Garden Photo of the Day

Feeding Butterflies, Hummingbirds, and the Soul, Part 1

Paradise for gardener and pollinator alike.

Welcome to Lila Johnson’s garden!

My husband and I live in Mill Creek, Washington, about 20 miles north of Seattle. Our garden is always a work in progress, but we are blessed (I think) with several ecosystems: a butterfly garden that faces south and soaks up the summer sunshine; a shady, almost-rainforest garden with moss, ferns, hostas, and baby’s tears ground cover; and then the old mix of some sun, some shade.

Anna’s hummingbirds abound in our garden year round with the help of our feeder. Hardy fuchsias bloom through October (almost December this year) to add color and a food source for these dear birds.

As a native Northwesterner, I am partial to the shady garden with hostas, ferns, and moss! I also love taking photos of our garden but am not trained in any way other than my love of flowers and nature, which I acquired from my mom over 70 years ago. We are amateur gardeners and amateur photographers, but isn’t nature grand?

Any gardener in the Northwest better love moss! Here moss and snow decorate a tree branch.

The shady part of the garden is filled with hostas and other shade-loving plants.

A delicate Pacific Coast iris. The Pacific Coast irises are a group of species native to (big surprise) the Pacific Coast of North America. Plant breeders have hybridized various of these native species to create a wide range of astonishingly beautiful hybrids.

This fall tree is lighting up in the classic colors of the end of the gardening year.

A very different view of fall color. Sometimes a single brown leaf outlined in frost is just as beautiful as a whole tree turning scarlet.

A flowery bench invites you to sit back and enjoy the beauty of the garden. With the clematis twining through the back of the bench, I get the sense that Lila, like most of us gardeners, doesn’t actually sit here too often. We’re always too busy gardening!


Have a garden you’d like to share?


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To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

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View Comments


  1. nwphillygardener 01/01/2019

    Lovely images, Lila. I especially enjoyed seeing snow-capped moss on the tree. Can you share what type of mulch you use in that second image where it looks like you just planted some white begonias in your shade garden? Or is that just freshly tilled soil?

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 01/01/2019

      Thanks for the comments. My husband has always used "steerco" or "fertile-mulch" which is a very fine, almost sawdust like material with cow manure. We love the chocolate brown color, fineness and there is no manure smell. We like the look and feel it add nutrients to our basically clay soil. Yes, those are white Wax Begonias, which I had to switch to when my "go-to" plant, white Impatiens developed a disease here in NW. Most nurseries here stopped selling Impatiens which broke my heart. Happy Gardening in 2019

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/01/2019

    You seem to have impressive talents wielding both a shovel and a camera, Lila...although, for the sake of the camera, best not to juggle them simultaneously. I love the charm of the clematis adorned bench and I'm sure those lovely purple flowers wouldn't mind sharing if you had a need to take a quick little rest. I'm glad there are more of your pictures to look forward to since today is labelled Part 1.

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 01/01/2019

      Thanks so much. The wonderful comments is overwhelming. As we get older (mid-70's), we find it takes us longer to get our garden in shape :) The Bench was a gift from a dear friend. Her husband made that one for me on my 60th birthday! Sometimes at the end of a "work in the garden day," we sit there and survey our little kingdom. Happy Gardening!

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 01/01/2019

        Sweet of you to take a moment to reply. I was glad to read that you and your spouse are able to continue gardening happily while still in your mid 70's. I am 2 weeks away from hitting 71 and my husband is several years older. I still get excited about planting a new area or tweaking an already existing. More tweaking takes place nowadays because a totally new area means more maintenance in the future. Your bench is fabulous and is certainly extra special because it was handmade especially for you.

  3. cheryl_c 01/01/2019

    Beautiful photos to start a new year! And thank you, Fine Gardening staff for providing these pictures on a holiday! Lila, it is difficult for me to pick a favorite, but I was struck by how your next-to-last photo resembles a professional photo that I chose to use on a tote bag for a friend! Great shot!

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 01/01/2019

      Hey Thanks so MUCH! Amazing what an iPhone camera can capture. Ahhh, gardening and modern technology. Enjoy the day!

  4. paiya 01/01/2019

    Lila, you and your husband are artists with both gardening and photographing! Each scene is breathtaking. Happy New Year and happy gardening everyone

  5. btucker9675 01/01/2019

    Gorgeous start to the New Year! I’m a moss lover - years ago a lawn care company offered to rid my shady side garden in NJ of the moss and wood violets and I said thanks but no thanks! He was confused... ?

    1. JohnsonofMillCreek 01/01/2019

      Thanks so much. Happy Mossy Gardening to you in NJ. 19 years ago, just before Christmas, our #1 grandchild was born in NJ. To quiet a fussy baby on Christmas Eve night, we and her parents with new baby in tow, hopped into the SUV and drove around Whippany area and stumbled upon an entire woodsy/private neighborhood completely lit by Luminarias. It was the most beautiful, serene sight and yes, said baby slept through it all. BUT, we always tell the store of the Luminarias in NJ. Happy Gardening in 2019!

      1. JohnsonofMillCreek 01/01/2019

        …...STORY, not "store" :)

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