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Garden Photo of the Day

A Garden Full of Memories

Barbara Downing Owening sent in these photos in memory of her brother Ken.

When Fine Gardening first began the GPOD feature, I began to encourage my brothers to collect their photos and share their beautiful gardens. See Doug’s garden GPOD in Pennsylvania (and mine in Massachusetts).

I’m a New England gardener, so my brother and sister-in-law’s garden in California was always a mystery to me—that you needed to add a new spigot to the watering system if you added a new plant, that there really would not be rain all summer. I began taking photos of their garden. When Ken died last summer, I wanted to pull my photos together in his memory, especially since he found so much joy in his garden projects. My sister-in-law was very helpful in adding more photos and lots of detailed information about the plants. I hope you enjoy this tour of their garden.

When they first bought their house, the yard was a wasteland. So much has changed in 33 years of TLC. When there are abundant winter and spring rains, the entry garden afterward is colorful with tulips, geraniums, and calla lilies.

The ‘Razzleberri’ fringe bush is in full bloom next to the Meyer lemon tree as we move into the backyard.

Spanish lavender, freesias, Japanese maple, ‘Razzleberry’ fringe bush, and manzanita

Ken made this entry trellis with the trimmings from grapevines. Red-orange sparaxis lines the stone path into the backyard.

Farther through the yard, grassy areas have been replaced with more drought-tolerant plants, mulched beds, and paths that entice adults as well as children. Ken’s Toroid sculpture becomes a focal point as you meander down the hill.

Begin the walk down into the garden areas where the grass used to be, pausing to admire the pelargonium, Santa Barbara daisy, rock purslane, lavender, and various sages.

For many years, the lower section of the yard was dominated by a huge poplar. When that had to be removed, a large area became available for gardening. Note the areas of thirsty grass to appreciate the changes to come.

Ken’s sense of humor comes through in the stone stream bed and ceramic fish.

Coastal redwoods form a soothing background to the lower area of the garden. In front are Japanese maple, fortnight lily, euphorbia, and agapanthus.

Ken loved to work with wood. Here you can see the Japanese maple through the moon-window trellis he designed, which is covered with jasmine.


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!

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View Comments


  1. nwphillygardener 05/03/2019

    Thank you, Barbara. You truly honor Ken in multiple ways by showing us these photos. It is clear from them your Brother's investment in time, attention, and creative. He created a soothing place of beauty (and whimsy) guided not only by carefully chosen plants, but by the gracious curves of the well-defined pathways, the moon-gate, and the portal covered width grape vines. And the furnishings in many of the images help us place ourselves there. Enjoying the fruits of his labors.
    He continues to share by virtue of the lessons we can learn from these photos.

  2. user-7017435 05/03/2019

    Good morning, Thank you for sharing your brother's gardens with us. This is a beautiful & touching tribute to your brother & a families love for one another shared thru gardening.
    Good luck, Joe

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/03/2019

    Thank you doesn't actually say what I feel in my heart. Losing a loved one is so difficult but thankfully you have this part of him left. It is all just so beautiful!

  4. cheryl_c 05/03/2019

    Barbara, what a thoughtful thing to do for your sister-in-law and the rest of the family, and what an amazing man your brother was! An artist, a man of endearing humor, a lover of this world and the beauty it holds. We are so sorry for your family's loss. Thank you for sharing your memories.

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 05/03/2019

    I very much enjoyed sharing the pictorial walk-about through the garden of your brother, Ken. He obviously had a gift and a passion for beautifying his surroundings and his garden areas are a living tribute to talents. It's interesting that all 3 of you siblings shared the interest in gardening. Was this the result of your upbringing?

    1. User avater
      BDOwen 05/03/2019

      Yes! Our parents always had a vegetable garden and flower gardens, fresh vegetable all summer long, packages of frozen beans in the freezer for the winter. I first remember planting seeds when I was probably 5, and at 10 I had beautiful morning glories twining all over one area of the picket fence that surrounded the yard- haven't been able to grow them that beautifully since!

  6. BTucker9675 05/03/2019

    Your brother was a true artist and I appreciate you sharing his wonderful garden. Especially love the graceful grapevine arbor - am inspired to working out how to do one for myself! His love of plants, beauty, and his sense of humor shine through this garden. God bless!

  7. User avater
    SimpleSue 05/03/2019

    So nice of you to remember your brother through his garden. Love the moon trellis, the grapevine arbor and the garden paths. Truly a beautiful creation. And what a challenge I would find the lack of water to be- like you I am used to rain where I live.

  8. User avater
    BDOwen 05/03/2019

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments,

  9. dceddowning 05/03/2019

    This is a wonderful tribute to Ken. All the ingenuity, humor, technical expertise, and sense of aesthetics comes through so clearly in these pictures. There are details all through this that many would miss on their their first time wandering through. It's the kind of garden that you want to linger in, relax in, and take another look around and see what you might have missed the first time. It's remarkable, uplifting, and even somewhat humbling to remember that I'm related to him. Thanks to both of you - Barbara and Linda - for sharing this with the rest of us.

  10. Cenepk10 05/05/2019

    What a fascinating tour of an Artist’s garden. Grateful you shared !!!! Very cool !!

  11. carolineyoungwilliams 05/06/2019

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden Barbara. I enjoyed the design and the art work as much as I enjoyed the flowers. Keep up the good work.

  12. User avater
    devinkoblas 05/07/2019

    I love This Garden!

  13. User avater
    KevinHuggins 07/16/2019

    Very nice!

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