Garden Photo of the Day

Lil’s learn-as-you-go garden in Massachusetts

Today’s garden comes to us from Massachusetts: “My name is Lil Holloway, age 74, retired from a management position and more recently from real estate. We live in Bedford, Massachusetts, right on the Billerica line. In fact we are the last house on a dirt road that leads to the bike path. For this reason, there is no road in front of our home: it’s all grass and some trees.

Knockout roses–red and pink work well with the catmint.  Daylilies and Asiatic lilies are mixed in.

We have an acre of land. I have my big garden out back, my roses by the deck, and what I call the “patch” which is on a slope going to the bike trail. We built this home 19 years ago and in our back yard was sort of a kidney-shaped spot with old (some rotted) trees, lots of dead leaves, etc. I looked at it and thought, “What a perfect spot for a garden.” We cleaned it up and added lots of peat moss, garden soil, etc.

Roses in June

I started with bulbs for the spring and the deer just loved my beautiful display of tulips. Lesson learned, I knew nothing about gardening, just what I love, which at the time was roses. But the hybrids, floribundas, etc., didn’t like this spot (it goes downhill a bit), so I moved them up to the deck. The shrub roses were not as fussy and they have done well. Knockouts, ‘Lady Elsie May’, and three large pink shrubs that I have forgotten the name of…they grow over five feet tall. Also a climber called ‘Winner’s Circle’, which is very abundant and disease-free.

My husband built the trellis and bench for me, my favorite place to sit and watch the butterflies. This climber is ‘Winner’s circle’, a great producer and disease free.  It’s four years old.

Anyway, the shrub roses are on the edge of the garden and the center is filled with lavender, columbine, daylilies, Asiatic lilies, bee balm, false indigo, ‘Hermann’s Pride’ lamium, anenome, coneflowers, tall phlox, Siberian and Japanese irises, yarrow, perennial geranium (actually climbs up a tree), honeysuckle, foxglove, sedums tall and small, chives, hellebores, heliopsis, and others I’ve lost the tags for.

These are my roses on the first of August. Still disease-free. Floribundas, grandifloras, and Knockouts.

My husband built a trellis for me with a bench seat. I love taking my coffee or breakfast out there and just enjoying the butterflies and birds and deciding what works and what doesn’t.  Gardening is an on-going learning process, tons of hard work and a passion.

My garden is a mix of things I love and has been a work in progress for 19 years. What I love best is that my neighbor’s kids are very comfortable coming over and asking to go in the garden and pick flowers. This is Bridget and Ava choosing the flowers they want.

Because it changes every year, I started putting together a spring and summer garden book using CVS on-line, and this year I used my iMac. All photos are taken with my iPhone 5. This proves to be a great tool and my friends think it’s beautiful. Of course, all gardens are a “snap-shot in time.”  I think the books are a created illusion, as I’m showing folks only what I want them to see and not my neighbor’s shed or driveway.

This beauty blooms in August, which is nice after the other Asiatics have gone by.

My garden has no formal design. It changes every year based on what works and how many mistakes I’ve made the year before.  It is not perfect, it can be chaotic, but it is a riot of color that the butterflies and birds love. For me it is a garden to walk in and to enjoy.  It reminds me every day of the perfection and beauty that is nature. My garden brings me joy…..weeds and all.”

Beautiful, Lil. Your lilies are so wonderful! And I really need to buy some shrub roses…. Thank you!!

The season is winding down, everyone! Get outside with that camera. We need to see your garden! Yes I said NEED. Not WANT. NEED.

Only half of my big garden, which we estimate to be around 200 feet long or more.

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View Comments


  1. perenniallycrazy 09/02/2014

    Lil, your snapshots in time are amazing! Love the colors of your garden. Please keep those snapshots coming.

  2. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/02/2014

    Looks great. I think every garden has a certain amount of trial and error, even for professional and veteran gardeners. Plant just don't always do what we expect them to!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/02/2014

    Hi, Lil, I love your attitude toward your gardening ...there is joyful recognition and acceptance of the good and a willingness to work at making things a little better while enjoying the process along the way. I'm sure those adorable visiting angels from your neighborhood think it's a heavenly place to come and pick flowers. Your roses look sensational and you are so lucky that this nasty thing called rose rosette disease hasn't found its way into your garden. Some of my Knockouts had gotten all ugly and distorted from it and they had to be dug up and destroyed.
    I love your generous use of is one of my favorite plants because it gets along with everything. So nice of your husband to build that special little seating area for you...the whole setting is lovely.

  4. wittyone 09/02/2014

    This is just gorgeous------it all looks so abundant and full. I love your gardening philosophy of putting in things that you love and not worrying too much about where and next to what. Gardens really should be for the gardeners happiness first of all and less for show. Some people are perfectionists (a place for everything and everything in place) and others are not but as for me I go for sticking in what I like wherever there is space. Your garden doesn't look haphazard at all but seems to be the product of someone who loves flowers and color.

  5. GrannyMay 09/02/2014

    Lil, I so agree with your philosophy, "..a garden to walk in and to enjoy. It reminds me every day of the perfection and beauty that is nature. My garden brings me joy.....weeds and all". That is what all the hard work and passion is about. And to share it with like-minded people, in person or via photos, is to increase the joy!

    Those of us who are self-taught are actually, like you, taught by our plants. When we "listen" to them, we learn what they like and place them where they will thrive. Your beautiful roses and perennials are proof of that. Please continue to share your favourite "snapshots in time" and bring pleasure to us all.

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