Garden Photo of the Day

Shelter-at-Home Garden Projects

Taking advantage of the time to plant and garden

Today’s photos come from Karen Howe, who is sharing some of the things she’s been up to during this year of staying home and staying safe.

I garden on a shady hillside in Portland, Oregon, where I have plenty of rain but limited sun and heavy clay soil. I’ve been improving the soil for 25 years and adding more native plants in the last few years to improve habitat for my avian friends. This year I’ve been at home more and with less work than usual, so I’ve had fun with low-cost projects, some inspired by articles in Fine Gardening magazine.

fawn liliesThese beautiful fawn lilies (Erythronium revolutum) cheered me in March when we started sheltering in place. They spread generously each year, so I dug many of them and gave them to friends and neighbors.

Tulipa Purple ReflectionI have trouble growing tulips in my heavy soil, so I tried planting some Tulipa ‘Purple Reflection’ (Zones 3–8) in pots outside my kitchen window. I love the way they complemented the white bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’, Zones 3–9).

I’ve been experimenting with growing edibles the last few years and have added some new raised-bed planters in my sunny corner. It was fun to start seeds indoors for the first time with the help of a new LED grow light in my basement.

anemonesI purchased some mail-order perennials and updated an uninspired portion of my garden with the addition of violets (Viola ‘Etain’ Zones 4–8) and anemones (Anemone ‘Ruffled Swan’, Zones 6 – 8), which paired well with existing painted ferns and a sculptured stone that was given to me last year. The violets surprised me by blooming all through the summer.

lime and burgundy gardenAfter struggling with cold soil and slow drainage in one of my beds, I finally dug it all up, added lots of compost, and replanted in a lime-and-burgundy scheme that I just love. I planted heucheras (Heuchera ‘Lime Marmalade’ and ‘Midnight Rose’, Zones 4–9), gold sedges (Carex elata ‘Bowles Golden’, Zones 5–9), a few variegated hostas (Hosta fortunei ‘Aureo Marginata’ and Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’, Zones 3–9), and a volunteer Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9).

dahliasI have a bed of mixed dahlias (Dahlia variabilis, Zones 8–9 or as tender bulbs) that bloomed beautifully all summer. I would often think of a neighbor in need of cheer and I’d cut a bouquet, put it in a canning jar, and drop it on their porch as a little surprise. This cheered me up on many a challenging day.

garden stumperyBased on a GPOD about “stumperies” from August, I was inspired to build a stumpery at the back of my garden. I had fun decorating it with moss, bark, and woodland flowers. I want to provide habitat for the lovely bugs that digest the wood and become food for birds.


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View Comments


  1. nwphillygardener 12/04/2020

    This is a joyously beautiful statement of kindness worthy of these extraordinary times:
    "I would often think of a neighbor in need of cheer and I’d cut a bouquet, put it in a canning jar, and drop it on their porch as a little surprise. This cheered me up on many a challenging day."
    Kudos to Karen for such a sentiment!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 12/04/2020

    Love those fawn lilies. Sure wish I could grow them here in the deep, deep south.

  3. Rebeccazone7 12/04/2020

    I have a lot of "stumperies" in my yard...most of them weren't It really does help to know that other people are continuing to garden and doing what they can to brighten peoples' spirits. Your effort was admirable...all is lovely.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 12/04/2020

    Within 5 seconds I was saving two of your photos to a folder on my Pinterest! Long ago I had seen foliage of "fawn lilies (Erythronium revolutum)" somewhere in and knew it looked special and never found out until now!
    It's beautiful!
    Love your little stumpery too!
    Interesting to learn that you have been improving your soil for so many years I feel like its been 8 years and still going for me, I felt like I was the only one that had to do that LOL!

    1. Rebeccazone7 12/04/2020

      I'm in the Pine Barrens of NJ and the soil is sand and sand and small stones. I could probably live a long time on the money I've used to add to soil...humus, manure, compost, whatever I could get my hands on. Home Depot used to sell flats of ripped bags very cheap...alas that dates more.

  5. btucker9675 12/04/2020

    Your garden in enchanting! Love the photo of the white bleeding heart and the potted tulips. How lovely that you share joyful bouquets with neighbors!

  6. greengenes 12/04/2020

    You've created a wonderful garden both plants and joy to all. Thanks for sharing!

  7. user-5117752 12/04/2020

    Such wonderful ideas! I, too, love your pic of the fawn lilies and, of course, those dahlias! Thank you for taking the time to share.

  8. bdowen 12/05/2020

    Beautiful dahlias in that vase and a lovely story about sharing them with your neighbors.

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