Garden Photo of the Day

Karen’s dry stream bed in Illinois (Day 1 of 2 in Karen’s garden)

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Karen Cherry

Today’s photos are from Karen Cherry in Illinois. We visited Karen’s garden for the first time back in March (Refresh your memory HERE.) Today she’s showing us her dry stream bed.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Karen Cherry

She says, “I’ve been inspired by articles in Fine Gardening Magazine to use an alluring yet functional drainage system (Karen–perhaps it was THIS ARTICLE?). This dry stream bed serves to convey the torrent, from summer storms on the nearby field, away in an elegant manner.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Karen Cherry

“Here, I’ve used one of my favorite natives with four-season appeal, the grass Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’. This cultivar of little bluestem is an attractive powder blue in summer, shifting 180 degrees on the color-wheel to the most delightful copper orange in winter. In fact I’m so entranced by this grass I hate to cut it back in spring, I adore the contrasting combination of muted color with the bright fresh gold of the daffodils.”

Gorgeous, Karen!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Karen Cherry

***Tomorrow Karen will share three more of her favorite plants. Each one has at least two seasons of spectacularness. Stay tuned!***


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View Comments


  1. trashywoman62 11/15/2012

    Hey Karen, another great set of photos on GPOD! Great selection to show the changing seasons and colors here in Illinois! Congratulations!


  2. thegardenlady 11/15/2012

    Fabulous, it looks beautiful, year round. Thanks for showing us the seasons. You have convinced me to use Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blues' in my own mixed border in Connecticut. You've done a masterful job of creating a natural look.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/15/2012

    I love the pictorial stroll through the four seasons. Dry stream beds are always very appealing to me...there's something about them that tickles my imagination as I picture them serving their purpose in a torrent of rain. Your plant choices and spacing are very nicely done. Things give off a very naturalized and serene impression.
    Soon as I clicked on the link to your previous sharing, it was like, "oh, yes, the garden with the beautiful bench".
    Maybe for the sake of keeping GPOD going strong through the winter, we should all make the effort to try to find pictures that show the same general part of our garden through a few different seasons. It's very interesting to see things presented that way.

  4. hortiphila 11/15/2012

    Michelle, yes "A Dry Stream Does Double Duty" was one of the articles that energized me, also "Transforming a Barren Backyard". Both articles were instrumental in my decision to try this project, thanks for the motivation, through well written, informative, beautifully illustrated articles like these. Karen

  5. pattyspencer 11/15/2012

    I love how you showed the different seasons. Your garden is lovely year round.

    What is that gorgeous orange/red tree in your autumn photo (on the right side)? It's beautiful

  6. MichelleGervais 11/15/2012

    Hortiphila/Karen--thanks for the other article title. Here is a link to it online, if anyone else is considering a dry stream bed:

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/15/2012

    Really nicely done! I especially love the views looking into the woods in autumn and winter. The article "dry stream bed does double duty" is one whose photos I have memorized and by which I have been inspired as well!

  8. tractor1 11/15/2012

    A very nice job of naturalizng, but I'd like to see a photo of that dry stream bed in a heavy downpour. It makes a very nice visual in that woodsy setting but I think it needs more larger stones. I'm interested in these kinds of water projects because I have a creek on my property that I had to rehab due to severe erosion at its turns during a few heavy rains. I had it dug deeper, wider, and reconfigured to increase it's volume carrying capacity. It's too large a creek to do myself so I hired an excavating company, their first attempt didn't hold up to the next downpour, the rock they used for rip-rap was too small and most washed away. They returned and did the job over with much larger rocks and it has held up well even in a torrent with its banks overflowing. That was five years ago and for a while looked a mess, but now the plants are back and I keep adding more, of course those the deer reject. I have a lot of photos of the creek prior to the devestation, of the devestation, and during the rehab. Most of the year water runs in the creek at different levels and during dry summers it is barely damp. The creek attracts a lot of wildlife, especially birds that hunt the small fish and frogs. The strip of land where the creek runs is catagorized as state wetlands so I am limited at what I can do, even the plantings I put in.

  9. greenthumblonde 11/15/2012

    I love how really natural the dry creek bed looks. So well done.

  10. greengrowler 11/15/2012

    Like the others, I love the views of your naturalistic garden in every season. The Fall photo is stunning! Your design is a wonderful compliment to nature - an excellent design. Thanks so much for posting.

  11. hortiphila 11/15/2012

    pattyspencer, the orange/red tree in the autumn photo is another native the Bald Cypress, Taxodium distchum, a deciduous conifer who's needles turn a beautiful russet before falling.

    tractor1, you're right, my experience was similar to yours, not in this area but farther down stream the grade gets steeper and I have had some trouble with heavy rain, so last fall I installed a couple ton of 8"-12" rocks to slow the water so it would not wash the smaller 3" gravel downstream, it has worked so far, I have a couple pictures I snapped shortly after a storm last summer, but it has been dry here, so the test isn't over yet. It's been fun to experiment with this project, like all gardens nothing is ever static, always evolving. This is an on going project, I started where this stream enters our property, (in this case the steams head waters), and am continuing down stream, reaching approximately one third of the way in the last 5 years and still have a couple hundred feet to go.

    Thanks everyone for all the compliments. Karen

  12. cwheat000 11/16/2012

    Beautiful in all seasons. Well done!

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