Garden Photo of the Day

John’s Garden in Wisconsin

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Suess

Today’s photos are from John Suess in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He says, “My wife Mary and I are 62 and 65 respectively, and are retired librarians who have lived in Milwaukee all our lives. We have lived in our home nearly 17 years now.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Suess

“When we first moved in there was only grass and a small group of evergreens in the front along with a few large trees. Over the first few years I manually removed the grass (if I had to do it over I would have rented a machine) and created a prairie garden which naturally expanded as the years went by.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Suess

“The main tree in back died a few years back and that made us revamp and expand. Our backyard is now themed for small ground covers; that has been in the works for about 2 years now. Our front yard was expanded several times and is up for a local award this year. Many of the grasses are still thriving but I have been removing things and adding things here and there for years.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Suess

“This spring my daughter (we helped here with her garden as well) asked if I ever just sit down and relax and enjoy the garden I’ve made. So I tried that one early evening with a cocktail in hand and our cat Hogan under the bench. I think within 5 minutes I saw a few things – a faded flower or a weed – and eventually I was out there weeding and deadheading. So I guess I enjoy working the garden more and letting others enjoy the viewing it.”

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Suess

John, you made me laugh out loud with your little relaxing experiment gone awry. So funny! Your garden reflects your worker-bee nature. It’s beautiful!

This is prime time to take some photos in your garden. So get out there with your cameras and send some in! Email them to [email protected].

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Suess
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Suess
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Suess
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Suess

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  1. user-1020932 09/03/2013

    nice job! and i'm happy to know you're up for an award to acknowledge your efforts. i was also glad to see Joe Pye Weed in the back, not enough people use it especially "Little Joe". Hogan is a replica of our Tiger Lily and how well i know your experience of cocktail hour. weeds have ruined more cocktails here than i can count

  2. pattyspencer 09/03/2013

    Nice garden! Love the photo with the kitty in it and totally love where that sunflower decided to put it's roots

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/03/2013

    Thanks for the morning smile, John, as I read your confession of not being able to resist the siren song of weeding. When I do a garden walkabout with a guest, I almost can't contain myself from abandoning them and getting back to work.
    Congrats on your multi year transition from "just a lawn" to a flower filled garden that's an award nominee. I'm with pattyspencer in being charmed by where that lone sunflower decided to literally put down its roots. The picture with the vibrant purple liatris and white daisies is a stunner.

  4. wittyone 09/03/2013

    That is one determined sunflower. Don't you love serendipity?

    I think for gardeners it's usually more process than product although the product is usually pretty worthwhile also.

  5. greenthumblonde 09/03/2013

    I chuckled over your relaxation experiment. I get the same comments and have tried to sit still. Sitting still is called quiet evaluation and can only lead to more work. Garden on John. Well done.

  6. sheila_schultz 09/03/2013

    When I look at your gardens, my first thought is that they are perfect for cutting beautiful bouquets! Your hard work has definitely paid off, John and Mary.

  7. mainer59 09/03/2013

    What is the lovely blue flower in the center of the first picture? I'm a sucker for blue and yellow together. The blue bench is a nice touch, too, even if you don't use it! The flagstones under it give it a finished look and the silvery foliage makes it look even more welcoming.

  8. Quiltingmamma 09/03/2013

    Am enjoying your prairie garden. As mentioned, lovely for bouquets. The bench is lovely and has me considering one from my front. I chuckled about your 'leisure' experiment. I don't have any memory of seeing my mother sitting in her garden - always working it. I will say that with that reality I make a point of resting in my garden. Granted, I often have a book with the cocktail, or company, so it is slightly easier to keep it relaxrf. But I do pop my head up, check things out - particularly the birds - and when the redesign ideas come to mind, I think "get thee behind me...".

  9. wildthyme 09/03/2013

    John, am I right that the 'lovely blue flower' mainer51 referred to is actually the blue bench peeking through the flowers? If so, what a wonderful way to add color! I can remember my dad asking my mom the same thing your daughter asked you . . . with the same results. Nice job!

  10. tractor1 09/03/2013

    Lot's of color! I especially like that shade of blue for the bench, and Hogan looks very much in charge... you might want to remove that collar (not safe for a cat), my outside cats are chipped. That sunflower chose a safe spot to sprout... the birds I feed planted a patch of sunflowers in teh spot where I removed the invasive bleeding heart and I left them, now I hope there's enough warm weather left for their buds to open. And yes, machines make gardening so much easier... every gardner needs a Mantis. And I too become obsessive, whenever I walk folks about my property they ask why I'm always looking down at the ground... I'm looking for stones... every time I spot one I have to stop and pry it out. Just went outside to snap some pictures of flowers before the cold nights do them in, got one of the sunflowers.

  11. GrannyMay 09/03/2013

    John, so many of us have exactly the same "problem"! I know I enjoy working on the garden as much as looking at the results. That is also why the garden is never "finished" but keeps evolving.

  12. annek 09/03/2013

    What an inviting garden! I bet your neighbors are thrilled to have such great color combinations right next door. Lovely!

    Let us know how the awarding goes.

  13. user-1020932 09/03/2013

    may, you're so right. i always smile when someone asks me when my "yard" is going to be finished. i guess when i die it will be finished. and tractor what is your secret to having invasive bleeding heart? mine disappear after 2 seasons

  14. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/03/2013

    Really great garden. I'm with everyone else as far as the inability to really relax and enjoy looking at the garden, instead of enjoying "pastoring my flock" as it were. Here's my secret to enjoying the garden (really!): I take a lot of pictures, load them on iPhoto, and look at the pictures in the winter. Beats the winter gardening blues, looks better than in real life, and no weeding, moving, or editing possible!

  15. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/03/2013

    Vojt, you nailed it with the winter photo idea. A few Christmas's ago, my daughter got me one of those electronic frames and preloaded it with lots of my favorite garden photos. It was such a treat to have a running slideshow...sometimes I would find myself ignoring what was on the nearby TV because I was lost in a virtual wandering through my garden. And, icing on the cake is that I couldn't weed!

  16. user-7006902 09/03/2013

    Beautiful gardens. Just love the tapestry in the backyard with those rock step stones winding through. My favorite time of day is happy hour admiring the garden. I find myself more attracted to the birds and bees and their activities than the flowers and plants. So I focus on them and if I were to leave my seat, I might scare them so I sit still. My advice to you: find a good Adirondack chair or some other chair that's somewhat difficult to get up out of (and a BIG glass tumbler), and maybe you will just sit and enjoy your garden! It is something to enjoy and admire. In winter I am too busy sketching out new plans for the garden - nothing like creating more work for myself!

  17. cwheat000 09/04/2013

    Your garden is so lovely, sorry I missed it the day of it's showing.

  18. boards 09/05/2013

    theviolet fern gave you advise as to how to sit and enjoy. If you were in the South and didn't want to fog for biting critters, you would be feeding mosquitos and deer flies while you could not possibly relax. This is why screen porches were invented.
    I wonder how in this world one has such a garden in the far North.

    Of course, this summer our gardens and farm fields have drowned in the torrential rains so we all have our challenges.


  19. debrees 09/09/2013

    If only I were so lucky to have a sunflower come up in such an unlikely spots :) My favorite photo is of the kitten and ground covers. It's obvious that you put a lot of effort into your garden and your neighbors, I'm sure, reap the benefit of fully enjoying it.

    I too have that problem about not being able to relax and enjoy the garden. I always see something to do also, but I do have fun doing whatever it is.

  20. clematislover 09/30/2013

    mainer59: That blue flower is Russian Sage. It's the feathery light gray stems and leaves w/ blue flowers that stay on for months. The bright blue seen thru the Black-Eyed Susans is the blue bench.

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