Garden Photo of the Day

Ginger’s New Washington Garden

A blank slate turned garden in just a few years

A dark boulder with water tricking over it, with a flower garden behind it.

My name is Ginger Shields, and although I’ve been gardening across the United States for 30 years, I’m now in western Washington between Seattle and Mount Rainier, and it’s a whole new world! We moved into our brand-new home in late 2017, with a blank canvas for our backyard. A blank canvas is a wonderful thing for someone who loves colors and paints with flowers. A landscape contractor brought in good soil, the trees, and the bigger rocks to start my design in April 2018. Since then, I’ve added perennials, shrubs, bulbs, and garden art. And a lot more rocks! These are photos from last year.

The backyard is 100x 51 and is designed with a pea gravel “patio” near the house. A dry creek bed starts behind the bubbler and helps take any excessive winter rains away from the house to the back part of the property, which has a French drain. A gravel path goes around the lot, and there are bluestone tumbled stepping stones in other areas to help with access to planting areas. The big perennial bed is on the north side and gets full-day sun.

Some of my favorite plants in my yard include the Shindeshojo Japanese maples (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) in the back. They are a lovely pink-red in the spring. Another favorite is Baptisia. I have four different varieties and find they help give the garden a lot of structure. When I tidy up in early spring, last year’s plants are removed to the ground, and that allows the rhododendrons behind them to shine while blooming.

I’ve found that being part of gardening groups, attending workshops and lectures offered at nearby nurseries (or through Zoom now), having an online subscription to Fine Gardening, and going to the many botanical gardens in the area have all helped me acclimate to gardening in our new home, and I’m becoming a better gardener for it. I can’t wait to see what my garden does this year.

Low-growing flowers around a dry stone stream bedMay in the garden, looking across the dry creek bed.

Morning Lilac Itoh hybrid peonyMorning Lilac Itoh hybrid peony (Paeonia ‘Morning Lilac’, Zones 3–8).

new garden blooming in springLooking from the back of the property in May, with the Shindeshojo Japanese maples in their warm spring color.

A gravel path curving through a gardenThe back loop of the path through the garden in June.

Fiamma liliesBrilliant ‘Fiamma’ lilies (Lilium ‘Fiamma’, Zones 4–8) in June.

Pincushion flowerScabiosa (Pincushion flower, Zones 4–8) showing off in June.

new flower garden summer bloomsThe middle bed of the garden in full bloom in June.

Echinacea in many colorsIn July, Echinacea (Zones 5–9) take center stage in the perennial bed.

gravel path and rocks in the gardenLooking across the bubbler water feature to the perennial bed beyond.

Flowers growing through ornamental grassesSeptember in the garden is still flowery, with blooms mingling with ornamental grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’, Zones 5–9).


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View Comments


  1. reginamelo 03/05/2021

    Ginger, your garden it's beautiful!!! All the colors and varieties, the stepping stones and the gravel path, it all makes it so cozy and joyful.

    I wish I would do the same in my backyard, but I never could come up with a nice design.

    I have a question for you, how do you keep weeds out of your gravel path?

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 03/05/2021

    All so very lovely.

  3. Rebeccazone7 03/05/2021

    Anyone with serious stones to work with gets my have incorporated them so beautifully. Also, the weather where you are is a joy to garden in. Your eye for color is wonderful.

  4. btucker9675 03/05/2021

    What a delightful garden you've created! The combination of plants, rocks and art pieces has so much personality. Thank you for sharing!

  5. User avater
    simplesue 03/05/2021

    What a beautiful accomplishment!
    A paradise for you and pollinators!
    I love that Baptisia and was so curious which 4 varieties you have and which one is your favorite and why?

  6. user-5117752 03/07/2021

    Delightful virtual visit to your garden! I just love the rock plantings and design. Amazing that you've accomplished so much in such a short time. Lot's of hard work and intense thinking, I'll bet and what a wonderful job you've done.

  7. carolineyoungwilliams 03/08/2021

    Ginger, your garden is beautiful. I really love your Garden Art Poles, all of the bright colors and the creative ways you used the rocks. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. joe_green_thumb 03/18/2021

    Thanks for sharing your nice garden. How big will those maples get (width and height)? I live in the area too. Newcastle, Wa since 1995.

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