Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Susan’s garden in Georgia

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Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Merritt

Happy Monday, GPODers! Today’s photos are from Susan Merritt outside Atlanta, Georgia. This may look like an awfully long post to read on a Monday morning, but trust me, I think you’ll all find at least a little bit of yourself in Susan’s gardening experiences. I know I did. Read on…

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Merritt

Susan says, “I live in the Atlanta area (actually Avondale Estates, an idyllic small burg – not a subdivision, but a town – minutes from downtown Atlanta). I caught my gardening bug from my grandfather who had an orange grove, a vineyard (muscadines) and raised Araucana chickens, guinea pigs, and homing pigeons on a quarter acre lot. I was his right-hand girl from the time I could walk.

My garden is my pride and joy (second only to my little grandson). It began as a blah suburban yard that has evolved into a refuge, a creative outlet, and a source of endless pleasure. When life throws me a bushel of lemons, my garden reminds me that lemons have seeds and with a little nurturing…

**Panorama**
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Merritt

“MY quarter-acre lot has two enormous Magnolia grandiflora trees – what we in the south used to call ‘bull magnolias’, for good reason. They’re lovely in someone else’s yard. I do a pitched battle with them all year long – ugly brown leaf litter in the spring, increasing encroachment on available planting space, shade that is dense as midnight. The only saving grace is the privacy they afford. (Bet you thought I’d say the ‘lovely blossoms’. Those darn things shed, too – just when you thought the leaves were all raked up.) Their spreading branches are also convenient for hiding old cars, dead bodies, the broken lawnmower, etc. 😉

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Merritt

“The garden has become a real garden over a 27-year period, despite – or perhaps because of – a ton of mistakes and a bargain hunter’s approach to plant and hardscape acquisition. Can you say ‘Rocks for my birthday, please’  or ‘Yes, I’m afraid this plant is dead – I’ll take it off your hands for fifty cents?’ A couple of years ago, I dropped in at a moving sale in my neighborhood and walked away with the woman’s entire garden – dozens of plants, patio flagstones, rigid pool form, the works – for $200. Oh, joy!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Merritt

“When my vegetable garden became too shady, it became a little secret garden (or it will be secret once the bargain evergreens actually get taller than me). Some of those plants were scavenged from the street after less optimistic gardeners tossed them out as duds.

My next project – there is always a next project – we gardeners will live forever – is a real “entrance” on the driveway side of the property. Endless fun dreaming, plotting, calculating the cost, and finding the highly skilled but ridiculously cheap contractor. My contrary philosophy from the beginning has been: plants first, hardscape last.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Merritt

“My library of Fine Gardening magazines – nearly the complete set – are my inspiration and the source of hours of dreams. Thanks so much for helping make it possible.”

Oh, Susan, you’re what I call a real gardener (not that I think there are fake gardeners…), and your garden is magnificent. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Merritt

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Comments

  1. ncgardener 04/09/2012

    I love the before and after views. To see the area you started with and what you have now is pretty amazing. It will only get better each year with such a beautiful variety! Great photos.

  2. Steepdrive 04/09/2012

    The first scene is my favorite with the heron statue amongst the hostas. Lovely job you've done there.

    Thanks to all of the nice comments on my GPOD on Thursday. I was away so didn't get to catch up until Saturday. For those who asked the clematis is Ernest Markham - with magenta flowers. The buds are forming on it now as it climbs the tuteur. I do have a blog if you want to check progress in my garden. http://birdsbloomsbooksetc.blogspot.com/

    Marcia

  3. MarlenePP25 04/09/2012

    Simply beautiful. The gentle curve, the statue, the plant combinations.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/09/2012

    Susan, your garden is enchanting. You obviously have a very successful recipe for making lemonade out of lemons. It's amazing how much color and vibrancy your beds have inspite of not having an abundance of full sun perennials.
    And, oh, I know what you mean about the clean up chores associated with those large magnolias. Our property had 2 to start with when we moved here and I'd feel traitorous getting rid of them since they are healthy. But they do take a lot of work.

  5. tractor1 04/09/2012

    Oh my, Joy Joy... FINALLY, someone who knows how to use a camera... yoose can no longer blame FG software. Every plant is crystal clear, no fuzzies, not even in the distance, I can see every leaf vein as if I were right there, love it! And what a tidy gardener, not trying to hide booboos with extensive cropping... Susan is not embarrassed to flaunt all her stuff. And I know from personal experience that a smaller plot is more difficult to landscape than an expansive area, because everything is up close and personal... Susan has managed to make her garden look much larger than it is. Great job, Susan, and kudos on the wonderful camera work.

  6. GardeningRocks 04/09/2012

    Susan, your garden is wonderful! And your garden philosophy matches mine! Only I have only 24 years of work into my property, and a nearly complete set of Fine Gardening magazines that have taught me well. Thank you for sharing!

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/09/2012

    Wonderful, and a very nice read with which to start the morning at work.

  8. djlw51554 04/09/2012

    Oh, I love it! A garden from the South! What a beautiful place! And lovely design! It's good for us all to be reminded occasionally that there is no instant gratification in gardening, though the pleasure in the journey is immeasurable. I'm with you, Susan. We can definitely create gardens to rival the professionals if we have patience and a well read set of Fine Gardening Magazine.

  9. potty 04/09/2012

    Thanks Michelle - and everyone - for such lovely comments. I just lap them up! By the way, the "grand entrance" is now underway. Can't wait to show you the result!

  10. KarinCa 04/09/2012

    Beautiful and peaceful, the egret is placed just perfectly! Thank you for the before/after pics as well. Shows how nicely a garden can turn out to be when you envision it before and plan ahead...one day I'll get there...maybe ;-)

  11. sheilaschultz 04/09/2012

    Susan, I really didn't need to see your gardens to know they are beautiful. You are not only a gardener, you are also a writer who's words took me to a fun place.

  12. pattyspencer 04/10/2012

    Totally love your garden! Love the before and after. You'd never know it was a small yard!! Love how you write - very engaging and gave me the giggles!!

  13. terieLR 04/10/2012

    Everything about your garden is everything I love. What a great read too! I'm looking forward to the welcomed feeling of your new grand entrance Susan... thank you for inviting us along for the viewing.

  14. Parb 04/10/2012

    So beautiful. I love the plantings. My back yard is shaped almost like this and this is such an inspiration to me. Had a tornado in December 2009 and lost all my mature trees and had to replant. The young trees should put on a big growth spurt this year. Cannot wait to have shade again. In the meantime, I am enjoying full sun plants. This just beautiful, Susan! You have created an oasis!

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