Garden Photo of the Day

Sally’s Maryland Garden

A garden through the seasons

garden with lots of trees in spring

Today we’re off to see Sally Barker’s garden in Maryland.

My garden was featured several times on GPOD a few years ago (Sally’s Garden in Maryland Revisited). Needless to say, gardens are constantly changing, and so happily I have created and recreated mine over the past 25 years, always finding opportunities where losses occur. This one-acre garden is now mature with masses of climbing hydrangea on fences and on trees and full-grown shrubs and trees providing good structure throughout the seasons. There is always a succession of blooms beginning in spring with pink rhododendrons, ‘Shasta’ viburnum (Viburnum plicatum ‘Shasta’, Zones 5–8), chartreuse spireas (Spirea japonica, Zones 4–9), purple nepeta (Nepeta × faassenii, Zones 4–9), pink roses, and masses of Geranium macrorrhizum (Zones 4–8). Summer brings a multitude of different hydrangeas in blues and in whites, many of which change to pink as the season progresses. Hostas, ferns, countless perennials and Hakonechloa grass (Hakonechloa macra, Zones 5–9) shine in summer. In the fall, hollies turn to reds and yellows, and finally the exquisite bark of a ‘Natchez’ crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia ‘Natchez’, Zones 7–9) shows off all winter.

garden with lots of trees in springIn spring, the white flowers of ‘Shasta’ viburnum steal the show in the back.

pink rhododendronsPink rhododendrons bloom in the background, while the ‘Natchez’ crape myrtle in the center shows off its always beautiful bark.

Hakonechloa grassHakonechloa grass is backed up by hostas and an oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia, Zones 5–9) just coming into bloom.

Geranium macrorrhizumA spring moment of pink from a rhododendron and Geranium macrorrhizum.

white hydrangeas in bloomLater in the season, the pink flowers have faded and various hydrangeas have come into bloom.

butterflies on Millenium ornamental onionButterflies feast on the flowers of ‘Millenium’ ornamental onion (Allium ‘Millenium’, Zones 5–8).

birdbath surrounded by bleeding heartA blue birdbath is backed by the glowing yellow foliage of bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’, Zones 3–9).

potted plants on a patioPots on the patio are filled with blue flowers, while steps welcome you to explore the lush green garden beyond.

lambs' earAllium ‘Millenium’ takes center stage, backed up by the soft, silver foliage of lambs’ ears (Stachys byzantina, Zones 4–8).

dusty pink garden themeLate in the season, this part of the garden is all soft, dusty pink from hydrangea flower heads (Hydrangea paniculata, Zones 3–8), Autumn Joy sedum (Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Herbstfreude’, Zones 3–9), and hardy begonia (Begonia grandis, Zones 5–8).

Japanese maples in fallIn the fall, nothing can match the brilliant colors of Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9).


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    PKKing 02/25/2021

    So lovely and tranquil. A feast for the eyes. Thank you for sharing!

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      Thank you for your kind words !

  2. PattyLouise 02/25/2021

    WOW! Beautiful gardens! Love the blue bird bath with the yellow plants! Love it all! Great color combinations. Very inspirational!

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      Thanks Patty, I've had such fun with Gold Heart bleeding heart. It lasts a long time and is quite easy . Sometimes things just work as in this combination. Happy gardening !

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/25/2021

    Amazing! Readers need to click on the link & look at what was submitted some years back. Just beautiful.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      Thank you treasuresmom ! And how lovely you did look at the former links. Much appreciated.

  4. raleighgardener 02/25/2021

    One of the most beautiful back yard gardens I've ever seen. So peaceful. You have a wonderful eye for design as well as a very green thumb! Can I ask, in the 4th photo with the pink rhody and geranium, what is the variegated tree in the center (Wolf Eyes Dogwood?), and what is the large shrub to its left with the very large sort of palmate leaves? Is that an oakleaf hydrangea?

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      I can't thank you enough for those lovely comments. The dogwood you ask about is Kornus Cousa Summer Fun. And next to it is Sikes Dwarf oakleaf hydrangea. I laugh at the dwarf part because this one is at least 6 feet tall. I have at least 4 oakleafs which are simply hard to beat ! Thank you again !!!

  5. calliopegirl 02/25/2021

    What an amazing garden. I didn't want the pictures to end. Thank you for all the inspiration.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      And thank you !!! I enjoy photographing the garden when it is at its best.

  6. daisy8 02/25/2021

    Gorgeous, peaceful garden. I love the third picture with the beautiful bark of the crape myrtle. So magical! Wonderful pictures to start off our day. Thanks for sharing.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      It is hard to beat the Natchez crepe myrtle during each season. In Winter it is the star of the show ! How kind of you to comment ! Thanks !

  7. User avater
    user-7007816 02/25/2021

    Absolutely stunning. I really appreciate the mature backdrop of trees and shrubs. Your colors and textures work so well. I have garden envy.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      I am really all about texture so how nice of you to say this ! Even without flowers the garden seems to work quite well. I'm always amazed when any plants come up in the Spring. Gardening is wonderful !

  8. User avater
    simplesue 02/25/2021

    Nothing like a mature garden and a gardener that knows what they are doing!
    Perfect garden design and great plant choices...I wouldn't change a thing!
    Love your sense of style and design...this garden has everything I love!

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      Thank you so very much ! I can stare at a bed for hours trying to see where plants should be placed. There have been loads of mistakes ~~~ but the beauty is I can move them ! Have a happy day.

