Garden Photo of the Day

Gardening for 50+ Years

Decades of work create a perfect happy place

Today we’re visiting with Linda Colson in New Jersey.

I have gardened on the Cape between the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean in Cape May County, New Jersey, for 30 years since moving here from the mountains of western Pennsylvania. All I knew from my 20 years of gardening in clay and loamy soil was challenged by the sandy soil of this seashore area. It took the addition of a lot of manure and other amenities to enrich the soil, and a lot of tender loving care to enhance the soil. What fun it has been!

miniature cottoneasterThis is in early spring, before any blooms have appeared. In the foreground is a border of miniature cotoneaster with the variegated Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ (Zones 5–9) and dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’, Zones 3–6) that invite entry into a birdbath area. Iris spikes await their blooms, and autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora, Zones 5–8) along with hostas fill the background. The building in the background is The Shed, a pole barn construction built by the Pennsylvania Amish. It houses my art studio and my husband’s workshop.

green garden bedHere’s the same garden at the same time of year, but photographed from the other side. Azaleas abound. To the left is a viburnum, and behind that is a pink Pieris japonica (Zones 5–9) that has reached 7 feet in height and just keeps on giving.

azaleas in bloomThe azaleas are in bloom. Visible in the back is a hedge of boxwood that privatizes the garden from the walking/bike path that passes the back of our property.

rose campionThis side garden shows off rose campion (Lychnis coronaria, Zones 4–8), moonlight coreopsis (Coreopsis ‘Moonlight’, Zones 6–9), endless summer hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’, Zones 5–8), and random planters of New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri, Zones 10–11 or as an annual) added for color. I am proud to say that my gardens have earned certification from the National Wildlife Federation for many years.

raised gardensMy husband built the raised gardens, which in this spring picture are planted for the season.

turtle in the gardenThis is just one of the critters that I so appreciate in my garden. I have photographed tree frogs, snakes, toads, wild turkeys, praying mantis, butterflies, and a variety of birds too numerous to mention. It’s a joy to come across a visitor while I’m working and know that they all take part in keeping my gardens healthy. My gardens are organic. I have never used any toxic products.

garden harvestJust a few of the fruits of our labors. Of course, part of the joy of gardening is looking forward to rewards like this throughout the season.

hosta and fern garden bedThis bed of hostas and ferns enjoys a shaded area of the gardens.

sedum autumn joyThis shows ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum (Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3–9) with coleus tucked in behind. The coleus is an heirloom from my mother that I have saved from season to season for 30 years. The rock wall was built by yours truly with the help of my husband. In the background is just a peek of my treasured garden house, which my husband built as an anniversary gift in 1994. There isn’t any place I’d rather be than on my knees in the gardens. It’s my “happy place.”


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. sandyprowse 10/29/2020

    Well that was truly delightful. I loved reading your comments, “ There isn’t any place I’d rather be than on my knees in the gardens. It’s my “happy place.” I read that and dug out my gardening journal and recorded your sentiment. It is so nice to see any form of happiness communicated during this sad pandemic. Thank you so much for giving us a peek at your splendid garden and surrounding area.

    1. sohappygardening 10/29/2020

      Thank you, Sandy. I appreciate your comments.

  2. blondie3 10/29/2020

    Thank you for sharing, your garden is wonderful. Love the art studio, love the path, and the maturity of your garden. Love garden tours!

  3. garden1953 10/29/2020

    So very lovely! And so wonderful to support so many critters. I bet they love living in the gardens you have created for them (and for you)!

  4. User avater
    user-7007816 10/29/2020

    What a beautiful setting you have created. I was glad to see emphasis on providing natural habitat.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/29/2020

    Oh, my, how very lovely!

  6. sohappygardening 10/29/2020

    Thanks to all for the lovely comments.

  7. mgol1068 10/29/2020

    Well done. What a beautiful setting from which to do your art. Congratulations.

  8. user-5117752 10/29/2020

    Aaaaaaah, such a paradise to wake up to this stormy, miserable morning! Not sure which I like better, your gardens or your buildings. Such a perfect setting! Thank you for your words and pics, for taking the time to share with us all.

  9. wittyone 10/29/2020

    You've created such an enticing garden. I love the pathways leading the way through and the azaleas and rhododendrons are beautiful.

  10. stewpot 10/29/2020

    Oh how beautiful! Good job and thanks for sharing. Nice morning wake up. Your love is evident :>)

  11. cheryl_c 10/29/2020

    Your color scheme is lovely - pink, blue and fuschia with some whites and silvers. And your vegetables are so perfect. Mine always have the marks of my sharing them with my gardening 'neighbors'. Thanks for sharing.

  12. User avater
    simplesue 10/29/2020

    Not only is your garden amazing- you and your husband are amazing!
    What a fabulous job you've done on this garden.
    I love your house and the way it sits in the garden, and love your appreciation for nature in your garden!
    Such a joy to see your photos and hear your story!

  13. User avater
    bdowen 10/29/2020

    That view of your side path just invites us all to come over and walk through your lovely garden. Even without reading about your wildlife certification, the lush greens (of the hostas) and harmonious colors of the flowers and buildings make it look like a healthy, restorative place for human and other critters. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  14. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 10/30/2020

    An interesting garden. Glad you've incorporated a few conifers!
    Wish more people did, they add so much texture, seasonal interest, and structure.
    What sort of art do you pursue? I'm guessing painting of some kind. If it was ceramics, there would be examples mixed within the plantings :)
    We have quite a bit of full sun garden spaces, and only a few fully shaded ones. I prefer the sunny beds. You're doing a lot even with all the tree cover. Congratulations.

    1. sohappygardening 10/31/2020

      You’re very perceptive. Yes, we have very little sun. A lot of dappled shade with side light. You learn to accept what nature gives you. I am a watercolorist and my husband does stained glass work. We are very happy with what we’ve accomplished. Thank you so much for the compliments

  15. katherine_8 11/01/2020

    I love the natural, non-manicured look of your garden, Linda. So relaxing and beautiful. I would love to stroll through each nook and cranny. I see that Kitty Cat has wandered in for a photo op :)

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest