Garden Photo of the Day

Sally’s garden in Maryland, up front!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker

We’ve visited Sally Barker’s garden in Baltimore a few times but we’ve only ever see the back yard. Today we get to see a new project in the front yard!

–BEFORE– Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker

Sally says, “In the spring of 2012 I decided to create a new front garden bed (self-punishment?). More challenging than I originally thought it would be, this garden lies mostly under the canopy of a kwanzan cherry tree in 2/3 shade and 1/3 sun. Thank goodness for great and reliable plants, including dianthus, lambs’ ears, sedum, heuchera, salvia, epimedium, hosta, pulmonaria, and hardy geranium. I added enough leaf compost to enrich the soil while respecting the tree roots.

–BEFORE– Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker

“In order to bring some order to this large space I began by laying out a path and adding some boulders (This part done by a landscaper!) Then I worked around the shade and sun requirements using groups of plants–frankly more easily said than done! I also included a photo looking across the street to my neighbors’ new garden, which I was delighted to design because we get to enjoy the continuity with our own plantings. Hope you enjoy the photos!”

Beautiful, Sally! I’m thinking you can do no garden wrong… Smart of your neighbors to sign you on!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker

This is prime time to take some photos in your garden. So get out there with your cameras and send some in! Email them to [email protected].

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sally Barker

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View Comments


  1. user-1020932 08/14/2013

    i love everything about this transformation. the plant selection for 4 season structure/color, the bed shapes, the attention to detail, the stones along the driveway for mulch retention,,,everything . i also took a refresher stroll through the backyard and it's just as snazzy! one question, you listed Pulmonaria as a reliable plant,,, how do you do it?!?!? i plant it , it falters then just disappears. i can not get it to last more than a season and it's on a decline from the 2nd day of planting. AND you got to develop a beautiful view for yourself across the street. now THAT is a very good thing

  2. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 08/14/2013

    beautiful and it's still such a young garden!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/14/2013

    Sally, I bet you're still feeling that fresh wash of delight at "job well done" when you drive up to your house and see all these beautiful plant combinations. It really looks wonderful and is filling in with impressive doubt thanks to your well thought out plant placement and soil amending...YAY for generous amounts of leaf compost!
    Your neighbors must love how fabuloso their front yard looks now also.

  4. terieLR 08/14/2013

    Hi Sally, So nice to see you again this morning. Your entrance is a perfect intro to the wonderland beyond. After reviewing past posts, everything about your property/plantings speak elegance and balance to me. What a great idea to echo your style across the way. Sublime.

  5. TeriCA 08/14/2013

    What a beautiful project one year later...I recently designed a landscape that has a very large magnolia tree in the front, leaving about 3/4 shade, 1/4 sun. What a challenge working around the tree roots, and finding plants that would work well in both the shade and sunny garden,with similar plant water needs! Job well done for you!!! Congrats on a beautiful garden from California....

  6. wwross 08/14/2013

    Sally -- As usual, the Maryland gardeners seem to have the most impressive designs. (Confession: I live in Virginia!)

    I really like the tapestry look of all of your "moundy" perennials.

    To follow up on tntreeman's Pulmonaria question, how do your lambs ears do as Summer proceeds? In Northern Virginia, mine get pretty ratty looking and I find that if I hack them back they start to look a little more civilized again.

  7. tractor1 08/14/2013

    Very nice new bed but there are much better and far more attractive ways to contain organic mulch than with cheapo gravel... Belgian block curbing would be marvelous, concrete paving blocks of all types work well too, a strip of treated lumber would be a lot easier on ones pocketbook and still do a fine job. I recommend scooping up all those stones immediately and give them away (a local concrete or drywell contractor would take them) before they incorporate with the mulch and the soil creating a gardener's nightmare. An awful lot of landscapers use gravel to keep material and labor prices down and to maximize profit, but they don't have to live with the mess it creates later. To me it's inane to lay down all that lovely organic mulch and then pollute it and ones soil with gravel.

  8. arthurb3 08/14/2013


  9. quinquek 08/14/2013

    What a lovely bed! The definition and design really work; the plant choices are perfect (and I plan to incorporate some of these combos myself). In spite of irritations that can arise with stone mulch, I really like the way it works next to the paved driveway. Your new bed gives me inspiration and a vision for a hopelessly large area spanning 2 huge hickory trees, dotted with plants I've stuck in haphazardly, while trying to "feel" my way to a design. Back to square one this fall - layout my (entire) bed first!

