Garden Photo of the Day

GPOD Vignettes: A Succulent Front Yard, New Blooms from a Zesty Plant, and a Compost Cake

A front yard gets a water-wise makeover, a neon hydrangea has a really good year, and compost becomes art

rock garden with succulents and yellow flowers

Happy Friday GPODers!

We’re doing something a little different today, I’m starting a new series I’m calling “GPOD Vignettes”. We often get submissions that are a little too short for a stand alone post, three photos or less. But I know gathering photos and writing up descriptions is very time intensive, so I wanted a way to share these shorter submissions without requiring extra work on your end. I decided I could compile a few of these shorter submissions we receive over the course of some weeks and make one post featuring a collection of gardens and plants.

If you’ve ever wanted to submit to GPOD in the past and have been overwhelmed with the lift, or afraid you don’t have enough to share, this is your time to send something in! Even if it’s just one photo of a plant doing particularly well this year (you’ll see an example of that below), send it in with a quick note about you, where you garden, and the plant in the photo.

Hopefully I’ll get to see more of your gardens, and we’ll all be able to enjoy more plant photos along the way. So, without further ado, here are some vignettes from the past few weeks:


1: Catherine and John Campbell’s Succulent Front Yard

Hello Fine Gardening Team!! Here are a few pics of my front yard personal paradise. Last year we tore out the lawn and jasmine that the previous owners had installed and replaced it with a mix of waterwise plants and succulents, along with a few shade trees from our local Shade Tree Program. This year I’m planning on putting in a California native garden to add to the beauty and hopefully attract even more hummingbirds and butterflies. I am so grateful for the peace and calm this space has given me.

front yard rock garden with succulentsWho needs a lawn when you have rocks! Lawns require a lot of maintenance no matter your location, but in a hot, dry climate like Southern California, lawns are often a losing battle. While there are many different kinds of lawn alternatives, I find this rock garden particularly eye-catching! The various sizes, shapes, and colors bring far more interest than a sea of green grass.

close up of colorful succulents in rock gardenAnd this rock garden allows Catherine and John to grow these incredible plants! The stunner in the front appears to be a mangave—potentially ‘Macho Mocha’ (× Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’, Zones 7–9)—and the colorful ‘Jester’ New Zealand flax (Phormium ‘Jester’, Zones 8–11) directly behind is show stopping.

rock garden with succulents and yellow flowersA real riot of color! Shrubs, succulents and even some coreopsis flowers create a waterwise landscape that isn’t sacrificing any interest.

Thanks so much for sharing, Catherine! Please share an update when you install your California native garden.


2: A Special Shrub Blooming in Atlanta

From my backyard, quarter-acre, mostly woodland shade garden.

Atlanta, GA Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

The hydrangea ‘Lemon Zest’ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lemon Zest’, Zones 4–7) was from a cutting at a previous property. It has been moved twice in this yard. Has rarely bloomed but this location seems to have worked its magic.

hydrangea with lime green foliage and bright pink flowersLook at those blooms!! While ‘Lemon Zest’ has foliage that packs a bright punch, there is no denying that the bubblegum pink blooms take it to another level. Pairing it with ‘Illustris’ elephant’s ear (Colocasia esculenta ‘Illustris’, Zones 8–11) and a dark, shiny hosta made it a vignette I just had to share.

Mystery submitter, please share more info and photos from your garden soon!!


3: Patrick Costello Turns Compost into Art

In keeping with Fine Gardening and GPOD I have another fabulous plant/art story to share with you. My friend, Patrick Costello, designed and constructed an impressive Compost Cake at Stone Quarry Art Park, Cazenovia, N.Y.

It is amazing. Indigo dyed burlap tubes filled with elephant dung, straw and wood chips surround an armature of hay. Planted with native grasses and flowers the cake is striking in the landscape. To learn more about the piece, here is a link to Patrick’s description of his organic work:

—Elizabeth Schoonmaker (Check out the first incredible garden story she shared with us here.)

compost cake art installationEvery gardener knows that planting is an art form in and of itself, but there is something particularly magical that happens when the “traditional” art world collides with plants. Whether that comes from garden art, plant paintings, or an incredible blue cake made of compost and grass!

compost cake art installation from a distanceWhen that art is in a setting as stunning as this art park, it is that much more magical. If you’re in the Syracuse area, or find yourself passing through, you should absolutely make a point to visit this incredible space full of nature and art.

And thank you for sharing another incredible story with us, Elizabeth! You’re quickly becoming our GPOD curator 😉


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.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. btucker9675 06/28/2024

    Love these - the rock front garden is fabulous, much better than boring turf! I wish I could get away with that here - instead I just keep adding beds to eat away at the turf lawn little by little... the HOA doesn't even notice! Also glad to see someone else moving a plant until it finds just the right spot to thrive - that's a lovely hydrangea. And that compost cake is astonishing, what a creative work of art! These "vignettes" were a great idea...

  2. [email protected] 06/28/2024

    This is a great idea for GPOD. I always look forward to whatever the day presents, and thank everyone who shares.

  3. User avater
    simplesue 06/29/2024

    Those are all very interesting, and I like the idea that you have collected short submissions into one post! Nice variety of gardens!

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