Garden Photo of the Day

Michele’s Before and After

Transforming a new garden

garden path with foliage plants on either side

Today we’re visiting with Michele Baker and seeing how she has transformed her new garden on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

I’ve loved Fine Gardening for years and am always inspired by readers’ photos with new gardens and what they’ve been able to accomplish. I finally got a chance to do the same thing last year.

This house was in the family, and when it came time to retire, we moved here to Cape Cod from California. Last year we remodeled the inside of our little cottage, and then last spring we started on the outside. The house sat on a plot of sad brown grass with no garden beds. We dug and amended and planted and kept going. It’s come a long way in about 15 months.

backyard before gardeningThis “before” shot was taken in April 2020. Not much to see here except potential!

garden path leading to small garden patioAnd the “after” shot—wow, have they been busy! It’s hard to believe this transformation took place in just over a year.

garden path with foliage plants on either sideThe new backyard is mostly in shade and so is filled with plants that can take lower light conditions.

garden bed full of colorful shade plantsOne of Michele’s favorite corners of the garden has a mix of shade-loving annuals and perennials. Putting annuals in empty spaces in a new garden is a great way to avoid black areas while the perennials develop and expand to fill the spaces.

container plants in bloom on a deckContainer plantings on the deck

sunny garden bed in bloomThe front yard, like the back, has been transformed, but it contains more perennials for sun. Again, a few annuals (such as marigolds [Tagetes]) mix with the perennials to fill the space and make a lush garden.

shade garden with lots of coleusAnother corner of the back shade garden has coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides, Zone 11 or as annuals) tucked in around the new shrubs and perennials.

fence and home surrounded by plantsA window box gives the area a romantic, cottage-garden feel.

If you want to see more, check out Michele’s instagram: @michelebaker2001


Have a garden you’d like to share?

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View Comments


  1. Rebeccazone7 08/05/2021

    I love it all. So many garden articles tell you it looks better to plant swaths of one plant for a better look, but I'm all for hodge podge. This is a miracle garden if it was done in that amount of time...impressive.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/05/2021

    Wow! What a transformation.

  3. User avater
    simplesue 08/05/2021

    You sure changed the whole vibe of this garden!
    From gloomy to gorgeous!
    And just think how happy all the butterflies and bees are to have all those flowers too!

  4. Patchworkgardener 08/05/2021

    Great work Michele. It’s plain to see you’ve done a lot planning and a lot of work and the outcome is gorgeous. I’d be sitting around the fire pit with my morning coffee. Congrats on a job well done!

  5. sheila_schultz 08/05/2021

    I'm guessing that you are now on a first name basis with the folks at your local nurseries! It is extraordinary what you have achieved in just a year. Watching your gardens change, evolve and mature is definitely going to bring smiles to your faces. Please continue to send photos!

  6. btucker9675 08/05/2021

    Such a happy, colorful transformation - congratulations on the results of all of your hard work!

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