  9. teresazone5ont 02/25/2021

    Wow, just lovely and an inspiration. So peaceful, you must love strolling through it after the work is done. Enjoy it is beyond beautiful.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      Thanks Teresa ! You must be in Canada. I must say the work is hardly ever done ~~~ but I do love being in the garden after a successful planting day !

  10. SueMccreary 02/25/2021

    Absolutely beautiful! Great design everywhere you look. We’re creating a garden at our new home and it’s a little overwhelming. Curious as to how you began designing your gardens? Your garden keeps wanting to see more. Thank you for sharing.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      Hello Sue, I began about 25 years ago laying out curving beds using a hose and then edging with a spade. These beds almost can't be too large ! Shrubs and small trees need space as do perennials. Best to draw out large areas, replenish the soil (I add tons of leaf compost) and plant the best varieties of shrubs to start. Good luck !

  11. user-783091 02/25/2021


    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      Thank you !

  12. User avater
    bdowen 02/25/2021

    The time of day/ quality of the light in your photos really enhances the views. A lovely tour through the seasons.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      You are so right ! Always the best photos in the morning or evening and especially after a rain. Never in midday sun. Thank you !

  13. Musette1 02/25/2021

    what a skillful design, deftly balancing exuberance with restraint (I know that sounds crazy but it's what I see ;-)

    Absolutely gorgeous!

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      I agree that one can plant for good structure and repetition with strong shrubs ~~~ good order ~~~ and then plant a variety of perennials for the exuberance part ! It is hard to exercise restraint because there are so many great plants ! Thanks !!!

  14. mgol1068 02/25/2021

    Just beautiful! congratulations. This life-long effort clearly has been a labor of love, and surely brings much peace and fulfillment. Enjoy the pictures.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      One has to enjoy this because it is also very hard work. A labor of love indeed. I can't seem to stop creating new garden areas even in this one acre garden. Thank you so much !

  15. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

    One has to enjoy this because it is also very hard work. A labor of love indeed. I can't seem to stop creating new garden areas even in this one acre garden. Thank you so much !

  16. toweringpines 02/25/2021

    A very inspiring garden and I appreciate your answers to questions asked. i need a summer fun dogwood!!!!

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      You are right ~~~ everyone with some shade needs this variegated dogwood !!! It is a bright focal spot in the back of the garden. Hope you find one ! Thanks

  17. carolineyoungwilliams 02/25/2021

    Sally, Thank you for sharing your lovely garden. I especially love your Japanese Maples, your many sitting areas and your structures & features for the birds. Blessings to you.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      Thank you so much ! The maples are wonderful ~~ I love sculpting them. And the fellow who built the stone patio is an artist in stone. I'm very grateful. Blessings back to you !

  18. Meelianthus 02/25/2021

    Nothing more enchanting than a mature landscape. Truly beautiful and your love of gardening really shines through. ;)

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      I really appreciate your comments ! I do love gardening and wish you a happy day.

  19. btucker9675 02/25/2021

    You have created a perfect garden - such a balance of color/size/texture and taking each season into account. I had an acre in northern NJ and think that's a great size for a garden. My property here in NC is just under a half acre with a pretty good sized wooded section in back. We've been here for about 4 years and I'm still trying to work the garden areas out. Lots of moving things around and dealing with dense red clay... Sure do miss my rich dark NJ soil! Thank you for sharing your beautiful creation.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/25/2021

      Hi there,
      So funny you talk about the red clay. My niece lives in Raleigh and we've done several garden make-overs. I've never experienced anything like the clay. I can't believe any plant lives in it. No drainage. So, good luck ! And a big thanks for your comments !!!!!

  20. bsavage 02/26/2021

    So beautiful!

    1. sumhillgardener 02/26/2021

      Thank you !

  21. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 02/26/2021

    The autumn photo is by far the best reason to ever plant a garden. Thanks for sharing

    1. sumhillgardener 02/26/2021

      Thank you. Autumn is certainly a great time in the garden !

  22. User avater
    musabasjoosue 02/26/2021

    I am in awe at how well you've layered and composed your plant combos and have created the ultimate four season garden.

    1. sumhillgardener 02/27/2021

      Thanks so much !!! As I mentioned before it's important to allow plenty of room for a garden ~~~ and to choose great plants that offer multi-season interest.

  23. madcosta_7 03/02/2021

    I'm jealous, you have such a beautiful garden. Do you ever have it opened for garden tours? I don't know if you live in the DC metro area but this would be a great garden to visit. Do you have any recommendations on nurseries in the DC/Maryland area? Also the pots with the blue flowers-what are those flowers? I love the look of black pots and the blue flowers. Thank you for sharing.

    1. sumhillgardener 03/03/2022

      Hello, I just noticed this comment and your question. Yes, I've been on tours, last year the Horticulture Society of Maryland. I am in Phoenix, north of Baltimore. The pots you mentioned are hanging annual combinations (blue petunias) which I use for my containers, removing the wire hangers and plopping in my pots. So easy ! Now that Behnkes has closed the best would be Homestead Gardens I guess. Thank you for your comments !

  24. DallasPlantLover 03/05/2021

    Talk about magical gardens! Congratulations to you for all your hard work and the magnificent results. I love everything about it, including the brilliant Japanese Maples in all of their fall foliage glory! Thank you for the inspiration. 😍

  25. user-6861263 05/07/2021

    Beautiful! Can you tell me what the variegated shrub is behind the hakon grass?

    1. sumhillgardener 03/03/2022

      Hello, I just saw your question. In the 3rd photo it is an oakleaf hydrangea. In the 4th photo, the variegated tree is Summer Fun dogwood. I use hakone grass a lot ~~~ one of my favorite plants !!!

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