Garden Photo of the Day

Seasonal Highlights from Illinois

By Kim Charles

Evelyn Drake from McConnell, Illinois shares a combination of photos with us from early spring, indoors, the height of summer and a touch of winter…which, unfortunately looks like its going to continue to stick around over the next week or so with a signifanct snowfall predicted here in CT for tomorrow. Spring can't come soon enough…I hope those crocuses that are peeking through survive!

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Lilith tree peony.

Sure hope this one rewards me with flowrs again this year!

Night blooming cereus. Not the nicest looking foliage, and it really gets out of hand.  Just when you think you should get rid of it this magnificent flower shows up.

Bottlebrush buckeye

A gift from my daughter, this succulent wreath made a great centerpiece. It's now looking tired of the snow.

Phalenopsis are always a welcome shot of color!

Wish I knew what this purple bloomer was!

Fern leaf peony. One of my favorite perennials to bloom each year.

I really enjoy my chimney pot and try different plants each year. The succulents were great and are overwintering for another show. (can't come too soon for me!)

The sky on fire this winter.

the neighbors cows out for a winter stroll.

View Comments


  1. Maggieat11 03/10/2017

    A beautiful collection of photos that are enjoyed very much. What is that conifer? Love it! I also admire your chimney pot very much. Beautiful plants! That is a stunning Fernleaf Peony. Thanks for sharing your photos. And the "bonus" photo of the cows was a great addition. Best wishes for the upcoming season!

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Thank you Margaret! So nice of you. Buying that chimney pot was a real stretch, one I've never regretted! Best wishes to you too, hopefully a successful year in the garden for us all. No matter what, always much to enjoy.

  2. jagardener 03/10/2017

    As a child my mom used to wake me up to see night blooming cereus. Pretty but with snaky looking succulent 'foliage'.

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      That's a great story. The blossoms are really an event. Sounds like a special mom!

  3. Quiltingmamma 03/10/2017

    Thanks for the dose of colour this morning. Winter is starting to hang on too long, but I am optimistic Spring will be here soon so your photos gave me a boost. The purple plant - foliage looks like an aster, but the bloom looks more like a salvia? The wind blur makes it hard for my aging eyes. I have never seen the cereus, but it is lovely. Doubt it will grow here, but I am curious.

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Thank you, I'm happy the color helped with the winter drear. Since you're "quiltingmamma" I'm hoping you had some pleasant time with colorful fabrics too. Don't know where you live, but I'm guessing you could have it as a houseplant. It's a hard plant to recommend because of its unruly manners. But the blossom (which opens only for one night) are truly spectacular and very fragrant. I have cuttings for all! Think spring!

      1. Quiltingmamma 03/11/2017

        Hi Evelyn, yes, the quilting gives me colour and feeds that need most of the winter, but by March, I want garden and birds. I live in Canada,in a US zone 3(ish) - cold. There seems to be a number of plants called 'night blooming cereus' and I can't seem to find foliage (other than the cactus kind). Some say zone 10-11 which I can't believe is an outside plant in IL either. Inside would be possible, but due to regular extended travel, I gave up houseplants some years ago. Thanks anyway for sharing the bloom.

  4. user-4691082 03/10/2017

    I really enjoyed this post! It is snowing in SE Pa this morning but I don't expect much accumulation- it was 60 degrees yesterday! Now they are predicting snow for Tuesday! That's the flower show! I am holding my breath! The fern leaf peony is my favorite! I grew up on a dairy farm so I am used to seeing cows take their morning stroll! Thanks Evelyn for the lovely photos.

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Thank you Rhonda, your praise means a lot, you are all such terrific gardeners. The flower show is on my bucket list. It must be quite a sight especially after a long winter. Someday! Enjoy!

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/10/2017

    Looks like you are a lover of colorful blooms, Evelyn, and your opening picture might be as close to sunshine as I get today. We are in for a day of gray clouds and dreary rain...what I call a "greary" day. Your tree peony 'Lilith' is a literal showstopper...I'm sure that seeing it in person would leave me mesmerized.Love your sky shot...sunrise or sunset?

    1. schatzi 03/10/2017

      Out here we cal it 'drismal'!

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 03/10/2017

        Ha, drismal is a good one...and spellcheck doesn't approve of either one of our words. It's fun and empowering to take the initiative in overriding spellcheck!

    2. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the "sunshine". That was my intent! Lilith is pretty special. I'm a little nervous as I seem to have gotten it too close to another shrub. I'll let you guess which will feel the pruners first! Sunset. Mother Nature is spectacular!

  6. NCYarden 03/10/2017

    Good morning, Evelyn. You have presented a nice selection of garden pleasantries. But also a bit of frustration for me. For one, I am amazed at both the size and number of blooms on that fern leaf peony. I have been growing 'Early Scout' for several seasons now. I typically have good luck with the peonies, but on this one in particular, all I've accomplished is a small mound of the leaves, which are cool though. Maybe this year? I also grew Cereus for several seasons, and not once did I achieve the bloom, which as you stated is what justifies that ridiculous looking plant. When a late freeze accidentally got it, I took it as a sign. So thanks for offering what it should have looked like, if but for only once...sigh. But all your garden elements are wonderful, and I am thrilled by those little purple cones. Thanks for sharing.

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Thank you! Such kind comments! As I mentioned earlier, the fern leaf is quite an old plant, so be patient. The cereus was a cutting from my sister. Some days as I fight it I think she must not like me after all:). Mine is in a part of our home that we use primarily in the daytime, and we keep the heat quite low. I think that is the trick to its blooming.

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/10/2017

    Evelyn! A treat to see your colorful garden again, through seasons, after waking up to a dusting of snow on the ground. Lilith has stolen my heart with her frilly, tattered-looking ways; nice shot! Your fernleaf peony is quite spectacular.
    The purple-flowering plant looks a little like the invasive purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, although the foliage looks finer.
    Looks like you have a healthy Fothergilla behind it; nice.

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Thank you Tim. I so enjoy everyone's posts, though sometimes it's days before I get to them, so thanks to you and everyone for your posts and informative (often entertaining) comments. You are right, a fothergilla that has a serious will to live. I think it has finally gotten to a size where the yearly winter rabbit damage shouldn't have too big an impact.

  8. cynthiamccain 03/10/2017

    Thanks for the photos, Evelyn! It's snowing here in central Maryland as well. As much as I long for spring, I remain a snow freak, and we really could use a lot more precip!

    Could your "mystery" purple bloomer be lythrum?

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Since Tim has stated lythrum is purple loosestrife, it's definitely not that. The plant is very well mannered, never spreading, just a nice size clump. It's late to come up, and blooms most of the season. My start was from a dear friend which makes it even nicer! I feel like we've been short on moisture too, much less snow than usual, though we've had some substantial rains. Such a strange winter! Take care and happy gardening.

  9. sheila_schultz 03/10/2017

    Add my name to the growing list of GPOD'ers admiring your fern leaf peony, Evelyn, you've obviously got the magic touch for blooms! My goodness, that puppy is loaded... wow! Once upon a time I, too, had a night blooming cereus. I kept it around for years but eventually got frustrated one too many times with it's 'front heavy' ways. If only it had bloomed it might not have hit the trash can the end of one summer season!

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Thank you Sheila. Appreciate all the kind comments. The fern leaf was original to our property when we purchased in 1996. It even tolerated being moved once at which time I sent a piece to my sister in Vermont. I do have an issue with powdery mildew later in summer, but it never seems to hinder the blooming. Happy gardening!

  10. SJWallace 03/10/2017

    What is the plant in the first photo? An evergreen conifer with lavender new tips? Your plants are awesome! They must all be in their happy places!!!

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Thank you Shelley. I need to check the Klehm Song Sparrow Farm website. Hopefully they are still selling it as I can't seem to recall the name. Yes, that is the new spring growth. Later it has tiny little pine cones.

