Garden Photo of the Day

Plants I Was Thankful for This Year

A few favorites that helped get me through the year

Hi, GPOD readers! This is your GPOD editor Joseph, and on this Thanksgiving Day I thought I’d look back at some of the plants that I’ve been most thankful for this gardening year.

Camellia Silver WavesCamellia ‘Silver Waves’ (Zones 7–9). I moved from Michigan to Virginia a few years ago, and the best thing about being down here is camellias! They are beautiful evergreen shrubs with beautiful flowers, and they bloom in the winter! This is a picture I took in January. Absolutely amazing.

Narcissus Fellow’s FavoriteMoving on into spring, here’s my new favorite daffodil—Narcissus ‘Fellow’s Favorite’ (Zones 3–8)—which produces big, classic daffodil blooms in great abundance. I took this picture at someone else’s garden but just planted a couple hundred of the bulbs in my own garden to enjoy come spring.

Spring starflowerSpring starflower (Ipheion uniflorum, Zones 5–9) is another favorite spring bulb. I love the delicate, pale blue flowers, and I especially love that squirrels and other pests don’t like eating the bulbs.

Paeonia ostiiI love all peonies, but this Paeonia ostii (Zones 4–8) is my favorite at the moment. It is a tree peony, with huge, delicately crinkled blooms.

Heuchera CaramelI love the colorful leaves of heucheras, but my experience is that most of them don’t last long in my Virginia garden, so I was thrilled to see huge patches of this variety, Heuchera ‘Caramel’ (Zones 4–9) positively thriving at Norfolk Botanical Gardens. I planted oodles of it in my home garden and am happy to say it is doing just as well there.

cucumbersThis was the year of the cucumber for me! I grow cucumbers most years but usually only get a small crop before various diseases kill off the plants. But this year I grew a variety called ‘DMR 401’—not the most exciting name, but it was incredibly disease resistant and produced a truly overwhelming quantity of cucumbers. Now the pantry is happily full of pickles.

surprise liliesLycoris, or surprise lilies, have long been a favorite of mine, and I always adore this one. I bought it as Lycoris shaanxiensis, but smarter people than me tell me it is actually Lycoris × straminea. Whatever the name, it is hardy to Zone 6 and produced big masses of these spidery, pale-yellow flowers in September when I needed something fresh in the garden.

American beautyberryAmerican beautyberry (Callicarpa americana, Zones 6–10) grows wild all over around here, and I love seeing the brilliant purple berries each fall.

Osmanthus fragransFinally, blooming now is Osmanthus fragrans. Its flowers don’t look like much, but I can literally smell them from halfway down the street. Most people say it is only hardy to Zone 8, but it has survived in my Zone 7 garden so far. Here’s hoping it keeps on that way!

What were your favorite plants of the year? Send in photos! We’d love to feature your favs on the GPOD.


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View Comments


  1. nwphillygardener 11/26/2020

    We need to give thanks to YOU, and all you do to keep us uplifted by a photo series each morning! When we cannot get out to botanical gardens and other spaces to expand or horizons, many of us rely on your daily work. Stay safe to you and all who submit your garden photos.

  2. Rebeccazone7 11/26/2020

    Love the lily, it's so ethereal. Have planted an abundance of bulbs this year, which is new to me, but I'm up for the battle between me and the squirrels. I am extremely grateful for people who speak garden like me.

  3. PattyLouise 11/26/2020

    Lovely post! Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family!

  4. Carolyn3134 11/26/2020

    Thank you, Joseph, for brightening our days! So many of us appreciate all of your efforts!!!

  5. annek 11/26/2020

    What a lovely combination of flowers. Thank you, Joseph for editing a daily post of the most beautiful garden photos. Happy thanksgiving to all at Fine Gardening! (And to all your readers)

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 11/26/2020

    I second nwphillygardener's comment.

    1. User avater
      simplesue 11/26/2020

      I third it! Well you know what I mean! LOL!

  7. User avater
    bdowen 11/26/2020

    Thank you, Joseph, for sharing a bit of your own garden. We will look forward to seeing your daffodils in the spring. I'll be looking for starflowers and the Heuchera Caramel based on your beautiful photos and information.

  8. emilyannek 11/26/2020

    So fun to see the plants you love! Your column is a highlight for me, over morning coffee.

  9. User avater
    simplesue 11/26/2020

    I'd love to push the zone on Osmanthus fragrans to 6b!
    Where do you have yours planted to push the zone to 7?
    Is it in an area protected by a house or something else?
    Love those evergreen leaves and strong scent you mention.
    That Surprise Lily is really spectacular!

  10. User avater
    cynthia2020 11/26/2020

    Joseph - I appreciate all the work you do for Fine Gardening! I also enjoy seeing the plants you like and take note of what does well for you in Virginia. I noticed how you used the light to bring out to best advantage the crinkles on the Paeonia ostii photograph. Have a great day!

  11. angelaobrienruff 11/26/2020

    Your photos of Osmanthus fragrans and the surprise lilies brought smiles to me on this grey Thanksgiving day in Seattle. I grew up in the south and they reminded me of my mom. I grow the Osmanthus in my garden, but haven’t been able to get my surprise lilies to bloom. Thank you for all you do for us gardeners and Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  12. Meelianthus 11/26/2020

    Thank you for ALL Joseph, you are the life of this little plant community and I, like everyone, appreciate the beauty we are able to see here everyday. Your fav choices are all so lovely, and some mine too. Surprised to read that 'beauty berry' grows wild in your area, we pay big time here in WA.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I know you will be enjoying all of those wonderful pickles. ;)

  13. btucker9675 11/26/2020

    Lovely - thank you for sharing! I agree about Camellias. They have been the one benefit I have found since moving to NC - I have 3 varieties and they are covered with buds now and I am awaiting the blossoms soon. Now I am just hoping to find the peonies that will survive here - in some shade from the hot summer sun. Happy Thanksgiving!

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