Garden Photo of the Day

Making Friends by Gardening

Gardeners are a friendly lot

My name is Angela O’Brien-Ruff, and I live in Seattle, Zone 8b. I have been gardening for over 30 years, 15 of those years at our current home on a small lot in a neighborhood 20 minutes from downtown.

We get lots of foot traffic in front of our house, and after I noticed people bending down to get a closer look at something, I decided to put out plant labels. Working in my garden gives me a window onto my neighborhood, and my husband is amazed that I know so many people and their names. It’s because I’m outside gardening, and people stop to chat, ask questions, and share plants, and over time they become familiar. I think most would agree that gardeners are generally a friendly lot and are optimistic by nature. “Who would buy a stick in a pot?” as a friend once said.

So during this trying time of self-isolation due to the coronavirus, I feel very fortunate to be able to work outside in my garden and would like to share some photos. And thank you to all the other gardeners out there who take the time to share as well.

Anna’s hummingbird

Look closely. An Anna’s hummingbird decided to build her nest in a rhododendron in our front yard. It was so well camouflaged that we almost missed it.

bleeding heart

Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’, Zones 3–9) goes dormant in late summer, but it’s so pretty alongside the hellebores and Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, Zones 5–9).

Daphne odora

On a sunny day in March the citrusy fragrance of Daphne odora (Zones 7–9) can stop you in your tracks. I have several planted around my garden, and they make great bouquets to bring inside. Another fragrant evergreen shrub is Sarcococca hookeriana (sweetbox, Zones 6–8), which is nice to plant close to pathways. Its sweet vanilla fragrance fills the air in winter.

Star magnolia

Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata, Zones 4–8) is a small tree at the corner of our house and blooms at the same time as the Daphne odora.

purple lilac ‘Ludwig Spaeth’

Branches of a purple lilac ‘Ludwig Spaeth’ (Syringa vulgaris, Zones 3–7) perfume the air near a basalt sitting rock.

Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’

I saw this container combination of Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’ (Zones 4–8) and Geranium ‘Roseanne’ (Zones 5–8) at one of our local nurseries, so I can’t take credit for it. ‘Otto Lukyn’ laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’, Zones 6–8) shrubs are next to the basalt sitting rocks in the background.

'Ann Folkard' geranium

The bees love this ‘Ann Folkard’ geranium (Geranium × procurrens ‘Ann Folkard’, Zones 5–10), which cascades over the stone rockery. The bench looks out onto the back garden, and I often stop and rest there when I’m gardening. My husband built the trellis.

shade garden

In the summer the shade garden provides cool relief from the sunny back garden. This is a grouping of white wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa, Zones 5–8), Beesia, hellebores, Epimedium, hardy ground orchid (Bletilla × yokohama, Zones 6–9), Japanese forest grass, and maidenhair and Himalayan ferns. I’m afraid I’m guilty of the “one of everything” curse of gardening sometimes.

‘Autumn Moon’ Japanese maple

Strawberry plants by the hand rail, ‘Autumn Moon’ Japanese maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’, Zones 5–7), peony, sedum ground cover, and sweet alyssum (Lobularia, annual) line the path to our back gate.

‘Mutabilis’ rose

This bee was visiting pollen-laden blooms on the ‘Mutabilis’ rose. The blossoms change colors as they age, from yellow to pink to orange, with all colors on the plant at the same.

hardy fuchsia

This hardy fuchsia with its red stems, lime green leaves, and beautiful blossoms comes back year after year. Unfortunately, I have lost track of the name. (Editor’s note: Most hardy fuchsia are selections or hybrids of Fuchsia magellanica, which is hardy from Zones 6 to 9 but not particularly tolerant of hot summers.)


I could not believe a snail was crawling over this very prickly mound of hens and chicks! Undoubtedly it was lost and had made a wrong turn. Snails are my enemies in the garden. They can turn hostas into lace in a matter of days. After spending a small fortune on slug bait, I have finally given up on hostas (for the near term anyway)—until I am lured again by their irresistible beauty.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

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View Comments


  1. garden1953 04/13/2020

    Lovely gardens and I'm sure a real delight to the people that get to walk by and enjoy them along with you.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. nwphillygardener 04/13/2020

    It's no wonder folks stop by and are interested to learn more with all these great textures and somewhat less common plants. With all the well I.D.'d photos, I'm surprised someone missed identifying the Erythronium (possibly 'Pagoda'?), sometimes called dogtooth violet, with it's soft yellow flowers in the photo with the chartreuse leafed Bleeding Heart.

    1. User avater
      meander_michaele 04/13/2020

      Thanks for the I.D. on the Erythronium...I was quite captivated by its flower but I knew it wasn't any of the plants listed.

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 04/13/2020

    A lovely garden with stunning combinations of plants. Thanks for sharing.

  4. sagebird52 04/13/2020

    Beautiful - So green and diverse and well cared for. Thank you

  5. tmwg 04/13/2020

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden!

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/13/2020

    Angela's garden was featured before

  7. User avater
    bdowen 04/13/2020

    Beautiful- I can imagine your garden is a highlight on many neighbors' walks! My favorite photos- the hummingbird and the honeybee on the mutabilis rose, but all of them so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  8. margotnavarre 04/13/2020

    Love your beautiful Seattle garden. Did you install the hard scape ( the rock pathway and rail handle. ) ? They look great also. Happy gardening.

  9. btucker9675 04/13/2020

    Your "one of everything" garden is absolutely beautiful!

  10. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/13/2020

    The vignette that you described as revealing you to be a sometimes "one of everything" type gardener works wonderfully because the color palette is so soothing and compatible. Nothing jumps out as not belonging. You have a eye for encouraging harmony among your plants...ha, and among your neighbors!

  11. sheila_schultz 04/13/2020

    Angela, your gardens are warm, inviting and oh, so charming. No wonder your neighbors like to stop by and chat! Lucky them, lucky you!!!

  12. darylsavage 04/13/2020

    Fantastic garden, one of the best I 've seen here all the years I have been getting the GPOD. Your experience really show in your combo of onsies. Also, the lack of mulch, and use of groundcovers really elevates it to the best gardens. I live in 6A with deer, so I appreciate what you can grow there. I would love to smell that daphne.

  13. User avater
    simplesue 04/14/2020

    Just beautiful!!!!

  14. schatzi 04/14/2020

    Gorgeous garden. Your one-of garden yields marvelous texture contrasts - simply beautiful. I live 35 miles south of Seattle and have a major deer problem that limits what I can plant is some areas, but i enjoy finding things they don't like.

  15. joe_green_thumb 04/16/2020

    Beautiful garden. I have some of the plants that you have as well. I live 11 miles east of Seattle.

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