Garden Photo of the Day

Romantic Fairytale Garden

By Alexandra Dittrich

arbor with pink and white roses

Nancy DeBellas’s garden looks like pages out of a fairytale book.

“In early June our cottage garden is at its romantic best!  Roses, hardy geraniums, catmint, foxglove, valerian reach their blossoming peak, making a beautiful show.  My husband, John, and I have gardened at our home in Stony Brook, New York for 11 years now.  John designed the layout and built many of the structures, the split rail fence, arbor, and pergola, the tavern sign.”

Have a garden you’d like to share? Email 5-10 photos and a brief story about your garden to [email protected]. Please include where you are located!

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

sunlight shining through the trees on a brick path with a pole, sign, birdhouse, various plantscurvy grass path leading to a pergola with plants along the sides and some postswhite and blue flowers foreground, pergola in the background, white and pink roses starting to climb itlamp post to the left of the rose covered arbor, other colorful plants to the rightclose up of pink roseschair on brick, birdhouse on a post with pink roses climbing it, other flowers nearbysunlight through the trees, split rail fence to the left, pink and white flowersclose up of pink and white flowers in the sun, split rail fence in the backgroundsign, brick path leading up to the pergola, various flowers

View Comments


  1. user-7007498 08/19/2016

    Nancy: Love what you and John have created. The structures are very rustic, which is quite cool. Hard to tell the size of the garden from the photos. The pergola is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your garden.

    1. johndebellas 08/19/2016

      Thank you Kevin! The garden is about 1/4 acre.

  2. frankgreenhalgh 08/19/2016

    Hello there Nancy & John - Nice team work to design, create and maintain such a lovely, romantic cottage garden. Bet you are blown way by the colours and beautiful fragrance walking along the path and between the rusty chain fences. Hey John - do any of your wooden structures rot? Down here in Aussie land we use a lot of treated pine to overcome the rot problem below ground level (e.g. due to white ants/termites).

    Sorry GPOD'ers I was a day early wishing everybody a good week-end yesterday (obviously a kangaroo loose in the top paddock). So I'll express the sentiment again now!!!!!!!!!

    1. User avater
      meander_michaele 08/19/2016

      Wow, "kangaroo loose in the top paddock" there's some imagery that will entertain me whenever I think about it.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 08/19/2016

        FYI Michaele, alternatives are: 'A sandwich short of a picnic'; 'A beer short of a six pack'; and 'A few cards short of a full deck'!

    2. johndebellas 08/19/2016

      Hello Frank, Thank you for your kind words. The wood is Locust, a tree native to NE US that is totally resistant to rot. It has traditionally been used for fence posts and foundations. Here our animal problems are mostly with deer!

  3. NCYarden 08/19/2016

    Hello, Nancy. Great woodland setting for your fairy tale garden....a garden I'm sure to be "fabled" by all who see it. Love the natural timbers for the structures - very authentic and charming. Of course I'm in awe of that gorgeous and vibrant Japanese maple. And I'm really fascinated by the hanging crescent moon(?) sign....a little more story with this? What do the letters and numbers mean?
    A delightful garden indeed. thanks for sharing.

    1. johndebellas 08/19/2016

      Hi NC, I made the tavern sign strictly as a decorative feature to complement our traditional style house. It is based on the sign that hung outside the Munro Tavern in Lexington MA. The crescent moon is the symbol of Diana The Huntress, the goddess of Oak groves. As our home is surrounded by giant oaks, we like to think of Her as our muse.

      1. NCYarden 08/19/2016

        Sweet. That is awesome. Love how you meaningfully tied it into the landscape.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/19/2016

    Nancy, your garden has so much relaxing charm...everything seems so harmonious and blends in with the beauty of the tall trees. Your husband, John, did a wonderful job with the various structures which all have the soothing quality of timelessness. And who wouldn't love to walk under a cloud of billowing pink roses?! Is that 'Johnson's Blue' geranium that is highlighted in picture #4? If not, please share the plant's name since I am always wanting to add more blue to my garden.

    1. johndebellas 08/19/2016

      Yes that is Johnson's Blue. The hardy geraniums are quite rampant in our light sandy soil. We like the way the blues and purples harmonize with the pink roses. We have also used delphiniums in the past but they are strictly annuals for us here in Stony Brook.

  5. frankgreenhalgh 08/19/2016

    Nice words Diane.

