Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Ellen’s driveway garden in Massachusetts

Baptisia, perenneal foxglove, phlox, lady's mantle, blackberry lily, castor bean, dahlia, yarrow, spirea, roses. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey

Today’s post may be on my list of top 10 favorites. Why? A great garden, and amazing before and during shots! These photos are from Ellen Garvey in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Ellen says, “We moved into this house on about an acre in 1979. Over the years we’ve changed just about every part of the landscape. We just love to roam around it to see how everything is progressing, almost always accompanied by our 2 cats.”

5 huge spruce trees in center of circular driveway when purchased in 1979
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey

Ellen sent me tons of photos from her garden, and tomorrow may be Part 2, but today we’re focusing on the amazing transformation of her driveway garden.

Ellen says, “I was shocked the first time I saw the driveway without the trees – they were huge and had basically lopped off that section of the property. I didn’t even have a decent “before” picture in our era because they were such a non-entity, as was everything behind them – so the camera just always avoided them. What a difference!”

15 years later we had the spruces removed. Who knew the stumps were that big!!
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey

***Learn more in the captions.***

Thanks, Ellen!! It is SO COOL to see the process from beginning to current time. And the garden is wonderful!

Plants staged in the background – ready to go!
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey
Hardscape is in; ready for the fun of planting! On the hottest day of the year of course.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey
Hardscape is in and planting complete
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey
Hardscape is in and planting complete
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey
First snow
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey
1 year after planting. Our cats love to walk the cobblestone edging
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey
All grown up!
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey
All grown up!
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey
All grown up!
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ellen Garvey

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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/12/2012

    Fascinating progression...yes... before, during and after pictures really tell a story. I'm not sure I would have been daring enough to take down the large spruces and start over so completely. You had a lot of foresight, Ellen, to put in such generous walking paths from the beginning so that your garden can be enjoyed from all angles. Can't wait to see tomorrow's installment!

    A little PS to tractor1...your final comments from yesterday made me reflective about how different it was for young men just getting out of high school during those years of the draft. Some made a preemptive choice like you did so they still had a little control over there destiny. I smiled at your bemused acknowledgement of how your life is now filled with happily (I hope) tackling tasks you once tried to avoid! Most of us by a certain know that life is funny that way!

  2. Jay_Sifford 07/12/2012

    Beautiful garden! Your foresight really paved the way for great results.

  3. MichelleGervais 07/12/2012

    Tractor, I love, love, LOVE your photo from yesterday!! So handsome...

  4. tractor1 07/12/2012

    An interesting planting layout for a circular driveway. Those spruce were definitely too large, being so close to the house they long ago outlived their usefulness, they needed to go before creating a disaster, and viewed from the house they would only serve as an obstruction. But I think I would have replaced them with some conifers of the semi-dwarf variety, with some rhodies and azalias, and then left areas for annuals... that way there'd be winter interest and a progression of color during warm weather... and perhaps added a small deciduous tree as a focal point, that island would be a wonderful showcase for a paperbark maple (Acer griseum). I honestly don't care for those overly broad gravel paths, I'd have used organic mulch for the walking/working paths because it much more easily allows for future design alterations, and saved the coblestone for deliniating the island's perimeter... as I've already stated, pea [pinhead] gravel in gardens should be illegal. It's so apropos how kitty walks the coblestone, a queen's toes should never touch dirt.

    meander1: The America I grew up in was certainly much different from the present. Young folks today will never know the America I knew. I'm glad I'm old because from what I see now I suspect the America of the future is something I don't want to know. I fully expect that America won't celebrate a Tricentennial because government is totally devoid of intellect and creativity, but mostly it lacks a backbone... people are so scared to verbalize what they're really thinking, likely they don't think.

    Mommy and twins.

  5. tractor1 07/12/2012

    Thank you, Michelle. By today's standards at 21 I was a mere child then. Here I'm at my 25th High School reunion.

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/12/2012

    Hi, Michelle, it's a rainy day here in east TN so I'm putting in more inside time than usual. Anyway, my point in popping back on the comment section is to say that I just revisited the Pinterst page you have put together and enjoyed myself immensely. It is better than ever...lots of great categories and wonderful pictures. Thanks for keeping it going. It's great to be reminded of favorite gardens or see ones that got posted before I started following GPOD.

  7. greenthumblonde 07/12/2012

    This was a fun post because we not only got to see before and after, but "during". Labor of love, clearly.

  8. snollygaster 07/12/2012

    Huge efforts paying big dividends, Ellen! I love those foxgoves, do you know which cultivar that is. (Q mark not working, apologies). I am growing the Pippa series from seed and have high hopes for next year as they are true perennials and apparently very long blooming. I hope they are as attractive as yours.

  9. MichelleGervais 07/12/2012

    Thanks, meander1! I'm trying to keep up with it, but sometimes it slips my mind. But every time I do, I fall in love with it all over again. Here's the link for anyone who wants to revisit the GPOD Pinterest page:

  10. greengrowler 07/13/2012

    Like many, I love the detailed progression of your project, Ellen. Your driveway garden is certainly a delightful surprise to anyone visiting your home. I like Tractor1's idea of a paperback maple; that bark viewed close-up is amazing.

    Drat, Tractor1, I missed your army photos; the only ones I can see today are of your cute kitty..... sorry I missed out!

    snollygaster - I have fallen in love with Foxgloves, too, even though I have to hand-water in my climate. I love the hot pink colors - does the Pippa series have those colors? Also interested in Foxgloves that are reliably perennial.

  11. snollygaster 07/16/2012

    GreenGrowler, yes, there is a pink Pippa. It's a deep, bright, rosy pink and is the most floriferous of all. Seeds available at Swallowtail.

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