from work, and interacting with the plants. My plants love to be moved around so they can make new friends.

        1. frankgreenhalgh 10/14/2016

          Interesting Kev - more than your politics over there. Oops did I say that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          1. user-7007498 10/14/2016

            Don't even go there. It's like a bad reality TV show.

          2. frankgreenhalgh 10/14/2016

            Sorry about shaking the tree Kev.

  12. grannieannie1 10/14/2016

    Yes! Experimenting does keep gardening exciting. I especially liked your corner orange/purple garden with contrasting leaves of succulents and that chunky mulch.

  13. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 10/14/2016

    Beautiful garden, Laura. It's no mystery why you want to spend so much time in it since it looks like such a peaceful place to be especially after a day of what sounds like stressful work. I especially like your back yard with all of that shade. Thanks for sharing.

  14. hostamom 10/14/2016

    I especially like your "edging" with the daylilies. Grouping them together on the edge looks so much better than lining them up in a row (which I must admit I have done) I will race to the yard and correct that gardening mistake!

    1. flowerforce 11/27/2016

      If you want more inspiration on displaying daylilies, check out the garden shots on Tim Bell's daylily website or, better yet, visit his garden in Valdosta Ga. I was lucky enough to tour it and found it to be really beautiful, with much of it edged in daylilies.

  15. Chris_N 10/14/2016

    Very, very nice. I'll need to look at your photos longer when I'm not at work!

  16. Cynthia 10/14/2016

    I love your garden! Do you have deer in your area? I'm in the suburbs of New Jersey and the deer have decimated my landscape. So frustrating.

    1. flowerforce 11/27/2016

      I understand your frustration. My neighbors feed the deer! They eat dessert in my garden! After the year they ate all my daylily flowers, I started making an egg/water mixture and flicking it on their favorite plants with a pastry brush. That needs to be reapplied after rain. A fence the neighbors put up interrupted their traffic pattern and that helped a lot. Unfortunately, the rabbits found the garden this year!

  17. schatzi 10/14/2016

    Laura, your beautiful garden speaks to your gardening credentials, earned the hard way like most of us. Love the wooded site and the cannas backing up the day lilies. Too many of our youth have no connection to nature, and that is unhealthy both physically and mentally. When we all played outside and got dirty as kids, there weren't so many allergies, for one thing. We are all part of nature, not apart from it, and the sooner we learn that the better. Enjoy your beautiful creation and hopefully the kids will learn to appreciate it.

    1. frankgreenhalgh 10/14/2016

      Nice comments about youth of today and allergies etc., Shirley.

  18. digginWA 10/14/2016

    Laura, I'm currently building a spreadsheet of all the plants I've killed (some were premeditated). The list is pretty epic. Thanks for sharing your beautiful garden.

    1. User avater
      meander_michaele 10/14/2016

      Oh, I hope you'll share that list with us, Tia. I'm sure we'll all recognize many of the names and have committed our fair share of planticide on them.

  19. Doxnmomx2 10/15/2016

    Gardener is just another name for plant killer. Your yard is beautiful and reminds me of a neighbor's when I was kid. My sister and I often wish we could revisit that yard the way it was in the 1960s. I'll bet some of your young visitors will do that with your gardens later in their lives.

  20. jagardener 10/18/2016

    I would love to know the name of the coleus under the Japanese Maple.

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