  6. greengenes 08/19/2016

    Thank you for inspiring us with your beautiful gardens and structures! Love the rusticness that the fence a arbors provide.

  7. frankgreenhalgh 08/19/2016

    Definitely romantic then, Diane - lovely!

  8. User avater
    HelloFromMD 08/19/2016

    Just lovely, So much bloom and looks like you have a fair amount of shade. What are some of your best performing roses? How do you deal with black spot? You are zone 5? So you have found some successful hardy climbers. I am also enjoying that you are Nancy DeBella and I am Nancy Bellaire so are we related? I think Bellaire is French and DeBella Italian, but certainly related in love of gardening and roses.

    1. johndebellas 08/19/2016

      Hello MD, Most of the roses get about six to eight hours of sun. We specifically chose hardy, not to say rampant, varieties. Some of my favorites: American Pillar, Madame Alfred Carrier, Albertine, Peggy Martin, Awakening, New Dawn, Vielchenblau, Mermaid, Eden Climber, Paul's Himalayan Musk, Violette. These roses are all totally disease proof for us! We just water, fertilize a couple of times per year, and do a lot of pruning. They are rampant!

      1. johndebellas 08/19/2016

        MD, by the way, we are zone 7. Quite near the water.

  9. johndebellas 08/19/2016

    Thank you so much Diane! The roses are mostly old roses and ramblers, with a few newer varieties that rebloom. It is a lovely sight.

  10. user-4691082 08/19/2016

    1/4 acre? It looks like several acres! I don't know what valerian looks like, I just know I take it if I can't sleep! It's all so romantic and fairy tale esque! Thanks for sharing!

  11. user-4691082 08/19/2016

    And Frank, I love the kangaroo expression!!!

  12. VikkiVA 08/19/2016

    Your roses are so lovely and you have created the perfect canvas to display them. Vikki in VA

  13. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 08/19/2016

    Absolutely delightful. The plantings are charming and I love the structures. The chain between the posts has me so envious!

  14. thevioletfern 08/19/2016

    So romantic that I'm in love! Love the arbor, all the pinks and blues. So frilly yet so well structured all at once.

  15. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 08/19/2016

    John and Nancy, as everyone here has noted, you have created an amazingly beautiful, romantic garden and all on a quarter acre. So impressive! Bravo!!

  16. NWAgardener 08/19/2016

    A quarter acre of heaven! I love the wooden structures - rustic and timeless - and they are softened so beautifully by the roses and other cottage garden plantings. The pictures look like they could have been taken at an historic New England property. It appears you have the advantage of undeveloped woods adjacent to your property which is a real bonus. Thank you for sharing your garden, for the excellent description and for responding to everyone's questions.

    1. johndebellas 08/19/2016

      Thanks NWA! We are deff going for a New England look! That's where our hearts lie! A little bit of Tasha Tudor, Mirabelle Osler, Peter Beales for inspiration, and the rest is our imagination. We have more ideas than time, alas!

  17. sheila_schultz 08/19/2016

    Nancy and John, your gardens could truly grace the pages of a romantic fairy tale, every detail is perfect! What a lovely vision to end the week!

    1. johndebellas 08/19/2016

      Thank You Sheila! And Thank You, Thank You , Thank You to everyone for your lovely and encouraging comments. Nancy and I truly appreciate it!

  18. Cenepk10 08/19/2016

    FAB U LOUS !!!!! My favorite garden style & plants !!!! Great stuctures too !!!!

  19. sharongoetchius 08/19/2016

    Hi Nancy! What an amazingly breathtaking garden you've created! Your colors and combinations are absolutely gorgeous! Your choice of structures are perfect! The funniest thing, though, it appears that you live in the same town as me! But..even funnier, was the fact that my garden was garden of the day on Tuesday!! We need to meet!! ????

    1. johndebellas 08/19/2016

      Hi, Sharon! Nancy here. Thanks for your lovely comments! Yes, we need to meet! Your garden also was beautiful! And yes, it is amazing that our gardens were featured so close together. Destiny!

  20. lindanewber 08/20/2016

    Your garden is breath taking. Love the pergola and roses most. Truly is romantic

  21. wGardens 08/20/2016

    Absolutely lovely! You two obviously make a GREAT team.

  22. schatzi 08/20/2016

    I am late to the party as I had another party to attend today, so I will just echo everyone else's praise and say Bravo - well done. Love the colors and rustic architecture. Frank, LOVE the Aussie-isms! especially the kangaroo...

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest