Garden Photo of the Day

From Overgrown to Gorgeous

Reclaiming a garden from ivy

Today’s photos come from Victoria Ray.

I live in Puyallup, Washington. I moved here 20 years ago to a yard overgrown with English ivy (Hedera helix, Zones 5–9) and giant, spindly, overgrown rhododendrons. All the hard work has been worth it. Needless to say, you are never done with a garden. There are always new plants to add and empty spaces to fill.

Japanese mapleI rescued this Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) from my brother-in-law. It was in a pot with brown leaves, and we were sure it was dead. I cut the dead branches off, repotted it, and kept it watered well. To my amazement, it started sprouting. Today, 12 years later, it has changed from a dead stick to a beautiful tree with year-round interest. I don’t know the variety, but I would like to.

Bright blue chairs bring a pop of color to the sitting area.

Doublefile viburnumHere’s a view of doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’, Zones 5–8), Fothergilla, ‘Esk Sunset’ maple (Acer psedoplatanus ‘Esk Sunset’, Zones 5–8), and a rhododendron that was a gift from my mother-in-law, who got me started gardening.

From a front window after a light snow.

Japanese maplesHere’s the same view in fall. The Japanese maples are ‘Red Lace’ and ‘Bloodgood’. I designed and helped my friend Wally build the arbors.

red rhododendronsA row of mature red rhododendrons at the end of May. 

pink rhododendronA large, unidentified, pink rhododendron

paperbark mapleWolf garden art with paperbark maple (Acer griseum, Zones 4–8), pine, and azalea.

This area, along another large portion of the yard, was completely covered with English ivy when we moved in 20 years ago. Now oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, Zones 5–9) bloom.

Hydrangea augustipetala ‘Golden Crane’. This hydrangea is placed near the sitting area, as it has a nice fragrance.


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View Comments


  1. tmwg 02/04/2020

    Your garden is a beautiful inspiration. Thank you for sharing!

  2. paiya 02/04/2020

    Beautiful and tranquil garden. The maples and rhododendrons are exquisite. The arbor is interesting and I like the wolf

  3. davlinkun 02/04/2020

    Beautiful Serene
    Thank you

  4. coastalgardener 02/04/2020

    What an amazing job you have done with your yard. That Japanese maple seems to be thanking you for rescuing it with such glorious color. Even your winter scene shows wonderful structural interest with all of your arbors.

  5. sagebird52 02/04/2020

    Wonderful - a lot of hard work transformed ivy into beauty.

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/04/2020

    My, my that Hydrangea augustipetala ‘Golden Crane’ is out of this world. Love the wolf - is it metal?

    1. puyalluppansy 02/04/2020

      Yes he is metal. Purchased in Lake Havasu City, Arizona from an old gentleman who made them. Cost me more to have it shipped home than the purchase price. But it was love at first sight.

  7. Maggieat11 02/04/2020

    Congratulations on your garden transformations. I love it! Great Japanese Maples, especially the one that you rescued and nurtured. Your front view photos, both of them, shows a beautiful all-season garden. Well done!
    Thanks for sharing. Hoping to see more photos!

  8. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/04/2020

    It can initially seem like a daunting task to go to battle against beds of robust growing English ivy. Congrats on vanquishing it and replacing it with much more colorful and appealing plants. I love all your additions of pleasing ornamentation as well. And, Victoria, if you stop back in to make comments, could you share if you brutally cut back the old rhodies or did you remove them and start out with new ones?

    1. puyalluppansy 02/04/2020

      Here in the NW if a rhododendron is in the right location they seem to thrive with no help if they are kept watered during the summer. When their leaves start to droop I place a hose just trickling at the base for a couple of hours, or if I forget.........

    2. puyalluppansy 02/04/2020

      I did the brutal pruning. Down to the main branches about 18 inches to 2 feet. It took awhile but they look so much better. Gratifying to see the transformation. Rhodies are so hardy. We even pulled some out with a truck and drug them into the back yard and replanted. They are beautiful and thriving.

  9. User avater
    simplesue 02/04/2020

    Even looks great in the winter! Just love that snow scene!
    Some of the healthiest Rhodies I've ever seen, got any secrets to share?
    I love the story on rescuing the poor Japanese Maple!
    Great job!

    1. puyalluppansy 02/04/2020

      Here in the NW if a rhododendron is in the right location they seem to thrive with no help if they are kept watered during the summer. When their leaves start to droop I place a hose just trickling at the base for a couple of hours, or if I forget.........

  10. user-7020748 02/04/2020

    Beautiful gardens with all season interest. Loved the very lush maples and rhodos. How did you bring your "spindly" rhodos back?

    1. puyalluppansy 02/04/2020

      Thank you for the lovely comment.
      Here in the NW rhododendrons are very hardy. I just whacked them down to about 2 feet and as they grew out just let em go.

  11. JohnsonofMillCreek 02/04/2020

    What a beautiful NW garden! And you've made rhodies relevant--so colorful when in full bloom. Nice job! I live in the NW too and we are truly blessed with what we can grow here. Thank you for sharing your garden, what a great way to start my day on this chilly winter morning.

  12. Cenepk10 02/04/2020

    Utterly glorious... Those Japmaps.... the blue umbrella popping... that blue bird feeder (?) hanging... it’s all so beautiful. I love it all !

    1. puyalluppansy 02/04/2020

      That feeder started out as just being an ornamental addition but since it was hung up we have had black capped chickadees using it during nesting season. I always wonder if it is the same pair or maybe an offspring coming back home.

  13. [email protected] 02/04/2020

    Hi neighbor ( north of you, in Maple Valley). Thanks for sharing. I have several of the same plants as you, but mine are very small (new property), so it's fun to see what I can anticipate. Love your arbors, and that Hydrangea! Did you find that locally? Not sure I have seen it before. Hope to see more from you.

    1. puyalluppansy 02/05/2020

      Hi, I ordered the hydrangea from Monrovia and picked it up at my local nursery. A real nice order plants you want that are in nice size and in good shape.
      Thank you

  14. joe_green_thumb 02/04/2020

    Nice garden. I live in the area too. I live in Newcastle.

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