Garden Photo of the Day

Looking Back at Last Year’s Garden

Using photos to reflect on the garden

Today’s photos come from Kathy Schreurs:

The recent GPOD from a woman who keeps a photographic journal of her garden helped me realize that I do something similar throughout the spring and summer. Periodically, I wander through the yard early in the morning and record with my phone camera what’s happening that day. Over the years, doing so has helped me realize that I can look forward to the eyeliner lilies opening up around the Fourth of July, that the forget-me-nots will be their bluest around the date of my father’s death, and that the simplest, “unfanciest” hosta will be the last hosta to bloom and with the most pure white blossoms.

During the week of September 19, with a killing frost in the forecast for our town of Sheldon, Iowa, I went out and captured a few photos of the last days of the gardening season.

sweet autumn clematisThe sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora, Zones 4–9)—never a prolific bloomer in our shaded yard—was doing its best to celebrate the end of summer.

clematis on an arborThe clematis clings to a wooden arbor that my husband built for me about 20 years ago. I just realized that this is the first fall that the limelight hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, Zones 3–8) against the backyard fence are visible through the opening. We had to remove a huge (and hollow) ash tree in July. I may have some surprises next season when the previously shady backyard has more sunlight.

obedient plantI’ve learned that obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana, Zones 3–9) is most compliant when I dig out at least half of the patch early in the spring. Its reputation for being aggressive is well-deserved! In September, I welcome it as one of the last of the perennials to bloom.

‘Twist n Shout’ hydrangeaThe obedient plant grows near this pretty hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) that doesn’t reward me with blossoms until late in the summer. Our hydrangeas all die back completely every winter, even when heavily mulched, and they’re slow to bloom on new growth. I think this one is ‘Twist n Shout’. I like the rusty-blue coleus that I have in a nearby pot. I think it cuts the sweetness of the obedient plant in a way that shows both to advantage.

asparagus fernMy husband, and some of my grandchildren, raised eyebrows when I brought this (extremely heavy) foot home a few years ago. It was the color that attracted me, since this bright blue pops up in bird baths, annual pots, and a garden stool around the borders. I had to experiment a bit to find a plant that would flourish in it; it doesn’t have a drainage hole. A 4-inch pot of asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus, annual or houseplant) worked well this summer.

coleusI waffle all summer long about whether or not to remove the blossoms from the various coleus varieties. Mostly, as this bumblebee is demonstrating, I don’t.

This small bed of annuals is to the left of the arbor covered with sweet autumn clematis in an earlier photo. In spite of the hose, the gas meter, and the pole of a shepherd’s crook, these colorful annuals grabbed my attention every day until the frost.

The lemon twist (Plectranthus ‘Lemon Twist’) and diamond frost (Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’) are part of another border. They are two of my go-to annuals for filling in awkward spots, often after late tulips have died back.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/24/2020

    All so lovely. I too take pics of what is blooming for a record but I don't worry how well they turn out. I try to get a bit of the surroundings so I don't forget what was planted where.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/24/2020

    I really enjoyed the photo tour of your garden, Kathy. I'm glad you were inspired by a previous GPOD submission to share some of your snaps as well. Your autumn flowering clematis is quite glorious as a dramatic green cape for the arbor your husband built and the blooms are the figurative icing on the cake. I'm a fan of any planter that shade of deep blue so the whimsical large foot delights me. Nice job finding a plant that doesn't mind the lack of a drainage hole.

  3. User avater
    simplesue 02/24/2020

    I got so excited about googling your Obedient Plant that I almost forgot to come back and thank you for sharing your pretty garden photos and story.
    I've never heard of that plant before and love the look and the late bloom time, I'm definitely going to order one today!
    That Clematis vine is so lush and green, that the small sprinkle of flowers is just icing on the cake...just gorgeous...I love nice foliage as much as a blossom.
    If you have any more first hand garden wisdom on the Obedient Plant I would love to hear about it.
    I will check back later to see if you do have more to say about it.

  4. User avater
    bdowen 02/24/2020

    Thank you for the lovely tour of your garden- it's wonderful to have those memories to look back at after shoveling snow! I'm looking forward to seeing your photos of the once shady area as you help it adapt this summer. A garden is never finished!

  5. btucker9675 02/24/2020

    Love your garden and your big blue foot!! : ) What a beautiful job your husband did building that arched arbor - perfect for the gorgeous clematis.

  6. Musette1 02/24/2020

    your entire garden is lovely but I especially love the arbor! The view of the hydrangea is so pretty. I'm with you on the coleus - I waffled with the whole flowers/no flowers thing, but a couple of bees tipped the scales. I now leave them on.

    also, I use my phone to record what's what (much as treasuresmom (above) does) but also incorporate labels, because I have a skittery mind ;-)

  7. cheryl_c 02/24/2020

    Kathy, I really enjoyed your photos this morning - so much that I came back this afternoon to look at them again. How lovely that Twist and Shout and the obedient plant both bloom late and with such similar colors. I, too, love to pop a coleus in here and there among the perennials. I love Coleus Campfire because it has some purple tendencies among all the burnt orange, going so unexpectedly well with so many other colors. I add my vote that you send more pictures!

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