Garden Photo of the Day

Phillip & Michael’s Garden in Alabama, revisited

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver

Today we’re going back to Alabama to visit Phillip Oliver and Michael Scott’s garden. We first saw Phillip and Michael’s garden back in February, when we saw in spring and mid-season (Refresh your memory HERE and HERE). Turns out their garden might be even more beautiful in fall!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver

Phillips says, “My partner and I have been working on our garden for the past 20 years. We moved into our house in the fall of 1992 and all that existed was a huge barren lawn with some diseased fruit trees. Since we live right here in town (in Florence, Alabama), our first priority was to develop some privacy since our property is on a corner and is open on three sides to neighbors’ houses and a dentist’s office. We built a fence and began planting the following spring.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver

“I was into antique roses at the time and amassed quite a collection. We eventually managed to eliminate 90% of the lawn since we hated mowing. All of those trees that we planted have now matured and the garden is now mainly a shade garden. I’m still moving roses around trying to get them optimal sun! We also have a large collection of hydrangeas and camellias. The garden is so dense and private today that it is hard to believe that we are in the middle of town.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver

“The garden is particularly colorful in the fall and these photos were taken over the last couple of years. We have lots of Japanese maples. Other plants with fall interest include oakleaf hydrangea, sasanqua camellias, ornamental grasses, dogwoods and crape myrtles.”

Gorgeous, Phillip! I am still madly in love with that midnight blue wall.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Phillip Oliver

Hey all–Kate, the winner of the Thanksgiving Book Giveaway, chose the Zen Gardens book, so now there are 3 left for another giveaway.

50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants by Ruth Rogers Clausen
Front Yard Idea Book by Jeni Webber
The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour

So let’s do it! I’ll choose randomly from everyone who sends me garden photos by this Friday to win your choice of the remaining books (last photo), plus a mystery bonus! (Hint–it’s from one of our sister publications). Email hi-res photos and a description of your garden and what you’re showing us to [email protected]. I can’t wait to see what you send!

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View Comments


  1. wGardens 12/04/2012

    Wow, wow, wow! I think this is the BEST "Autumn" garden that I've ever seen. Fabulous, enchanting, rich. I love it. Great photos, too. Thank you for sharing!!!

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/04/2012

    Phillip and Michael, your garden is definitely a multi season gem. It is interesting and fun to toggle back and forth between your previous picture offerings and today's fall display. The warm reds and oranges look stunning against your beautiful wall.
    I would love it if you would pop back in to tell me about your pruning schedule you follow (if any) for your oakleaf hydrangeas. Yours have so much balance in their width to height proportions...just curious if you are lending a helping hand to Mother Nature's efforts?

  3. janetsfolly 12/04/2012

    Just stunning! I love everything about your gardens, in all seasons. Serene, inviting, just the right touches of excitement. My attempts at oak leaf hydrangeas have all become deer fodder, but your success makes me want to try again. Like meander1, I would love to hear your secrets to make them such 'belles'!
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. lovemyyard 12/04/2012

    I've seen Phillip's blog for several years and was delighted to see his garden in Fine Gardening. Phillip and Michael have created a masterpiece. Bravo.

  5. poliver 12/04/2012

    Thanks so much for all the comments! As for the oakleaf hydrangeas, I don't prune them at all unless they are getting in the way. I think I've only pruned one that was getting too large and I just slightly trimmed it in late summer, after the flowers faded. They are really prettiest when left to their own devices, I think.

    The color on the garden wall has faded significantly since that photo was taken. I've thought about repainting it but it is now partially covered with ivy.

  6. arthurb3 12/04/2012

    A wonderfull garden. Great colour, too!

  7. tractor1 12/04/2012

    A very artful garden! And it appears fall foiliage is as vivid in Alabama as it is here in New England. Your twenty years of dedicated gardening is certainly evident, eveything is just perfect. I had not relized that your wall was painted. I just assumed that the lapis blue colorant was added to the concrete. I'd probably not repaint, let it continue to fade, or remove the loose paint and prep the surface with light wire brushing and locate someone who's adept at applying stucco then add colorant to the stucco mix... with the color throughout the matrix it won't fade and can occasionally be power washed for cleaning. Your wall really only needs a skim coat and that won't obliterate its textural detail... the mix used for ceramic tile setting would work outdoors, and any large ceramic tile emporium will have a broad array of grout colorants. You both seem very creative, you can probably rehab your wall yourselves. Phillip and Michael, your garden is beautiful, you are to be commended.

  8. sheila_schultz 12/04/2012

    Phillip and Michael... your gardens have it all, incredible color, warmth, texture and an inviting design. Everytime I see the blue wall, I fall in love again. Thanks.

  9. pattyspencer 12/04/2012

    I love it all - the colors - the textures - the design - it draws my eye in in every direction. Stunning!

  10. User avater
    simplesue 12/21/2021

    Wow, first time I saw this garden post, it's super nice!

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