Garden Photo of the Day

Finding Plants That Work

Heavy clay and hungry deer don't stop these plants

Today we’re visiting the garden of Jane Watkins.

I garden in central New York. The heavy clay soil and ravenous deer are challenges in my Zone 5 gardens. I stick to what grows best for me. Deer don’t like minty Monarda, and they usually leave my daylilies and hibiscus alone. The deer will devour tulips but not daffodils or canna.

I had to remove my long driveway border this year but still have several smaller gardens, a small shade garden, and a long daylily border in the rear of the property. I also have a vegetable garden and several fruit trees.

Japanese spikenardChartreuse Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’ (Japanese spikenard, Zones 4–8) brightens up the shade garden.

Bleeding heart ‘Goldheart’Bleeding heart ‘Goldheart’ (Dicentra spectabilis ‘Goldheart’, Zones 3–9) brings more sunny color to the shade.

tree peonyMy 15-year-old tree peony (Paeonia hybrid, Zones 4–9) puts on a beautiful show each spring. I have it in a slightly raised bed.

hydrangea ‘Little Lime’I can’t say enough about hydrangea ‘Little Lime’ (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Little Lime’, Zones 3–8). I have a hard time getting hydrangeas to bloom. If the frost doesn’t kill the buds, the deer nip them off. But ‘Little Lime’ blooms on new wood, and for some reason the deer don’t attack it. It starts out lime green and ages to a beautiful mahogany color.

daylily borderMy long daylily border has roughly 40 daylily plants and a mixture of Siberian iris and grasses to keep it interesting all year.

‘Frans Hans’ daylilyOne of my favorite daylilies, ‘Frans Hans’, is an old variety that blooms well into September.

double orange ‘Kwanso’ daylilyAnother favorite daylily, the double orange ‘Kwanso’.

Daylily ‘Orange Sunset’Daylily ‘Orange Sunset’

Hardy hibiscus ‘Midnight Marvel’Hardy hibiscus ‘Midnight Marvel’ (Zones 4–9) boasts enormous, deep red flowers and complementary reddish-hued foliage.

Diverse perennials in full bloom in the garage border.


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 01/01/2020

    Such a beautiful garden. Frans Hans daylily has to be the prettiest ever. I won’t be happy until I have one growing in my own garden. Very well done indeed!

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/01/2020

    My, what a glorious abundance of blooms your tree peony puts out...they are truly spectacular. I had to smile a little when I saw your pictures of 'Frans Hans' and 'Kwanzo'...they are what I consider to be my legacy daylilies (already growing on our property when we bought it) and started my great love affair with daylilies. I went through a stretch where I'd buy several new varieties every year.

  3. cheryl_c 01/01/2020

    I love all your pictures, but the one of the shade garden, followed by the portrait of Goldheart really warmed MY heart! Such a lovely combination of diverse plants! Your brunnera looks so very happy. Count me also a fan!

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/01/2020

    Wow! Just adore that Frans Hals daylily.

  5. Cenepk10 01/01/2020

    Just love your gardens ! I’m such a huge fan of daylillies... Really loved your long border with the grasses. Really got my wheels turning. Beautiful all !

  6. User avater
    simplesue 01/02/2020

    Stunning! As I read that you had a long Daylily boarder I had not imagined being so impressed with how natural and beautifully blended into the surrounding land it would be- just gorgeous. So interesting to see what a 15 year old tree peony actually looks like. I just bought one and it's a wee stick. Thanks for sharing!

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