Garden Photo of the Day

Part 1: A Garden in the Rainforest

By Kim Charles

Lorraine Robson from Canada focuses on profusions of flowers in her rainforest garden.

"I live in the rainforest at the base of Mt. Seymour in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. We are in Zone 7 although this past winter was much colder and snowier — and longer! — than usual. I planted a cottage-style garden 16 years ago with many self-seeders and spreaders because I like that full look with lots of flowers. To keep a sense of cohesion, I try to limit myself to shades of pink, blue, purple, and white with lots of green and the acid yellow of Lady's Mantle to keep it from being too saccharine sweet. It's a good thing that I am happy with a wild, somewhat tangled look because we have frequent wildlife visitors (raccoons, squirrels, skunks, and occasional black bear) who do not respect the borders. The raccoon families use the fence tops as their highway through the neighbourhood and my trellises as their ladders into the garden which is a bit hard on the clematises growing on them. All the same, I do love to see these creatures and the many birds who live in the tall trees surrounding our garden. When it all gets too out of hand, I "go on a rampage" to remove the excesses and give the remainders room to breathe."

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David Austin Rose 'Abraham Darby' with cedar tree behind.

Aquilegia (Double Columbine). This is probably 'Nora Barlow' though these frilly girls are rather promiscuous, so it may be a hybrid.

Clematis — not yet destroyed by the raccoons. 

Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle), Astrantia major (Masterwort), and Digitalis (Foxgloves) with Darmera peltata (Umbrella Plant) in the background. The birdbath froze and cracked this winter, so I'll need to repair or repurpose it.

Clematis 'Nelly Moser'.

Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate' (Chocolate boneset), Sanguinaria canadensis (double bloodroot), and Helleborus, Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)

Thalictrum (Meadow rue), peonies, foxgloves, Clematis 'Nelly Moser', Myrrhis odorata (Sweet Cicely), Rosa 'Geoff Hamilton', and buttercup: the bane of my existence. If only it weren't yellow, I might love it! 

View Comments


  1. user-6536305 07/20/2017

    Hello Lorraine from Vancouver. Love your garden settings and color. Thanks for the identifications. Love your garden ornaments. Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-7008735 07/20/2017

      Thanks, Lilian! Some of the deep red snapdragons you admired in our Botany class have self-seeded, so I will be sure to save seed for you this year.

      1. user-6536305 07/20/2017

        Thanks Lorraine! I thought this would be your garden and wasn't so sure. Will pay a visit to your beautiful garden! Would love to have some deep red snapdragon seeds. See you around at meetings and functions etc. Are you on facebook. Search me as Lilian Ho and you would fine the same photo and send me a friend request. Looking forward to part 2 or 3....

        1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

          Yes, it would be fun to get together, Lilian. I will save you some snapdragon seeds for sure. Even the stems and leaves of that one are kind of burgundy. I am on FB and will connect with you there. My photo is a pink peony.

          1. user-6536305 07/21/2017

            Cannot wait to have the red snapdragon seeds and we have connected on facebook!

          2. user-7008735 07/21/2017

            That's great, Lilian! I'll let you know when they set seed.

  2. sheila_schultz 07/20/2017

    Wild and wonderful... I love it all, Lorraine! I can't even imagine all the critters skittering within and underneath all of that lushness, hidden and having a party, lucky you!!!

    1. user-7008735 07/20/2017

      Thank you, Sheila! They do party, at night especially!

      1. sheila_schultz 07/20/2017

        I hope you get some sleep tonight, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's post!

        1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

          Thanks, Sheila! Thankfully the critters don't party every night, or perhaps they are partying in other gardens some nights.

  3. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/20/2017

    Looks like we've got a caption switched and a duplicate photo, but that doesn't detract from your great photos of your cottage garden; trash pandas notwithstanding. Your foxgloves are glorious and I'm insanely jealous of your rusty gateway into dark unknown!

    1. user-7008735 07/20/2017

      Thanks, Tim! I love the "trash panda" name! I haven't heard of raccoons being called that before. We have very strict by-laws about when we can put out our garbage on collection day to minimize bears and raccoons from sorting through it and becoming accustomed to people and a free meal. They do like to drink from the pond though. We had a yearling bear (about 120 lbs.) walking along the fence top last week.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/20/2017

        I certainly wish I had coined 'trash panda', but I learned it from a California acquaintance and use it all of the time! :) They are a nuisance in my yard, washing their food in the bird bath, and I tried to have a little sunken water feature for a lotus or water lily, but it turned into a raccoon bathing facility and I removed it. Very urban creatures here, but don't cause the garden problems that squirrels do.
        Bears?! Lots of communities in the East are having the same difficulties with their trash as the bear population rebounds. I guess it's better to be responsible with your trash than have another animal go the way of the dodo!

