Garden Photo of the Day

Looking Back at Katie’s Garden

Scenes from last summer

garden with large, white and yellow lilies in the foreground

We’re on Bainbridge Island, Washington, today, visiting with Katie Crain.

I was just looking through photos from the summer and fall (as one does this time of year), and I thought I’d send you some. A little about this garden: It’s on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and is about six years old. The house was new construction, so it was bare dirt in 2016. The garden is now about an acre, though I keep expanding it (of course!). My last garden had more the feel of an English cottage garden, but here on the island, surrounded by nature, I’ve found my style evolving to a more naturalistic look. I’m particularly interested these days in noticing how plants grow together in the wild and using that to inspire my plantings of more conventional plants. I am a bit of a plant collector and love the weird and unusual, but I also love the classics: roses, clematis, and peonies. I have fun combining rare plants with common plants. I don’t consider myself a garden designer at all. My trick is to keep moving things around until they “work” and there is good color and texture balance throughout the garden.

garden path with lots of ornamental grassIn this lush garden planting, the grasses Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning ‘Light’ (Zones 4–9), Imperata cylindrica (Zones 5–9), and Anemanthele lessoniana (Zones 8–10) dominate the foreground. Mixed in are the flowers of Echinacea (Zones 5–9; not sure of the variety), ‘Conca d’Or’ lily (Lilium ‘Conca d‘Or’, Zones 4–8), Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ (Zones 5–9), and Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’ (Zones 4–9). The monarda have grown larger than they are “supposed” to because they are right under our septic drain field.

garden bed full of flowers of different colorsThe purple-flushed foliage of Rosa glauca (Zones 2–8) takes center stage here, joined by the apricot flowers of Rosa ‘Lady of Shalott’. Unknown varieties of Japanese iris (Iris ensata, Zones 5–10) and Kniphofia add white and yellow flowers respectively, while the shrub Argyrocytisus battandieri (Zones 7–10) blooms in the background.

garden with large, white and yellow lilies in the foregroundLilium ‘Conca d’Or’ looks absolutely magnificent with Oenothera versicolor ‘Lemon Sunset’ (Zones 4–9). A Magnolia siebolidii (Zones 6–8) is not in bloom but backs up the lily with foliage, while other flowers, including the bright red blooms of Penstemon ‘Red Riding Hood’ (Zones 5–9), show off in the background.

tree with white flowers in front of shrub with purple flowersThe beautiful white flowers of Franklinia alatamaha (Zones 5–8) are backed up by the purple Lespedeza thumbergii’ Gilbratar’ (Zones 4–9).

garden bed with a large pink bee balm plantMonarda ‘Raspberry Wine’ is the star of this scene at the moment, taking over from the peonies (Paeonia hybrids, Zones 3–8) that have finished flowering.


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View Comments


  1. gardendevas 03/07/2022

    Gorgeous garden, Katie! Thanks for sharing. Love the naturalistic flow, healthy plants and color combinations. I have been considering a Franklinia - how has it been to grow?

  2. Maggieat11 03/07/2022

    Lovely! Thank you for sharing 🍃

  3. garden1953 03/07/2022

    So very beautiful. Your gardens are gorgeous and an inspiration!

  4. User avater
    simplesue 03/07/2022

    Your garden is huge and beautiful, you've done a lot since having a blank canvas in 2016...I know because I have a small city lot that was mostly just grass and I've been turning it into a garden too.
    I don't think I've ever seen such interesting natural paths and groups of perennials has you have in your garden...just amazing what you have created...I really enjoyed seeing your gorgeous garden.

  5. annek 03/07/2022

    Wow, your photos show an amazingly rich and interesting garden. The path beckons one to follow along and enjoy the beauty. Well-done!

  6. User avater
    bdowen 03/07/2022

    Do the lilies smell as wonderful as they look? Your paths certainly invite strolling through the gardens. A lot of work for six years!

  7. User avater
    treasuresmom 03/07/2022

    Amazingly beautiful.

  8. user-5117752 03/07/2022

    Simply marvelous! So luscious after only 5-6 years. Hard to believe. Hope you'll share a lot more with us this summer.

  9. btucker9675 03/07/2022

    Your garden is amazing... how I would love to take a stroll through it!

  10. [email protected] 03/07/2022

    Beautiful! But my main wonderment is how do you battle the deer? I wonder if your whole property is deer-fenced. Everything is so gorgeous, and I need to research that Rosa Glauca- I think I should be able to grow it over here in Maple Valley. I grew Conca d'Or lilies in my last house- should have brought them along!! Thanks

  11. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 03/08/2022

    Interesting use of plants. I tend to go more structured in my use, but your naturalistic setting works in a number of cases. Thanks for sharing.

  12. fromvirginia 03/08/2022

    Loving the “wildness” though, like VanhaTalaSuomi, I tend to more structure. Curious as to whether you’re planting directly on top of the septic field. Any considerations to bear in mind? I have a large septic field that currently has just grass. I’m eyeing it for a new bed:)

  13. Meelianthus 03/11/2022

    From Bainbridge to Bainbridge ~ your gardens are beautiful Katie ! So lush and so PNW, you have many wonderful plantings. Thanks for the tour ;)

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