Garden Photo of the Day

Playful and Peaceful Garden Design

Having fun creating a garden sanctuary

My name is Bill Hodgeman, and I live in Sunderland, Massachusetts. I have been gardening since 2011 and working on my current property since 2015. I am passionate about creating beautiful combinations that are both playful and peaceful.

This exuberant planting includes fountain grass (Pennisetum), ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum (Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Herbstfreude’, Zones 3–9), agastache (Agastache rugosa, Zones 5–8), ‘Ivory Halo’ dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo’, Zones 3–7), ‘Norah Leigh’ phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘Norah Leigh’, Zones 4–8), and ‘Limelight’ hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, Zones 3–8).

Bright flower color is added to the mix from yellow black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida, Zones 4–9) and tall purple coneflowers (Echinacea, Zones 3–9).

Light, airy, ornamental grasses, including fountain grass in the foreground, make a great frame for a brilliant mass of black-eyed Susans and coneflowers.

Neatly mown paths wind through the lush plantings.

Variations on a theme. Shorter black-eyed Susan in the foreground is backed by the closely related, but taller, cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata, Zones 4–9).

Agastache rugosa has spikes of purple flowers and dense, fragrant foliage. It provides a nice counterpoint to the abundant brighter colored flowers.

Brilliant blue flowers from Pitcher sage (Salvia azurea, Zones 4–9), a wonderful plant native to a wide swath of North America, begin blooming in summer and fall. Pitcher sage can be a bit floppy, so it is best to either stake it or plant it close to strong neighbors it can lean against.


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 09/04/2019

    Very, very beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. avongardener 09/04/2019

    Beautiful garden! Love the plant combinations. Thanks for sharing!

  3. mjtrusz 09/04/2019

    what a lovely lush garden. You have given me new motivation and some new ideas for this transitional time of year. Thank you for sharing.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/04/2019

    Great job all the way around, Bill. Your planting vision as it has come to life is very appealing and has the effect of creating a beautiful living tapestry. I love how the colors and textures weave in amongst each other so comfortably.

  5. nwphillygardener 09/04/2019

    Several of your photos, well composed and with low sun angles, show something compelling about these late bloom combinations. Thank you for sharing these.

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/04/2019

    Absolutely amazing and that Pitcher sage is outstanding!

  7. btucker9675 09/04/2019

    What an absolutely wonderful garden! You have an artist's eye in planning your plant combinations - just beautiful.

  8. User avater
    simplesue 09/04/2019

    So natural yet elegant at the same time. I'm still learning and experimenting on how to create something like this! Got lots of inspiration from your success!

  9. cheryl_c 09/04/2019

    Bill, your gardens are wonderful! So nice to see such excellent use of natives, showing off just how beautiful they can be, properly sited and combined. I especially liked the rudbeckia/switchgrass/coneflower combo, and wonder what the fuzzy white spike in the foreground is - perhaps a white prairie clover? Do tell!

    1. Bill_Hodgeman 09/04/2019

      Thanks, Cheryl! The white fuzzy spike is sanguisorba canadensis.

      1. cheryl_c 09/05/2019

        Thanks, Bill. I"ll definitely be looking for a source for that!

  10. Musette1 09/04/2019

    Bill, this is all just so lovely!!! I love that blue Pitcher sage, it's a great alternative to Meconopsis, which is nearly impossible to grow here (at least for me - Meconopsis bentonicifolia hates. mah. GUTS! ;-)

  11. Cenepk10 09/04/2019

    I’ll take a 1/2 acre of pitcher sage with something to lean on.... Goodness.... it’s all gorgeous! Up there in N England...

  12. Joycelaubach 09/04/2019

    Just gorgeous. We gardeners KNOW how difficult it can be to coax so many wonderful blooms to look their best. Your design is very artful and so pleasing to the eye. You make it look so natural, but again, we KNOW that nature needs some help to achieve this level of synchrony. :)

  13. User avater
    user-7007816 09/06/2019

    Bill, your garden is beautiful. I love the way you have placed blocks of colors and textures. The garden looks very mature for only being planted a few years.

  14. 18bees 09/06/2019

    What a fabulous looking space. You've achieved the look of a much older and established garden in a very short period of time, congrats!

  15. User avater
    simplesue 06/17/2021

    I'm back a few years later to enjoy another look at your photos!
    Such an impressive garden!

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