Garden Photo of the Day

Sheila’s Garden in Colorado

'Orange Carpet' Zauschneria, Variegated iris, Artemesia 'Silver Brocade', Sedum 'Dragon's Blood', Lysimachia 'Goldi', Plumbago, Lavendar 'Hidcote', Bleeding Heart 'Luxuriant', Geranium 'Rozanne'
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sheila Schultz

Today’s photos are from Sheila Schultz in Denver, Colorado! She says, “In 2005 we moved from Wilmette, Illinois, to Denver, Colorado. I loved and understood shade gardening with lots of moisture in my former gardens, but I was ready to try my hand at creating gardens in full on sun.

Agastache ‘Sunset’, Monarda ‘Fireball’, Heuchera ‘Dolce Licorice’, a small white Nepeta. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sheila Schultz

“Our CO home is on a small lot and had a broken basketball court in the back yard and worn out junipers in the front. It was time for a change. My good friend happens to be a genius in creating rock gardens that look like they ‘belong,’ so she placed boulders and created stone pockets for planting… plus craned a few trees over the house to fill in some empty spaces. The rest was up to me.

‘Orange Carpet’ Zauschneria, Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’, Blue Oat Grass. ‘May Night’ Salvia. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sheila Schultz

“My goal was simple, plant anything that might be interesting, and go with as many bright colors as possible. (I also felt that it should be interesting from all views, especially from our upstairs bedroom window!) My gardening philosophy has always been that when a plant dies a new opportunity is born. Well, it’s been a few years now and I’ve had lots of opportunities to try new plants! Some work, some don’t, but I’ve sure had fun learning about plants that can survive in a high plains desert with occasional water restrictions.

‘Walker’s Low’ Nepeta, Lamb’s Ear, Monarda ‘Fireball’, Agastache ‘Sunset’, Variegated Iris, unknown hosta that handles full sun. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sheila Schultz

“Instead of giving you overviews of the gardens, I’m showing you some of my combinations. (Mainly because my photography skills stink when it comes to narrow spaces.) Anyway, you’ll see right away that my design style isn’t collected and quiet, it’s pretty much of a free-for-all. My gardens are best seen in person, but I hope you can get a glimpse of the happiness it gives me.”

‘Arizona Sun’ Gaillardia and ‘Orange Carpet’ Zauschneria. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sheila Schultz

I know Sheila well–she’s won Fine Gardening‘s Container Design Challenge TWICE, and in the past few years she’s become a great online friend. Sheila, your garden is so wonderful–warm and lively, just like you!

***Tomorrow Sheila will share some of her latest containers with us!***

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].

Seafoam artemesia, Jack Frost Brunnera, ‘Bowl of Cherries’ Campanula, Turkish Veronica, Elijah Blue Fescue, Sedum Angelina. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Sheila Schultz

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  1. user-1020932 09/12/2013

    what a nice surprise this morning and i'm so glad to see Sheila's garden.looks like you have embraced the climate differences since your move and made it yours. if i am ever in Denver and you see some hooligan poking around the garden it will be me. am i the only one who has little to no success with Brunnera?

  2. user-1020932 09/12/2013

    i only now spotted the red bird made of garden tools lurking in the background of photo 1. i really should examine the photos more closely before i start typing/talking but we all know that won't happen

  3. dirtgirl1949 09/12/2013

    Love it, especially your gardening philosophy Sheila! We garden here in Australia in extreme temperatures as well as drought conditions and I know what you mean about finding out what does and doesn't work.
    My garden is a constant work in progress, but seeing photos of your garden gives me so many ideas, thank you so much!! I tell other half there is always room for another plant in the garden, despite what he may think.....
    Have been to Denver twice over the years and loved it, daughter saw her first snowfall there.
    Happy gardening and look forward to the photos of your container gardening.

  4. flowerladydi 09/12/2013

    Sheila,, it is just wonderful! You and your friend have done a fabulous job on the rock bed! How great to walk past it every time you go in and out, and as you say, see it from your windows too!
    Love the blue and orange of the plumbago and zauschneria,, with the grays.,,
    It is great!!!

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/12/2013

    Sheila, I'm not surprised that your garden is stunning, but having lived in Denver, it still surprises me that anyone can garden there! It just shows that with some skill, trial and error, and plants fit for your climate, you can have a nice garden almost anywhere! Do you finid inspiration from the Denver Botanic Gardens? Panayoti Kelaidis is a genius. Thanks for sharing and can't wait to see your containers.

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/12/2013

    Sheila, you are such an inspiration...your garden beds are as rich in textures and colors as your award winning containers. I love how one thing spills into another with the end result being a gorgeous living tapestry. I think you should award your hosta the name of "Medal of Valor" since it is doing so well under what might be thought of as challenging conditions. Today's pictures are wonderful and I know tomorrow's will be an equally huge treat!
    By the way, is that a particular variety of lamb's ear?...the leaves seem extra large to me.

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/12/2013

    I'm back to admit that I can't stop marveling at that first photo...who knew that so much silver and gray could be so captivating?! Well, obviously, Sheila knew! I suspect the pops of orange,yellow and blue make a big contribution to how visually pleasing the whole picture is. Hate to seem like an annoying question lady but what is the silver trunked tree?

  8. Quiltingmamma 09/12/2013

    Love the colours and stone garden. If these are recent photos, I envy how they are keeping their fresh look. But I think I see irrigation in there which must help a lot. Love the tool 'cardinal' and all those greys; particularly the varigated iris foliage.
    Sorry TNT, we can even grow Brunnera in Ottawa very reliably.

  9. bee1nine 09/12/2013

    I like the way you think, Sheila...and your garden philosophy. It surely is an art in itself, to create an interesting garden space from all angles. Yet you have done an amazingly, wonderful job bringing this you say-
    to a free-for-all design style. Great job!
    Do I see that you use a mist sprayer system to water, also?
    While blowing up the last photo, on left side of artemesia,
    saw what looks like the spray gizmo.

    For: tractor1, I'm so sorry to hear about Newt, too. :(

  10. mainer59 09/12/2013

    I love your combinations. Like others, I am full of questions. Does the variegated iris hold its nice foliage all season? Tall bearded irises suffer terribly from leaf spot here, but the variegated may be a better bet? I am also interested in seeing what I thought were moisture loving plants: monarda and hosta come to mind. How do you deal with water restrictions and still meet their needs? Or are some varieties easier than others when water is an issue?

  11. gloriaj 09/12/2013

    Your picture taking does NOT stink, you did a wonderful job. Love the rock garden. Love what you did with the Jack Frost Bunnera in the last photo on the right. That is my next purchase plant. Already have a place picked out. Looking forward to more pictures

  12. Wife_Mother_Gardener 09/12/2013


  13. sheila_schultz 09/12/2013

    My gardening friends, thank you for your kind words. You're always welcome to stop on by whenever you are in Denver! It's always fun to be able to share what we love to do.
    Tntreeman, glad you like my 'guard' bird, he was a gift from my husband about 20 years ago! Have you tried Jack Frost Brunnera? I find it the most reliable.
    Flowerladydi, glad you like the boulders and color combos. The change in elevation the boulders give the gardens makes such a huge difference in their design. I must say, though, it's not a pretty sight to watch me navigate the gardens to plant and do maintenance. My neighbors are very tolerant with some of the positions I have to get into when I'm on a mission to remove a weed! ;)
    Vojt, I love wandering the DBG, they are so inspiring, and Panayoti Kelaidis is a genius and a really nice guy. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when he came to see my gardens during Open Days last year! I think he single-handedly changed the way folks garden in CO.
    Dear meander1, that is one stubborn hosta, and it thrives in the hot, afternoon sun... I only wish I knew the variety, it's tag is missing. The lamb's ear is Helene von Stein, I do love the texture and the fact that it rarely flowers. It spreads like a son of a gun, but it's easy to manage. The tree you asked about is an aspen. This clump is over 30 years old which is amazing at our lower altitude, plus the fact that our devil squirrels haven't stripped them bare!
    Quiltingmamma and Bee1nine, we do have irrigation, we use spray heads. Typically I water 3x a week, but we were down to 2 days this summer. I was delighted that everything thrived.
    Dirtgirl1949, come on over next time you make the long trip to Denver! Our planting conditions are probably not that different!

  14. tractor1 09/12/2013

    I love the rock work and the plants look like they've been there forever, very natural. Shiela, don't be ascared, your photos are great so I'm sure you'll do fine with wider angle shots, you have a good eye for composition. And I like that you consider the view from your windows, too many people concentrate only on the street view, the view they rarely see but for a fleeting moment as they drive up... I spend many days contemplating the views from my windows before adding a new plant... I even drive stakes in the ground and move them several times before I'm satisfied that a plant will enhance my view and not obliterate the existing view. Shiela, thank you for sharing.

    And meander1, you are correct, animals make our lives much fuller and richer. It's now very empty in the barn, Newt gave it so much life... thank you very much, I appreciate your caring.

  15. sheila_schultz 09/12/2013

    Tractor1, I am so very sorry about Newt. Even when expected, the loss of a dear furry friend is heart breaking. You are in my thoughts. Thank you for your encouraging words about my photography, I keep trying to improve.
    Mainer59, I really love my variegated iris, the flowers are almost secondary for me. The only damage I have ever had on the leaves was this year. After they had come out of dormancy in the spring we had a freakish cold snap and the night temps fell to 5 degrees. The iris tops were brown and wilted, but by the end of summer new growth came in strong. The monarda and that particular hosta did just fine with twice a week watering this year and they are in full sun all afternoon.
    Gloriaj, you're going to have fun with Jack Frost, it's a great plant.

  16. appaloosa 09/12/2013

    Are the blue flowers in the middle of the first picture Plumbago? I enjoyed all the pictures.

