Garden Photo of the Day

Linda’s Calgary Garden

No rules, just beautiful plants

pink roses and other evergreen shrubs

We’re visiting with Linda Grey-Martin today.

Hello from Calgary, Alberta.

Our climate is officially Zone 4a, although many Zone 5 plants survive in my garden.

Calgary is close to the mountains, and we encounter quickly changing temperatures and weather patterns in all seasons, a challenge for gardeners.

That being said, there are a lot of great gardens in this part of the country, with an active Calgary Horticultural Society (established in 1908). We are always up for a challenge.

Now to my garden. The front yard is sloped, 50 feet wide, and about 75 feet deep. The house is at the top of the hill, originating from a setback concept as part of a “garden suburb” plan established for the neighborhood in the early 1900s. The focus was to give a parklike appearance from both the street and the homes.

The front south-facing garden was completely redone 10 years ago, after a major house renovation. With the exception of four large trees, all plant material was removed from the garden, and we brought in rich garden loam and a few tons of rock. The rock was placed at the top of the slope to maintain the soil and create moisture pockets for the plants. We did have a professional drawing done to get us started, but what remains of all those ideas is the patch of lawn in the middle.

I don’t follow any rules. I mix things up if I like the way it looks. It’s my garden. I started with color and texture, which includes a balance of deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubs. For added color through the season I also have peonies (11 varieties), roses (7 varieties) and hydrangeas (6 varieties). Various grasses give movement to the garden, and six types of larch provide additional interest in the fall. Combined with a very large variety of perennials, the garden never lacks color.

My weakness is that I always like to change things and move plants. I have now limited that process, and it is amazing how things grow if you just let them get established.

A true garden is never done; it is always evolving. Plants seed where you don’t want them, weeds pop up everywhere, and unfortunately some plants don’t return in the spring, but I consider that one an opportunity!

various flowering shrubs and perennials planted around two large rocksA dense network of plants fills the spaces around the rock in the front garden with color.

pink roses and other evergreen shrubsTwo different rose varieties (Rosa hybrids, hardiness varies by cultivar) bring color. Between them, a peony (Paeonia hybrid, Zones 4–8) has beautiful foliage even after the flowers have faded.

hydrangea with large white blooms over silver fernsHydrangea paniculata (Zones 3–8) blooms are surrounded by beautiful and varied foliage. In front is a Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, Zones 4–9) with silver-and-red-patterned leaves.

a shade garden with bright pink flowers and bright foliage plantsIn the shade of a tree, hostas (Hosta hybrids, Zones 4–8) dominate, and behind a heuchera (Heuchera hybrid, Zones 4–8) is in bloom. Most modern heucheras are bred primarily for their foliage color, but there are varieties that have beautiful flowers as well.

conifers and perennials mixed in a garden bedFreely mixing perennials with shrubs gives a wonderful range of colors and textures to the garden and ensures there are beautiful things to look at in every season.

variegated hostas next to flowering ground coversHostas grow in a wide range of climates, but they grow particularly large and lush in colder areas.

pink flowers surrounded by shrubs with different colored foliageShrubs are the backbone of this planting, augmented by perennials here and there.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/06/2022

    All is so lovely.

  2. User avater
    simplesue 09/06/2022

    I can hardly imagine being limited to zone 4a and sometimes zone 5, but wow- even with those zoning limitations you've made a spectacular garden!
    I totally understand what you mean about moving plants all the time and then realizing how well they grow if you just stop transplanting LOL!
    Interesting to hear about - "setback concept as part of a “garden suburb” plan established for the neighborhood in the early 1900s." I have a house from 1905, and had not heard of that sort of this neighborhood sort of a level change in front of each house, now most have been changed.'ve really created a gorgeous garden!

  3. sheila_schultz 09/06/2022

    Linda... your gardens are so filled with color, texture and variety, they exude joy in my eyes. The rocks stabilize and accentuate each and every plant. I am in love with every detail. Keep designing your gardens with what makes you happy. It's working. Thanks for sharing your vision with the rest of us!

  4. btucker9675 09/06/2022

    Your gardening style is totally my jam!!! Love everything about it - keep doing you!

  5. jos29803 09/06/2022

    Linda, I agree, a gardener's work is never done and mixing it up gets the creative juices flowing and you end up with a lovely surprise. You've done a wonderful job. It's beautiful!!

  6. lynda_t 09/06/2022

    I could see myself wondering around your garden with a cup of coffee in hand ! Lovely garden!

  7. starvnmarvn 09/07/2022

    You've got a great eye for shape & color. A super accomplishment in tough climate conditions. Love the splashes of red throughout the rocky gardens. Keep breaking the rules!

  8. margotnavarre 09/07/2022

    Beautiful garden with great design, eye for plants, and lots of variety. I like your comments that. garden is never done which keeps us active all year long or planning for the next season during inclement weather.

  9. sweetie4740 09/07/2022

    Thank you all for your kind feedback on my garden.
    Was hesitant to post initially as the gardens submitted are all very beautiful and I guess we underestimate at times what we have created. Beautiful day here in Calgary so back into the garden… maybe even to move a few things.
    Thanks again and happy gardening. Linda👩‍🌾

  10. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 09/12/2022

    I, too, enjoyed seeing your garden. Thank you for deciding to share it with GPOD.
    I am very interested to know which cultivars of roses you are growing. I think I spotted a couple Canadian Explorer Series - was I right?

    1. User avater
      vanhatalosuomi 09/13/2022

      Thank you, Linda, for contacting me about your roses! I had a Winnipeg Parks but, it struggled for some reason and then eventually died altogether. I know it would be a great addition. Possibly I just had a bad luck experience - I'll have to try again.
      since BREXIT is really a 'thing' I've had to end my shopping excursions through the UK David Austin site, pity. Luckily, there are other places in the EU to acquire plants/roses. I have discovered a German rose breeder/grower and have been quite happy with selection and purchase for several years now. Rosenhof-Schultheis, a 5 generation family of rose enthusiasts! Happy days :) My order for next spring was placed a month ago!!

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