Garden Photo of the Day

Helene’s garden in Ontario

We built the new deck last year.  You can see some roses in bloom - 'Rosarium Uetersen' and 'White Dawn' on either side of the arch and 'Winchester Cathedral' by my potting bench. 'Kiwi Arctic Beauty' is climbing up my neighbour's garage. The brick patio and pathways were all constructed with donations from friends.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner

Today’s photos are from Helene Brule-Besner in Ontario. She says, “Bonjour! I live in Hamilton, Ontario. I got serious about my back garden 3 years ago. I love abundant cottage gardens and with help from my family and friends, and some wonderful brick donations, here we are.

–BEFORE–Other than one walnut and two birch trees, the mockorange shrubs,and the shed (which is next year’s project), around the perimeter, everything needed doing!As you can clearly see, my son’s trampoline took up most of the yard. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner

“I had it all carefully planned, that is, until we started laying the brick, and then, beds and paths morphed to accommodate the brick I had available. So, I ended up with more beds and different ‘garden rooms’, yeah! The garden is in Zone 5b and is about 50′ x 30′. Next year, we re-do the shed and I have plans for an arbour and swing where the blue glider is in this year’s pictures.”

–BEFORE–I started out with the potager on the left – adapted half circleraised beds.  That side also happens to be under the clothesline, so anything growing there must be under 4′. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner

What an amazing transformation, Helene! It’s so lush, colorful, and inviting now!

View into the garden, coming around the deck. All the raised bed were made with 2×8 cedar boards and rocks collected in our travels. I love Delphinium elatum for their intense colour. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner
Garage border again, with the purple butterfly bush, ‘Pomponella’ and rose of Sharon ‘Sugar Tips’ in bloom. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner
My ‘Secret Garden’ view from the corner by the house. Purple butterfly bush and ‘Pink Delight’ butterfly bush are in bloom. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner
View toward shade garden.  White butterfly bush and Phlox ‘David’ are blooming. I like having something in bloom all the time…and fragrance if possible. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner
Caryopteris ‘Dark Knight’, a hardworking dwarf shrub, looking bright in front of ‘Pink Knockout’ rose. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner
Fall view from the shade garden, by the birch tree. ‘Pink Knockout’ rose is still abloom. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner
This is part of my shade garden by the birch trees and behind my potting bench. ‘Brunette’ bugbane and ‘Midnight Rose’ heuchera provide the lovely purple colour contrast amidst hostas and impatients. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner
Kordes rose ‘Pomponella’, Geranium ‘Jolly Bee’ and Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ in the border by the neighbour’s garage. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner
This is the border along the edge of the patio. ‘Pink Knockout’ rose is in the foreground. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Helene Brule-Besner

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View Comments


  1. JuleMG 01/08/2013

    It is all beautiful, but I never thought of a blue deck to coordinate with your other outdoor furniture. Love it!

  2. Plant_Paradise 01/08/2013

    The delphinium elatum combined with the pink roses looks fantastic. I like how you have continued the touches of blue furniture throughout the garden.

  3. tractor1 01/08/2013

    Helene, you've carved out a lovely oasis and your two blues work well.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/08/2013

    What an amazing transformation...truly worthy of an episode on an HGTV show that features such total turn arounds. Your birch looked so lonely and forlorn in the before picture and now it anchors a lovely garden. It even has a charming stone pathway leading to a seating area near it. "YES", it says, "This is how I was meant to exist...surrounded by beauty!"
    Sincerest congrats, Helene,to you and all those who helped on a great job!

  5. pattyspencer 01/08/2013

    You've got some really pretty plant combinations - the shrub and knockout rose are just eyepopping together as is the geranium and rose. Really pretty together!

  6. pattyspencer 01/08/2013

    Tractor1 - Michelle is working on it for us and we should be connected this week. Got an email from her on this last night.

  7. tractor1 01/08/2013

    pattyspencer: I'm waiting to hear from you. I think with you being in Ohio we are in similar growing zones. It was 9 degrees here at six this morning, but the sun is out and is now up to 30 degrees. I'm hoping the temperature reaches the projected 40 degrees today so more snow melts and Newt's buddies can come to visit.

  8. wittyone 01/08/2013

    Wow, what a turnaround and in such a short time! I love the blue deck. It's so much more interesting than a plain stained one would be. How nice that you decided to amend your carefully laid plans and incorporated those planting beds along the way----they really make the area look spacious and bountiful. Serendipity often works well if the gardener is courageous enough and willing to let the project play out on it's own terms. A great job!

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/08/2013

    Night and Day! What a difference.

  10. deechurch 01/08/2013

    I love this! The touches of blue draw your eye from the deck to other points in the yard. I too would have never thought to paint a deck bright blue but it looks great. Makes me feel happy just looking at it.

  11. cwheat000 01/08/2013

    I love the new blue deck and your beautiful coordinating plant combinations. The pink and blue plants are truly lovely together. I love the blue fescue near the blue glider. If they are not already hiding in there, some blue hostas,dwarf blue spruce, blue star juniper,or other blue hued ornamental grasses would continue the great theme you have already started. I also love the pink seed heads of the ornamental grass you have pictured, and your plants with maroon foliage play off the color theme well too. You might also consider painting some other things blue. It is a really fun use of color and ties everything together. I think it was a good move to stick with just a few colors in a small space. It keeps it cohesive instead of chaotic. There is such a great difference between the before and after and it sounds like you have great friends too.

  12. passwords 01/08/2013

    What a change you have made. You've truly turned your backyard into wonderful get away. The colors combo's are smashing!

  13. MmeBez 01/09/2013

    Thank you very much everyone.
    It’s a joy to be able to share my garden.
    The idea for those shades of blue came from the colour of the delphinium elatums and the fact that I have always loved blue and green together :D

    meander1 – That’s why I made sure to include the before picture! My friends gave me all their leftover bricks and cement slabs and my family provided the muscle to move it all.

    pattyspencer – There are 3 of those blue Dark Knight shrubs and they bloomed steadily from the beginning of September well into late October.

    wittyone – As for all of my winter plans...they tend to improve wonderfully come garden time! I also very quickly got over the ‘you can’t change your mind and move the plants’ fear!

    deechurch – My garden makes me feel happy too: happy to work in it and happy to revisit it through pictures.

    cwhea000 – I had a great time finding interesting blue plants last year.

    I’m really looking forward to the spring now since I also have tulips planted in every bed.

  14. blue_nigella 01/09/2013

    Helene, thank you for sharing your beautiful yard. What an amazing transformation! I am enchanted with all the "blue" you have incorporated in your deck and garden. I guess you can tell by my name that "blue" is my favorite!

  15. Hellkat50 01/21/2013

    Beautiful sanctuary you have there! I can only hope to create such a tranquil place in my back yard some day. A place where butterflies, birds, bugs and the like, can come, live, thrive while they live out their lives. And I will only be a visitor in my special place. Great Job and Good Luck in your future endeavors!

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