        1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

          Raccoons do love water! Before we built our pond, I researched how to do it to keep the goldfish safe from the raccoons. Several sources said to build the pond with straight sides at least 3 feet deep, but I'm afraid our raccoons didn't read the same sources; they don't mind the straight sides at all. I have tried growing water lilies but have given up after finding each $30 or $40 plant torn to shreds and scattered about the patio. They do the same with the less expensive water hyacinths. I picture them out there at night popping the bulbous floating part like bubble wrap! Now I just have floating submerged oxygenators in the pond.
          Our squirrels dig up and eat tulips and crocuses, but they don't damage much else. Do your squirrels eat other plants?

          1. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/24/2017

            I just had a chance to view your second, floriferous day on GPOD: wonderful.
            Yes, raccoons are smart, industrious and have amazing dexterity. I'm not surprised that they pull everything out of the water.
            The squirrels that frequent our yard dig up absolutely everything I plant. They nip some things, too, depending on the season, but it the relentless digging that drives me nuts. My guess that they smell the disturbed soil and either think another squirrel has buried a tasty tidbit or or some other reason. Once I planted out dozens of seedlings, reasoning that they couldn't or wouldn't dig up every one: they did, in less than 24 hours.
            Now it's easy to spot new plants in my garden: they are surrounded by flat stones, wire cages, or both. Once established and settled, a lot of things are fine. It's the freshly planted things that are in danger.
            The other thing they love is firstfuits: the first flower on any tree, shrub or perennial inevitable winds up on the ground with a bite out of it!

          2. user-7008735 07/24/2017

            Thanks, Tim! Wow! Our West Coast squirrels are way more laid back. I wonder if they are a different species. I've attached a photo of one hoovering up fallen birdseed on the deck this past winter. They do dig up freshly planted crocus and tulip bulbs, but they leave pretty much everything else alone. Maybe I should be grateful that the raccoons wrecking the pond and leaving the clematis in a tangled heap on the ground are my worst challenges from the animals. I'm glad you have developed planting strategies to thwart them!

          3. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/24/2017

            Those buggers are cute and furry. It doesn't keep me from labelling them garden-enemy number 1!
            The worst damage the urban raccoons (and possums) do is knock over the birdbath. I have had a woodchuck take up residence, but I think that was short-lived.
            After those guys (and the neighbor's cats that drive me crazy), I am probably the worst enemy to my plants in my reckless pursuit to grow things that should not be able to grow here! :) Happy gardening.

          4. user-7008735 07/24/2017

            I would feel the same way if they were digging up everything I planted, Tim. I had to look up a picture of a possum since we don't see them here, but apparently they are moving into Ontario, Canada, and (mis)behaving much like the raccoons. We do have skunks roaming the neighbourhood. Since we sleep with our windows open year round, when they let loose, the smell wakes me up and I rush to close the windows! They are so pretty, but what a foul smell! Thankfully, they are not frequent visitors most years and they don't do any damage to the garden. Zonal denial? I think we all succumb to that from time to time!

  4. user-4691082 07/20/2017

    Lorraine, what a beautiful garden! I'm not sure what caption is switched...tell us Tim! I don't see the umbrella plant, could someone point it out? Thanks for sharing!

    1. user-7008735 07/20/2017

      Thank you, Rhonda! Yes, one photo is duplicated so the photo of the cracked bird bath is missing. I'm racing out the door, but I'll try to post it later. Or perhaps it will be in the second batch of photos.

  5. Jay_Sifford 07/20/2017

    So lush and beautiful. I love it!

    1. user-7008735 07/20/2017

      Thank you, Jay!

  6. DarliBarli 07/20/2017

    Thanks so much for sharing these breathtaking images of your lush and lovely garden....So many of my favorites. Bless you and carry on!

    1. user-7008735 07/20/2017

      Thank you, Darlene!

  7. Doxnmomx2 07/20/2017

    In my next life I want to be wild and live in your garden. That columbine is gorgeous and Abraham Darby is dreamy.

    1. user-7008735 07/20/2017

      Thanks, Peggy Jo! Many of us gardeners have a close connection with the wild. The photo labelled as columbine is actually Thalictrum aquilegifolium. Some of the captions got misplaced with other photos somehow.

  8. User avater
    treasuresmom 07/20/2017

    Everything is so very, very pretty. Love all the colors!

    1. user-7008735 07/20/2017

      Thank you!

  9. User avater
    gringopeligroso 07/20/2017

    Ms. Robson!!
    Beautiful, lush and refreshing! If I gardened in a more gentle location......sigh..... And, I'm chuckling and nodding to your comment on the Buttercups! (Ranunculus) I used to envy those folks around here who had fields of them on their properties and used to think "How Magical!" (Still do, just not NEARLY so loudly.) File that sentiment under: "Be careful what you wish for!! They get a little TOO happy, here, too!!
    Thank you for sharing!!
    Ms. Cronce!!
    Thank you for documenting this peaceful refuge!! I believe your's and my photographic styles are similar, if not the same. ¿Dueling Shutters?
    And, Ms. Charles!
    You could not have picked a better portfolio choice for today and tomorrow!! The temps here are soaring and the sun is merciless. Actually, dangerous for the next couple of days. This cloudy/shady post is PERFECT for today!! Thank YOU!!

    1. user-7008735 07/20/2017

      You're right about the beauty of the buttercups, Jesse. I do admire their satiny petals and appreciate that the bees love them. If only they weren't quite so spreadacious! If they were a soft, buttery yellow, I would probably adore them.
      Somehow the photo credit was assigned to Jeanne Cronce who is called a friend. I haven't met her (yet), but I do feel as if many of the GPOD'ers are friends I haven't met yet. I just enjoy my morning coffee and virtual garden tours with you all.
      I hope you stay safe in the heat. We have rain today for the first time in about 30 days apart from one or two minor sprinkles.

      1. User avater
        gringopeligroso 07/20/2017

        A-HAA!! SO: 'tis YOU I get to duel it out with!!

        Sorry, as I meant no disrespect to either you or Ms. Cronce. I was just trying to include everyone mentioned.

        1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

          No disrespect received here, Jesse, but we might be in the wrong century for a duel anyway. :-) Thank goodness for digital photography where we can take as many images as we like!

  10. Cenepk10 07/20/2017

    So lovely. We have so many of the same flowers. I'm way down south in Ga. Thanks for sharing. Those were blooming here in April. Nice walk through Memory Lane

    1. user-7008735 07/20/2017

      I took these photos in mid-June. Everything has been a little late blooming all year, but I was grateful because we were away in Italy for most of May and returned in time for most of the show. Thanks for your positive comment!

  11. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 07/20/2017

    Good morning, Lorraine. You live in a beautiful area but I'm not sure that I would want to share our gardens with as many critters as you do, since the deer, rabbits, squirrels and birds are challenging enough. I'm very fond of Nelly Moser as she graced the front of one of our WI houses for many years and the whorls left behind by the flowers kept the vine looking interesting all season. What is the intricate flower in the first photo?
    Looking forward to part 2. Nice photos, Jeanne.

    1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

      Thank you, Linda. We used to go scuba diving around Whidbey Island, so I know you live in a beautiful area, too. We see deer when we are out for walks or hikes here, but they have never come into the garden, not even the front which is unfenced. The raccoons and bears sometimes flatten plants, but I'm grateful they don't eat them. I also enjoy the silvery seed heads of Nelly Moser. The flower in the first photo is Astrantia major; its caption got lost.

  12. greengenes 07/20/2017

    Good morning Lorraine.. what a wonderful jungle! Every photo screamed beautiful! I do really like your trellis! Its amazing that it can all grow under cedar trees. Thanks for sharing!

    1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

      Thank you, Jeanne! We have cedars, hemlock, and Douglas fir on the west, north, and east sides, with lots of sun coming from the south side. I grow a lot of plants in two long raised beds so they don't have to work quite so hard to compete with the roots of the big trees. Those roots travel a long way horizontally but are surprisingly shallow to support such huge trees.

  13. foxglove12 07/20/2017

    So lush and colorful love it! And that David Austin rose is an amazing color.

    1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

      Thank you, Lori! David Austin has bred some gorgeous roses -- and they smell like roses, too! My favourite is the deep pink 'Gertrude Jekyll' which has a strong old rose scent. Heavenly!

  14. schatzi 07/20/2017

    Absolutely gorgeous! Love the full, lush look, the rose , the thalictrum (thanks for the name correction - I knew it wasn't a columbine), the clematises - it's all beautiful. Dealing with the wildlife is bad enough - can one ever get ahead of the buttercups? Also the bane of my existence. Is the first photo Astrantia? Incredibly beautiful shot.

    1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

      Thank you, Shirley! Yes, the first photo is Astrantia major. As far as the buttercup goes, I'm always hopeful that I will win, but it hasn't happened yet. I did manage to eradicate a whole border of Aegopodium (Bishop's weed or Snow on the Mountain) by hand when I first started gardening here, but it took weeks. It's harder now with the buttercup since I have so many other plants to lift or work around when I'm weeding. It sounds like you know what that's like!

      1. schatzi 07/21/2017

        Eradicating Aegopodium is a major victory! I know exactly what it's like trying to discourage buttercup around other plants that you want to keep. The buttercup wins,hands down. Might as well declare it an ornamental! I'm not there yet... I live about 30 miles south of Seattle, so our climates are quite similar. The deer seem to taste different things every year - altho tulips are a perennial favorite. I plant daffodils, alliums and hyacinths that they leave alone. The raccoons and coyotes and rabbits don't bother much. I never apologize to slugs - only to sunning garter snakes, when I disturb them. They eat slugs and mice. And they are small and "run" away faster than I do, so it's all good! I do love to see the wildlife - I just wish it would moderate its tastes. And really, deer, do you have to walk thru my raised beds, just to show that you can? Enjoy your wonderland. I love mine, imperfect as it is.

        1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

          We are almost neighbours, Shirley! And, yes, eradicating Aegopodium felt like a major victory, especially since I didn't use any herbicides. So far, we haven't had any deer in the garden even though we see them just a few blocks away sometimes. I think I would be more upset by creatures actively eating my garden. My husband recently happily told me that he had seen a "bunny" on our street and he was surprised when I reacted with horror. I've only ever seen a snake once here; I would be happy to have them around more often. Sometimes I see tiny little tree frogs sitting on the Hosta leaves. They are adorable. I also find it thrilling to see the wildlife and just wish the big creatures would respect the beds and borders. We are lucky to be able to create these outdoor spaces to suit our tastes.

          1. schatzi 07/21/2017

            I love the little tree frogs too, especially the emerald green ones with copper stripes on their back. They are beautiful.

          2. user-7008735 07/21/2017

            Oooh! The copper stripes sound lovely. The ones here are a solid emerald green and so small. Once I thought one was a leaf fallen onto the Hosta leaf, but when I went to brush it off, I got a big surprise!

  15. Chris_N 07/20/2017

    Your garden is certainly lovely, Lorraine. I'm glad you cleared it up that that is a Thalictrum not a columbine. That's what I thought when I saw the photo. Except for the hellebore, your picture with the boneset, bloodroot and lady fern could easily be from a woods in Wisconsin. Eupatorium rugosum is called white snakeroot here and is lovely in the woods. It would be lovely in my garden if it didn't seed into every shady spot and need to be dug as it is impossible to pull.

    1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

      Thank you, Chris! Yes, Kim explained that the computer system is struggling to handle all the photos she has loaded for us before she goes on vacation. The leaves of that Thalictrum are very like columbine leaves, but that caption was meant to go with a different photo. I am very surprised to hear that Eupatorium seeds itself about in your garden as mine has never created any offspring for me. I kind of wish it would produce a few. Plants do behave so differently in different climates.

  16. NCYarden 07/20/2017

    What a brilliantlycolorful garden scene. Love the Clematis, but distressed to hear you have to bear destruction by garden visitors. Fortunately they tend rejuvenate quite well. And such fun sparkler blooms on the the Thalictrum. Quite an ensemble of plants you've put together. It's beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

      Thank you!

  17. janeeliz 07/20/2017

    Lovely plants and photos, many of my favorites. Especially love the 1st photo : close-up of your astrantia. Do you know what variety it is? I love the fringed green edge. Very handsome metal arbor, too!

    1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

      Thank you, Jane! I'm afraid I don't know the name of the Astrantia. A friend gave me some from her garden years ago. I am fascinated by the diverse structures of flowers.

  18. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/20/2017

    I suspect if we got to see a picture of you, Lorraine, we'd see a hint of a halo glowing softly...your calm acceptance of the possibility of the raccoons destroying a clematis makes you a candidate for sainthood. Love those stately spires of your foxgloves...what a treat they are in a garden where they are happy...they are obviously euphoric in yours! looking forward to tomorrow and seeing your part 2.

    1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

      Thank you for your comment which made me laugh out loud, but I'm afraid there's no halo. I do feel that the wild animals have as much right to be here as I have and am happy that they want to be here -- even if I wish they wouldn't flatten plants. Being Canadian, I do, of course, apologize when I squash a slug!

  19. Sunshine111 07/21/2017

    I am loving your combinations, and your photography. Especially the close-up of the Astrantia! I have some but it isn't blooming - I need to move it into more sun. So that I can have it next year is a cut flower, something I am doing more and more of! Thank you for sharing your lovely garden and your photography

    1. user-7008735 07/21/2017

      Thank you, Lily! Astrantia makes a lovely long-lasting cut flower, so I do hope yours will bloom for you. They need reliable moisture to thrive.

  20. user-7008735 07/21/2017

    Thanks, Diane!

  21. deeinde 07/21/2017

    Beautiful garden, Lorraine! I love the cool colors best too. And your Thalictrum aquilegifolium is awesome. Thanks for sharing!

    1. user-7008735 07/22/2017

      Thank you, DeeInDE! The soft, cool colours are my favourites, but there's one point in the spring when a red Rhododendron, a purple lilac, and a yellow Laburnum tree all bloom at once for a blast of hot colour. I would probably have never chosen the red Rhodo but enjoy it while it does its vibrant dance with the others. Then everything quiets down again.

  22. tennisluv 07/22/2017

    Lorraine, sorry to be late commenting on your lovely garden in the rain forest. For some reason I am not receiving the daily Disguis notification when photos are posted. Your photo of the Astrantia looks like a lovely kaleidoscope image and your plant combinations are so nicely done. In the past, I have been drawn to bright colors, but your lovely soft combinations have a magnetic pull. Love the rusty trellis. Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-7008735 07/22/2017

      Thank you, Sonya! Somehow the email GPOD posting didn't go out as usual even though Kim had done it. I could access it through a link she sent me and a few people found it through the Fine Gardening website I think, but the computers have definitely been a bit wonky.
      When I travel to hot sunny places, I absolutely love the bright colours, but here -- where it is so often overcast -- those colours can seem harsh and overpowering. Even on our brightest sunny days, the air still has a lot of moisture in it which seems to affect the quality of the light which, in turn, affects the way we perceive colour.

      1. tennisluv 07/24/2017

        You know, I have never thought about how moisture in the air might affect the quality of the light which, in turn, could affect the way we perceive colour. I have noticed that women living in the humid south tend to age less quickly than women in the colder, more arid parts of the country. I always assumed it had to do with genetics, just like plant genetics/species/varieties. Perhaps it is the quality of the light versus the actual aging process. But then again I am a Southern Belle, who refuses to admit her true age!!!! Still gardening past the age of 29. Just waiting to see what the other GPODers have to say about that sagacious commentary.

        1. user-7008735 07/24/2017

          Hi Sonya, The moisture in the air also affects our perception of distance. When I'm on the south side of Burrard Inlet looking across to the North Shore mountains, sometimes the mountains appear so much closer than at other times depending on the moisture and the light. Sunlight definitely damages and dries up skin, just as it does some flower petals. I think a higher level of moisture in the air can slow that down for both skin and petals. I don't mind getting older; it's better than the alternative. ;-)

          1. tennisluv 07/24/2017

            Obviously we are blessed to live in the areas in which we live. If I could live anywhere else other than north Georgia, it would be in the Pacific Northwest. As much as I love my South, I have to admit your part of the world is absolutely the Garden of Eden.

          2. user-7008735 07/25/2017

            This world is full of so many beautiful places. When I travel, I often imagine what it would be like to live in the new place, but I am always happy to come home again. "Home", wherever that is for each of us, has special associations that make it beautiful. About 30 years ago, my husband and I drove down the Pacific Coast and all along the southern states to Ginnie Springs, Florida, to take a cavern diving course. On the return trip, we drove diagonally across the continent. So many different landscapes and each beautiful in their way!

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