Garden Photo of the Day

Keeping Faith in Beauty to Come

Looking forward to summer beauty

My name is Kathy Schreurs, and I garden in Sheldon, Iowa. (You’ve heard from me before: Iowa Spring, Part 2.) I’ve been enjoying—and envying—the recent and beautiful GPOD gardens located on the Northeast and Northwest coasts. Our northwest Iowa climate, so dissimilar, waffles between Zones 4 and 5, and in recent years late spring snow and ice storms and early fall frosts mixed with torrential rains and flooding in early summer have challenged farmers and gardeners alike. As I’m writing this, we are expecting five inches of snow on Easter and wind gusts up to 45 mph. And—oh, no!—my tulips are fully leafed out and the perennials have been emerging all week.

I wonder what my garden will be like come summer. And like people everywhere, I’m wondering what our WORLD will be like come summer. My faith gives me comfort. And hope. The pictures I scrolled back through give me encouragement and peace, so I’m going to share some with you. These were all taken mid-July last year.

Because I like seeing the settings of other people’s flowers, I’m including this panorama shot that makes our perfectly straight picket fence appear to be set on a hill. It’s not! Iowa is very flat, and so is our property. The picket fence was already in place when we moved here 25 years ago, but there were no shrubs or flowers.

I started with a thin strip along one side of the fence, and it’s grown since then. No grand design! Just a desire to add color and texture to our lives. The border now wraps around all four sides of the backyard, as well as foundation plantings and a “bush garden” (a secluded area of shrubs that shelters many local birds all year long and has become a stopover for many migratory birds). The second week in July is supposed to be the optimal time for late spring and early summer perennials to overlap in our location. In 2019, that was true. This picture was taken on July 10, and the summer plants were about to take off.

These Asiatic lilies (Lilium ‘Eyeliner’, Zones 4–8) are the first thing I see when I step out of our back door early in July. When they sway in the breeze, it’s almost hypnotic. My husband built the arbor about 20 years ago. He made it tall enough for our 6-foot 8-inch son to stand under, just in case he and his someday bride would want to take pictures under it. (They didn’t!) But I like the proportions with our three-story Folk Victorian house.

‘Fireball’ bee balmThe second week in July is the most vibrant in our garden. The ‘Fireball’ bee balm (Monarda ‘Fireball’, Zones 4–8) shares the fence with the white Asiatic lilies.

Rocket ligularia‘The Rocket’ ligularia (Ligularia przewalskii ‘The Rocket’, Zones 4–8) and purple-leafed lysimachia (Lysimachia ciliata, Zones 4–8) glow in the sunset. None of them seem to mind that this section of the garden is quite shady in the afternoon, although they do compensate with long stems.

I never know in advance what color my coneflowers (Echinacea hybrids, Zones 4–9) will be when they open. These were all one of the red varieties when they were planted. (Editor’s note: Coneflowers self-sow when happy, and since modern varieties are hybrids of several species, their self-sown children can come in all sorts of colors.)

This little garden girl was a gift from my mom. I’m not sure what/who gave her begonia blossoms the day I took this picture. The wind? The squirrels? Or maybe the three-year-old from next door?

Lilium ‘Tango’Lilium ‘Tango’ (Zones 4–8), an Asiatic lily with dramatic coloring.

I plant coleus in raised pots—my husband is handy with old landscaping bricks—so they can keep company with taller plants.

These grow along our backyard fence. The aroma at dusk when they are all in bloom is amazing!

LiliesLilies. I can never have too many!


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 04/24/2020

    Beautiful gardens! So happy you shared them today, thank you.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/24/2020

    You have certainly risen to the challenge of having great looking garden beds, Kathy, in spite the curve balls your weather throws at you. In fact, this zone 6b/7 gardener has ligularia envy as I took in the impact that clump of golden spires gives. The arbor your husband built is a lovely feature to have...such a graceful shape...I'm a sucker for elements with curves.

  3. Icgirl 04/24/2020

    Kathy, your lilies are fantastic, especially the ‘Tango’! I envy you because here in N. E. we have the scarlet lily beetle to deal with and they make the foliage and flowers a mess. I hope they don’t come your way!

  4. Patchworkgardener 04/24/2020

    Your lilies are gorgeous Kathy. I’ve never seen them in such abundance. You must be the lily queen. The fragrance must be intoxicating. Love the cone flowers too....a favorite in my own yard. Looks like you’ve done a lot of work over the years. In spite of your crazy weather, your entire garden is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.

  5. coastalgardener 04/24/2020

    Your gardens are just heavenly, Kathy...especially your lilies! And how talented of your husband to build that beautiful arbor. I think structures like these really add to a garden.

    My northeast garden (zone 6b) is also subject to the whims of Mother Nature, so I truly understand how you worry about how all those sudden swings in temperature can affect your plants. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos!

  6. sagebird52 04/24/2020

    The lilies are awesome - great job!

  7. jennymccoy67 04/24/2020

    Your gardens are absolutely stunning! I live in Des Moines so can relate to your weather woes. Congratulations on overcoming it and creating such beauty!

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    simplesue 04/24/2020

    Oh wow, your gorgeous house and matching white arch and fence- I would love to have a photo of myself under that arch- even now when I'm all old and not at all photogenic LOL!
    Such a nice collaboration on your garden with you and your husband.
    Also I appreciate the panoramic view of the house in context to the garden along with the close ups.
    The garden layout is always interesting to me.

  9. Cenepk10 04/24/2020

    Gorgeous!!!! I share your love for lillies. Of all sorts. The asiatic lillies are so fragrant & long lived beauties. Really love your lush garden ! That arbor is fantastic & your bee balm makes me jealous. I planted it 2 years ago & it was fabulous- then last year there wasn’t a trace of it. 😳.

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    bdowen 04/24/2020

    The lilies are gorgeous. I'm envious since the rabbits here seem to think I grow them for their lunch. What a spectacular view yours provide for you and your neighbors. Thank you for sharing!

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    treasuresmom 04/24/2020

    Those lilies are out of this world!!!!!!

  12. btucker9675 04/24/2020

    Fabulous gardens and I love that the little garden girl was given a gift of begonias!

  13. calliopegirl 04/24/2020

    The lilies and monarda together are so striking. I love love love your little girl statue. What a gift to remember your mom.

  14. Maggieat11 04/26/2020

    Love your photos. Beautiful gardens! Your neighbors and passing motorists must LOVE it too! Thx for sharing!

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