Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Stacey’s garden in Massachusetts

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Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stacey Preble

Today’s photos are from Stacey Preble from just south of Boston, Massachusetts. Stacey says, “The basis behind my garden is that I wanted something that was big, colorful and tropical looking, but that was sustainable up here in zone 5.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stacey Preble

“I researched quite a bit and read every magazine/book/article that I could get my hands on. My 12 foot Japanese fiber bananas were the catalyst that I could make this happen, and the rest they say, is history. My husband and I travel to the tropics every winter and I just love the lush jungle feel that one gets in Hawaii or the Caribbean. I wanted to emulate that experience and build a garden where you feel that you are but a bug in that garden.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stacey Preble

“I guess you could say I love a challenge. My garden is like going on vacation every time I walk out to the backyard. The front of my house is innocuous in its landscaping. Traditional pastel colored New England landscaping that doesn’t shout at the neighbors as they walk by – but come out back and get assaulted by hot colors of red, orange and yellow! Leaves as long as your legs, giant dinner plate dahlias, and hardy Disco Belle hibiscus continue the experience. It all coincides with the outdoor kitchen/dining area/bar that my husband so expertly built around my tropical theme.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stacey Preble

“We have a terrible coyote problem, so we have a 6-foot-tall fence surrounding the immediate backyard. I know they are a protected species, but I have been chased down 3 times while mowing the lawn, and I don’t need a fourth time to know they mean business! In order to hide the fence I grow grapes along the fencing and it expertly disguises the ugliness of the fence, while providing fruit. I also intersperse tomato plants and pepper plants along with whatever else I am growing that year in with my garden plants. This takes care of the issue of rotating crops, because where ever they are now won’t be available next year due to the growth of the perennials!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stacey Preble

“I am currently uprooting 1/3 of my garden and moving it back 25 feet where we pushed out the fence and expanded it. It never looks the same two years in a row, and I love to spend winters rearranging in my mind where everything is going to be placed. I also add a few real tropicals just for a pop of color such as Tropicanna cannas and elephant ears.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stacey Preble

The best compliment I have ever received was from one of my brother-in-laws, who remarked “If someone told me that I was in Hawaii right now, I would honestly believe them!” Mission accomplished.”

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stacey Preble

So cool, Stacey–it really does look like a tropical garden! But wait. Hold up. CHASED BY COYOTES?? What the heck is up with that?? Scary!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stacey Preble

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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/18/2012

    Wow, Stacy, when does the reservation hotline open up for calls.."book me, Dano" (ha, for Hawaii 5-0 fans). Your garden looks like such a fun place. Love the totally tropical vibe of everything...even the patio umbrella screams vacation!
    I always envy gardeners who have such a clear vision and then carry it out to perfection. I'm a hodge podger myself but I certainly share the delight of spending those winter months mulling on different ideas.
    Your final picture shows a radiantly happy person who is thriving in her element.Thanks for starting out my day with such a contagious smile.
    ps I lived in Hopkinton for a while many years ago (suburb outside of Boston) and I would have freaked to see a coyote. That is fascinating that they are roaming about your area.

  2. mainer59 06/18/2012

    What an interesting garden! I was surprised to hear that coyotes are such a problem. This web site from Mass. gives the low down on coyotes: I think they could be removed since they really are a threat, but I think the fence must be a neceesity against deer, too. Clever idea on how to hide the fence.

  3. cwheat000 06/18/2012

    What fun! What a contrast from that dreary, barren, New England winter landscape. Kudos to you for creating a garden that brings you joy, and does not look like every other house on the street.

  4. annek 06/18/2012

    I would've never guessed that Japanese Fiber Bananas would grow in Boston! (In fact, I'd never heard of them before). Kudos to you for creating such an imaginative garden (I can see why your extensive research was a requirement) The before and after photos are quite dramatic and show your skill and dedication to attaining your goal. Lovely!

  5. tractor1 06/18/2012

    There are coyotes where I live too (Catskills) and also mountain lions, and black bear (one got my bird feeder this spring). I often glimpse coyote loping past my window, at first I think it's a neighbor's dog that broke loose, but then I spot those loong legs... domesticated pets wouldn't last a day here outdoors. And there are all sorts of critters about, skunk, raccoon, possum, and many others. Right now I'm having a problem with feeding Newt, the ferral cat that took up residence in my barn, some critter(s) are eating all Newt's food, so I plan on getting a battery powered pet feeder (no electric out there), I just need to figure a way to protect the feeder from getting smashed open, I'm thinking of putting it into a 55 gallon drum with an opening just big enough for the feeding tray to poke out:
    Stacy's gardening concept is very interesting, I imagine her planting sugar maple and Norway spruce in Hawaii. You all do realize that the National meat dish of Hawaii is Hormel SPAM, it's served in more ways than you can imagine, even sushi. I love SPAM.

