Garden Photo of the Day

Karen’s garden in Illinois, through the years

5-21-11 From the left, Geranium 'Biokovo',  Paeonia 'Nick Shaylor', heuchera, and Digitalis 'Sutton's Apricot'.
Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Karen Cherry

We last heard from Karen Cherry in Illinois a little over a year ago (refresh your memory HERE and HERE). Today she’s back with a special through-the-years look at one area of her garden.


She says, “For 16 years I worked as a graphic designer but that static, two dimensional art seemed to bore me. I crave the challenge of the ever-changing work of art that landscape design is, with its palette of plants as a medium to bring energy, life, and daily dynamics to design. The garden is all about change–dynamic, constant change. This is how one area in my garden that leads to the back of our property has changed.”

By September 2000, with the help of my multi-talented husband we had added three arch trellises to frame the view, the bench as a focal point, and were in the midst of trialling many plants. Some have departed without my blessing, some were too successful, or should I say “invasive”, some were just right, those were/are the keepers.

So very interesting to see the progression, Karen. And I am obsessed with how the arches are offset instead of lined up perfectly. It’s genius! Thanks so much for sharing.

5-30-02   Rosa ‘Cornelia’, on the middle trellis, Digitalis ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ to the left.

**** The push is still on–get outside and take some last minute shots, or compile a few you took earlier in the season. I’ll be eternally grateful…. Email them to [email protected] Thanks! ****

5-30-05   Rosa ‘Awakening’, unfortunately this rose succumbed to Rose Rosette in 2007
9-17-09  Clematis paniculata, regrettably this plant has become invasive, I think a better choice would be the native, very similar Clematis virginiana. I’m sure everyone knows the wonderful, well behaved, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ on either side of the trellis.
4-13-10   Our native Cercis canadensis (Redbud) behind the bench with Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells) beneath, Viburnum X juddii to the right.
6-18-11 Hydrangea arborescens ‘Hayes Starburst’, center front, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, behind the grass, yucca coming up the rear.
3-5-12   I really like snow scenes.
4-29-13   Viburnum X juddii and Chaenomeles japonica ‘Toyo-Nishiki’ on the right.

Want us to feature YOUR garden in the Garden Photo of the Day? CLICK HERE!
Want to see every post ever published? CLICK HERE!
Want to search the GPOD by STATE? CLICK HERE!
Check out the GPOD Pinterest page! CLICK HERE!

View Comments


  1. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/22/2013

    A garden really is an ever-changing work of art. thanks for sharing the fun view through the years.

  2. GardenersWK 11/22/2013

    We've got to love and cherish the multi-talented husbands of ours! And off course they've got to love the multi-talented, sensible artistic gardener wives of theirs!!
    Love love the arches and all the plantings you showed us! Please send in more pictures!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/22/2013

    absolutely fascinating and educational. It sure puts me in the mood to embark on a major project involving large metal arches (my husband might think otherwise). And I agree, Karen, the snow scenes are gorgeous.

  4. Daisy8 11/22/2013

    Can you tell us a little more about your metal arches?

  5. annek 11/22/2013

    I, too, am interested in learning more about your beautiful arched arbors. Is your husband a welder? How did he bend them into such perfect arches? Hope the information doesn't reveal trade secrets!

    Karen, your photographs are quite amazing. Particularly with the sun streaming down onto such lush greenery. And they provide a lovely architectural backdrop for the snow.

  6. sheila_schultz 11/22/2013

    It's wonderful the way the trio of arches gently draw the eye down the path through your gardens. What an inviting bench!

  7. wildthyme 11/22/2013

    I agree that, once you accept it (because it is a lot of work), the changeability of a garden is part of its appeal. You've done a wonderful job, Karen, in this garden section. I would love to see more!

  8. GrannyMay 11/22/2013

    Karen those arches are wonderful! I love the look of them throughout the seasons and the years. And your plant choices have been inspiring! The transition from Sept. 9, 2010 to snowy Feb. 15, 2010 to the spring blooms of April 13 is perfect. I hope you have somewhere to sit in comfort to look in that direction. I think I could happily spend all my days enjoying that view. Thank you!

  9. cwheat000 11/22/2013

    Romantic, gorgeous, and an amazing frame for a splendid garden. Thanks for digging out the photos of this garden, through the years. I can hear Kenny Rogers singing now.

  10. GrannyMay 11/22/2013

    Oops, I meant to say Sept. 17,2009 as the first picture in the series I like (in spite of the regrettable Clematis).

  11. tractor1 11/22/2013

    That's quite an undertaking, and I love it, I wish I could do the same, but alas, I have deer that adopted my forest path so the best I can do is leave the native plants and keep it spruced up (literally - lots of Norway spruce), My forest path is over 600' long, keeps me busy mowing and clearing the growth and fallen trees (there's one across the path now that will wait for better weather). Kudos to Karen and Company.
    My path a few weeks ago:

  12. GrannyCC 11/22/2013

    The archways are beautiful. Would be a beautiful spot for a wedding. Enjoyed seeing the garden in the different seasons.

  13. greengenes 11/22/2013

    Simply beautiful in every season! Arches here have made a wonderful path to a separate garden room. Did your husband make these? I have a wonderful talented husband as well and he can do anything, almost! Well thanks for sharing and I know you guys are enjoying the garden!

