Garden Photo of the Day

Last Year in Barry’s Garden

Highlights from the past year

Large yellow flowers on a cactus

Today we’re near Toronto visiting with Barry Severn, who has summed up his 2020 gardening year in photos.

plants sprouting out of the snowThis photo was taken at one of my favorite times of the year. Snow and ice are still here but plants are growing, first shooting up from the ground, then sprouting along stems. You can have some bad days in March, but there are warmish, sunny days that show the promise of spring.

Flats of seedlings growing in a small greenhouseI have been growing from seed since 1985. I am not the best at it, but I am eager. This is a portion of what I grew last year. This was the first year I put a heating pad into the greenhouse. I was growing tomatoes and zinnias outside while there was snow still on the ground.

Diverse plants growing over a rocky gardenI have a messy, wild garden. Things ramble and it requires tons of weeding, but there is great soil (used to be a farm yard); the garden is a collection rather than a neat landscape. Here in May we see muscari (Muscari armeniacum, Zones 3–9) in the foreground; scattered tulips (Tulipa hybrids, Zone 3–8) and daffodils (Narcissus hybrid, Zones 3–8); purple pulsatilla (Pulsatilla vulgaris, Zone 4–8) and lungwort (Pulmonaria, Zone 3–8) in the background; Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum, Zones 3–9) in the upper right; ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius, Zones 2–5) just leafing out in red on the upper right; and a small red Sedum running rampant.

Tiny perennials in a rock gardenThe main rock garden

Androsace sempervivoidesThis is a fabulous little gem of an alpine plant. I think I bought this one from ORG&HPS—Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society). It’s an Androsace, maybe Androsace sempervivoides (Zones 4–7). It is one of the fascinating alpines one can grow from seed.

Phacelia tanacetifoliaI also grew wildflowers from seed in a pot on the terrace. This one is Phacelia tanacetifolia (Zones 2–10).

Cluster of potato flowersBecause of the stay-at-home orders, we decided to do some veggies. I didn’t really have much spare room, so I used pots. This was one of the hottest, driest summers, and the watering was every day. I can’t say it was a success, although the potatoes turned out fairly decently. This is a potato flower.

Opuntia cacti flowersThe outdoor Opuntia cacti (Zones 4–9) flowered for the first time.

bumblebee on an AlliumThe garden is built for wildlife. Here is a bumblebee on an Allium.

butterfly on a bottlebrush buckeyeAnd here is a tiger swallowtail on bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora, Zones 4–8).

late summer garden full of flowersA general view of the garden late in the season.

cardinal on snow covered branchesWe get lots of birds. So I’ll finish off with a cardinal in the snow.


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View Comments


  1. Rebeccazone7 02/23/2021

    There's something about a messy garden that totally appeals to me also. It's so much more natural. I love the rock garden and think I'll try a miniature one. The picture of the plant working it's way around the snow, is a reminder that March is around the crabby morning has a chance to be overturned....yeah

  2. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 02/23/2021

    Thanks for sharing your garden Barry.

  3. sagebird52 02/23/2021

    Love the flower close ups and the "rock garden" gives me ideas. Great pics thanks

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/23/2021

    If this is messy, I don't know what I should call mine. Love it especially the muscari & the alpine garden.

  5. alicefleurkens 02/23/2021

    Hi Barry. Phacelia tanacetifolia, what a pretty flower, I had no idea a potato flower is that Nice. But most of all your close up pictures are fantastic. The Cardinal in the snow, that is in one picture our ontario winter. Alice

  6. Musette1 02/23/2021

    Barry, I woke up wanting to be in a cranky mood but after looking at your garden photos I stomped that notion under the heel of my ice-cleated boots! LOL! Your garden is glorious! Especially love the rock garden!

  7. User avater
    cynthia2020 02/23/2021

    Hi, Barry. I enjoyed reading your gardening story (with plenty of plant details).
    That Phacelia tanacetifolia photo is lovely and mesmerizing.
    I liked the potato flower, too!
    Reminded me of when I grew a watermelon last year for the first time and took photos of the flowers.

  8. User avater
    simplesue 02/23/2021

    Ah not messy- natural! Very the general view photo with all those blooms!
    I've heard of heat pads under seeds, heard it really helps.

    1. barry_freijfrejfpier 02/25/2021

      The heating pad was for keeping the air warm. I germinated the seeds under lights in the basement, like I have been doing since 1985. The difference here is putting the small plants outside earlier where in the past the greenhouse would keep them alive in just a few degrees below zero (C) last year they could go out earlier when it was colder.

  9. btucker9675 02/23/2021

    Who doesn't love a fat, fuzzy bumblebee?!? I love a messy garden, too - more like a lovely meadow.

  10. cheryl_c 02/23/2021

    Hi, Barry - great pictures. I wondered about where you might have sited your bottlebrush buckeye, and how much sun/shade and moisture it gets. Just planted some and am hoping I got it right.

    1. barry_freijfrejfpier 02/25/2021

      The buckeye is under a large silver maple and on the north side of some tall spruces. Dry and dark. Always flowers well.

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