Garden Photo of the Day

Linda’s Recycled Garden in North Dakota

This is a good photo of all my recycled rock, wood, etc. The left corner is a railroad tie retaining wall….it is holding up the corner of the yard so the hill side behind doesn’t come down in! I probably wouldn’t do railroad ties again, but they have proven to be very sturdy and won’t decay fast. We got older ones that didn’t have much tar left on them.
Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Linda Haught

Today’s photos are from Linda Haught. She says, “We purchased this house in Dickinson, North Dakota, in 1995, mainly for the backyard. All the trees where already planted and it was partially landscaped on the top tier. The previous owner had left a pile of sand, rocks, and landscape lumber strewn around in places, so I decided to recycle whatever I could and use whatever rocks were on the hill behind our house. I also got bricks from an old school that was torn down and called the local landfill/dump and asked if they had any rocks I could have. I made numerous trips in my Toyota Camry (my assistant, Sophie dog, head out the window) with rocks weighing down the rear! Plus, we were a poor, newly married couple, so I had to make due with whatever I could find! The folks at my work, also, divided plants from their yards for me. I am not that good with the names of some of them, so I hope you don’t mind.

My back fence. The lilacs loved the moist spring we had. I have never seem them to pretty as last spring! They line my entire yard and are my “fence” on the back slope of the hill. These were in place when we moved in. I have had them cut back only once. I won’t do it again, as they got a disease in them after they shot back up from the trim. They do sucker a lot. I figure they have taken about 3 feet or so of my back garden over at this point! I just trim them back as best I can, so the other plants get a bit of sunlight.

“The trees were small then, so I have had to move my plants around and try shade plants to compensate for low sunlight as the they grew. I have probably moved and redone my little garden plots about 4-5 times now! I think am finally done…but, a garden is really never done, just my knees and back are done!

Entering my upper level on the north side of the yard. I made the flag stone path up the little hill. Another gate in the back that leads to an open hill. I have planted lots of daylilies, as I have found that the rabbits don’t like them! At least the ones in my area! The blooming pink tree is an ornamental crab that has matured nicely and shaded most of my top garden. The entire upper back is lined in lilac bushes. The little white flowers on the left are snowdrop anemones. This is a spring photo, so they are some of the first to bloom as are the tulips in the middle garden. I put an outdoor light up in the area with a birdbath below. I can see the birds bathing into the evening this way from down on the lower patio. I fire up the gas pit and and sit all evening and watch the birds have fun on the upper level. They love all the brush and trees as it is good cover for them.

“The lower back level had beautiful evergreens that had a disease on the lower foliage. I didn’t know what to do about it and it was rather ugly/orange and spreading. As the trees got larger, the less sun they had on the lower branches, so I decided to prune them up to about my shoulder height. They not only did great after I did this, but I could now see my lovely upper level from my patio that my husband built (we purchased the gas firepit 2 years ago, we use it all summer). It worked out well and the trees have done really much better having been pruned up. I now put pots in between and the begonias love that area! I also made the paver checker board area under the trees where the lawn struggles to grow and I put a water feature off to the side of the ferns. The birds love the moving water and Sophie dog thinks we put it in as her water fountain.

A better shot of my begonias in the trees I pruned up! Also, all the woodbine vines went crazy this summer! the spiky green in the rocks is spiderwort that blooms a pretty pink in the early morning hours.

“After 20 years here, I have experimented with many plants, moved many rocks, trimmed many trees, fed many birds, and can still chase my old pup around the yard! She will be 16 in June and has been by my side each summer while out gardening. We have had deer, snakes, rabbits, pheasants, frogs, owls, and all types of wildlife stop and check out the yard, even though we live in the center of town.

The large vine is a Black-eyed Susan that I started from seeds. They grew like mad! Coleus to the front of it. I am amazed at all the varieties of coleus available now. Some even like the sun…to a point! As you can see in this photo, the back retaining wall has now filled in with woodbine vines. I am letting some of them trail down the wall and I have put string solar lights in them for the summer. They glow at night!

“I don’t need a vacation, I just step out back and it is in front of me! Bring on spring…10 above zero here today, so I am indoors planning my flower pots for this summer and admiring all the photos of the other gardens on Fine Gardening.”

Sophie keeping watch over the backyard!

I LOVE the evergreens limbed up, Linda! Is it weird that they remind me of crape myrtles now? Sophie is beautiful, as is your garden. Thanks for sharing it with us!

My rock water feature by the Ostrich ferns (from a coworker), paver checker board I crafted under the deep shaded tree area. I have finally got some grass to grow in between the past year.

—-Winter is the perfect time to take a photographic stroll through the photos you took in your garden this year……and then send some in to me at [email protected]!

A winter shot of the trimmed up evergreens! There is a pheasant on the upper level…you can only see is belly. He is between the last 2 trees.
back patio with gas fire pit. You can see the trimmed up evergreens in the back ground. All the rocks came from the landfill!
my husband’s crooked gate (he will kill me for saying that…but, it is crooked) and a neat photo he got of the sun peeking through the sun!
front of house – Monarda (bee balm) and Shasta daisies (from coworker). Shasta daisies spread like crazy, so I like to move them around in my different beds in clusters.
Linda, Sophie dog, in front of house with tall orange daylilies (from a coworker), my prize ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea behind me on left, the large pink flower behind me is in the lythrum or loosestrife family (be careful as some of these are consider noxious weeds), and to the right of it is an aster (from a coworker) and small daylily. I like to have something blooming at all times of the spring/summer/fall.

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View Comments


  1. perenniallycrazy 02/11/2014

    Such a wonderful story of your garden Linda, and I do love those trimmed up evergreens (and the pheasant too). You can tell what my favorite photo is. Thanks for sharing.

  2. user-1020932 02/11/2014

    another great space showing hard work, ingenuity and using whatis at hand to create what we want. i'm a fan of the limbed up evergreens too/ many people are afraid to do that so i'm glad to see you are fearless! they have legs and they know how to use them. i like that checkerboard a lot too and a dog in the garden,,,,,,,,always a good thing

  3. flowerladydi 02/11/2014

    It is charming Linda,,,, and you must be so proud of all your hard work and diligence!,,,, it takes a lot to create what you have from where you started, and it is just lovely! I love photo of the crab and flagstone,,, and your path ,, and can only imagine how great the fragrance is with all your lilacs! There is nothing like the smell of lilacs in the spring,, plus they have created a great fence for you!
    Sophis is adorable!,, and I can imagine she was a great help all these years!
    Love the checkerboard too,, and the arbs look great limbed up!
    Thanks for sharing! I sooooo can't wait for spring!!!

  4. bsavage 02/11/2014

    What a very lovely yard and gardens, Linda! I love all of your lilacs, and I love all the variety. Beautiful!

  5. GardenGrl1 02/11/2014

    It's beautiful and charming and every turn shows something new! I love it! Thank you for sharing your story and your garden. I love the stone paths & the checkerboard design! OH, and the flowers!

  6. pattyspencer 02/11/2014

    Wow - gorgeous garden!! Love that you've recycled things and given them a home. Love all your pics but I think your lilac fence has to be my favorite as I have a lilac in my yard and know how 1 bush smells and you have a whole row

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/11/2014

    Linda, I am almost dizzy just from imagining how intoxicating the lilac fragrance must be when that glorious hedge is in full bloom. Your limbed up evergreens are very appealing and so much more interesting than if they were just a heavy looking privacy screen. Love that you included the smiling picture of yourself with your loyal companion Sophie. You've built a great garden filled with memories of friends and co workers who have shared plants with you.

  8. greengenes 02/11/2014

    Your garden is wonderful, Linda! I really love all that you have done! And you are right, a gardeners work [or fun] is never done! Its always changing! That is the fun part about gardening. And hats off to your coworkers as well! Its so fun to share plants! I think it is so great how you ended up trimming the evergreens! The branches are really interesting and it does make a great place for you begonias! The smell from the lilacs must be so wonderful! They do sucker but I just dig them up and give them to friends. Sophie looks so content! Love it all! Happy gardening this new year ahead! What are you going to do this year? Any new projects?

  9. tractor1 02/11/2014

    I love the lilac hedgerow, the aroma must be intoxicating when in flower. When you say "evergreens" I wonder, they can be anything, but with their multi-stemmed growing habit they don't look like conifers, however with all those stems directly from the ground I'd think they'd send up more stems... Linda, I think you need to find out what kind of plant you have there. I like your husband's gate. I don't think the gate is crooked at all, it's the posts that are out of plumb, probably heaved. I'd pull out the posts and put in new ones a foot deeper, and set in gravel for drainage. A wonderful garden and Sophie is a cutie.