      1. user-6789753 03/11/2017

        Hi Everyone,
        I think the conifer with the purple cones might be
        Picea likiangensis purpurea. I am just about to plant one and have been
        doing a bit of research about what it requires.
        I am in the New
        England region of New South Wales, Australia, and we are just about to
        go into our winter over here so looking forward to seeing your spring
        Cheers, Dar

  11. KarlaRoady 03/10/2017

    Once upon a time I had a greenhouse full of epiphyllums- seeing your photo makes me wish I hadn't given them all away. Beautiful! Even here in milder southern Oregon my succulents are not happy; hoping they'll return to happy this year. Thanks to a suggestion on some link from FG I found an old fire pit. It now sits on my patio full of succulents which the deer don't eat thank goodness. Another time I would have added a little more potting soil than the loose soil I put in it.

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      So many epiphllums, can't imagine how lovely a greenhouse full would be. I have to restrain myself as there's only so much room in the house. I like the fire pit idea. I'm planning more succulents this summer. Less watering, and such great texture. I have little "babies" growing on the windowsill in preparation. Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 03/10/2017

    Good morning, Evelyn, and thanks for reminding me why I don't want to live in the Midwest in the winter, although you do get spectacular summers. That Lilith is beautiful as is your fern leaf peony. It looks like you have a Redbud blooming in the background, one of my favorites. Could your purple plant be penstemon? Love the conifer in the first photo, too. Thanks for an interesting post to end our week. Have a good weekend all.

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Hello Linda. Yes winters can be brutal. I think you are in the Northwest, as a gardener why would you ever want to live elsewhere? Hope to explore there one day. You are right about the redbud, one of my favorites too. Thank you!

  13. schatzi 03/10/2017

    Gorgeous pictures! I too vote for penstemon - that's what the leaves look like, altho the blooms are a bit too blurry to ID. I also love Epiphyllums and have a greenhouse full of them. Your peonies are magnificent - love 'em! And the fir/spruce (?) - beautiful.

    1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

      Thank you Shirley. The wind blows much of the time. It can make photos challenging. I'll take a look at penstemons. I'm having a senior moment regarding the mini evergreen. I feel like it might be a pinus? Would love to see your greenhouse (lucky lady), I bet the flowers are amazing. Think Spring!

      1. schatzi 03/11/2017

        I think your tree may be an Oriental spruce - Picea orientalis. The needles are not pine. O.K. you experts out there - how far off am I?

        1. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

          Oh thank you Shirley. Of course it's not pine! You triggered my memory, it is picea abies "pusch". Just looked it up to be sure.

          1. schatzi 03/11/2017

            Thank you Evelyn. I'm glad I was at least in the right family!

  14. gardeningisfine 03/11/2017

    Thanks so much for your kind comments. We are blessed with beautiful open spaces. We have 4 inches forecast for this weekend. Sigh, doesn't do to get impatient!

  15. Cenepk10 03/12/2017

    Wow.. what a collection- Purple flower looks like agastache from here... that was an amazing treat... got a little Tim going on with the exotics ... Beautiful

  16. user-7008409 03/13/2017

    Evelyn, I'm with Tim as I think the purple flowered plant is purple loosetrife. Wikipedia says the foliage is variable (maybe there are varieties with larger leaves?). I think it's well mannered for you due to being grown in well drained soil. It prefers wetter sites like marshes and ditches where it can grow in dense colonies, at least partly due to spreading by seed. Purple loosestrife was marketed as a garden perennial for several years. If you do an internet search, you can pull up a collection of images to compare with your plant. Penstemons and Agastache both have tubular flowers, so hope that helps you narrow down the identification.

  17. user-6536305 01/02/2018

    That Lilith tree peony is really steal the show! I always have this love and hate relationship with peonies. In my area PNW, the bloom last about a week and sometimes shortened by the rain and yet, they require some care - dressing with compost every season and occupy so much room. Your blooms are all stunning and thanks for sharing!

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