Garden Photo of the Day

Rocky Drama

A rocky, shaded site filled with plants

Today’s garden photos come from Tanya Forbes of Lee’s Summit, Mo. She wrote:

We bought this lot in 1991, the year my husband retired. It was April. Between the Bedford lime formations and a row of redbuds in full bloom, we were sold immediately. We moved in August, and I struggled for three years with the garden, but nothing seemed to work. We had dark shade. Finally I copied some gardens with dark shade and got started. My garden is one step below the retaining wall. We had to put a bridge the first year to connect the rocks. A deck connects to another rock, then the steps go down to a lower level. We built a rock wall on the back side of one rock and filled in with soil so that I would have four flower beds on the main level. The lower level is still a work in progress. We put in a new walkway last year, and I created a room down there. We have two other bridges that need to be replaced this year.

I grow hosta on top of all the rocks, and I spend a fortune on Liquid Fence, which I spray every night to keep the deer away. There is a ravine behind us with lots of woods and lots of deer who love hostas! I have two cobalt blue bottle trees, and all my pots and my fountain are cobalt blue, with a few yellow.

Dramatic limestone formations were a selling point for this garden! Now steps lead down through the stone to the lower level.

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) fills a small water feature with floating leaves and beautiful flowers. In Zones 9 and warmer, this plant is perennial and an invasive weed. But in colder climates, it it can be grown as an annual, and the cold winters ensure it never becomes invasive.

Cobalt blue is a theme throughout the garden, as in this bright bottle tree.

A nook between roots makes a perfect site for a fairy garden.

Hostas are key to making a beautiful display in this deeply shaded garden.

Hosta plantaginea (August lily, Zones 3–9) brings bright white, highly fragrant blooms to the garden in late summer.

After admiring the beautiful plants, you can take a moment to practice your putting!


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/17/2018

    Love how you took a challenge & turned it in to somewhat just beautiful!

  2. NCYarden 04/17/2018

    Shade gardens are so wonderful when you find the right balance of plants that work. I am definitely fascinated with the natural limestone formations - what a cool feature. You've dressed them up nicely. Thanks for sharing.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/17/2018

    What a dramatic property situation...daunting to some but irresistible to others...ha, the latter would be you and your husband, Tanya. Sounds like you've embraced problem solving through the years and created lovely and hospitable planting beds...the deer thank you very much...hosta can be such delectable hors d'oeuvres.
    Love your cobalt blue accent objects and other touches of whimsy.

  4. wittyone 04/17/2018

    My goodness, this site certainly looks to be a challenge but what an opportunity to do something really dramatic and eye-catching. I can imagine how growing plants in such a shady location could take some thought. The construction of hardscaping and the bridges must have used up a lot of time that could have otherwise been utilized for bed preparation and planting. You've come a long way and I'd love to see the new room in the lower level once you've transformed it. This must have taken a lot of thinking outside the box.

  5. bsavage 04/17/2018

    Wow, your rock formations are fantastic! Congrats on finding a way to make a beautiful garden! Thanks for sharing!

  6. cheryl_c 04/17/2018

    You have done a fabulous job of using the 'obstacles' to your advantage - what gorgeous results! I applaud your grit and perseverance - sounds like you and your husband have taken on new and challenging visions in your retirement. Congratulations on a job well done!

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/17/2018

    That's an amazing site. Glad you were able to rise to the challenge.

  8. wildthyme 04/17/2018

    I love the idea of bridges and stairways through those incredible rock formations. I too, would've been hooked immediately. Great job!

  9. user-7020748 04/17/2018

    loved the water hyacinths, as well as the rest of your garden. Will get some for my water feature.

  10. user-7003263 04/17/2018

    Tanya, thank you for sharing your amazingly different limestone rock formed garden. What ya'll have done is awe inspiring. I would love to see some of the bridges across the rock formations and more of your garden. If you are interested, there is a group of us who share garden photos on a Facebook Group called Shared Garden Visions. We would love to have you join us.

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