  6. tractor1 06/18/2012

    cwheat000: I resemble that remark, there is nothing dreary and barren about the New England landscape in winter, or Hallmark would be out of the Christmas card business. I can see how Stacy's yard would look barren and dreary in winter but not her neighbor's yards... but then she's not there having to look at her snow covered blah. I look forward to a snow covered landscape, everything is gorgeous covered in pristine white, nature's sculpture... the landscape is different from summer but definitely not dreary and barren... open your eyes. And the best part of winter here is that I get a six month reprieve from mowing ten acres of lawn every week... and during winter the landscape is different every day... it's different every day all year, I love the four seasons. I seriously considered living tropical, no way, that's boring landscape, exactly/precisely the same 24/7.

  7. pattyspencer 06/18/2012

    Stacy - love your before and after - you've really created a unique gardening space. Lots of hard work but it shows!!

  8. pattyspencer 06/18/2012

    Tractor1 - a spam picture - seriously?? Too funny - I thought maybe you were showing us your breakfast for this morning - lol BTW - I like spam too - in fact I have a can in my pantry. I like Treet as well - a little less salty but can't seem to find it anymore.

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/18/2012

    Really great transformation. I love the views from the patio. I have chain link fence on two sides of my yard, and I just covered them up by attaching rolled bamboo fencing to the chain link. Cali Bamboo has some photos and how-to pages on their website. I think it would look great with your 'tropicals'!

  10. cwheat000 06/18/2012

    tractor 1- I love New England. I live in the northwestern hills of CT and wouldn't want to live in a different region also. I was just referring to the barren winter photo Stacy included. I thought I have seen a mountain lion near my house. I wasn't sure if I was crazy. Is it possible they are in my area? Also, I love the Spam photo, not too sure about the meat.

  11. MizScarlet 06/18/2012

    It's hard to believe that this garden just south of Boston looks this tropical. Where does one get a grass umbrella anyway?

  12. arboretum 06/18/2012

    stacey, what a successful paradise! In the photo of the patio curving out and the chain link in the rear, I see some ornamental grasses doing you a world of good!+ we grow many here at the arboretum in winchester; hope you'll come by and visit (open 24/7 free to the public) I'm thinking paticularly of a yellow and green striped arundo donax , and miscanthis strictus and giganteus. and variegated pleioblastus viridistriatus- low yellow and green striped bamboo. would love to meet you. congrats on your glory!

  13. Aleen 06/18/2012

    I had the same bird feeder problem in bear country in Orange County, NY (lost a couple to bears sitting or leaning on them). What worked for me was to have a couple of loose loops around higher tree limbs with a pulley attached. I ran a long length of clothesline through them to an eyebolt in the tree with a second loop long enough to let me lower the feeder to the ground without loosing the end. So - a loop with a double-ended snap at the end and anouther double ended snap in a knot part way (which would attach to the eyebolt when the feeder was raised.) Worked great as it was out of the bear's reach and pretty much worked for the squirrels also. The birds did not mind that they swung in the breeze, but only had tube feeders, did not try this with a tray feeder.

  14. tractor1 06/18/2012

    Aleen: I thought about a pully arrangement but bear and other large critters can climb trees and ropes very easily, so I went back to my old way of feeding birds, tossing seed out my window onto the ground. I use a mixture of quality bird seed mixed 50-50 with cracked corn, all different size birds find somethinjg they like, including the geese, ducks, wild turkey, and of course the deer... I just make sure not to put out too much as night comes or the deer will eat it all. I also buy cheap packaged bread to put out on my deck, keeps my cats entertained. And of course Hopalong, a gimpy crow comes for bread every morning... Hoppy flies fine but is slow on the ground so I make sure Hoppy gets breakfast.

    Virginiaed SPAM is actually very good, coated with mustard and powdered ham glaze, studded with cloves, and microwaved. I'm a very good cook, baker, and butcher... I attended the finast culinary schools in Great Lakes Ill and fed thousands in the US Navy.

  15. cwheat000 06/19/2012

    I'll have to give Spam another try. That recipe sounds like it has potential. It has been years since I have had any. It never tasted terrible, you just wonder what the heck it is. Tractor 1, thanks for your service in the Navy. I am ex military too. I was a 91 delta ( operating room specialist) in the Army.

  16. pattyspencer 06/19/2012

    Tractor1 and cwheat000 - thank you BOTH for your service!

    Just a note here - have any of you attended an Honor Flight? I have several times with my Boy Scout Troop and I can say it's one of the most rewarding evenings you can spend in an airport.

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