  10. bee1nine 02/11/2014

    Linda, So enjoyed reading about your recycled story venture
    and added captions provided. Just wonderful what you have done so far in this engaging garden!
    I have a couple of evergreens as well, that are going to need
    lower pruning to tidy-up and provide more space underneath.
    Hence, another pardon to add more new plantings. Excites me,
    just thinking about it!!

    And yes...your lilac hedge MUST smell heavenly!!!

  11. quinquek 02/11/2014

    A great garden! I grew up with lilacs and so miss not being successful with them where we are (must be me; other people have them!) But love the hedge you've created with them, and the limbed-up evergreens, and the checkerboard walk, and...

  12. user-1020932 02/11/2014

    Linda, what variety of Lilac are those? borers are a BIG problem with them here so we use Miss Kim and the like but the old fashioned ones are so much more fragrant

  13. sheila_schultz 02/11/2014

    Linda, you've truly created a beautiful garden filled with loving memories. I'm sure when you look at your Shasta daisys, asters, day lillies and so many more of your plants you not only see beautiful flowers but the friends and co workers that gave them to you. They are the gifts that keep on giving!

  14. toweringpines 02/11/2014

    Love your garden and your approach to gardening.
    Making the best of what your yard offers is truly great gardening.It is always fun to walk around the garden pointing out gift plants from good friends.Still have 2 feet of snow here but the sun is shining and the days are getting noticeably longer.I keep reminding myself that all that snow provides insulation for my perennials and will help them survive the hot dry days in Jul/Aug.
    Thanks for sharing your garden.

  15. perennialpal 02/11/2014

    Linda, your garden is so pretty. I love the way you have used the rock and that you have done everything so inexpensively with donated plants from friends. That is what gardening is all about - sharing the bounty. I hate to throw anything out.
    I am also very interested in Sophie. We have a dog that looks exactly like her, but since she was a rescued dog, we don't know what her lineage is. Do you know what Sophie is?

  16. GrannyMay 02/11/2014

    Linda you show what a lovely garden can be created with hard work and by sharing with friends! A lot of us start with limited funds and little knowledge, yet end up being more than happy with the results, surrounded by the beauty we have created! Congratulations!

    I do envy you your lilacs! I always dreamed of having a grove of lilacs, but conditions here are opposite to what lilacs need. I still have a few, struggling to keep going, out of many, many that gave up. Nothing beats that fragrance!

  17. wildthyme 02/11/2014

    Linda, there's something especially nice about a garden like yours that's evolved over time; it has a very special quality. I too cannot bear to throw anything away (much to my husband's dismay!), but there always seems to be a perfect place for that found object. Thank you so much too for providing such detailed narrative - I love to read about people's gardens! And Sophie, what a dear. Is there anything like the companionship of a pup in the garden? Great post today, Michele!

  18. delancey 02/11/2014

    Beautiful spot; your hard work has certainly paid off. I really enjoyed reading your garden story; a little history adds to the pleasure of viewing Photos of the Day. We adopted a shelter dog three months ago after a few years without one, so I'm looking forward to canine companionship this season. Val
    P.S. hmmm...just had a thought; guess it'll be interesting to find out if the new addition thinks he gets to dig when I dig!
    P.P.S. Michelle: I haven't been up to much gardening the last few years, but things have been improving over the last five months or so, and I'm hoping for a good gardening year in 2014. If this is the case, I will take photos to send you.

  19. cwheat000 02/11/2014

    Linda , you have created a charming garden. Even more impressive , when you consider the mess and the small budget you had to work with. The good thing about divisions from friends, is not only the price is right, but you get to share a great hobby with the people you care about, and those plants will always remind you of those good people in your life. Your dog looks like such a sweetie and an excellent garden buddy. Your lilacs and daylilies are gorgeous. I have gotten in the tradition of buying flowers with cultivar names that match my family members names. FYI- the blooming has a daylily named "Linda's Magic" and has one named "Sophie". Linda, you really have created some magic there in very cold North Dakota. PS- it sounds like your evergreens had a rust, which is fungal. If it reappears a copper based(organic) fungicide should do the trick.

