Garden Photo of the Day

Garden Diversity Near Lake Michigan

By Kim Charles

Jim Nulty and Hugh Stephens give us a taste of their woody plant selections and more. 

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"Our property in Fennville, MI is a conifer laden sandy dune just 4 miles from the east coast of Lake Michigan. We take advantage of the sandy, acid soil by planting Rhododendrons, Azaleas, etc.  Rocks and natural mulch define the walking trails throughout the 25 acres. Other sunnier portions of the property are dedicated to restored Michigan prairies."



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Gardens stretching into restored prairies.
Rock gardens
Cutting garden

View Comments


  1. Jay_Sifford 01/11/2017

    Good morning. It's so great to see people who really care about their land like you guys do. Your garden seems to be a happy and thoughtful place, and you can't get much better than that. Happy gardening!

  2. user-4691082 01/11/2017

    Good morning, Jim and Hugh! I agree with Diane, we need more photos! Did you build your cutting garden structure? Do you both like to work in the garden? If so, you have twice the manpower that most of us have! No wonder it is so impressive. Thanks for sharing.

  3. user-7007498 01/11/2017

    What a nice way to start the day with a stroll through the woods. I echo Diane with a desire to see more photos of the property. 25 acres astounds me. My mind starts racing with all the possibilities. Thanks for sharing your piece of paradise.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/11/2017

    Hi, Jim and Hugh, if today was April 1st, I would almost believe that you guys were pulling a tease on us by stating that your garden is in MI...those rhodie/azalea lined woodsy trails remind me of something seen at Calloway Gardens in magically beautiful. I humbly did not know they grew so well in any part of MI. Do you have dogwoods and redbuds also? Yes, indeed, the clamor for more pictures is going to reach a fever pitch. You are obviously very talented gardeners with a wonderful aesthetic. Love the spiral hanging sculpture in the first picture Thanks for whetting our appetite.

    1. Luvfall 01/12/2017

      My garden is directly west of Fennville on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Our climate is zone 5 and I believe Fennville is a bit milder in temperature but likely gets much more snow. I have several species of rhododendrons as well as evergreen and deciduous azaleas and redbuds. There's and expanding variety of these beauties hardy to zone 4.

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 01/12/2017

        Thanks for the nice to learn that even gardeners in zone 4 can enjoy these additions to their gardens.

  5. User avater
    HelloFromMD 01/11/2017

    Whoa, that was a tease. We want more photos. How about an article on the prairie restoration for Fine Gardening mag. ?The screening around the cutting garden what is the purpose? To keep the stems straight or protect against deer? Your garden is very beautiful and I hope you will take photos this spring and send them in so we can all enjoy your rhodos. What is your hardiness zone? I suspect your selection is quite different from a garden of rhodos in Oregon. Would you might sharing the names of a few favorites for those of us who must plant the hardier types? Thx, Nancy

  6. Kim_Charles 01/11/2017

    Good morning! I agree re: the prairie element of this post and will be reaching back out to Jim & Hugh. A prairie restoration article would make for a great feature!

  7. chelleisdiggin 01/11/2017

    Loving your photos from Fennville. It's a great community that we've visited often through friends who share our interest in Alaskan Malamutes. But we're always there in the winter and never see these types of views! Just beautiful, Jim and Hugh.

  8. Chris_N 01/11/2017

    White pine, staghorn sumac, Hill's oak on a sandy dune. Thanks for bringing back memories. Back in my younger days, some of my most memorable times were spent near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan either at Warren Dunes State Park, south of you, or at Owassippi Scout Reservation to your north. Do you have any prickly pear cactus on your property? I agree we need more photos. The gardens you have built are beautiful.

  9. annek 01/11/2017

    I enlarged the cutting garden photo to read what words graced the small heart sign in the corner. I believe it reads 'a garden for Grandma Dutch'. That sweet honor rolled around in my mind for awhile before I could ponder other aspects of the photo. Is one of you a welder? The 'fence' surrounding your cutting garden is intriguing and the hollyhocks divine.

    I finally pulled away long enough to admire the other photos. What finer focal point than the golden grasses framed by autumn colors and a backdrop of rolling hills. The rock garden must explode in green as those leaves on the hostas expand, and oh those rhodies. Beautiful!

  10. NCYarden 01/11/2017

    Way to preserve, conserve, and decorate the land. And so much of it to do great things with! That woodland path sure looks wonderfully inviting. A few more pics to guide me along maybe?

  11. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/11/2017

    Really a nice and varied garden. Wonderful that you've taken full advantage of what your property has presented. Looks great, especially seeing spring and summer photos in the middle of winter (no matter how warm it is in Ohio for the coming days!). Would love to see more.

  12. sheila_schultz 01/11/2017

    The respect and love you both have for your land is quite evident through your words and photos. The rhodie and azalea lined path through the woods is beautiful as is the view of the restored prairie from your tree filled gardens. You have definitely left me wanting to see more!

  13. Meelianthus 01/11/2017

    Wow, with 25 acres you have enough joy and happiness to last a life time. What a lovely job you have accomplished thus far. I love the short walkway to your cutting garden and the paths thru your woods look very inviting for a stroll. Thanks for the wonderful views.

  14. anitaberlanga 01/11/2017

    omgosh! such loveliness, done with respect for the natural terrain! Thank you for sharing!

  15. foxglove12 01/11/2017

    Wow! So lovely.

  16. Cenepk10 01/11/2017


  17. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 01/12/2017

    Hi Jim and Hugh, I'm a day late in admiring your post but had to comment because it is just so lovely. My husband and I gardened in Madison, WI for many years before moving to the PNW and I seem to remember that in MI near the Lake you were about a zone 6. Is that correct? Your rhodies and azaleas are beautiful, something that we grow a lot of in our current garden and I'd love to see more photos of your prairie. Is that a clever reuse of wine bottles along the path to the cutting garden or do my eyes deceive me? Thanks so much for sharing.

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