Garden Photo of the Day

Nina and Bob’s garden in Tennessee

Cercis canadensis ‘Hearts of Gold’;  Hydrangea  arborescens ‘Annabelle’; Crocosmia masoniorum ‘Montbretia’; ‘Double Knockout’ rose;  2 arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

Today’s photos are from Regina Hedrick. She says, “I live and garden in Kingsport in northeastern Tennessee, recently changed from Zone 6b to Zone 7a. Having 4 children and full time jobs, my husband and I didn’t have time to do any gardening until we both retired. First we traveled, and then we gardened.

Astilbe; ‘Skypencil’ holly; arborvitae ‘Hetz Midget’; creeping Jenny groundcover

Bob agreed to dig up the lawn in our gently upwardly sloped backyard. We terraced the slope, which left nothing but a small curved strip of grass. We installed a few trees (one was a white oak we had to have removed after 10 years – too big for our 100’ by 100’ backyard). The other smaller trees provided shade – a beautiful river birch, an alternate leaf dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), and a large to medium sized maple tree.

Acer palmatum ‘Tamukeyama’; stone Japanese lantern; pond with waterlilies

This provided some shade for my rapidly growing addiction to hostas. At one time I had 86 named and labeled different hosta cultivars. However, 3 years ago a storm blew a neighbors’ very large white oak into our backyard. All our trees and plants and labels in the middle of the yard were smashed into the ground. It took quite a while to have all the trunk, branches, and leaves from this mighty oak removed. Meanwhile, I quickly removed the pathetic smashed hostas and squeezed them into shade beds in each back corner of the yard. Most of the hostas survived, but many are smaller than their previous size, and more importantly, there were no legible labels to be found.

Many varieties of hosta; a few epimedium and hellebores

Now we had a large sun bed to completely fill in! We transplanted some trees and shrubs from the front yard to the back and eventually filled it in with some plants and shrubs we had from our front gardens, etc. Our sloped backyard led naturally to a water feature with waterfalls coming down the hill and ending in a large round pond. We designed the water feature, but had it professionally installed.

Hosta unknown ; H. ‘Lemon-Lime’; H. may be ‘Great Expectations’; H. ‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’; Groundcover is sweet woodruff (Gallium odoratum)

We find it very relaxing to sit under the wooden pergola and see the pond and hear the waterfalls. The pergola is covered by the climbing five-leaf akebia vine. (We do not recommend this species, because although it completely covers the ceiling and provides shade, it must be cut back severely each year or it would cover our house!) The gardens surrounding the pergola include a Japanese maple as well as many hostas, including several miniature hostas planted in a container made from a top of a birdbath.

Front island bed with Picea pungens  (Colorado blue spruce); ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae; Spiraea ‘Goldmound’

The level front of the house garden was completely lawn until Bob agreed to widen the foundation beds, add a large island bed, and dig up a significant additional portion of grass near the driveway and walkway, resulting in a large curved bed. The island bed is almost a copy of a bed we saw at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.

Garlic chives and lemon thyme in planter, Geranium maculatum (cranesbill) on sloped bed

We have become enchanted with using dwarf conifers and other evergreens in our various plantings. These are in the house foundation plantings as well as scattered in different areas in the back. We like to believe we have about completed our landscaping. I am trying very hard to discipline myself and be content with our garden as it is.”

Plain green hosta, unable to name with certainty; H. Striptease; small green hosta with white edge, narrow leaves–unable to identify; last hosta is probably ‘Niagara Falls’

Hosta HEAVEN, Nina!! And I love your bridge leading down to that pretty pond. Thanks so much for sharing them with us! Hey… you and Jeff know each other, since you both live in Kingsport? You could be gardening buddies!! Jeff, chime in here, will ya?

Chrysogonum virginiana ‘Green and Gold’ groundcover, native to our region
Japanese maple Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ near pergola; Hosta ‘Francee’ just emerging on left; H. ‘Spritzer’ near deck

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  1. michaeljgoltzman 09/27/2014

    Beautiful collection of hostas, and not a slug in sight! Just beautiful.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/29/2014

    Hi, fellow east Tennessean (I'm outside of Knoxville), your garden is lovely and I smiled when I read about what a good enabler your husband is when it comes to getting rid of lawn...yay for him and his willingness to dig! Your second picture sent me off on some google reading about arborvitae 'Hetz Midget'...what a sweet dwarf evergreen.It's the perfect color to make your red bridge really pop.Your 'Bloodgood' has such an elegant you do much pruning to give it that sculptural airy look? Love all your different varieties of hosta and how you let them mix and mingle with each other.

  3. user-1020932 09/29/2014

    very nice! it all looks great and i'm especiallyglad to see you using Chrysogonum, one of my favorites and nobody ever uses it. you have many of my favorites in your garden . would love to meet you guys and walk thru the garden since we are neighbors. if interested at all in that i'm sure Michelle would give you my email and we can go from there. thanks for sharing your photos !

