Garden Photo of the Day

Sheila’s Vermont Garden

A romantic, cottage-style garden

Today we’re visiting Sheila Abair’s garden.

Hello, I garden in northern Vermont, Zones 3–4. Gardeners have always been in my family. I grew up visiting the small, quaint gardens of aunts and uncles in my native Scotland.

I love paths. This is the stone path leading into the garden. It is flanked by blue false indigo (Baptisia australis, Zones 3–9), with a globe arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis, Zones 4–8) and hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata, Zones 3–8) in the background.

Pea gravel paths wind past beds planted with some structural evergreens. In the foreground are cheery black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta, Zones 3–9) and turtlehead (Chelone obliqua, Zones 3–9) almost ready to flower. In the background is a dominant corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’, Zones 4–8), which shows off in winter with fantastic twisted branches in clear view. A splash of phlox (Phlox paniculata, Zones 4–8) can also be seen. Farther back and adding more structure is a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 4–9) beside a birch tree (Betula sp.).

A grass path is flanked with a row of arborvitae and threadleaf cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’, Zones 4–8), with a little color provided by some mallow (Malva sylvestris, Zone 4–8). The hint of blue is a broken pot I could not bear to throw away.

The shade garden is one of my favorite parts of the garden. It is filled with hostas, ferns, Solomon’s seals (Polygonatum species) and Pulmonaria.

This flower bed features contrasting foliage from ‘Stella d’Oro’ daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Stella d’Oro’, Zones 3–9), threadleaf cypress, phlox, coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3–9), and black-eyed Susans.

Stretching out over the pond is a giant hosta, with a hydrangea behind it.

Zinnias (Zinnia elegans, annual) in three raised beds in the cutting garden surround a birdbath. The path visible in the background leads to the small stream at the bottom of the garden.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    user-7007816 09/11/2020

    Beautiful! Would love to take a stroll.

  2. mainer59 09/11/2020

    Your garden is put together beautifully with interesting details. Common plants are combined with unusual ones add great interest. Question: what is the standard globular blue conifer (spruce?) cultivar in the photo with the back eyed susans? I am guessing it is a very slow growing dwarf since any conifer growing fast would expand over the path.

    1. sheilamba 09/11/2020

      Thank you for your comments. I believe the shrub is a dwarf globular blue spruce.

  3. Patchworkgardener 09/11/2020

    Hi Sheila...I love your garden. That corkscrew hazel is beautiful. I love all your flowering plants, but I also love all the green. You’ve done a great job! Hope to see more pics from your garden. Thanks for sharing.

  4. User avater
    cynthia2020 09/11/2020

    Sheila - I love your paths,too! When I saw the photos I thought - wow - I would feel at home there. Thank you for sharing some of your beautiful, immaculate pathways, through some very happy flowers and lush leaves.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/11/2020

    Oh, my, how very lovely especially that blue indigo.

  6. User avater
    simplesue 09/11/2020

    Ahhh what a nice garden to stroll around in on the paths and enjoy the journey through it.
    Cute garden sign with all of your favorite travel places and miles to get there!
    That is one healthy cork screw hazelnut...looks kinda like Red Dragon, that I gave up on growing and gave it's amazing and interesting in the winter garden and all seasons for that matter!
    Nice work!

  7. btucker9675 09/11/2020

    Love the giant hosta dipping down into the pond. Your garden is truly delightful! I had a large gnarled hazel in my garden in New Jersey - it was about 8 feet tall when we had to move away. I have a little one here in NC but only about 2 feet tall now. Hoping it will become large and robust!

  8. cheryl_c 09/11/2020

    Sheila, what an enchanting space you have created! I think it would take the whole morning to wander through it with you. I love that you saved the pieces of that beautiful blue pot so that it can continue to add beauty. That is a wonderful metaphor for life- that we can continue to be beautiful even after having been broken. Hope you share some more photos once the hazel has lost its leaves!

  9. sheilamba 09/11/2020

    Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments. Mainer59 asked about the blue globe shrub. I believe it is a dwarf globular blue spruce. It is about three years old and has not grown much at all.

  10. Chris_N 09/11/2020

    Wow! Thanks for sharing you garden. I love it all but I'm particularly taken by the shot with the Stella D'Oro daylily in front. Not that Stella is doing anything spectacular at the moment but, yes, providing foliage contrast. What I love is there are so many layers to the photo with the repetition of yellow Rudbeckia that pulls the eye back and through.

  11. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/11/2020

    I like the fact that your photos included some overall views of your garden and welcoming pathways as well as closeups of charming plant combos. You've done a very nice job with everything. Your garden shed is quite adorable and I love the detailed cutouts on the window shutters.

  12. User avater
    bdowen 09/11/2020

    I can’t wait to look at these photos on something bigger than my phone! What a beautiful garden you have designed, the paths inviting us to wander in. More photos, yes! Would love to see it in winter as well.
    Thank you for sharing!

  13. foxglove12 09/11/2020

    So beautiful and lush! I love paths as well. Great job. Your garden speaks to me. Love it.

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