  17. user-1020932 09/12/2013

    sheila, i do not like that bird a little,,,,,,i like it A LOT

  18. GrannyMay 09/12/2013

    Simply beautiful! Can't wait to see your containers tomorrow!

  19. sheila_schultz 09/12/2013

    Jeff, glad you like Bird... he's quite the sassy fellow!
    Appaloosa, you're right, the blue in the front is Plumbago. I love that plant because it makes everything around it in this partial shade garden POP!The blue in the back of the garden is Rozanne, a geranium.
    And Michelle, you make me blush. The last few years have been a treat.
    Just so you all know, no more drought in our area as of yesterday. We are having serious flooding in Boulder, Denver and surrounding areas today, and it is expected to last thru tomorrow. The rain in Boulder county last night was = to 100 inches of snow. Evacuations are everywhere, we are lucky since we are on high ground. Yikes! Desert areas don't do well will staggering amounts of rain.

  20. janetsfolly 09/12/2013

    Sheila, I'm so glad to hear you're above the flooding! Weather everywhere has been so bizarre this year. All the rain in July (I think) caused 2 of my 3 clumps of Jack Frost to melt away, never to be seen again. So next year I'll begin's so pretty and cooling to the eye. Add me to the list of folks curious about that sun-loving hosta! I have a spot where I've been trying different ones. So far all have needed to be moved to shadier positions (but at least I haven't killed any!). Your garden is lovely and very natural looking, hardly a free-for-all! Looking forward to tomorrow's pics, too. :-)

  21. dirtgirl1949 09/12/2013

    Sheila - forgot to say thank you for including the names of the plants under each photo. Such a help for us Southern Hemisphere gardeners, who don't always recognise plants grown in other parts of the world.

  22. janeeliz 09/12/2013

    Your garden is wonderful, Sheila. I, especially, love your rock garden-it has a lot of unusual colors and 'pop' for a rock garden.The Jack frost Hosta is a great combo with the variegated iris and other silver foliage plants.Great boulders! Gallardias w. "orange Carpet' lovely, too. Looking forward to seeing your planters, too.

  23. tractor1 09/12/2013

    Sheila_Schultz: Thank you for you rkind words regarding Newt, he had three good years here, he gave back more than he got.

    Keep taking pictures, I'm positive you will do well, composition is the most difficu8lt part and in that area you'e a natural. Next work on lighting, the best shots are obtained when the sun is on the subject and at your back.

  24. sheila_schultz 09/12/2013

    Janetsfolly... Finding the name of my sun loving hosta is going to be on my list for the upcoming winter season, and don't give up on Jack!
    Dirtgirl1949, if you need more names just let me know. My gardens are a mass of plantings, so it just depends on what catches your eye. Where are you in Australia?
    JaneEliz, thank you for enjoying my personal combos. Orange makes me happy, so the rest is all about who will play well together!
    Fellow gardeners and friends, you have become the highlight to this crazy day for me and CO with it's 100 year storm. My neighborhood is at a high point in SE Denver, but water has been seeping into our finished basement. It's a big deal for us but so much of CO is under water, it's nothing. That said... I came upstairs after moving furniture, etc. out of water's way maybe. I looked out our kitchen window to gaze at my gardens for a bit of piece. Fat Albert, my delightful Blue Spruce who has his own garden, WAS tilted over 2/3's of the way to the ground! Geez Louise! Good thing my honey has a winch. FA will be upright until the metal fence gives way. This has been an interesting day. Forgive me for venting. Love you all.

  25. terieLR 09/12/2013

    Oh Shelia, forgiven! I do hope the water subsides soon and you sustain little damage to your home and gardens. We've been watching your news from the east coast and although we have had bad storms, the flooding is minimal.
    I can think of nothing to add to the comments and compliments of my fellow gardeners. I love it all and will be checking in bright and early tomorrow.
    tractor1 ~ I am sad with you...

  26. cwheat000 09/13/2013

    Sheila, we know your containers are amazing( can't wait for tomorrow), but it looks like your garden beds are equally awesome. I have started trying out perennial combos in a pot, then moving them to the garden later. Do you do anything like that? Whatever you are doing, keep doing it. You definitely are talented. P.S.- your friend really did a fabulous job with the rocks.

  27. sheila_schultz 09/13/2013

    cwheat000, Thank you for being curious about my container designs. For the last few years, my inspirations have almost always come from vignettes of a garden photo. A color, a texture, a plant combo... just a glimpse of a possibility that makes me take a second look. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but the idea always makes me dream of what the container could become.

  28. sheila_schultz 09/13/2013

    terieLR, you are a friend, thank you.

  29. wildthyme 09/14/2013

    Like the others, I am surprised to see Brunnera apparently thriving in such close proximity to those sun-loving sedum & artemsia! Here in MT, Brunnera will take filtered sun at most. I love the look, though. Big rocks in a garden are such a blessing: they never need water, fertilizer, or dividing! And the picturesque quality they bring to a garden can't be replaced. Lovely work!

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