  10. GrannyMay 08/14/2013

    Both your back and front gardens are beautiful! Sally you really could give classes on how to do things right. It must take a LOT of discipline to stick to a design plan, but the pictures prove that it is worth doing.

  11. Canthelpmyself 08/14/2013

    Seriously Tractor1 -- did your mother not teach you that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Who died and made you Landscape God?

  12. user-1020932 08/14/2013

    sally, i STILL like the stones along the driveway for mulch retention and i have been a "landscaper" for 30 years. i still have not used cheapo gravel to maximize profit but i have used stones for water diversion, gravel of all types for walkways. i am sure there are landscapers out there would do that BUT your space is immaculate and i more than certain that you used a reliable, honest and knowledgeable landscape/garden designer it just shows. labor does not necessarily go down using gravel (it's not so cheapo) as it has to be groomed and positioned many times by hand . i try to grit my teeth and not comment on such negative remarks concerning gravel, photography, planters/urns (who gives a rip which is the correct term) it really impinges upon ones garden feature and yours have all been stunning and perfectly executed. not sure what the problem is for some people that professionals are used in some of the garden installations. in my experience i have always had a close collaboration with my clients to achieve what they need and want and to install something i can be proud of. treated lumber would definitely look cheapo, belgian blocks and concrete blocks will divert water down the driveway but the stones will allow it to seep into the bed without washouts. ok, enough of a rant, i apologize Sally but i had to say something concerning the constant harping on the use of gravel. those comments are reliable, always the same and never edifying. i agree that all gardens we have seen in Maryland are wonderful. i have spent LOTS of time in the ellicott city area primarily on Manor Lane . i'm old so i do remember when Colombia was a farm. your entire property is spectacular

  13. sumhillgardener 08/14/2013

    Thanks for the nice comments about my garden. I have had not trouble with pulmonaria and this variety is Trevi Fountain, which may behave better. After flowering and if there is mildew on the leaves I do cut them back.
    As for the stones along my STEEP driveway they are strictly for erosion control and have nothing to do with the mulch. They consist of river jack and do not move at all. I use a fine mulch called "pine fines" which I love.
    I use only the non-flowering Helene von Stein lambs ears (also called "big ears"). It only begins to look ratty in winter and I don't hesitate to pull some out to improve it's neatness.
    I might add that the bright yellow coreopsis (Jethro Tull) all mysteriously died mid summer. Maybe flowered itself to death?

  14. user-1020932 08/14/2013

    jethro tull coreopsis is a new one for me. maybe it drowned,,,,,,,,,so much for Aqualung. so many things have just rotted away here this season

  15. Wife_Mother_Gardener 08/14/2013

    Lovely plantings, Sally! I love the bright hosta with the large flowered heuchera! Great work!!

  16. bee1nine 08/14/2013

    Simply true is the never- ending power of one who has the
    passion for gardening, that will always find room for more.
    Sally, your new front garden bed is so pleasingly charming!
    All growing at a nice height and producing a wonderful
    tapestry of color.
    Thanks for the share! :)

  17. user-1020932 08/14/2013

    bee1nine, where do you garden? and when am i going to see your garden?!?!?!? i always look forward to your comments and i'm sure your space is snazzy. you probably won't see this question as it's late so i'll probably ask again tomorrow,,,,,,i'm relentless

  18. cwheat000 08/15/2013

    I reviewed your past posts and today. Your gardens and landscaping deserve to be in GPOD's greatest hits. You have beautiful plant combos and hardscaping and it is all maintained to perfection. The colors of that front bed are bright and appealing. I think I am going to swap out my regular lamb's ears for that Helen Von Stein.

  19. ancientgardener 08/15/2013

    Your garden is lovely. It has such a manicured professional look. Made me realize mine is rather helter skelter. I read once that some gardeners love design and some love collecting plants. You are definitely a design person and I fear I love collecting plants. Whatever - you must be the pride of the neighborhood and the house across the street definitely benefits from your skills. I think the small stones at the edge are a grand idea. Mulch would continually wash down into the driveway.

  20. Jay_Sifford 08/15/2013

    I'm sorry I didn't receive this in time yesterday morning to read it and comment. RE the gravel war... I recently bought a book about the landscape designs of Andrea Cochran. I LOVE her work. She uses some much gravel with beautiful results. And no one can tell me that her projects are cheap, or that they look cheap. She's inspired me to use more gravel in my designs. It doesn't wash away, can easily be refreshed, makes a wonderful sound when walked upon, is much more attractive than concrete or retaining wall blocks, and is affordable. I love it! Thanks Andrea, for your inspiring work.

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