Garden Photo of the Day

Experimenting in the Garden

A new gardener finds what works in his space

Today we’re visiting with Paul Brothe in Newburgh, New York.

Gardening is relatively new to me. I moved to upstate New York two years ago from Denver. In Denver, I lived in the city and did not have much of a yard. In Newburgh, I have almost six acres. When I moved here there were few flowering plants. Over the past two years I have had a goal to improve the landscape with plants beneficial to bees, birds, and butterflies.

Here are some photos from my garden this autumn.

butterfly bushThis butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii, Zones 5–9) was grown from seed last year. It has become a large bush that attracts many butterflies and bees.

GaillardiaGaillardia (Gaillardia pulchella, Zones 2–11) is one of my favorites. I purposefully took a photo with the seed heads. I am gathering these and will plant them next spring. My original plant was started from seed indoors. I find it easy to grow. The bees swarm all over the flowers in the summer. The yellow-tipped petals are beautiful.

AgeratumAgeratum (Ageratum houstonianum, annual) is a lovely plant. It is one of my experiments this year. I have been developing a neglected acre of my property into a woodland garden. I sowed the ageratum seed in late spring. The tufts of flowers are exceptionally appealing. Earlier in the summer I had some deer damage to the ageratum—a constant problem, as they seemingly will nibble on anything in my yard. I still have many flowers, however.

bearded irisFall-blooming bearded irises are glorious. Just as everything else is fading, they give brilliant, velvety pops of color. Last year I responded to a Craigslist ad from an elderly woman who wanted help thinning her irises. I took home many rhizomes—for free.

pink and yellow dahliaA friend from Minnesota visited for the first time in early spring. When he saw my yard he declared I needed some dahlias (Dahlia variablilis, Zones 8–10 or as tender bulbs). His parents are avid growers of dahlias.

pink dahliasA big box of gift dahlias arrived in the mail. They have provided many months of spectacular color.

purple ZinderellaZinnias (Zinnia elegans, annual) are easy to grow from seed and are beloved by bees and butterflies. I grew hundreds of them this summer. This is a purple Zinderella. Some of the Zinderella zinnias are double flowers, but many are single. The mottled petals were especially attractive.

Hydrangea paniculataThe hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata, Zones 3–8) by the front door walkway needed pruning.

urn with hydrangeaHaving already filled vases in the house with drying panicles, I shifted my attention outside and arranged large bouquets in the urns in my yard.

wild asters with hydrangeasThis urn is surrounded by wild asters. I did not plant them. They seeded themselves and have been blooming for months.

My garden is an experiment. I am constantly learning, researching, and experimenting. I like the satisfaction of growing plants from seed. Because my yard is large, it is the neighborhood park. My neighbor walks her newborn baby and toddler every day through the park. My garden then isn’t just for me; it is something I share with everyone around me.(Paul shares more of his garden on his blog.)


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View Comments


  1. Rebeccazone7 11/13/2020

    Coming from the Pine Barrens of NJ, I was especially in awe of the stone walls, as rocks and stones are hard to come by here. Not having a ton of money to spare has also made me search for bargains. With all the land you have, you can experiment to your hearts content. Gardening has been a blessing for me, and a great creative outlet...looks like you've caught the bug.

  2. bsavage 11/13/2020

    I love it! Beauty everywhere!

  3. Maggieat11 11/13/2020

    And I'm envious of your beautiful rock wall!
    Best wishes in your continued experimentation and success s. Wish I could visit!🌿

  4. deeinde 11/13/2020

    What a beautiful start you have made on your garden! And what fun to have so much space. I highly recommend you read Doug Tallamy's book 'Nature's Best Hope' since you are interested in gardening for bee's, birds, and butterflies. Post pictures again as your garden develops! Have fun!

  5. User avater
    simplesue 11/13/2020

    I love the photo of the butterfly at the butterfly bush with your house behind it, the composition is so cool, it's like a house portrait taken very creatively...nice idea.
    I read you had problems with dear eating your Ageratum and I would like to recommend I just grew some this year and they bloom late autumn, tall and they are said to be something deer don't want to eat...and Oh it's a perennial!
    Love your garden and your goal of adding things for the bees and butterflies!

    1. User avater
      simplesue 11/13/2020

      oops I really like DEER and spelled it DEAR...but you know what I mean.

  6. User avater
    cynthia2020 11/13/2020

    Paul - thank you for sharing your love of gardening with us. Like that Gaillardia pulchella - I have not grown it yet but have seen in flourishing in many places - last place Folly Beach, SC. Story about helping to thin irises is terrific.

    Looked at your thoughtful blog. Visited Hudson Valley area a lot as a child - love historic homes. Built-ins are wonderful.

  7. btucker9675 11/13/2020

    And we all know that we don't consider deer to be dear when they're in our gardens! : ) I love that your garden has become a park for your neighbors - that's lovely. How great that you got the irises from helping helping the lady with her gardening chores! They are all the more beautiful for that.

  8. User avater
    treasuresmom 11/13/2020

    Love it!

  9. User avater
    bdowen 11/13/2020

    There are so many wonderful stories in your post, beginning with just two years in this garden, to the iris from your elderly neighbor to your garden being a park enjoyed by your neighborhood. I'm inspired by your photos of gaillardia to try growing it again. Looking forward to more photos documenting your experiments!

  10. cheryl_c 11/13/2020

    Paul, you are to be congratulated for your outstanding successes as a new gardener! Seed starting is a challenge all its own, and your additional challenge of learning which plants are desirable to the pollinators in your area makes your accomplishments even more notable. Keep up the good work! And definitely send more pictures as your gardens develop.

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