Garden Photo of the Day

Katy’s New Side Yard Garden

Planting up a new garden area

light orange roses

My name is Katy, and I garden in Zone 7B, in Tsawwassen British Columbia, Canada, just south of Vancouver. We have a modified Mediterranean climate with heavy winter rainfall and hot, dry summers—this year, complete with a heat dome. I have gardened on this suburban plot for 20 years. Our soil is sandy and free-draining, and it eats up all the amendments I can add to it.

The garden photos I am sending you are from my side yard. We have about 12 feet between our house and our neighbor’s garden wall. Previously, this area consisted of dead-ish grass, weeds, a few shrubs, and a small tree that I planted to screen the garden wall from the bedroom windows. Earlier this spring, we had some construction work done in the backyard, and the grass in this area was completely ruined. For any red-blooded gardener, this presented a challenge to be overcome! Undaunted by the muddy wreckage, I asked our landscaper to clean out all the old grass and add a winding path of bluestone pavers. I am enchanted with the result, which adds character and mystery to an area that was previously a utilitarian walk-through—like, when do I get to the real garden? Now, it is one of my favorite places to pause, sit with a cup of tea, and smell the flowers.

Although it’s only in its first summer, this garden already looks full and established, mainly because the woody structure was already in place. With a small garden, it is hard to keep a succession of flowers going, but I think I have managed to cover most seasons with snowdrops, trollius, and an early-flowering yellow daylily to cover off spring; the roses, lilies, and honeysuckle for high summer; and the helianthus, dahlia, and ginger for late summer. The Heptacodium’s elegant shape provides structure during the bare winter months.

stone path down side yardLonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ (Zones 4–9) grows on a trellis fence panel, with Hydrangea quercifolia (Zones 5–9), Calycanthus chinensis (Zones 6–8), Heptacodium miconoides (Zones 5–9), and David Austin’s Rosa ‘Desdemona’ (Zones 5–9) providing the woody structure and a basic color scheme of white and yellow flowers, with hints of pink coming from the honeysuckle. Once the path went in, I added perennials for a long season of bloom, fragrance, and some leaf interest.

light orange rosesRosa ‘Honey Dijon’

yelllow and white liliesYellow Oriental lilies (Lilium hybrid, Zones 5–8)

gargoyle statue next to yellow plant in a containerA gargoyle keeps watch next to the bright yellow flowers of dusty miller (Senecio cineraria, Zones 7–10 or as an annual).

plant with yellow flowers in a containerYellow Hedychium (Zones 8–10) in a pot stands in front of Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ (Zones 3–8).

light yellow and pink dahliaDahlia ‘Yellow Star’ (Zones 8–10 or as a tender bulb)

light yellow and pink daylilyHemerocallis ‘Prague Spring’ (Zones 5–9)


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View Comments


  1. nwphilagardener 09/10/2021

    I love that the grouping of predominantly yellow flowers often show bits of pink tones as well: from the roses, dayliliy and perhaps even the dahlia.
    This side yard which was described to be defined by a garden wall is so lush we haven't seen that surface filled with softening greenery.

  2. wittyone 09/10/2021

    Your pathway and all the plantings have made a wonderful entryway into your back yard area. Little winding paths are utilitarian but add a great deal of charm to any area.
    I was interested in the heptacodium. I planted one earlier this summer and am wondering how quickly it will get up to resemble something more than an ungainly 2 foot bushy-like thing. What is its growth rate? Mine seems to be healthy and settling in well but looks a bit funny due to its somewhat unruly shape at this point.

  3. gardendevas 09/10/2021

    How lovely and inviting! Love the bluestone path. This certainly does not look like a brand new garden - so lush and natural looking. I can see why you want to linger.

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/10/2021

    Love that dahlia.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 09/10/2021

    You have a beautiful garden- your flowers are luminous, they just glow!
    I love the stone path!

  6. btucker9675 09/10/2021

    Great use of that space - love your description of the "before" area with 'deadish' grass and weeds. Gave me a good laugh as I've dealt with similar spots myself! Your choices of flower colors and shapes are spot on - especially the soft shades of that dahlia and the day lily. Beautiful!

  7. nicki_s 09/11/2021

    It's all beautiful, but my favorite parts are (1) the gargoyle and (2) the dusty miller flowers! I've never seen them before, as here in Zone 5 people just grow dusty miller as an annual - maybe they don't get enough time to bloom.

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