Garden Photo of the Day

Mel’s Rustic Cabin Garden

A garden that invites you to stroll

a gravel path in the garden with lots of plants on all sides

Today we’re visiting Mel’s garden.

I have had a landscape design, installation, and maintenance business in the western Catskills since 2005. My business name is Zone4 Landscapes, and I am not changing it to Zone5 Landscapes even though it might be more appropriate now.

I called my garden a rustic cabin cottage garden because that is how it is billed for the Open Days Garden Conservancy tour, and that pretty much captures it. As a designer, and definitely in my own garden, I strive to create a functional layout first and then to create a wonderful feeling of the garden. I love plants and love detail in the garden, but the overall function and feeling is what I really go for. In my garden, the function is to look great from the front porch where the view is visible and to draw you into the garden to explore. It is pretty much a stroll garden, and you are definitely in the garden, not looking at it from the lawn.

view of the rustic garden from aboveA drone’s-eye view of the garden from above shows the overall layout of the design. Even at this height, it is easy to see all the contrasting colors of foliage and flowers that make this space magical.

view of the garden from a deckThe view from the porch looks out over the lush plantings to the rolling hills beyond.

a gravel path in the garden with lots of plants on all sidesThe gravel path invites you to stroll through the garden and take it all in. Plantings right along the edge of the path, like the orange geums (Geum hybrid, Zones 5–7), soften the edges and create a relaxed, informal feel.

metal containers filed with various plantsMetal containers filled mostly with herbs are both beautiful and functional, keeping aggressive spreaders like mint (Mentha sp., Zones 4–10) from expanding beyond their bounds.

garden bed in front of a rustic wood fence with lots of flowersFlowering trees and shrubs add dimension and layers to the garden. Everywhere you look there is something beautiful.

wooden garden archway surrounded by shrubs and evergreen plantsA simple archway welcomes you into this section of the garden. Notice that though there are few flowers to be seen, there is a lot of beauty and interest thanks to the wide range of colors and textures of foliage, including many conifers, which will look good every day of the year.

orange flowers in the gardenThe garden path winds past apricot bearded irises (Iris hybrid, bearded group, Zones 3–8) and invites you to walk on and see what other beauties this garden has to offer.


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 03/28/2022

    So lush and gorgeous! Love all you’ve done here. Thanks for sharing.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 03/28/2022

    Wow! Lots to see but I bet that view from the porch is amazing!

  3. luvgardening24 03/28/2022

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden. You provided such wonderful ideas. I also appreciated that you shared the link for the Open Days Conservatory Tour and found some wonderful gardens that I was not aware in my area to visit. I then researched garden nurseries near them to visit. Thank You again for Sharing!

    1. mel_bellar 02/22/2023

      I just submitted some photos of my garden in the fall and read the email from the editor more closely. I didn't realize that there was a comments section and the button was a little obscure. Thanks you so much for your response. I love talking about gardening and would love for more folks to embrace the benefits of gardening and yes the Open Days program is really a gift; I am so glad that you have gotten deeper into it.

  4. gardendevas 03/28/2022

    Absolutely enchanting! Love the lush textures, forms and colors, the enticing paths and spaces. Wish I could stroll and explore thoroughly. Would love to see more.

  5. fromvirginia 03/28/2022

    Charming. Really draws you in. It’s so nice to see a mature garden and it’s lushness. Gardening is truly for the patient. Thanks for sharing.

  6. user-5117752 03/28/2022

    Simply marvelous but I want to see more!!! Hope I'm not being too greedy but spring is on its way and then there's summer and fall. Your gardens must be exquisite in all those seasons so.............? Thank you in advance!

    1. mel_bellar 02/22/2023

      I just submitted some photos of my garden in the fall and read the email from the editor more closely. I didn't realize that there was a comments section and the button was a little obscure. Thanks you so much for your kind words and now I will not that can interact with folks who enjoyed my submission.

  7. wildthyme 03/28/2022

    The gardens are lush and beautiful. Using the drone is a wonderful idea for orienting the viewer to the photographs! I'd like to see this done more. It really helps to get an overall feel to the garden.

  8. User avater
    simplesue 03/28/2022

    I'm totally impressed! I just love your design, your choice of plants, your creativity with the spiral maze!
    I googled your business and saw a fabulous photo of the front of your cabin with a large stone retaining wall- wow, just fabulous what you've done!
    You are a pro for sure- your cabin and garden is perfection!

  9. bdowen 03/28/2022

    On a day that began with snow flurries, what a treat to "walk" through your sunny garden. Impressed by the range of greens. Appreciating the drone view giving us a sense of the overall design. Thank you for sharing.

  10. JanetInCwood 03/28/2022

    Thank you for sharing. I’m trying to plant more interesting g shrubs do your garden an inspiration.

  11. annek 03/28/2022

    A truly beautifully designed garden with interest and charm abounding. I particularly liked the drone perspective for a view of the overall design. Pure pleasure viewing your photographs.

  12. erla 03/28/2022

    Could you please tell me the name of the small shrub that is planted in front of the paver wall in pictures one and three. They are a pretty change from boxwoods.
    Thank you. Erla, Independence OR

    1. mel_bellar 02/22/2023

      I didn't realize that there was a COMMENTS button so please forgive me for not responding! I just submitted some photos of my fall garden which will be feature in the GPOD on 2/28/23. That plant you asked about is actually a sedum and is very prolific. It is call Sedum kamtschaticum. It blooms yellow in the late spring and has beautiful fall color. It actually only gets about 12" tall at the most. The perspective in the photo makes it look bigger I guess.

  13. btucker9675 03/28/2022

    What a fantastic garden!!! I am so in love with the design that looks so beautiful and natural - wonderful!!

  14. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 03/29/2022

    Great garden! Enjoyed every photo, and I bet the view in person is stunning. Thank you for sharing your garden.

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