Garden Photo of the Day

Made for Shade

Embracing gardening under trees

Today’s photos come from Karen Holmen:

I am a long-time gardener in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. What started as a small backyard garden has grown over many years to a front-yard garden, a backyard garden that we can see from the house, and a garden in the back half of our lot. At one time there were many red oaks in the yard, and many years ago we lost most of them, opening up space for more garden. It’s still shady with some sun, so I stick to plants that tend to do well in part shade, part sun. Lots of hosta (except the deer really like them), astilbe (Astilbe chinensis,  Zones 4–8) is becoming a favorite, hydrangeas of many kinds, ladies mantle (Alchemilla mollis,  Zones 4–7 ), coral bells (Heuchera), daisies, Missouri primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa, Zones 3–7), bee balm (Monarda sp.), ligularia (Ligularia sp.) and more. I have made many paths and occasionally have a bench to sit on, to rest from weeding, to enjoy a cup of coffee early in morning, or to just relax. It’s turned into a garden with many rooms.

Embracing what thrives in this shady garden means lots of hostas. Here, different varieties are mixed together to create a lush, low-maintenance tapestry. View our guide to designing with hostas here.


Astilbe is a favorite in the garden, thriving in the light shade, flowering beautifully, and not as attractive to deer as the hostas.


This sculpture among hardy geraniums (Geranium macrorrhizum, Zones 4–8) is a favorite garden spot in the spring. View more garden ornament inspiration here.


Many paths lead you through the garden to different garden rooms where you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning.


In a lightly shaded spot, perennials bloom around a perfectly circular walk anchored with a bird bath in the center.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/26/2018

    Hi, Karen, your opening photo of the curving border of various hosta varieties is about as good as it fact, each picture elicits a sigh of appreciation and admiration. These scenes from your backyard communicate a very appealing peacefulness and serenity. Your choices of hosta and accompanying other plants are hugely pleasing...I would so love to look out on them, walk towards them, stroll along side have really created a beautiful oasis.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/26/2018

    Wow! What an amazing hosta garden.

  3. User avater
    PKKing 06/26/2018

    I completely agree with Michaele! What a peaceful garden you have. You are brave to plant all those beautiful hosta with deer around. You must have found a way to dissuade them from eating them all.

  4. cheryl_c 06/26/2018

    Karen, I love your hardscaping, and the way it sets off your plantings. Particularly, the way you designed your stairs in the picture with the astilbe in the front, and the chain 'railing' - I'll bet they look lovely with snow on them! Your photos give us an intriguing appetizer for your gardens - I hope there are more to follow!

  5. btucker9675 06/26/2018

    What a lovely, serene garden you've created - a perfect place to visit after a stressful day!

  6. [email protected] 06/27/2018

    Love the pix. If I didn't know better, I would have guessed this garden was in the PNW. So many of the same things I grow here!

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