Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Julia’s garden in Minnesota

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Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Julia Brown

Today’s photos are from Julia Brown in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

She says, “I became interested in flower gardening about 30 years ago after seeing a beautiful landscape photo in a magazine. My education has been almost every gardening book in the library, and hours of gleaning information from nursery specialists and friends. There isn’t a huge budget, so instead of boulders and retaining walls, we have cement edging.Many of the plants are divisions from the gardens of friends.

Our backyard retreat began when I moved here in 1999, and has been evolving ever since.The yard had been neglected for years, and was almost a wild forest full of weeds, shrubs, vines, thorns, and two large elm trees. It started out as a narrow L shape against the edge of the property, and continues to expand yearly. There have been several large renovations necessitated when a storm blew down one elm, and disease took the other. Someday all of the grass will hopefully be replaced by blooms. I’ll gladly take advice on how you or your viewers would change, or add to the landscape to help me achieve that goal!

We both contribute to the garden. I prefer to do the digging, planting, and planning. Jorge makes his vehicle available for large loads, and is frequently enjoying the view from outside, or from the window, especially his beloved winter hardy cactus in the Mexico corner. Hardy roses are my favorite, with about fifty currently planted. When sitting outside around the table at night, we have a lovely view of the Minneapolis downtown skyline above the arbor. I hope that you enjoy our backyard retreat.”

I know I did, Julia! Thanks for sharing your garden with us!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Julia Brown

We’ve been featuring YOUR photos, not mine, for the past 11 posts straight! Let’s keep it going, because I love it! Send me pics of your garden, your garden travels, etc. As always, I’ll only respond if I plan to use your photos. Email me at [email protected]. Thanks!

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  1. lijda 01/19/2012

    Your garden is lovely. We managed to lose the rest of our lawn when we expanded a small pond; a second pond linked to the first would also help. And, of course, shrubs and small trees as well as perennials. Friends who can propagate as well as dig divisions would be helpful. Lots of shrubs can be propagated by cuttings; check out the library for books on woody plant propagation. Thank you for sharing your pictures.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/19/2012

    I'm glad that Julia mentioned that she and Jorge do sit on occasion and literally "smell the roses" and gaze upon their beautiful backyard garden as well as the big city skyline. I have a serious case of vine envy...I'm thinking that is a variety of clematis. Am I correct? And, sigh, her hostas look glorious.
    When it comes to suggestions, the first thing that came to mind is to, perhaps, not necessarily have the goal of eliminating all grass. I find pathways of lush lawn very attractive and soothing as they curve around flower beds.

  3. terieLR 01/19/2012

    Lovely spaces Julia. I agree with meander1. A bit of lawn can add that touch of comfort, much like a piece of carpet under foot. It also keeps a visual balance so gardens don't get too busy. Maybe you could eliminate the edging beneath the arbor, incorporate some flat stone (to tie in with the pond stone) and create a short path. If mowing is tricky widen those curves a bit, while creating more garden space.

  4. mtulin 01/19/2012

    I like your garden very much, especially the gentle sweeping curves and healthy, vibrant plants that you let get big. Your pond reawakens my own wish to have one of my own.

    I have one observation and an idea: I find the current edging distracting. It introduces a strong 'bumpy' horizontal line. Also the color is distracting and, to my eye, and doesn't enhance your planting.

    Would you consider simple 'trench' edging? That's just digging deep trench a long the edge. Actually, it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it, because the edge is a bit of an angle and it really needs to be sharp. It takes some practice, too, not avoid unintentional 'wiggles'.

    It is easier to mow, too.

    There are good examples of trench edging in a recent FG article. In one of the last two issues there's a great photo of it used to excellent effect. Sydney Eddison praises the technique, as well, in a FG article.

    Thanks for some winter inspiration.


  5. GreenGrammy 01/19/2012

    Thank you, Julia--your garden takes me back to summertime on this cold day in northeast Ohio ;-) It's beautiful. I agree, the clematis on the arbor and the hostas and daylilies are lush and gorgeous. As a rose lover I was hoping for photos of your hardy roses...perhaps you might post some?

