Garden Photo of the Day

Garden Perfection, 40+ Years in the Making: Part 1

Hard work pays off

Welcome to Elaine Hutson’s lovely garden! It is an incredible garden, and as you’ll see, the photographs of it are pretty magical as well.

These are pictures taken of my garden in the year 2018. It is a large garden—1 acre and another 3/4 acre in woodlands. I have lived here for 44 years, and when I arrived there was nothing but pasture grass, so every tree (except for the Douglas firs), shrub, perennial, and bulb has been planted by me.

Unfortunately, I have to sell. I hope somebody who loves gardens will buy it.

A flowering kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa, Zones 5–8) presides over this perfect scene, highlighted with the rich blue container in the center of the space.

The same space, but from a different angle, looking out from under the kousa dogwood to the garden beyond. A rich diversity of different-colored foliage makes for a complex garden scene without relying on many flowers.

This intricate piece of garden art is set against a rich green backdrop, so every detail shines.

Another garden sculpture. The leaf designs in the sculpture itself are echoed and amplified by the leafy surroundings where it is placed.

Often we see rhododendrons as big rounded shrubs covered with dense, evergreen leaves. But old rhododendrons can develop to tall plants with their trunks forming intricate living sculptures.

One of my favorite things about the GPOD is seeing pictures of where gardeners have stopped to look at a plant in a way I never have before. Mountain laurels (Kalmia latifolia, Zones 4–9) are, of course, beautiful in full bloom, but this photo is making me think they may be even more beautiful while still in bud!

Formal brick columns are draped with romantic climbing roses.

‘Coral Charm’ peonies (Paeonia ‘Coral Charm’, Zones 3–7) look all the lovelier for having a dark backdrop.

Formal brickwork surrounds these plants like a picture frame.

A large-flowered clematis hybrid trails over a lichen-covered tree trunk. (Fine Gardening All-Access members can read more about clematis here.)

An espalier shrub grows against a wall painted to show it off.

Tall spires of rich blue delphinium (Delphinium elatum, Zones 3–7).

We’ll have more of Elaine’s incredible garden tomorrow, so be sure to check back then!


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View Comments


  1. Cenepk10 06/10/2019

    Oh my goodness.... So elegant a garden. Can not wait for tomorrow ‘s pictures. Very beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your life’s work of art !

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    treasuresmom 06/10/2019

    Love that garden art but on my that peony is to die for.

  3. user-783091 06/10/2019


  4. cheryl_c 06/10/2019

    Stunning plants and magical photos. Could you tell us what state and winter hardiness zone you are in?

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    lollygardens 06/10/2019

    You are a talented landscape artist! Your garden is so lovely. I look forward to seeing the rest of it tomorrow!

  6. annek 06/10/2019

    Exquisite! Your design, statuary ( kingdom for the leafman), plant combinations and colors are divine

  7. User avater
    simplesue 06/10/2019

    You are truly a creative artist, and this garden is your art. Creating an environment like this with all the magic of flowers and the perfect placement of statues (Oh where can I buy the leaf covered creature/man statue?!?) and the brick column arbor with the roses...oh wow!!!!! So sorry you are selling, but I too am well aware that it is better to have had a garden to love and lose,- than it is to never have had a garden at all. Looking forward to tomorrow for the rest of the garden tour!

  8. btucker9675 06/10/2019

    To leave this incredibly beautiful place would be heartbreaking. I pray that whoever is fortunate enough to purchase your home will appreciate and care for the exquisite gift of this garden! 40 years well spent!

  9. sheila_schultz 06/10/2019

    Elaine, there is no question your heart and soul are one with your magnificent gardens. Your passion for the beauty you have created is obvious. What an amazing gift to pass on to the future caretakers of your property. Wow. I'm in awe.

  10. joygirl 06/10/2019

    Thanks everybody, you are so kind. I am in Oregon near the Columbia gorge where the winds blow at 35-60mph, so wind breaks are a must. I am in zone 6. The garden is designed for year round beauty, raising the rhododendrons lets me address another season with hydrangea quercifolia and arborscens' invincible'. The spider webs are designed by me and built by a metal artist, the others I have found in various places, had to grab them because they would fit in the design.

  11. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 06/10/2019

    Elaine, having almost the same amount of property, I understand that after 40+ years you would need to move but there is no doubt in my mind how bittersweet that will be. You’ve done a magnificent job. Love all of your artwork and your metal spderweb. Anxious to see more.

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    carolcowee 06/10/2019

    Sad to leave this beautiful garden but I'll bet you have lots of excellent photos for memories. I'm so glad for being able to take hundreds/thousands? of digital photos as I lost my garden of 34 years to the Carr Wildfire in Redding CA and have wonderful photos ...
    Carol Cowee

  13. nwphillygardener 06/11/2019

    It is so clear from your photography the exquisite eye you have applied to your garden. You have captured experiences of the human eye and perception in your pictures that show an artists attention to texture, gesture, and color. Thank you for sharing your observations. Hopefully you will have opportunities to garden in your next landing place. But you and your camera have gifts to offer us, even if you visit gardens not of your own making.

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