    1. NCYarden 09/29/2014

      So true, Jeff. Chrysogonum is a garden champ. How could anyone not like something so beautiful and tough.

  4. mjensen 09/29/2014


  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/29/2014

    you've certainly attacked your yard with gusto and have rolled with the punches to make a beautiful garden! I'm smitten wih the crocosmia. Such great form and flowers.

  6. Chris_N 09/29/2014

    Beautiful garden and wonderful pond. I am jealous of all the Japanese maples you can grow in your area. Only a few varieties will survive our Wisconsin winters. Evidently frogs like to sit on a bench holding hands whether in Tennessee or Wisconsin. I have a pair just like them in my garden!

  7. NCYarden 09/29/2014

    Oh my goodness. Your garden is superb. First off, fantastic you replaced lawn with what is obviously much more exciting and less demanding plants. Have you found too that the grass you still do have is even better than before?
    I certainly have hosta envy. We have voles so bad I can barely get one into a second season. I have recently begun to pant hostas into the ground in a planter bucket. Early signs of survival are good, but I won't really know for several more seasons. Until then I suppose I will just revisit these photos.
    Of course I love the maples - they look really healthy.
    The stones and pond/waterfall are really pleasant. In the third photo, the plant in the foreground with the lanceolate leaves and white flowers - is that Tea of Heaven (Platycrater arguta)?
    I feel your grief regarding the destruction from the fallen tree. Last year, we too suffered a similar set back when a huge double-trunked poplar crashed into the house from a very brief wind storm. A good portion of the garden was "destroyed" and even more from the machines that had to come in and throught the garden to remove it, followed by all the workers trying to repair the home and fence. As I'm sure you know it's a real test of one's patience, but is also a real testament to the resiliency of plants. It is so great to see you and the garden persevered.
    You have a garden that is very delightful. Well done. Thank you for sharing.

    1. user-1020932 09/29/2014

      i, too, have voles and no or very very few hosta however,,, voles will not touch Rohdea japonica, they give you a similar effect and they are evergreen. if youhaven't tried them you might want to. Tony Avent has several varieties offered usually

      1. NCYarden 09/29/2014

        Thanks, Jeff. I do have a Rohdea that has become quite healthy and large, so much so that I am ready to start dividing it. I still wish I could invest a bit more in hostas - they are just so cool, but a big risk in my garden. Tony does have some good ones though.

    2. User avater
      meander_michaele 09/29/2014

      Here's a bit of a cute story about mole/vole repelling. We live out in the country and are surrounded by lots of old time farmers who all put in great personal vegetable gardens. Anyway, one of the fellas was chatting with my husband and asked him if he wanted any "mole beans" which he swore by for getting rid of unwelcome critters. The seeds were ripe on the plants and he was harvesting them for use in his next year's garden.I was curious and said. "oh, let's drive over and look at this "mole bean" plant." Well, thanks to gardening blogs, etc. I recognized the plant right away as castor bean and when I said the name aloud, my husband said, "oh, that's what the poison ricin comes from". I know people grow it as an interesting ornamental...I wonder if some varieties are non poisonous? I wonder if a person were to shove the seed pod deep into a mole/vole hole, it would do the trick? I'd probably be too nervous about the ricin aspect but, then again, I have bought and used commercial products. I also rigged up a system one year to pour anti freeze down into groundhog holes that were popping up in a horse pasture after one of our horses had gotten injured from stepping in one.

      1. NCYarden 09/29/2014

        I need to vole beans! Woe the garden pests. I have wondered about growing Castor bean plant. It's pretty, and some I've seen in gardens around here are huge and tropical looking. I have been apprehensive in the past because of our cats and the possibility of poisoning when they wandered the garden, but as we are down to one old garden cat, and do not plan to have anymore outdoor kitties, I may now consider trying to grow one and tucking the beans into holes and tunnels. Report of results to come...

    3. hostamom 09/29/2014

      I never did know the name of the water plant with white flowers. I got is as a plant swap water plant.

      1. NCYarden 09/29/2014

        Hi Nina. Well, it is nice nonetheless, and a great acquisition via plant swap. I can't get awesome detail from the photo, but it's characteristics do look like Tea of Heaven, which is a very cool plant if it is. Gets bigger and better. Enjoy. Maybe a small contribution to rebuilding your plant database if you can confirm it?

  8. thevioletfern 09/29/2014

    Beautiful! I envy the Hosta. I am trying to create "Hosta Row" in my garden. I love the Pagoda (?) Alternate Leaf Dogwood. Mine flowered and bore berry many berries this year - now its leaves are turning a dark burgundy! I love how you have created your space. The collection of hardscape, plants, textures, colors - superb!

  9. user-5829577 09/29/2014

    Another wonderful garden to start the day. I do love the way you have incorporated the conifers in your landscape. As we "age" we are trying to pare down the amount of work but most of all, conifers add texture and so much interest. I too, love your pond area and the bridge. It is just beautiful.

  10. User avater
    HelloFromMD 09/29/2014

    Love the bridge and waterfalls. A water feature is on my list. If the kids would only finish college! Labels in the garden, such a problem. Labels made using my sharpie pen, supposedly permanent, are unreadable the following spring. With all the trees dropping leaves, I wind up pulling my labels out of the ground with the rake.So I type in my purchases to a Word file along with the year I planted it so I have a record. Love to hear some suggestions for garden labels.

    1. hostamom 09/29/2014

      I have an excel file that includes about 90% of my plants. I list common and Scientific names, where and when I got the plant, the cost, plant characteristcs, and where it is located in our gardens. But with the mad scramble to replant plants quickly after the tree fall, some of my descrptions and locations are no longer accurate.

    2. Meelianthus 09/29/2014

      I use clear nail polish over the name on a label and it protects them from the weather. Give it a try.

  11. MichelleGervais 09/29/2014

    Ack! Yet again with the sideways photos. Sorry, guys! My photo viewer automatically displays them right side up, so I don't know that they're really sideways. I'll try to figure out a way to screen them a little better.

    1. hostamom 09/29/2014

      I am sorry I sent them that way. Thank you for publishing our garden photos.

      1. MichelleGervais 09/29/2014

        Totally not your fault, Nina!!!

  12. schatzi 09/29/2014

    WOW! Gorgeous garden, pond, waterfall, stream, plants...Love it all! Oh, and rocks - the rocks around the waterfall and stream are beautiful. I too love hostas, Japanese maples, miniature evergreens, crocosmias, all the rest. I have a terrific slug problem here in mild wet western WA, but I found out that the little varmints can't open their mouths wide enough to damage the thick leaved ones. The delicate little ones I keep in pots on my deck. Not that slugs won't climb the deck, but it is easier to control them there. A few years ago one of my favorite nurseries had a talk on winter pot gardening with miniature evergreens that was a great sales builder! I made 2 half-barrel size gardens with the evergreens, iris, hellebores, heucheras, etc. that are still beautiful year-round. I have a large garden but I still love planting things in pots. White and wine-colored geraniums in a sky blue or cobalt pot is one of my favorites. And if you want a variety of crocosmias, try Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, WA. They have fabulous plants, they do mail-order, and they are wonderful people. That native ground cover is very pretty. Do you think it would be invasive in my zone 8? I have a horrific buttercup problem - it grows everywhere and is very hard to get rid of. Not as pretty as the Chrysogonum. I sympathize with you for the storm damage. We had a wet snow turning to ice storm almost 2 years ago that took out a lot of flowering trees and damaged many others. Topped my crab apple, split a big Crater Lake blue rhody, destroyed the neighbors' flowering cherries, and my 20' tall Larch that I had grown from a twig. Mother Nature gives and she takes away. Just have to roll with the punches. Glad you were able to save the plants. The names are nice to have, but the plants are what matter. Congratulations on your gorgeous garden and thanks for sharing. Still love the new format, Michelle, sideways and all!

  13. Nurserynotnordstroms 09/29/2014

    Gorgeous ,but I could never discipline myself to call my garden complete. I bet you won't be able to either. I love the waterfall and the beautiful Bloodgood maple. We are contemplating putting one in as our old flowering cherry tree has almost had it. It's very old and limb by limb it's going. You have a wonderful hosta collection. I squeeze them in where ever I can,Its time to divide and share again.
    Your garden was a nice way to start my dayI am never ever sick but I caught something so I am laying low. I would much rather be gardening but looking at at photos was pleasure enough in the way of gardening. Thank you!

    1. perenniallycrazy 09/29/2014

      Get well soon nurserynotnordstrom!

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 09/29/2014

        That was sweet of you,thank you for your get well wishes!!

  14. perenniallycrazy 09/29/2014

    Simply beautiful! A garden that definitely has everything including plenty of passion. Love your hostas, maples and evergreens.
    Now that you are under the Jeff radar, you may have to set aside your discipline and content with your landscaping and gardening... definitely a bad influence... and I say that that with a lot of love and a big smile on my face.

  15. Digman 10/01/2014

    what a beautiful garden, I hope you send more pictures soon. The "small green hosta with white edge, narrow leaves--unable to identify" I think that small hosta is called Stiletto, I bought one a few years back, but i need to move it to a spot with more shade.
    Thank you Michelle for posting such great pictures!

    1. hostamom 10/01/2014

      Thank you Cityboy - of course that is Stiletto! I even had it on my Hosta list.

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