  6. tractor1 01/19/2012

    2012 must be the Year of The Arbor... however they scream out for bird feeders... enough said. I suggest leaving your grassy areas and keep them well mowed/edged, the green swarths highlight your plantings. I find nothing attractive about wall to wall plantings all jumbled together in a relatively small area, they make ones yard look more like a plant nursery than a garden. With gardening I believe less is more... think specimens with a distinct pecking order, with complimentary plantings minimized. I think in smaller yards with formal privacy fencing the more formal concrete edging fits in better than the informal field stone one might find in a woodland setting. Unless fieldstone is used to build an actual revolutionary era wall or are natural outcroppings I think it looks Disneyish, like miniature golf course decor... it's what I find so visually offensive about fake water features, they look nothing like that in nature. If one must do water at least make it include a utilitarian bird bath. In a tract home yard a very nice water feature is an automatic irrigation system, the birds and other critters enjoy it too. Julia's yard looks very much like where I lived last on Lung Guyland, I had the very same red scalloped concrete edging. I had an automatic sprinkler system covering th eentire 1/4 acre and Fabian's Landscaping arrived every week and spent all of twenty minutes to maintain my little lawn... now retired I have some ten acres of just lawn to tend and no Fabian.

  7. pattyspencer 01/19/2012

    Lovely garden! I especially like the climatas and daylilys that frame the arbor. Nice job Julia - you and your hubby are always busy busy in your garden and it shows! Nice to see these pics of what you're always telling us about on the other group.

  8. lijda 01/20/2012

    I feel I need to defend myself. I would love a small area of lawn but I love plants more and my garden is less than a quarter of an acre. Plants, of course, present some special challenges: they’re all different, in shape and texture and growth rate. Sometimes I think they all have haircuts in different stages: too short, too long, just right; and they’re all mixed up together. I move plants around a lot, something it’s more feasible to do in a small garden. Then, when they work together, it’s soul-satisfying. Small gardens can have as many different styles and perspectives and personalities as any large garden; after all, every garden reflects its caretaker-gardener and it’s very obvious from these comments that gardeners certainly have different points of view. I think we should celebrate them all.

  9. mksbrown 01/20/2012

    Jane and Jorge -

    Your garden is lovely. I am curious what type of lawn grass you have? It looks finer textured than the typical grass. The grass texture is part of what pulls your wonderful design together. I can be e-mailed at [email protected]. My daughter moved to Minneapolis, MN last June so I always enjoy seeing gardens in the Minneapolis area.


  10. rjgrimes55 01/21/2012

    Julia, I love your garden pictures. I moved to Minot, ND in the fall and have gardened with roses and hybrid daylilies a lot in warmer zones. Which roses are the hardiest and you find do the best in the colder zones? My email is: [email protected] If you could send me an email with some suggestions, I would appreciate it. I don't have a lot of room to garden where I am like I am used to, but would love to have a very select few roses that are zone 3 cold hardy. Thanks! Jan

  11. JuliaBrown 02/05/2012

    Thank you, everyone for the great ideas. Meander1, my clematis is a Jackmani (also called Jackman)

    Many of my neighbors use the red scalloped edging, including the one next door. Our sidewalks are also stained red, but the pictures don't show them.

    The pond has the flagstone because it was buried in our yard. At one time in history, the river must have gone through our property. But we put all we have around the pond, poor little plastic bathtub that it is. The birds sit on the spitters and drink. It's quite a show. We have bird feeders closer in to the house where we can enjoy them. There is quite a bit more garden than I had pictures of.

    I am considering replacing my grass with the shortest variety of creeping juniper, probably the blue carpet. It should give the appearance of a solid color like grass. Has anyone tried it? Does it seem like a good idea? Grass requires so much more maintenance and water. Jorge is disabled, and unable to work in the yard, but he enjoys sitting outside in it. The idea of spending more time sitting, and less mowing is quite appealing!

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