Garden Photo of the Day

From Clay to Lilies

Hard work, lots of mulch and compost, and a little prayer have transformed this garden

Loree House shared this beautiful garden, and her key to transforming the difficult clay soil she started with:

I live in Ozark, Mo., and have been here working diligently in this garden for 18½ years. Lots of clay and rocks is what I started with, but with lots of grit and hard work I am happy with the ever-improving soil. All things start with good soil. Surely even life!

I really think the key for my garden soil is adding the 2-to-3-inch layer of mulch each spring and occasionally a 2-to-3-inch layer of compost that had coffee grounds. As the mulch and compost have broken down, my soil has improved, but it has taken a long time. With a limited budget, I was only able to do the compost occasionally. The soil probably would have improved quicker if my budget would have allowed the compost each year, which I was able to buy from a local landscape provider. The look of my garden tends to change over the years as things get too big or don’t do well. I also like to try new plants for new looks, so each year brings new surprises and new challenges.

Late spring in the garden is a lush tapestry of color!

Peach-colored Asiatic lilies (Lilium Asiatic group, Zones 4–9) with pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa, Zones 4–9).

A key feature in every garden: a place to sit and enjoy the beauty.

Brilliant red Asiatic lilies bring color and drama.

This was my mom’s prayer for her plants, and they were always amazing! So my husband had this rock made for me, and it has now become the prayer of my garden also. My sister also named her greenhouse IJNG Greenhouse (In Jesus Name Grow), and she tells all her customers to make sure they pray the same.


Have a garden you’d like to share?


Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

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.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. user-7017435 04/16/2018

    Good morning Ms. House , Thank you for your post this morning. Your story & 2nd photo brings back memories of my mother in law. She was given a brick like clay hillside in front of her apartment in Duluth Ga. & converted it into a work of an oasis. Five days before her death ( at 92) she was planning a new garden. Good luck, Joe

    1. user-7003263 04/17/2018

      Oh my goodness, Joe. Your mother lived within shouting distance of me. Like her, I am working hard to turn my clay brick soil into something more hospitable for plants. I know you must miss her, but I love her optimistic gardeners expectation of more time to make more beauty.

  2. sandyprowse 04/16/2018

    Delightful garden to view this morning, particularly after two days of an ice storm here in frigid Canada. It was nice to see I am not the only one with budgetary considerations for soil, etc. Makes it more of a challenge. Keep up the good work!

  3. garden1953 04/16/2018

    Beautiful garden. The love you put into it shows!

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/16/2018

    Just beautiful - all of it! You have shown any gardener who has that nasty clay what they can do.

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/16/2018

    Your husband is a very thoughtful man and your pictures show that your garden has been blessed with many beautiful flowers. Love the fancy bi-color iris near your bench...there is lots to admire as one takes a moment to sit and gaze about.

  6. cheryl_c 04/16/2018

    Good Morning, neighbor! We live about an hour away in Dade County, MO, so know some of your weather challenges. Congratulations on your conquering the red clay challenge - what a success you have scored! Your flowers are beautiful, especially the peach colored asiatic lillies! I love how you have repeated the evening primrose along your border - aren't those beautiful when they bloom? You are blessed that your mother gave you and your sister your gardening 'gene' - I know it helps you feel connected with her.

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/16/2018

    Your hard work has really paid off. I've got areas that are heavy clay and know it's a pain.

  8. btucker9675 04/16/2018

    Looks like prayer is working for your beautiful garden! These photos are an encouragement for me as I deal with the heavy red clay here in the Charlotte NC area...

  9. Cenepk10 04/16/2018

    Fabulous garden- Fabulous prayer !!!! Love it !!!!!

  10. NCYarden 04/16/2018

    Very pleasant full beds. Excellent development, and way to tackle the tough clay. So true about the soil - paying attention to the soil makes all the difference.
    Thanks for sharing.

  11. user-7003263 04/17/2018

    Loree, thank you for your submitting your pictures to Fine Gardening for posting. You are an inspiration to all of us who garden in less than hospitable soil, especially red clay (Georgia is blessed or cursed with red clay). What you have accomplished is amazing.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest