Garden Photo of the Day

Saying Goodbye to a Garden

And looking forward to a new garden

Today’s post comes from Jodi Holley.

After 17 years, my house is on the market for sale. I’ve been spending the last few times in my garden saying goodbye. I live in Sterling Heights, Michigan (Zone 6), with cold summers and hot winters, so plants here need to be durable and adaptable. When we first moved in, all the perennials were pretty much pink and yellow. That had to change, and fast, because there is so much more to enjoy!

spring bulbs in bloomEarly spring. The gardening year starts out with a riot of color provided by various bulbs in the front yard: tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, and grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum, Zones 4–8).

forget-me-nots in a garden bedIn midspring, as the bulbs are fading, creeping phlox (Phlox subulata, Zones 3–9) and forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica, Zones 3–8) come into bloom.

Fragrant lilacsFragrant lilacs (Syringa vulgaris, Zones 3–7) blooming over gold alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis, Zones 4–7).

More gold alyssum, with columbines (Aquilegia hybrids, Zones 3–8).

Bearded irisesBearded irises (Zones 3–8) carry on the midspring show.

In late spring and early summer, the roses start blooming, and my pride and joy—my secret garden—is in its prime!

secret gardenAnother view of the secret garden in early summer. The location of my secret garden (tucked behind the detached garage) was no more than weeds and sand when we first moved in. The previous owners used the space to put up a pop-up swimming pool, then a picnic table. I landscaped the areas that were hard to get to with a lawnmower and then put in beds. I put in a pine tree that was no more than a twig when we moved in in 2003. Today it is over 20 feet tall, with shade perennials growing happily around it.

In summer liatris (Liatris spicata, Zones 3–9) and coneflowers (Echinacea species and hybrids, Zones 3–9) are blooming in nearly every flower bed.

More of summer, with black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida, Zones 3–9), coneflowers, and nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus, annual).

assorted fall mumsIn fall the mums (Chrysanthemum × morifolium, Zones 5–9 ), which also grow in nearly every bed, put on their annual show.

It’s been my joy to remake the existing garden in my image, but an even greater one to plant where there was nothing. It’s hard to say goodbye, but I’m looking forward to the new garden I’ll plant from nothing.


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View Comments


  1. pattyspencer 06/08/2020

    I hope whomever has bought your home loves all your plantings as much as you do and changes nothing

  2. user-7003263 06/08/2020

    Jodi, your garden is lovely. Be sure to dig up some of your bulbs and plants to take with you. It will give you a head start in your new garden, and if the new owners aren't avid gardeners like you, lessen the pain should you go back by this home in a couple of years.

    1. User avater
      simplesue 06/09/2020

      I totally agree!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/08/2020

    You're obviously a person who loves bold colors and isn't afraid of hard work...that makes for a fun and zesty garden. Your front of the house beds must be signal to the rest of your neighbors that spring has officially, make them kick themselves for not planting some bulbs of their own in the fall. Best of luck with your new garden. Are you staying in the same geographic area and venturing to a different part of the country?

    1. user-7234738 06/08/2020

      I'll stay in the same area. My son is adamant that he wants to stay in the same school. I want to lessen this transition as much as possible.

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/08/2020

    Love liatris. I am zone 8b but it just will not return. I guess it is just to hot & humid.

  5. mgol1068 06/08/2020

    The new owners will be very lucky. You can see all the love that went into creating these spaces, and I, for one, would love to have tea at your table in the garden. Congratulations.

    1. user-7234738 06/08/2020

      I try to have tea in my secret garden every day now knowing that my time here is limited. I scour the real estate listings with an eye for where I can build the new secret garden, is there a spot of all-day sun, or will I have to cut down any trees?

  6. Maggieat11 06/08/2020

    Very nice!

    I hope you enjoy your new home and enjoy developing your new gardens very much! With your gardening experience, your new gardens will be even better! Best Wishes!

  7. spauldingmary 06/08/2020

    Bittersweet! I hope you get to take some "memory starts" with you. Garden on!

  8. alicefleurkens 06/08/2020

    Hi Jody. I have been there and done that and it is hard. You have a lovely colourfull garden. And here is your chance to create something new and leave some plants that you would never plant again and maybe would like to get rid off but could not and take a bit of the ones you love. Your many years of gardening experience will come in handy with that.

  9. user-5117752 06/08/2020

    You've created gardens so vibrant and exciting. You can do this all over again with lots of new insight and, with a son still in school, it sounds like you have many years ahead to go on being creative. I moved from "the" big city to a small town 20 years ago and have been gardening ever since. I'm now 82 and still going strong!

  10. user-7008152 06/08/2020

    Jodi, very nice work and yes, a shame to have to leave. But like most things in life, we often have to move on and it's the memory that endures.

    I do have one question- when you considered offers did you make a mental preference to sell to someone who would respect and perpetuate the garden? I've moved several times and more than once I accepted less money from someone I knew would care about my garden. I was called a fool for this but after all was said and done, that decision provided me with much peace. Some things are more important than a little extra money. Best of luck in your new digs.

    1. user-7234738 06/08/2020

      My house has only been on the market for 2 weeks. I haven't received any offers yet.

  11. cheryl_c 06/08/2020

    Jody, you have planted wonderful gardens full of varying plants and plant combinations. Nearly all of us will face, at some point, the place you find yourself in - knowing you need to move, and trying to find a place where you can create more beautiful gardens. How lucky your buyers will be!

  12. janeeliz 06/08/2020

    Well, we know that you can create a magnificent garden. You'll do it again, for sure! I , too, love your 'secret garden'. What is that tall red tree...a huge rose? Gorgeous! Best of luck and have fun creating your next garden. I always feel that the garden I'm creating is my favorite.

    1. user-7234738 06/09/2020

      Climbing rose (not a tree).

  13. User avater
    bdowen 06/08/2020

    What a wonderful tour through the year in your beautiful garden. Your "secret garden" especially inviting. I hope you have lots more pictures to help you remember your favorite spots in this garden and to inspire you in the next one. Best wishes for this transition for you and your son.

  14. User avater
    simplesue 06/09/2020

    I can totally relate to how how you are feeling about leaving a garden behind. I agree with what "user-7003263" wrote about taking a few of your plants with you.
    I just love your "secret garden" photos they are just something from the movie Secret Garden.
    Don't know how old you are but I had to start over with a whole new garden at 55 and now I'm 63 and it's mostly in and maturing...and if it gives you any stop being sad about the loss of the old garden, and bond with the new garden. You see some of the plants brought along from the old garden and it lives on.

    1. user-7234738 06/09/2020

      47 in 2 1/2 weeks and having to start over. It's sad, but I'm ready to move on.

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