Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Betsy’s garden in New York

A recirculating waterfall was installed near the back of the garden  several years ago.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Betsy Palmer Thompson

Today’s photos are from Betsy Palmer Thompson outside Albany, New York. Betsy says, “My garden is a bit unusual, as I live in a townhouse in the middle of a building of six houses. The property is just 22 feet wide, but it is deep — 55 feet in front of the house and 100 feet behind.

Clematis ‘Etoile Rose’ with Hosta ‘Fragrant Bouquet’ and astilbe.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Betsy Palmer Thompson

“I have lived here for 27 years, gradually removing all the lawn and replacing it with small trees, shrubs and perennials. There are over 200 cultivars of daylilies, nearly 100 each of hosta and iris, 20 of epimedium, a large collection of wildflowers, and many other favorite plants.

The double white trillium was won at a drawing in a Vermont garden.   The little double anemonella is a new addition.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Betsy Palmer Thompson

“I do have a compost pile, but I must have compost delivered as well, as I am an organic gardener. All supplies have to be carried through the house, storage is limited, deer and other wildlife are daily visitors, and neighborhood restrictions prevail, so the challenges are many, but I keep plugging along. This is my little paradise. I love sharing it with friends, participating in local plant societies, and donating plants to worthy organizations.”

A corner of the hosta and wildflower garden on the ridge at the back  border.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Betsy Palmer Thompson

Wow, Betsy! You’ve overcome some serious obstacles to create a gorgeous garden. Your neighbors must adore you. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

***Much more info in the captions***

A view from my bedroom window, over the pergola.  The raised garden  bed is for vegetables.  I will be moving it to the side this year.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Betsy Palmer Thompson
Ferns seed in between the rocks on the patio next to the house.  We are only allowed 16 feet of fence on one side, 8 feet on the other.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Betsy Palmer Thompson
The steps from the house patio lead up to the second garden room, the Silver-Gold Garden. The garden is divided into seven rooms, each with its own color scheme.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Betsy Palmer Thompson
The patio at the base of the waterfall.  I enjoy entertaining small  groups of visitors here.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Betsy Palmer Thompson
This is the front garden.  Remains of this year’s delivered compost  still sit in the driveway, waiting to be mixed for filling containers. It takes weeks to get compost spread over the garden, as there are so  many sprouting weeds to be removed first by hand.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Betsy Palmer Thompson
I love peonies, but only have a few, as they need much room and their  blooming period is short.  The pink one only gets sun now in the late afternoon, yet it still blooms well enough to keep.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Betsy Palmer Thompson

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View Comments


  1. wGardens 06/21/2012

    Thank you so much for sharing these photos- they are wonderful! I find your gardens to be fascinating- wow! Would I love to visit! Congratulations on your accomplishments in such a challenging space! LOVE IT!

  2. GardeningRocks 06/21/2012

    Absolutely beautiful Betsy! You have created lots of interesting areas in a small space and it flows together so nicely! Thank you for sharing!

  3. rwotzak 06/21/2012

    Beautiful and impressive, Betsy! Your garden is even more impressive when you consider that you have to carry all of your materials through your house!

  4. accidentalgardener 06/21/2012


  5. mrspain 06/21/2012

    The garden is beautiful, only wish when I enlarge the pictures that the pictures would have filled the entire monitor. This way it feels like you have been place directly in the garden and can see all the details, instead viewing the garden as a snapshot. I look forward to my dose of GPOD with my coffee and Betsy's garden is sooooooooo beautiful. She did a wonderful job. Thanks for sharing

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/21/2012

    Betsy, what a remarkable achievement your garden represents. I would never have remotely guessed that you are dealing with space limitations since the pictures show one beautiful vignette after another. In fact, if it were April 1st, I would suspect Michelle of playing a trick on us! You definitely deserve the "where there's the will, there's a way" award of the year.
    Do you happen to recall the name of the pink's very lovely. And while I'm in the question mode, what is the beautiful white flowering tree in the over head shot?
    I find your commitment to the color blue in your choice of ornamentation to be very provides continuity and communicates serenity. You are really a dedicated and talented gardener.

  7. Steepdrive 06/21/2012

    I am totally impressed by your garden, Betsy. And to think its in a townhouse community.

  8. GarPho 06/21/2012

    To Meander1:

    The pink peony was purchased at Agway some 20 years ago. The label simply said "pink." The little tree with the white flowers, viewed from my bedroom window is Chionanthus virginicus 'Grancy Greybeard.'

