Garden Photo of the Day

Heidi’s Poolside Garden

Combining shrubs, perennials, and annuals for season-long beauty

poolside garden in full bloom

My name is Heidi Steffes, and I’ve been gardening on six acres in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for 38 years. While I have many gardening areas, today’s photos are from our pool area that was added six years ago. My goal was to make the pool area a sort of sanctuary while also hiding (or blending in) the required fencing around the pool. Our winters are long here in Wisconsin, so I made an effort to include some conifers in the design for off-season interest. This part of the yard brings us much joy in our very short summers, even when we are not in the pool. While there are mostly shrubs and perennials in this area, I leave room in designated areas for annuals to ensure some color for the whole summer. Annuals change from year to year, which leaves room for some creativity.

group of container plantings with purple flowers next to the poolContainers clustered together make a little mini garden next to the water.

mini garden bed next to the poolThis planting pocket was added to break up the large cement surround visually. Conifers provide interest right through the winter, while the Liatris spicata (Zones 3–8) blooms in the summer.

garden bed with evergreen plants along a white wallYuccas (Yucca filamentosa, Zones 4–10) has dramatic, evergreen, spikey foliage. This one is just sending up the flower spikes, which will open to big sprays of white flowers.

poolside garden in full bloomThe garden in summer is filled with beautiful sweeps of color.

purple flowers next to chartreuse foliageYellow-leaved smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’, Zones 4–9) with purple blooms of Siberian iris (Iris siberica, Zones 4–10)

angel statue surrounded by white and pink flowersThis garden angel was a gift from Heidi’s family for her fiftieth birthday and is a focal point in this garden.

garden bed full of lots of foliage plants and pink flowersPerennials such as garden phlox (Phlox paniculata, Zones 4–8) and echinacea (Echinacea hybrid, Zones 5–9) add color to this bed.

various succulents in containersAssorted succulents in these containers bring a lot of beauty and interest while being drought tolerant and easy to care for.

various pink and purple flowersA beautiful pink and purple moment is provided by Asiatic lily (Lilium hybrid, Asiatic group, Zones 4–8) and bee balm (Monarda hybrid, Zones 5–9).

garden bed full of summer flowersThe garden angel again, presiding over the beautiful blooms of summer.


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View Comments


  1. nwphilagardener 04/28/2022

    Heidi's poolside offers some great lessons. Gathering pots of varied shapes and sizes, but the same terracotta material, allows Heidi to show us harmonious groupings. Whether they be low succulent planters or larger displays of showy annuals, the clusters can be re-arranged to showcase a new season's plants and potentially in new areas, too. I also enjoy that some shrubs with varied textures play off the white wall surfaces, And where the iron picket fence defines the pool area with a dark background, its the floral show that engages us. There is more than the promise of cool water to enjoy in this lovely garden room.

    1. user-7409702 04/28/2022

      thank you so much for the nice comments Its taken me a long time to learn to plant /display in groupings that relate to eachother (instead of hodgepodge ) which is what you see so often in peoples gardens .

  2. garden1953 04/28/2022

    Gorgeous! Hope you will share more photos in the future.

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 04/28/2022

    Lovely combinations of colors and textures.

  4. gardendevas 04/28/2022

    Lush and lovely. Would like to see more of your gardens!

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/28/2022

    Absolutely gorgeous!

  6. wildthyme 04/28/2022

    Great use of color and texture . . . I even like the fence!

    1. user-7409702 04/28/2022

      the fence was a big problem for me , but there was nothing I could do to avoid having one around a pool . luckily it came in a brown color .

  7. btucker9675 04/28/2022

    Fabulous! And the planting "pocket" in the pool surround was a genius idea.

    1. user-7409702 04/28/2022

      thanks , the planting pocket was a huge problem for the pool designer - he claimed that the cement would crack off of there in the wisconsin winter - and it did !!! but i still really like it and in hindsight would have made it twice as big .

  8. rosebudal 04/28/2022

    I second NWPhilaGardener’s comments; the varied use of terracotta is instructive to me. And the clusters of containers break up expanses of concrete, which surrounds most pools. Beautiful job.

    1. user-7409702 04/28/2022

      thanks I started using only terra cotta containers because our house is a stucco southwest style ( not seen often in wisconsin ) and they seem to go with the overall theme of the house .

  9. User avater
    simplesue 04/28/2022

    You really did succeed in creating a sanctuary garden- so serene...I'm feeling relaxed just looking at it!
    Oh the garden angel...ohhhh I want!!!
    Great colors, great design!
    I gotta save that photo of the angel statue to my Pinterest!!!!!

  10. user-7409702 04/28/2022

    thanks so much that angel is very large - 4 feet tall ? I have seen her at a few speciality garden centers in the area . Maybe you can find one ? fyi it took 4 big guys to lift her onto the pedestal .

  11. bsavage 04/30/2022

    Gorgeous! I love it al! Thank you for sharing!

  12. lunaterra 11/28/2022

    lush and beautiful. Interested in seeing more of your gardens! bitlife

  13. RobertHarness 02/24/2023


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