Garden Photo of the Day

Kevin’s Garden Prepares for Winter

The beauty of late fall

I am Kevin Kelly, and I garden on a suburban property of a third of an acre in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b). Autumn was slow to arrive and is slow to leave. My winter preparation is now complete. I have taken cuttings of my coleus and have moved my tender plants indoors for the winter. I spread about 1,200 pounds of compost across the garden and planted 1,000 bulbs. I treasure all my leaves and have spread them around the garden. I also collect many additional leaves that neighbors raked out to the curb. I leave all the dried stems of perennials standing to provide winter habitat for the insects, frogs, and other wildlife who share my garden space. Please enjoy the photos.

The focal point is Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Dragon’ (Zone 5 - 9).I took this photo standing just off my patio in the backyard looking east. You can still see some plants in nursery pots to the left. I was able to get them in the ground about a week before Thanksgiving. The focal point is Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Dragon’ (Zones 5–9).

Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket’ (Zone 4 - 8) with snow covering themOur first light snow arrived, creating a nice contrast with Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket’ (Zones 4–8).

Dinosaur kaleDinosaur kale (Brassica oleracea, cool season annual) holds up well in the cold weather. I grew a dozen plants from seed, and most spread throughout the ornamental gardens, with one in the veggie garden. This was the best-tasting kale I have eaten.

dried flowers of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’The dried flowers of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’ (Zones 3–9) still look great and hold up well through the winter.

the front yard with a view of SalixThis is an image of my front yard looking to the east. I have minimal grass and use it as a pathway. The plant in the container near the light pole is Salix discolor (Zones 4–8).

Fothergilla majorFothergilla major (Zones 4–8) shows off its beautiful fall foliage.

Oakleaf hydrangeasHydrangea quercifolia Snow Queen™ (Zones 5–9). Oakleaf hydrangeas are wonderful native shrubs that have multiple seasons of interest. The autumn foliage is gorgeous.

fallen leavesFallen leaves are present in all my garden beds. Eventually they will transform into compost and enhance the soil. I test the soil every three years and have not needed to add any fertilizer in the last 15 years.

grasses and perennialsThis is my pollinator garden, which is now in its third year. This used to be a shade garden, and I had two Callery pears (planted 25 years ago before I knew better). I cut down the invasive trees and planted a native Nyssa sylvatica ‘Tupelo Tower’ (Zones 3–9) on the left. The garden is now in full sun. It also contains native grasses and perennials.

View Comments


  1. Jay_Sifford 12/22/2021

    Beautiful photos, Kevin. Morning sun is truly magical. Merry Christmas.

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Thanks, Jay. My garden photographs best in the morning sun year round. Only in the summer can I get good evening photos. Merry Christmas to you as well. Enjoy Rhodwood.

  2. garden1953 12/22/2021

    Spectacular gardens! And they bring such joy in all seasons.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Thanks. I have worked hard to create a 4 season garden. I love the joy it brings me.

  3. Maggieat11 12/22/2021

    Always a delight to see your gardens, Kevin. But...always seems like such a tease! Want to see more!😉

    The Black Dragon photo is especially wonderful! Thank you for sharing!🍃

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Thanks. I tired to include some wider shots as well as closeups. I love my garden, and it brings me so much peace and joy. That Black Dragon is about 15 years old and has such a beautiful form.

  4. User avater
    PKKing 12/22/2021

    As always, Kevin, your beautiful garden shines no matter the season!

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Thanks, Priscilla. Merry Christmas.

  5. annek 12/22/2021

    The quality of the photos was as delightful as your garden. Truly a garden filled with expertise and love. Thanks for sharing and have a very merry Christmas!

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Thanks so much. The hobbies I am passionate about are gardening and photography. Both have been so helpful to me during the pandemic. Merry Christmas to you.

  6. User avater
    user-7007816 12/22/2021

    I like your approach to gardening and the results. Great Job.

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Thanks. Creating habitat has become my focus in the garden over the past 5 years. Still could do better, but am having fun and learning along the way.

  7. User avater
    simplesue 12/22/2021

    An absolutely gorgeous garden! I love what you've done!
    It's even dazzling in the Autumn season, and that's the real challenge of a zone 6b garden! (I'm zone 6b too, in Pittsburgh)
    I love when a garden creates an entire environment as opposed to a bed with some plants.
    You've done a wonderful job, and with sensitivity to nature!

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Thanks so much. My passion over the past 5 years is to enhance my garden for wildlife. Still a work in progress. I have seen some lovely gardens in Pittsburgh. Very interesting terrain. Merry Christmas.

  8. sheila_schultz 12/22/2021

    Your gardens show the intensity of your passion, Kevin. Merry, Merry Christmas to you you and your family.

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Thanks so much, Sheila. I love your garden as well. Merry Christmas.

  9. User avater
    treasuresmom 12/22/2021

    Love that Black Dragon pic

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Thanks. I love that image as well.

  10. btucker9675 12/22/2021

    Love the leaves of the oakleaf hydrangeas - they look like they're cut out of leather. Your garden is really lovely, gently melancholy as we move into winter. Merry Christmas to everyone and very happy gardening in 2022!

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Oakleaf hydrangeas are a superb addition to every garden. The large leaves are so cool during the summer, with great fall color. The bark exfoliates, giving it great winter interest, and the large panicles of flowers are amazing. Thanks for your comment and Merry Christmas.

  11. user-7020748 12/22/2021

    Stunning photos! You have a gift for photography as well as gardening. I really apperciate the longer shots of your garden. The wider view pictures gives me a better sense of really being in your garden. You capture the glories of fall beautifully. Thanks for sharing.

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Thanks for the wonderful comments. I love being outdoors and gardening and photography go hand in hand.

  12. User avater
    cynthia2020 12/22/2021

    Re: Fallen leaves are present in all my garden beds. Eventually they will transform into compost and enhance the soil. I test the soil every three years and have not needed to add any fertilizer in the last 15 years.

    Nice to know something of how gardeners use compost and the results!

    1. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

      Awesome to hear you picked up a tip. I learned to treasure all the leaves, and even collect some from neighbors who pile it up on the street. Not only being good for the garden, and the many insects and butterflies that overwinter in the leaves, it has greatly reduced my work.

  13. phillipoliver 12/22/2021

    Great color and combinations! I just planted a 'Snow Queen' last year. I love the fothergilla too.

  14. imajayhawk 12/22/2021

    Thanks. You will love 'Snow Queen'. Mine is about 10 years old. The flower panicles are huge. It will slowly sucker. I keep it about 4 by 5 feet. Absolutely gorgeous shrub.

  15. bsavage 12/24/2021

    Soooo beautiful!!!

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