  20. GrannyCC 02/11/2014

    I love the recycling aspect of your beautiful garden. Too often we forget how much we can reuse and how many of our friends need to divide their plants. Great way to garden. Thanks for sharing with us Linda.

  21. davsav 02/11/2014

    Thank you for sending pictures of your beautiful gardens. I also love the lilacs and remember having them in the shelter belt naear our farm house 7 miles from Lawton, North Dakota. I was raised there with 6 roudy and but hard working siblings. We had purple and white ones and I'm sure they were planted by my grandmother. Before we sold the farm after Dad passed away I collected some seed heads to see if I could get some to grow. Although I've lived in many places since then my heart and love of the earth still comes from my childhood on the farm in North Dakota. Thanks again!

  22. wittyone 02/11/2014

    Linda what a beautiful job you have done with your garden. I love to hear how a garden has progressed and changed over the years. It makes it so much more interesting than just a list of plants no matter how artfully placed and planned.

    I love the checkerboard pavers and wonder if you will continue them farther out.

    The little gate is wonderful (crooked or not) especially with the sun face looking back at you. Gates are so neat----you never know what you'll find on the other side.

  23. janeeliz 02/11/2014

    What fun read about the development of your wonderful garden, Linda.! So many memories and yes, it is never over. You will be passing on more, for sure, will always find places for plants from friends and neighbors. I love all your recycling ideas. ..very creative. The trees look great limbed up and that extra light and view makes your garden even more enjoyable. Mmmm..... I, too, would love to meander past your lilac hedge in spring.

  24. NWAgardener 02/11/2014

    Hello Linda - I love your lilac "fence"! The University of Maine has a wonderful YouTube video "How to prune a lilac bush" which is much better than many other sites. You prune out a percent (perhaps a 1/4 or 1/3) of the oldest stems each year. This controls the height and ensures young and healthy stems that will flower profusely every year. I'll bet you can't wait to enjoy their wonderful aroma this spring!

  25. tractor1 02/11/2014

    I really envy Linda's lilacs... three years ago I planted a lilac bush, it took two years to flower, one small bloom. How many years before it hides my utility pole?

  26. HaughtND 02/11/2014

    Hello and thank you for the nice comments/compliments! I am working today, but I will be happy to come back this evening or tomorrow and anwser all questions. Darn work cuts into my gardening time! LOL I think spring has finally sprung today in ND!! It is a balmy 39 degrees. Linda

  27. perenniallycrazy 02/11/2014

    Good morning Granny May. In response to your request on yesterday's post.

    Here is the link to the Small Space Display on the SkyBridge at the Flower Show.

    and to the Exhibitors at the Show:

    I checked your album and you seem to have covered all the bases especially with the display gardens.

    Of course, feel free to view and enjoy for everyone else following GPOD. Tried to include as many product links and descriptions as I can.

    Have a great day everyone! Stay safe and warm.

  28. GrannyMay 02/11/2014

    @PerenniallyCrazy, thanks for the links to your photos and all the info with them. It sure helps to see things through someone else's eyes(photos) as well!

    Linda, I hope you have been taking and keeping photos of your garden's progress through the years. It is so easy to forget all the changes, great to have a photo story to refer to later on.

  29. HaughtND 02/12/2014

    Good morning, everyone! I am home today, so I can try to reply to all your questions. First, I awoke to a new covering of snow and frosted tree branches this morning. Pretty, but so much for spring here in ND… 9 above today. You have to wonder how the plants survive here with our extreme temp. differences! I had a real epiphany after reading all of your nice comments and compliments yesterday. I wrote an email to Michelle and told her that I really have been planting all of these flowers, rocks, and garden artifacts for someone that I knew or still know! More of a memory garden, I guess, than a recycled one. I am really reminded of my Father, Aunt Martha, Grandma Hanson, and coworkers/friends that have all passed, but each summer I am reminded of each when they bloom.  I will try to get some summer photos of my “special” plants to share with all of you later.

    Let’s see…the Lilacs are a hit! They have really been kind of an overwhelming part of my backyard. Not sure the neighbors on each side appreciate their suckers, but I have dug out many and passed these on to others. They do smell awesome! I really have a pollen fest back their in the spring!! I will try to get their name, but I believe they are the old-fashioned variety. They are tough for sure. I would be happy to share any slips/suckers to all who are up for them!

    Next, the limbed up evergreens…Help wanted Tree Trimmer! LOL I believe they are arborvitaes. I did send in a photo of the disease to our local ext. service and was told I had to spray the heck out of them with a fungicide to cure them. I did try that for a summer, but I didn’t like the chemicals, so I decided to be fearless as tntreeman said. I like the leg comment, too. They have now become a focal point in my yard. They don’t shoot new stems and they don’t start any new branches on the bare limbs, either. So, be careful if you decide to do this to your own. I like my trees to be natural in shape, height, etc. But, this was one experiment that worked out well. I just leave the tops as they are, but after a nasty 2005 blizzard, several of them bent over and broke a few branches off. I now tie them inside with a rope to keep them together. That same blizzard broke large limbs off my Sand Cherry tree, Harland Apple, and took the entire top off my little Embers Maple. I was sick! But, they have all recovered quite well, except the Sand Cherry has a disease. I will need to have a professional come and see if I can save it.

    Checkerboard was a project that about did me in! So, was the water feature. I actually hauled rocks in a plastic sled down the hill to get them in my yard. I know the neighbors think I am a nut!! I was gong to extend the checker look on the other side of my yard, but I just couldn’t do anymore lifting. My knees are shot, too.

    Thank you for the daylily flower names! Linda’s magic and Sophie are going to be a must now. Someone asked about my pup. She is a Border Collie Mix (we think Cocker Spaniel is in their somewhere with all her hair.) She really is my buddy and used to chase all the rabbits, birds and critters out of the yard. Now, she is interested in sleeping in the grass and taking in the fresh air. I will miss her companionship.

    As for new projects, we need to replace the posts on the patio over hang this summer. I need trees trimmed and I have been crafting solar lights out of old vases, teapots, plates to sell at a craft show. Oh, also, I had sprinklers and soakers put in everywhere. That has really saved time and energy moving hoses and often times forgetting the water was on! I didn’t flood the basement, but came close a few times.

    I just now know how special a gardener or one's garden really is and it took this moment to really make it sink in...I thank GPOD for that! Thank you and take care. I will share more at a later time. Linda and Sophie girl

  30. user-1020932 02/12/2014

    Linda, i'm weathered in and came back to look at your photos. thanks for answering the lilac question. i like reading your text, it's as if you are talking just to me! we really need a pic of you with the rocks in the sled and if you're neighbors don't think you are nuts yet,,,,,,,,,,well you need to try harder!
    have fun!!!

  31. HaughtND 02/12/2014

    Thanks, tntreeman! It quit snowing here and is actually 25 above. Ha, I still have that plastic hot pink sled in the garage. I bet the neighbors cringe (or roll their eyes) when they see me get that thing out to move a rock! LOL I also have an old, rusty Radio Flyer red wagon that gets a work out, too. I have wheeled many a plant, seedlings in and out of the garage, and dirt with it. I had a wheelbarrow with a rubber tire that was always flat, so I have found solid wheeled or sleds are the most reliable! I look forward to summer and I will post a photo of pink sled with a plant just for you! :-) Hmmmmm, maybe I can glue some rocks on it and make it a feature. PS - my neighbors have given up!

  32. HaughtND 07/24/2017

    Hello! It has been many years since I wrote this" Linda's recycled garden" and I can't believe after looking at my photos from several years ago that I am still gardening. I have pulled sooooo many weeds, mowed, trimmed many a bush/tree, fed all the squirrels and birds and whatever wildlife/homeless human that landed in the yard... that I am finally ready to sell it all to a new gardener/owner and it can't be too soon! LOL I will be 55yo in a couple weeks and I hope all my "Fine Gardening" friends are still gardening or have passed their knowledge on newbies.

    We still miss our dog child, Sophie, but have a new rescue pup, Susie, that hates to garden. LOL I guess that is a hint...happy gardening...or retiring! Linda

  33. AlexBornt 05/27/2021

    Very cool! Your "recycled garden" looks amazing! For about 5 years I have been dreaming of my own house with a beautiful territory and my own garden too. But unfortunately, today this is an unrealizable dream and you have to be content with looking at beautiful photos and dreaming about it. I believe that someday I will also have a beautiful garden and then I will also share photos)

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