Garden Photo of the Day

Out With The Boring!

Dull landscaping gets a make-over

Sonya Peel sent in some before and after shots of big changes she is making in the landscaping of her new home… looks off to a great start! I hope she’ll share images with us again as this garden continues to develop and mature.
She writes:

June, 2016 Bill and I moved to a new-for-us home in northeast Georgia. For almost a year, we lived with a 17 year old front yard that consisted of a fairly steep sloped Bermuda lawn and overgrown, poorly pruned plantings that obscured over half of the front of the house. It is obvious the previous owners were not into plants; they moved to a maintained condominium community.

Spring 2017 we hired a landscape company to remove all existing plants and to add a couple of terraces to ease the front slope. From March to November I have planted over 200 shrubs, small trees, conifers and a few perennials in the upper terraced area as the start of a new/different landscape. Because the brick is an odd shade of orange red, I have mainly stuck to white flowering shrubs close to the house, but have introduced other colors (blues, purples, deep corals) as you begin to move away. These are before and after pics of some of the changes. Tons more to be do, but it is a start. Thanks to all of you for your inspirational gardens and ideas.

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View Comments


  1. frankgreenhalgh 01/23/2018

    Hooray Sonya - Lovely to see your post today. You and Bill certainly have been busy, and what a remarkable improvement you have made already! Your plantings are very well considered. The smoke tree and plantings underneath look great, and will improve with time. Also nice combination of junipers and nandinas etc. I would love to see more photos, including your terraced areas. Can you please upload those pics. here? Lucky you having a library! Cheers from Oz my friend

  2. frankgreenhalgh 01/23/2018

    Hey Sonya - Hope you don't mind, but I promised GPOD'ers some pics. of Aussie plants with yellow flowers today. Pic. (1) Graceful wattle (2) Annual yellow top (3) Yellow rattlepod (4) Yellow billy button (5) Eucalyptus x chrysantha (hybrid) (6) Lechenaultia formosa (hybrid) - with a fair bit of red (7) Grevillea Sandra Gordon (and lorikeet) (8) Native hibiscus (9) Hibbertia and (10) Kangaroo paw with red highlights. Cheers from Oz

    1. user-6536305 01/23/2018

      Once again, great photos and plants and bird! Thanks for sharing. Kangaroo paw with red highlights is really showy and Grevillea Sandra Gordon (and lorikeet). I have to research on Google to know more. You set me to do homework.
      Here is my contribution of yellow/gold to your program Frank:
      Mt. Baldy trail in Chetwynd BC

      Unknown alpine yellow flowers seen at the top of Murray Range

      Very prolific bloomer and highly disease resistant Rosa South Africa
      Very prolific bloomer and highly disease resistant Rosa About Face

      Primula 'Sunshine Susie'

      1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

        Pretty, pretty. But the backdrop to the unknown alpine flowers is beyond beautiful. What a gorgeous view of those unbelievable blue lakes nestled in the green mountains.

      2. frankgreenhalgh 01/23/2018

        Wow, Lilian - Your homework is that good that you can go straight to the top of the class - and lead the colour theme program beyond today (unilateral executive decision). Congratulations on your promotion my friend! The views from the Mt Baldy Trail and the top of Murray Range are absolutely magnificent - breathtaking actually. Thank you very much indeed for the pics. and leading team GPOD's future colour theme program. What's on tomorrow's agenda team leader? - Orange????? Cheers, Frank

      3. frankgreenhalgh 01/23/2018

        Hey boss - just found a couple more to post i.e before you take over the reins. (i) Parrot pea and (2) Scott river jugflower. Cheers from retired leader

      4. reubi 01/23/2018


      5. user-4691082 01/23/2018

        Ooh, I just love the Rosa about face! Gorgeous views!

      6. user-7008735 01/23/2018

        Beautiful photos, Lilian! I love close-up's of flowers, but your two distant views are stunning. Do you think the yellow alpine flower might be Curlycup Gumweed (Grindelia squarosa)? It's hard to make out much detail on the leaves. Good for you for getting out on the trails to explore!

      7. cheryl_c 01/23/2018

        Lilian, these pictures are outstanding- so glad you did some landscape-style pictures - what amazing views you captured.

    2. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Really nice offering today. I especially like the Lechenaultia Formosa, Grevillea Sandra Gordon (with the pretty lorikeet) and the Hibbertia. But they are all pretty and unusual. Here is my yellow offerings for the day. The first is yellow Lantana and the second Popcorn Drift Rose (buds start yellow open to cream and fade to pink).

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/23/2018

        Hi Sonya - Good on you for getting with the colour program. Amazing how the colour changes on the popcorn Drift Rose. Beyond the Lantana I can see the slope. What is the red flowering plant in the foreground? Cheers, Frank

        1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

          That is the back slope you are seeing which I am going to attack this spring; no walls this time. The red flowering plant is a Pentas, which is a tender perennial that sometimes winters over for me as did the yellow lantana. Pollinators love both of those plants. Attached photo shows front slope before terracing.

          1. frankgreenhalgh 01/23/2018

            Yes quite a slope in the front, but it creates that terracing opportunity, Sonya. Have you thought about a rockery along the slope behind the lantana?

          2. tennisluv 01/23/2018

            Yes, we are going to cut the spreading juniper that is holding the slope in place back as far as possible and then add some rock edging to keep it in bounds and hold the slope where we do. Almost 60 degree angle or greater in some parts.

    3. reubi 01/23/2018

      Beautiful! Can’t get enough of those birds either!

    4. garden1953 01/23/2018

      Love all your photos. Thank you for sharing!

    5. user-7007498 01/23/2018

      Crazy day for me, Frank. I just took a quick peek. Wow. Won’t have time to really look at your pictures until 10pm tonight.

    6. User avater
      meander_michaele 01/23/2018

      Hi, Frank. I can't help but always feel a little gentle tug of a smile when you identify a plant with the word "wattle". There was once a fairly popular tv show/legal drama where one of the male lawyers had a wattle fetish. It led for some amusing scenes where he might be gazing yearningly/lasciviously upon an older woman because he couldn't resist the allure of the "wattle". Anyway, wonderful pictures as always...wattle and all!

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/23/2018

        Hi Michaele - the word 'wattle' also tickles Linda O's fancy. We call that wattle, a turkey neck. Looks like I better use the word, Acacia, for you guys in future. Cheers, Frank

      2. frankgreenhalgh 01/23/2018

        Hey Rhonda - I have to go to bed to catch up on some sleep, but this is a better pic. of a Flying duck orchid than the one I posted yesterday for you. And what do you think of when you see the word 'wattle'? Cheers, Frankie

        1. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/23/2018

          So love the flying duck orchid. I've seen photos before, but would love to see in person. Thumbs up.

        2. cheryl_c 01/23/2018

          Does it remind anybody else of Daffy Duck?

          1. sheila_schultz 01/23/2018

            Absolutely Cheryl! SPLAT!!!

        3. sheila_schultz 01/23/2018

          The Flying Duck orchid is so darn cool!

        4. tennisluv 01/23/2018

          That is one cute orchid, wattle and all. Looks like it is ready to fly right off its stem.

        5. user-4691082 01/23/2018

          I think of myself, in the middle of the night, making my way to the bathroom!!!!

        6. user-7008735 01/23/2018

          To me it looks just like a duck coming in to land on water. Very cool!

        7. Maggieat11 01/23/2018

          Fascinating! Thank you for sharing !!

    7. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/23/2018

      Colors are such funny and personal things when it comes to likes and dislikes. I've found that I don't like some flower colors because they feel common, only to adore that very same color when it is rare or unusual in a genus, e.g. yellow peonies. I'm not drawn to yellow, but add some red or orange to it like the kangaroo paws, and I swoon!

    8. chelleisdiggin 01/23/2018

      I hope I can add to the yellow today, Frank. Here's a look at helianthus 'Table Mountain' in my front bed. It didn't seem to mind the neglect and the weeds it had to put up with while I wasn't feeling up to it, this summer.

      1. user-6536305 01/23/2018

        So yellow and love it. Thanks for sharing!

      2. User avater
        meander_michaele 01/23/2018

        Very energizing, chelleisdiggin...that's yellow on steroids! Nice that it was such a good sport about not getting a lot of attention from you over the summer.

      3. tennisluv 01/23/2018

        What a striking color of yellow. Really gets your attention, but in a good way. And added to that it doesn't mind weed competition. I'd say its a keeper.

      4. frankgreenhalgh 01/23/2018

        Fantastic pic. Chelle - It's a ray of sunshine! Cheers, Frank

    9. user-7008735 01/23/2018

      For some reason yellow doesn't usually appeal to me as much as other colours do, but I do like #5, 6, 7 and 8 very much and the lorikeet is delightful. I love learning about your local plants, Frank.

    10. user-4691082 01/23/2018

      I love the lechenaultia and the kangaroo paw! Like Tim, I’m not a huge fan of plain yellow...

    11. cheryl_c 01/23/2018

      Hi, Frank,
      I'm going to dip my big toe in here with my submission for yellow/gold - like yesterday I'm cheating - this time by using a photo that washes out the apricot of this unusual lily: Apricot Fudge. Hope you like it!

      Yes, I did write 'lily' - you can find this one at a bulb company on Dave's Garden.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/23/2018

        Ok, Cheryl. That's just charming. I thought you were having a 'tim' moment and meant Tulip. Had to look it up. What a unique look in a lily. Nice color, too.

        1. cheryl_c 01/23/2018

          Yes, I love the color. I planted them really close to the sambucus Black Lace, and the combo really looked good- in this picture the sun not only washed out the apricot color of the lily, but the chocolate color of the sambucus. Glad I could show you something new!

      2. tennisluv 01/23/2018

        Now that is one pretty and unusual lily. My must have list is getting totally out of control. Thank goodness that 90+ percent of Frank's postings won't grow here.

    12. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      PS, you can hop on my parade anytime you want to.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/23/2018

        Hi Sonya - there has been a development in relation to this. I'll send you are private message on FB to explain.

        1. tennisluv 01/24/2018

          Ok. Thanks. If the BM doesn't work contact me directly on my facebook posting and I will send you my email address so you can send me yours.

  3. user-6536305 01/23/2018

    A very good start Sonya! Like your make over of garden and your commentary. Keep us updated on your garden progress. Especially like the stone bench. Do you actually have time to sit on it? Thanks for sharing!

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      I do occasionally take a few minutes to rest between plantings and have a few sips of water/

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/23/2018

    Going to be amazing when it grows in. You have really gotten off to a great start.

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thanks treasuremom. Five year plan.

  5. reubi 01/23/2018

    Great job, Sonya! Can’t wait to see it when it grows in.

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thank you Robin.

  6. user-3565112 01/23/2018

    Good morning Ms. Peel & congratulations on your new home.. I like your front walk plant selections & in fact incorporated Sky Pencil & Smokebush ( winecraft black) in a similar project last spring. That appears to be sedum Angelina in the front walk. That's a terrific low maintenance ground cover providing year round color. It does spread quickly but is easily controlled.
    Thank you for your post this morning & good luck, Joe

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thank you Joe. I have a spot where I am debating whether to repeat the Golden Spirit Smokebush or go with one of the dark leaved ones. However 'Old Fashioned' is intriguing too. I tried Scottish Moss where the Sedum Angelina is now, but that little bed gets too much sun. It is contained on all sides, so keeping Angelina home should not be much of a problem.

  7. user-7007498 01/23/2018

    Sonya, what a great start you’ve made in your transformation from essentially a monoculture front walk to one with texture and form. It is always exciting to start a new garden, and should be fun to work on this new house project. Beautiful. Keep us up to date with your progress.

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Kevin, thank you for your kind words. Actually, your garden is such an inspiration; I would love for mine to come close to being as pretty and interesting as yours.

      1. user-7007498 01/24/2018

        Thanks, Sonya. Flattery will get you everywhere.

  8. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/23/2018

    Yay for you, Sonya, for tackling your landscaping redo. The previous foundation planting certainly filled the space but had no personality or flair. Now you have the whole package of variations in height, color, shape, texture. I noticed that the center ornamental tree is an evergreen dogwood that the one you shared the picture of yesterday that was in such amazing full flower? I guess by ripping out all those mature Chinese hollies, you had a chance to do a lot of soil amending which has made for happy new plants...a win/win!

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thanks Meander. Yes, the center ornamental tree is also a Empress of China Evergreen dogwood. A third one is across the walk by the driveway; the three create a loose triangle. Lots of soil amending, addition of some of the prettiest top soil I have ever seen and using Michroriza to help roots get established. So far, I have not lost a single plant. Fingers crossed.

  9. NCYarden 01/23/2018

    Sweet transformation, Sonya. Out with the boring and in with some serious fresh excitement (though I am a little sad for the Camellia). That Cornus is gonna be fantastic as it branches out...awesome tree. Thanks for the before and after photos too, always great to see. Looking forward to seeing how it grows.

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thank you, NC Yarden. But don't feel to sad for the Camellia. There was one on each side of the front steps that really needed to be removed as they were bulging out of their seams even after heavy and constant pruning by the previous home owners. Camellias, especially Sasanquas, are not plants that should be sheared into balls, cones, and totem poles. AND, I replaced them with three Shi Shi Sasanquas on the right side of the house (future picture). Can't live in the South without azaleas, camellias, and dogwoods in your garden.

  10. User avater
    DawnMT 01/23/2018

    Nice job! I love Blue Arrow junipers. Are all the pine needles from your property? Can't wait to see more photos as your garden grows. Thank you!

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thank you, Dawn. I wish the pine needles were from my property. Neighborhood covenants require us to use pine straw for mulch and I will until I get the beds completely filled out and ground cover plantings can hide my use of composted mulch.

  11. cheryl_c 01/23/2018

    Sonya, congratulations on building a great 'year round interest' garden! So much richer and more interesting than what you tore out. How deep is that front bed? It is hard to tell from the pictures. Glad for you that you can grow the juniper scopulorum - they don't tolerate our summers. I know you will love the smoke bush. And I love it that you are using black mondo grass as a ground cover - so sophisticated. Thanks for sharing!

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thank you Cheryl. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing 22 feet wide and 15 feet deep. All plants have been chosen to fit the bed at maturity, not just in ten years. Already love the Smoke Bush as I had never seen a golden colored one (stays smaller that other varieties from what I read). The juxtaposition of the lime greens, blue greens, and black mondo grass just called to me. I guess I have gone over to the dark side.

      1. cheryl_c 01/23/2018

        Wow, much deeper than it looks in the photo! Good for you for checking out the MATURE height - rather than the 8-10 year height. I was amazed when my brother told me that the tags only tell you the 8-10 year, not the mature height and width - takes some investigation to get the 'real' numbers! As Frank would say, "Good on you" for doing that hard preparing and planning work first! This year will be amazing!

  12. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/23/2018

    Great job, Sonya. Those before pictures make your beautiful brick home look like an uncared for apartment complex. It looks great now and will fill in to awesomeness!

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thanks Tim. The house is tall and definitely needs to be brought down to earth 'just a tad'. I hope it will eventually look awesome. Right now, I'm playing musical chairs with some plants trying to find the right combinations and mature sizes. Love to dig, hate to prune.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/23/2018

        "Love to dig, hate to prune." Funny. I don't mind pruning now and again for shape (a lesson reinforced by NCYarden); never for size. Love to dig? Heck, yeah. Very few plants or shrubs are safe in their first spots in my garden!

    2. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      P.S. You have no idea how many times I wished you lived and designed in the Atlanta area. I love the way you landscape and consultations with you before the start of this project would have been wonderful.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/23/2018

        Aw. You're kind AND misguided. :) You definitely want Jay Sifford on your team. My approach: Let's jam things in all over the place for a few years until I have a vision; now let's rip everything out and start again. No wait. Did I just discover a new plant I want to grow.......

        1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

          Hey, I planted, dug up, replanted, dug up (thank goodness most did not have time to lay down roots.) Let's face it, there are too many wonderful plants and none of us have enough land to do them justice. And ya'll keep sending pictures of plants that just grab me...! And oh, yeah, Jay is good. Now if anyone could tell me how to replace 200 ft x 20-30 ft of spreading juniper on an even steeper slope in my backyard without my fortress sliding down the hill faster than a Salome skier, I would be forever in his/her debt.

  13. chelleisdiggin 01/23/2018

    Sonya, I hope we see a lot more of your improvements. I'm in the same boat, myself. But had almost nothing to start with. All the best and happy planning and planting!

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      But isn't it fun to start from scratch. You can plant most anything you want. Both walls will eventually be covered by small trees, shrubs and vines. Since I plan to completely fill in the grass lowest level with plants, et al, I will be planting for a long time. Happy planning and planting to you also. Let us see your work as you get it going.

  14. sheila_schultz 01/23/2018

    Sonya, your anticipation must be high waiting to see how much your newly planted gardens will grow over the coming season. The change is already dramatic and your personality is already shining through! I'd love to see a view from the street to get a full sense of the slope. Have fun!

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Sheila, you are so right about anticipation; patience is not my strong suit to begin with and so many of my new plantings are teeny-tiny as I mail ordered a good many. Here is a picture from the street looking up that I took in early April before much planting had been done. Steep hill and tall house.

      1. grannieannie1 01/23/2018

        Very striking view of your property with the terraces, Son

        1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

          It is different. Address is Lakemont and there is a lake behind our house, we are the Mont.

      2. sheila_schultz 01/23/2018

        Wow... if I were a kid, I'd be in heaven rolling down that slope! I wouldn't be able to get up again if I tried now! Haha! You'll be in big trouble if you ever have a freak ice storm!

        1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

          My grandkids and the neighbor kids roll down the grass in the summer and all are waiting for me to let them sled down in winter. Too afraid of injury to let that happen. Neighbor's boys are allowed to come 1/3 of the way up the drive on their skateboards. And when snow and ice come, I will be sitting next to my fireplace sipping a nice hot toddy and going absolutely nowhere.

          1. sheila_schultz 01/24/2018

            Smart grandma!

            Sheila Schultz
            Denver Dirty Girls
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            rom a US landline dial 011-52-1-322-103-4252 or from a US cell dial +52-1- 322-103-4252)

      3. cheryl_c 01/23/2018

        This really gives us a perspective on both the grade you are working , and the size your plantings are in comparison to your home. We're on a grade, too, and you sure develop some different muscles when you are bracing to keep yourself stable as you work! This is going to be amazing!

        1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

          Hey. try picking up a pair of spiked golf shoes on sales. That is what I did for a year in order to keep pine straw spread around the plants in all the beds I destroyed. I kept slipping and falling on my keester. Goats or sheep are good for mowing the grass. ;-)

          1. cheryl_c 01/24/2018

            See, we don't have any grass, and golf shoes don't work unless you have soil - the only soil we have is in the garden areas, most of which are terraced. It's my Japanese garden that really is difficult - steep grade, mostly fractured limestone, so I pull out big rocks, put in the root ball, and add any topsoil or composted horse barn bedding that I have on hand. Wish golf shoes DID work!

      4. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/23/2018

        Wow. That's a beautiful home and great (challenging) lot. Love it.

        1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

          Tim you are so sweet. We bought the neighborhood and neighbors first, the inside of the house 2nd, then the outside of the house 3rd, and Bill looked at me and said, 'Fix the yard."

  15. Chris_N 01/23/2018

    A great improvement, Sonya! I'll echo what everyone else is saying. I also like the new brick walk that replaces the original concrete one. It is elegant and the color you chose compliments the brick of the house.

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thanks Chris. Brick can be a tricky to work with when planting blooming flowers; so, I cheat and just use white flowers and multi colored foliage.

  16. user-7008735 01/23/2018

    Well done, Sonya! Your new garden is going to be waaayyy more interesting than the one you took out. I really like how the sweet potato vine 'Blackie' picks up the colour of your shutters and how the new sidewalk and pine mulch work with the brick of the house. Your terracing is giving you lots more planting space -- lucky you! I'll look forward to updates as everything grows.

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thank you Lorraine. Actually the terraces meant I don't have to wear spiked golf shoes to walk around in my front yard or spread pine straw in the flower beds (kept sliding down the hill) - broken hip here we come) and we could send the goats back to my family's farm. Bill can now actually mow the grass (give me time and there won't be so much and he knows that).

  17. user-4691082 01/23/2018

    I will look forward to all of your beautiful plants filling in, Sonya. I’m sure you took your time and researched carefully. I hope you’ll send more photos of your backyard. I’m sure that terracing cost a fortune!

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Because it hurts me to cut plants, even though I know that it can be beneficial, yes I have researched every plant carefully to be sure it will fit long term where I am putting and can survive our 'balmy' southern summers. An aside, my husband contends that the reason Southern women keep that dewy look longer than anywhere else in the US (his opinion, not mine) is all the balmy summers (high humidity) that extend from March to November.

  18. Maggieat11 01/23/2018

    Well done, Sonya, what a wonderful improvement! I also appreciate the photo showing the slope so we can get a feel for what you had to work with in that respect as well. I am sure we will all enjoy seeing your continued projects and how it fills in and matures! thanks for sharing!

    1. tennisluv 01/23/2018

      Thank you Margaret. I have given myself 5 years to complete this project and to begin to enjoy the rewards of the effort. By that time I will probably be to old and decrepit to do much more than that.

  19. User avater
    Vel Rhodes 01/23/2018

    After being woken up at 2:30 am because of a tsunami alert (all lowlying coastal areas of Vancouver Island were being evacuated),( the all-clear was finally given at 4:30 am ) it was a real pleasure and stress reliever to peruse all of today’s lovely photos ! I even dug up a couple of pics to join in with the ‘ yellow ‘ theme. Genista Pilosa ‘ Vancouver Gold ‘ ( Lychnis Viscaria ‘ Flore-Pleno ‘ in the background ). a variety of Primula that self-seeds in our gardens.

  20. user-7002900 01/25/2018

    Wonderful things also comes in a wonderful gardening.

  21. perenniallycrazy 01/26/2018

    Beautiful bones - a very fine start indeed!

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