Garden Photo of the Day

Revisiting an Undisciplined Garden

More images from a great garden

Last week we visited Cheryl Henley’s garden, which she calls her Undisciplined Garden, but she sent in so many great photos that I wanted to share more of her garden today. She gardens in the heavy rocky clay soils of the Wasatch Mountain foothills at an elevation of about 4000 feet. It is Zone 5, in the shadow of mountains, but by finding plants that love her conditions, she’s created a beautiful garden.

forget-me-not‘Princess Irene’ tulips bloom through blue forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica, Zones 3–8) next to the foliage of growing lupines (Lupinus polyphllus, Zones 4–8).

plants along a pathwayPlants are getting larger by the end of May. Hops (Humulus lupulus, Zones 4–8) climb up one side of the trellis, a large mahonia blooms with wonderful fragrance on the other side. The right side of photo shows daylilies (Hemerocallis hybrids), Aruncus, and lilac (Syringa vulgaris, Zones 3–7) not blooming yet.

Carol Mackie daphneThis is a massive ‘Carol Mackie’ daphne (Daphne × burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’, Zones 4–8), described as a “small shrub” in plant listings. The main trunk is about 10 inches in diameter, maybe more. She has been very happy in some sandier soil next to our driveway and perfumes the entire garden.

LupinesLupines have reseeded themselves generously and are very pretty, but they can attract unbelievable numbers of aphids, which I try to blast off with the hose. Columbines (Aquilegia hybrids, Zones 3–8) also show up in new spots. Very large white columbines gave rise to the even taller blue ones farther back. Other volunteers here are the forget-me-nots and some rose campion (Lychnis coronaria, Zones 4–8). Echinops (grown from seed!) and Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum, Zones 4–9) aren’t blooming yet. A young forsythia and a Clethra ‘Vanilla Spice’ (Zones 4–9) are in there too. The ‘Fat Albert’ spruce (Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’, Zones 2–7) was our Christmas tree years ago.

Sweet woodruffSweet woodruff (Galium odoratum, Zones 4–8), buttercups (Ranunculus), and bishop’s weed (Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’, Zones 4–9) duke it out around some hostas. The bishop’s weed was here to start with, and I can’t get rid of it. It can look fresh in shade, but it is a bully. The buttercups are almost as bad, but look at those bright flowers!

irisesThese wonderful irises are a 30-year legacy from the previous gardener, although I have moved them.

chokecherryThis is the first trellis my husband Jeff built for the garden. A Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Zones 3–9) reluctantly climbs the left side, and a later-appearing clematis graces the right side. Behind ‘Fat Albert’ right of the trellis is a native chokecherry (Prunus virginana, Zones 2–7) blooming.

rock gardenNot so much a rock garden as a boulder garden, this area was covered with the evergreen shrubs seen in the background. I dug those all out (not fun), and I’m still experimenting with what will grow in the boney poor soil. There are even two long-suffering Blanc de Coubert roses on their own roots; I offer them lots of compost and extra water for their fragrant blooms. The stone trough on the right in the photo has a mosaic of low-growing hardy succulents and a happy volunteer columbine.

poppiesThese flashy poppies (Papaver orientale, Zones 3–7) clash with the pink soapwort (Saponaria, Zones 3–8), but they’ve both proven themselves among the unforgiving boulders, so they stay.

Pasque flowersPasque flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris, Zones 4–8), one of my most-loved plants every spring. This photo is from another season, but they are faithfully the same every year wedged in between boulders!

Snake’s head fritillarySnake’s head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris, Zones 4–8) by the back trellis seems like a jester in the lily family! I was surprised when they slowly started showing up as seedlings from year to year.


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 03/20/2020

    So happy to see more photos of your fantastic garden, especially after getting a foot of snow yesterday. But we take the moisture any way we can. I just love your gardening style!

  2. User avater
    pattyeckels 03/20/2020

    I adore your “undisciplined” garden! Everything is as I would like for mine to be. Thank you for making my day. Now I must get out to my own gardens. Lol

  3. coastalgardener 03/20/2020

    Lush and lovely are the first two words that come to mind when seeing your photos. I love the combination of plants and the colors, and the use of rocks, and the way plants spill over the walkways,'s so easy to go on and on here, but I'm sure you get my drift.

  4. user-5117752 03/20/2020

    I, too, am thrilled to see your gorgeous, "lush and lovely" gardens! Maybe you call them "undisciplined" but I call them simply marvelous! And, the fragrances you described, have me swooning! Do keep the pictures coming. We all need to be uplifted right about now.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 03/20/2020

    Love that spruce & the Pasque flowers. Amazing!

  6. calliopegirl 03/20/2020

    I think yours is my favorite garden. One can spend 15 minutes looking at each photo. So many happy combinations to consider. I have spreads of sweet woodruff and would love to have buttercups with it. I also have saponaria in a bed with my poppies, but consider the soapwort a horrible thug that came from nowhere. It is hard for me to embrace.
    Thank you for the photos. I want more!

  7. User avater
    simplesue 03/20/2020

    How nice that you carry on with the legacy Iris from a former gardener for over 30 years now.
    I really love looking at your's so much more than just a garden- you've created a beautiful natural environment.

  8. btucker9675 03/20/2020

    Doesn't matter if your garden is "undisciplined" - it is marvelous! Keep the photos coming!

  9. janeeliz 03/20/2020

    I love the natural beauty of your garden. The group of fritillaria are wonderful I am wondering if you get the red lily beetle on them? Beautiful clump of masque flower....and those bearded iris...seems like they are doing well in a partially shaded area.

  10. Cenepk10 03/20/2020

    Undisciplined sounds too harsh to describe such a luscious, layered masterpiece. Really stunning & properly combined. I enjoyed your photos very much !

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