Garden Photo of the Day

Making a Garden From Scratch

Some seeds and some gardening skill transformed this hayfield into a garden

Brenda’s garden is up today. As you’ll see, she’s created quite the garden from virtually nothing!

We started with an old hayfield full of weeds that was subdivided into 5-acre parcels in northwestern Montana. My husband and I bought the property in 2006 and moved here in 2013. We did all the landscaping ourselves in four short summers. I grow all my own plants from seed in the greenhouse, then move them into the yard. I am a Master Gardener and have been gardening for over 40 years (36 of those were in Alaska). As you can see from the photos below, I LOVE lots of color! Everything is on drip irrigation, and we used “subsurface” irrigation tubes under the lawn, which have a zero evaporation rate. The entire yard is fenced in to keep the deer out.

This is the “before” photo—truly a blank slate, but with some incredible views.


The garden has come a long way since that empty field! By repeating the same plants down this long border, Brenda keeps this planting looking cohesive and intensional.


Another part of the garden, again with plants and colors repeated throughout the design to draw the whole planting into harmony.


Brenda’s greenhouse, where she grows her own plants from seed.


Inside the greenhouse, which is packed with perfectly grown plants. A greenhouse like this is a bit of an investment, but I’m sure Brenda has saved a lot of money by growing her own plants here. Growing her own plants from seed also makes it easy for her to get the large numbers of plants she uses in her displays.


It isn’t just flowers. Check out these picture-perfect cabbages in Brenda’s vegetable garden.


The wide-angle view of the vegetable garden.


A wonderful mass of various-colored yarrow (Achillea hybrids, Zones 4–9). View our plant guide to yarrow here.



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View Comments


  1. Maggieat11 08/13/2018

    Quite an undertaking and successful and a BIG way! Congratulations!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/13/2018

    Don't know what to say! Totally amazing. And that garden!!!! Do you can & freeze or do you just share?

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/13/2018

    Hi, Brenda, I smiled a little at the fact that moving to Montana was moving "south" for you (perhaps in retirement?). You certainly accomplished a lot in 4 years with your gardens...landscape and vegetable...and it's all beautiful. It was delightful to see the swath of various colored yarrows give the impression of a rainbow. Your view of the mountains is gorgeous and it must feed your soul every day.

  4. cheryl_c 08/13/2018

    Stunning in every way! What great knowledge and talent you have to convert the 'blank slate' to the wonderful gardens that bring such beauty and nourishment to your corner of the world. Congratulations!

  5. Sunshine111 08/13/2018

    You go girl!

  6. wittyone 08/13/2018

    You weren't kidding about that blank slate. It's hard to start out without a real starting point to work from but I imagine all your years of gardening helped tremendously. Such a lot to accomplish in just three years is amazing!

  7. btucker9675 08/13/2018

    Master Gardener in more ways than one! The gardens are so pretty and those cabbages are gorgeous.

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