  14. hortiphila 11/22/2013

    The arch trellises are made of galvanized square metal tubing that were bent into the arch by a friend, and welded by my congenial husband. For some crazy unknown reason I like to do scaled plans, (it's one of the things I like most about landscape design work), so I drew a quick plan on graph paper and asked my husband if he could make these and of coarse you know the answer. The measurements are 9 feet high at the crown of the arch and 12 feet wide at the base, each ladder is two feet wide with the rungs set two feet apart, so they would be easy to climb to tie the plants as they grew, without bringing a separate ladder out for that. They were set into concrete that went below the frostline which is about three feet in this area, and painted the soft gray/green color. They have been there since 1996, various plants have come and gone, but it's nice to have a long lasting structure to base the plantings on. I'm intrigued by asymmetrical design, formality seems so, "yesterday", "stuffy", "old-fashioned", we have a tendency to fall back on formal symmetrical design because it's easier than working out the details of a balanced asymmetrical design. I didn't want a straight shot view to the focal point, (the bench), so I chose to offset the arches to give what I thought was a more interesting line of sight. Karen

  15. user-1020932 11/22/2013

    i'm late as i left early to get mistletoe and christmas stuff and i'm glad i'm late so i could read the method of construction of the arches,,,,,,,,,,i want pics of Karen climbing those curved ladders to tie up plants!!! i also just figured out that Karen is hortiphila. great vistas and seasonal changes you have created. different garden personalities in each season.. great space and photos

  16. Meelianthus 11/22/2013

    Your wonderful arches have created a mystical feeling as if a magical land will appear when you walk thru them. Beautifully done and you have created some stunning views.

  17. User avater
    HelloFromMD 11/22/2013

    Hi Karen,

    Are you currently growing any roses on the arches? If not, did you tire of black spot? I have 2 rose pillars and replaced all the roses on them since i couldn't stand the diseased foliage on the disease resistant plants [yea, right}. Bill Radlar, breeder of knockout roses, to the rescue. I grow the pink Brite Eyes' which performs well. New this year for me is his red 'Winner's Circle'.
    Did you try various large flowered clematis?

    Love the concept, that part of your property is magical.

  18. quinquek 11/22/2013

    These arches and plantings are quite lovely. I had a true "ah ha" moment when I saw your "Biokovo." Wouldn't have thought mine were supposed to look like that! I love the plant combinations and want to thank you and everyone else who takes the time to identify what we're seeing in the photos. Wonderful!

  19. user-7006902 11/22/2013

    I absolutely LOVE the structure you've added to your garden - and that's it's off center. So genius and to be able to now pick and choose your plantings around that permanent structure! I love the plantings, too. I planted clematis virginia in my garden but not on a reliable structure - I like to make rustic structures and its was damaged in high winds recently. I am assuming (without looking up the Latin) that your "invasive" clematis choice is Sweet Autumn Clematis? I have that, too, before I learned it is indeed invasive but mine isn't out of control at all. I think because I am pushing the limit of its hardiness zone. I love, love our native clematis. It should be used more often in the landscape! Beautiful what you have created in your garden! (P.S. I used to work in graphic design, too, and find gardening so much more satisfying!)

  20. cwheat000 11/23/2013

    Tractor1 your forest path is stunning. How long did it take to get the Norway spruces to that size?

  21. Mciandella 11/23/2013

    well done Karen! Great photography. I love your arches- they remind me of the ones on P. Allen Smith's Garden home retreat show. Wish I had space left to add arches somewhere!
    What a beautiful wooded property, you enhanced it just still has a natural look to it.
    Especially like the last picture--you repeated the same shrub down the length of the border on each side, that's good design :)

  22. hortiphila 11/23/2013

    In answer to the question, am I currently growing any roses on the trellises. Yes, Rosa 'Eden', 'Cornelia', 'Felicia', 'Brother Cadfael', and I just planted 'Wollerton Old Hall', last spring. These all seem to do very well except 'Brother Cadfael'. None have been as vigorous as 'Awakening'. I also lost a rambler 'Weetwood' to Rose Rosette Disease. In another part of the garden I have Rosa 'Chianti' which blooms profusely every year, (it's once blooming), just before the Japanese Beetles show up to eat all the foliage. I'm considering planting 'Constance Spry'.
    I have a beautiful large flowered Clematis 'Arctic Queen' planted next to the 'Eden' Rose it makes a nice combo.
    I'm trying to keep the invasive Sweet Autumn Clematis contained by placing a tarp down when I do spring cleanup and disposing of all the seeds.
    In answer to tractor1. This path is the beginning of a 600' looping woodland path that we maintain much the way you do, by mowing several times a year, cutting brush and cleaning up fallen branches and trees. The Deer thank us for making such a nice place for them to frolic. We do have a peanut butter bated electric fence that keeps them at bay, otherwise they think the rosebuds are hors d'oeuvres.

  23. hortiphila 11/23/2013

    Thanks to everyone for all the accolades, it's always fun to post. Karen

  24. dirtgirl1949 11/23/2013

    Karen, those arches are just gorgeous! Very envious, sure beats my bamboo arches! Wonderful to view your garden through the seasons. Thank you for sharing your garden with us.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest