Garden Photo of the Day

Learning to Love Slopes and Shade

Working with the constraints of a site

Today we’re off to Canada to visit Holly Longstaff’s garden in West Vancouver, British Columbia.

My husband and I started our gardens from scratch after building our new house a few years ago. It’s a beautiful location but very challenging because of the steep aspect and areas of deep shade. We have learned over time not to fight the natural characteristics of each particular area. Our flowering plants have also reaped the benefits of bee-loving plants we established all over our property, such as California lilac (Ceanothus species and hybrids) and different varieties of lavender (Lavandula species and hybrids). Our yard is buzzing with bees all summer long!

The steep backyard has incredible views and lushly planted borders around the lawn. Petunias bloom in the foreground.

Another view of the backyard shows how steeply it drops off. A dense California lilac hedge surrounds the firepit area.

The back garden at sunset, with the petunias echoing the warm colors of the sky.

One of our bee gardens with a hedge of roses in the background around the lanai. Much of our backyard had to be raised up and managed with retaining walls to make the land more functional.

PulmonariaPulmonariaDark Vader’ (Zones 3–8) among a collection of ferns. We also placed a few rocks here and there for contrast.

More of the shade garden with lush ferns.

The massive trees that are responsible for all that shade!

One of our hydrangeas sits among bursts of golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, Zones 5–9) in front of another retaining wall on the side of the property.

We particularly like the two happy yew trees (Taxus sp. Zones 4–7) my husband planted high up on a rock that are thriving alongside the ferns in this photo. Having a lot of large rocky features forces you to take chances and be a little creative.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. User avater
    cynthia2020 09/14/2020

    Holly - enjoyed looking at the lovely views you have. It's obvious there was a lot of hard work and planning involved in creating the different areas. I especially liked seeing one view from different angles and times of day. I'd like to try some of that Pulmonaria and the petunias are so cheery!

  2. coastalgardener 09/14/2020

    Oh my, that view is positively breathtaking...and I loved seeing it at different times of the day. What a brilliant choice for the location of your fire pit. You've certainly done a great job in designing your garden.

  3. Maggieat11 09/14/2020

    You have tackeled your land and succeeded immensely! It looks fab! I especially like your sunset photo. Gorgeous!

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/14/2020

    Oh, my, that sunset with the petunias is out of this world!

  5. btucker9675 09/14/2020

    Wow... what a spectacular garden in a perfect location. Thank you for sharing this beauty!

  6. User avater
    simplesue 09/14/2020

    Oh wow... that "look-out-point" is so fabulous I'd sit there every day and night!
    Great garden!!!

  7. user-5117752 09/14/2020

    Breathtakingly beautiful! Your gardens and sight (not site) are certainly to be envied!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us all.

  8. Sunshine111 09/14/2020

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I want to come visit and sit out and enjoy the sunset with you😊💓💓💓

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest