Garden Photo of the Day

Joanna’s Ontario Garden

A boring lot transformed into a garden

mass plantings of yellow and purple flowers

Today Alina is sharing photos of her mother Joanna’s garden.

My mother has been working on her garden for over 20 years. When first purchased, her 1/3-acre property in Waterloo, Ontario, consisted of a house and a couple of trees scattered in a large expanse of lawn. I’m sure glad I wasn’t around to mow it!

Each summer, one bed at a time, she grew her garden. Today there is only a small stretch of grass left—just enough for my trampoline. Each part of the garden has a different name identifying the types of plants in the section; there’s the daisy garden, rock garden, woodland garden, and so on.

clump of red flowers next to foliage plantsA clump of primroses (looks like a red form of Primula veris, Zones 5–8) is covered with blooms in the front yard.

mass plantings of yellow and purple flowersClouds of flowers bloom in the front yard, with a magnificent clump of phlox (Phlox subulata, Zones 3–9) taking center stage.

stone path winding through the gardenA stone path winds through contrasting foliage in the front garden.

garden bed full of ferns and native plantsThe woodland garden includes big clumps of great white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum, Zones 3–8), which is Ontario’s provincial flower.

garden with white arbor and purple flowersThe beauty of the daisy garden is that there’s always something interesting happening anytime in the season. There’s a public path that goes along this side of the property. People often stop to admire my mother’s garden and complement it as they walk by. It’s so nice that Joanna’s art is able to be enjoyed by the entire neighborhood.

bright hot colored flowersRiot of summer color in the daisy garden

white archway covered in vine with flowersTrumpet vine (Campsis radicans, Zones 4–9) covers an archway with bright orange blooms.

garden path with dense plantings on either sideEvery inch of the garden is filled with beautiful plants, with things to discover around every bend in the path.

view of the house with wooden fence and dense gardenThe lower garden is a network of paths made of flagstone pavers filled in with moss. This path system was probably the biggest development in the garden. I vividly remember listening to my dad cursing in pain as he attempted to lift and move some of the larger stones in the garden while my mother supervised, directing him to where the rock was to go and making him shift it another inch, over and over, until it was in the right spot.

garden path winding through trees and shrubsThe stone paths are certainly in the right spot now, leading you past a bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora, Zones 4–8) backed up by a tall purple-leaved beech tree (Fagus sylvatica, Zones 4–7).

garden path leading to houseMore flagstone paths lead from the lower garden up toward the house.

shade garden full of light pink flowersWonderful color echoes with hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata, Zones 4–8), ornamental grass (Miscanthus sinensis, Zones 5–9), and sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3–8) all showing flowers in a soft, dusty rose.

black cat in the gardenJoanna’s cat likes to follow her around the garden, supervising the various gardening tasks.

photo of the yard before garden and landscapingAnd this is how it all started—some trees and lawn, now turned into a marvelous garden.


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 05/20/2022

    What a delightful garden has evolved here. I loved every picture. Particularly the one of the assistant Blackie. Well done!

  2. Jay_Sifford 05/20/2022

    How beautiful! This is my kind of garden.

  3. garden1953 05/20/2022

    Stunning gardens!

  4. User avater
    user-7007816 05/20/2022

    What an amazing and beautiful transformation. Must take a lot of work to keep it looking so great. Thanks for sharing.

  5. pplat 05/20/2022

    Thank you for including the “before” photo because it truly shows what a magnificent transformation you have accomplished over the span of twenty years. It is motivating me to get out and work on my garden! Thank you for sharing this beautiful masterpiece and keep up the great work!

  6. user-6861263 05/20/2022

    It all looks so natural and the big sweeps of color blocks are perfect. I can appreciate the work that all the stone paths have taken- my garden started from a similarly vacant patch of grass! A great mix of textures, colors, evergreens, shrubs and trees! Love it!

  7. nicki_s 05/20/2022

    What a peaceful-looking place. It's clearly been a labor of love!

  8. User avater
    simplesue 05/20/2022

    Wow! Her garden is what I would call a Garden Masterpiece!
    It's huge and magnificent, and every inch has been given great attention and care!
    I'm so impressed!
    And then to see the last photo of the ordinary patch of lawn she started with- even MORE IMPRESSED!
    Love the cute story of her husband having to move a heavy back-breaking stone another inch, and oh of course I love the cat in the garden!

  9. wildthyme 05/20/2022

    This is an exquisite example of layering. I am absolutely overwhelmed. This is the look I am trying to achieve in my new garden. Thank you so much for sharing these photos.

  10. User avater
    cynthia2020 05/20/2022

    I would love to have a garden just like Joanna’s. Thank you for sharing!

  11. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/20/2022

    It is all gorgeous but those primroses are really something!

  12. btucker9675 05/20/2022

    I'm with SimpleSue - this garden is a masterpiece. There is nothing that isn't perfect and every stone-moving curse was worth it! Bravo!

  13. Maggieat11 05/20/2022

    Wonderful 🌿✨🌿!

    Great transformation. Nice use of various elements and plants. Wish I could enjoy it in person. I appreciate your photos and glad you included a "before!" Thank you!

  14. user-7392754 05/20/2022

    Stunning!!! What a beautiful work of art she has created!!!

  15. foxglove12 05/20/2022

    So beautiful. Love the kitty 🐈‍⬛ supervisor photo.

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