  9. dukeofargy 06/21/2012

    VERY impressive for a townhouse garden. I am sure your neighbours love it, as your gardens definitely increase the value of the properties adjoining.

    I love the stream you have formed. Does it evaporate much during the hot summer months?

    I'm glad to see you kept at least one peony. They are so magnificent when they bloom ( although they do flop ), but the foliage is nice after deadheading and do provide a nice foundaton for the garden.

    I like the concept of rooms within the garden. If only I had more space ....

    Thanks for sharing with us.

  10. tractor1 06/21/2012

    Hi neighbor! I'm less than an hour from downtown Albany, in Greene County. I'm very impressed with how Betsy practices remarkable frugality by getting so much from so little space, not a wasted square inch anywhere, yet nothing looks cramped, from the pictures it looks like it can be several acres. And I love your stone work, however I can't imagine you hauling all those rocks one by one through your house, that alone was a truly *monumental* task. Everything looks fantastic, I even like your little water feature. And I love, LOVE your patio. Betsy's garden is a photographer's paradise. Kudos!

  11. duckcovegardening 06/21/2012

    Betsy, I am new to Albany and will be creating many new gardens. You are a local inspiration and obviously have found great success in the area. I wonder if I could visit to see your wonderful gardens in person? I'm very curious about organic gardening and have always used some form of it to enrich plants - however, it looks like you could teach me a lot!

  12. GarPho 06/21/2012

    Anyone wishing to visit my garden may contact me at [email protected]. I often give tours.


  13. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/21/2012

    I absolutely LOVE your garden. You have so many little garden treasures to boot; the anemonella is gorgeous (I've killed mine); your trillium is amazing (I've had two flowers in 7 years); lovely little corydalis (have killed more than I can count); and etoile rose is my favorite clematis (still going strong!). KUDOS!

  14. pattyspencer 06/21/2012

    I don't think I can add anything more to what everyone has said - your garden is absolutely gorgeous and I too thought that it was done on a grand scale. I can't imagine bringing things through your home but where there is a will - there is a way. And restrictions? What restrictions - lol Again - where there is a will - there is a way. Absolutely a beautiful garden!!!!

  15. GrdnLu 06/21/2012

    Betsy - absolutely STUNNING!! I want to be there. :) I, too, have a small space. A little cape cod in the city on a 45-100ft lot. I have managed to create a small paradise for myself - but I have a LOT to do and you have inspired me with wonderful ideas. If I am ever traveling in your area - I would also love a tour of your beautiful gardens. Thank you for posting such lovely photos and descriptions.

  16. azulverde 06/21/2012

    Betsy, my compliments to you for being an effective gardener inspite of all the challenges that you faced in creating a beautiful garden. But I am also interested in how you protected your numerous and apparently sumptuous daylilies and hostas from the ravaging eyes and appetites of the deer aside from probably using gallons of repellent. Any tips you can pass?

  17. Katzpawz 06/21/2012

    I used to live back there - not too far from Albany, up in the Voorheesville area and there are some gardens that are soooo lovely, they could make a boulder cry for joy. And your garden seems to be one of those. It simply takes my breath away! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  18. wittyone 06/21/2012

    This would be beautiful and terrific for someone with lots of room and no obstacles to overcome but you show great persistence, perseverance, and creativity. My gardener's hat is off to you!

  19. jagardener 06/21/2012

    Wonderful use of limited space. Just love your blue accents- they help to pull everything together. Love it all!

  20. cwheat000 06/21/2012

    Yesterday's garden was 57 acres, today's is less than an acre. It Just goes to show, beautiful gardens can come in all sizes.

  21. passwords 06/21/2012

    Betsy, your garden is wonderful. You have set a high bar for your neighbors. I do hope it's contagious. I know I would enjoy sitting outdoors and looking out at that yard. Simply gorgeous.

  22. Olivetgarden 01/04/2013

    Your garden gives the feel of a private, secluded glade. The use of stones gives a natural feel and the blue accents are perfect. The pink flowers are perfect contrast. The photo of pink clematis, white astilbe, and hosta is gorgeous. I am inspired by your commitment and style, and while borrow some of your design ideas. Fantastic garden!

  23. user-7006933 01/04/2013

    Your design sense is amazing; what a wonderful space -- a great garden IS a bit of paradise!

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