Garden Photo of the Day

Marrying Garden Design to Architecture

Michigan gardeners create a landscape inspired by the structure of their home

Today’s photos come from Jac Blanco in Detroit.

We purchased this house two years ago (July 2016), and at that time the front was not visible from the street because of overgrown willow bushes and Canada thistle. There was evidence of a garden, but a lot of dividing and reorganizing was needed. We focused on symmetry when we reorganized plantings and added structure with arborvitae, spruce, and boxwood. Our focus was to echo the symmetrical architecture of our 1921 Dutch colonial.

It’s hard to imagine that just two years ago this was overgrown with weeds! The strictly symmetrical design of the garden echoes the form of the house beautifully, and the masses of loose purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3–9 ) and black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida, Zones 3–9) add a more relaxed contrast to the formality of the larger garden design.


Another view of the front garden from the street.


Purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, and Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia, Zones 4–9) are all tough plants that laugh at drought and bring a whole lot of color to the garden. They’re also favorites of pollinators, which means that this planting brings joy to more than just the humans who get to see it.


Looking down the front walk toward the street.


Formality and informality working together: This tight arborvitea (Thuja occidentalis, Zones 2–7) is perfectly round, and it plays beautifully with the loose, colorful black-eyed Susans surrounding it.


Inside the conservatory, which is original to the house. This space must be pure heaven during Michigan’s long, cold winters.


Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides, Zones 8–11) blooming in the conservatory. Gardenia flowers are beautiful, but of course are most beloved for their incredible scent, which fills the conservatory when they are in bloom.


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View Comments


  1. Chellemp 08/27/2018

    Jac, I am awe over the transformation of your garden. I love the marrying of the two styles, formal and 'wildflower' planting that you have achieved. I am sure your neighbors are eternally grateful that you have turned that beautiful property around.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/27/2018

    Sincerest Congrats, Jac, on a masterful rehab job. Your front area now looks joyful and celebratory and very welcoming. Has the transformation inspired other neighbors to create more a gardeny look to their front yards?

  3. Cenepk10 08/27/2018

    Gorgeous home and garden and conservatory ! Really is stunning and really grateful for your pics showing house too because it really puts it into perspective.

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/27/2018

    Oh, my goodness, I love it all!! I especially love that you have 2 of my all time favorites - rudbeckia & coneflower.

  5. Catasetumkid 08/27/2018

    Jac Blanco! Could this be Jack White's place? ;-)
    All I can say is *fabulous job*! I love your conservatory, too! If you ever need any help with orchids, Jac, let me know, I'm about a half hour away.

  6. btucker9675 08/27/2018

    Absolutely gorgeous! All of the hard work that went into this transformation was completely worth it.

  7. wittyone 08/27/2018

    You've certainly created a spectacular front yard!

  8. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 02/18/2019

    Wonderful renovation!
    Thank you for contributing to the re-birth of Detroit!

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