Garden Photo of the Day

Small but Perfectly Formed

A patio paradise

Jill O’Hara sent in these images of her creative use of what seems like a really small garden site. Here’s what she had to say:

I’ve been enjoying the pictures of small-space gardens; however, I haven’t seen any quite as small as mine. I used to live on a half-acre property in Victoria, British Columbia, but am now in a condo in nearby Brentwood Bay, with a very small balcony. I chose my condo in large part because of the well-treed aspect both up close and in the distance. After two years of trial and error while I learned to accept the limitations of my space, I have settled on what works best for me: a Japanese-inspired garden of primarily dwarf and miniature conifers, with a few pots kept for seasonal and scented flowers such as Iris pallida ‘Aureo variegata’ (Zones 4–9), which I call the grape bubblegum iris; Casablanca lilies (Lilium ‘Casablanca’ , Zones 4–9); heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens Zones 10–11 or as an annual); and Dianthus ‘Rainbow Loveliness’ (Zones 3–8). Instead of my former waterfall down a natural rock outcropping, I have a small lotus fountain, which provides movement and gentle sound. Hummingbirds, sparrows, and finches all use it for a drink and a bath, which pleases me immensely. My new garden is, as the saying goes, “small but perfectly formed.”

The balcony garden in May, with the sun streaming over a Buddha surrounded by lush plantings.

View of part of the balcony at the end of March, with potted white tulips complementing the emerging variegated foliage of Iris pallida ‘Aureo variegata’.

The fountain provides soothing sounds of water for human visitors, and a drink or a bath for visiting birds.

A key part to any great garden: somewhere to sit and enjoy it all! The blooming purple heliotrope ensures that any time spent on this comfortable chair will be wonderfully fragrant.

A scene on the balcony in May.

Iris pallida ‘Aureo variegata’ not only has beautiful foliage, but its purple flowers smell wonderfully of grapes.


Have a garden you’d like to share?


Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. Maggieat11 06/19/2018

    WELL done, Jill! I love it! Great choices and lovely colors for you and your "feathered friends" to enjoy!

  2. lynnedale 06/19/2018

    Amazing, Jill! Over twenty-eight years I have created a garden sanctuary on our acre and a third, but see the day coming when it will be too difficult to maintain. Your sanctuary has given me hope. Thanks for the inspiration. ?

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/19/2018

    I just don't know what to say. So amazingly well done.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/19/2018

    I think the commonly used expression might be "good things come in small packages" but when it comes to your exquisite balcony garden, I am going to change it to "Great things come in small packages". The color palette of your containers is quite pleasing and everything works together to give a feeling of harmony. Please don't be shy about sharing pictures of your previous larger garden even though you don't live there anymore. We'd love to walk down memory lane with you. You're obviously a very gifted gardener.

  5. cheryl_c 06/19/2018

    Jill, your garden is 'perfectly formed', perfectly designed and perfectly executed. Like Lynne, many of us are at the point in our lives when downsizing our homes and gardens is definitely on the horizon. What a wonderful example you have inspired us with to walk bravely into that future! Thank you so much!

  6. Chellemp 06/19/2018

    So serene and restful in the midst of chaos (the thought condo living for me). Well done, Jill.

  7. wittyone 06/19/2018

    What a lot of variety you have managed in your small space. Nice job. Exactly how large is that balcony anyway? How do you manage the potted plants through the winter?

  8. sheila_schultz 06/19/2018

    You have a very sensitive eye for balance, Jill. I am in awe of the beauty you have created on your tiny balcony. What a delightful surprise for the hummers!!! It's perfect.

  9. Chris_N 06/19/2018

    What a wonderful garden. I love that you were able to fit a chair AND a little side table so you can sit comfortably while enjoying your garden and drinking your favorite beverage!

  10. [email protected] 06/19/2018

    Just gorgeous. As we work on our large, previously horse pasture property, even as we enjoy it, we have in the back of our minds what's ahead. We are in our 70s, and still fairly spry, but I can't work outside all day like I used to! And your "garden" looks delightful, so we can anticipate something similar one day. Thanks, and good luck!

  11. btucker9675 06/19/2018

    What a lovely garden you have made! Although we have just under 1/2 acre here, I have a potted garden on our back porch, too, with a small pot fountain that the birds also visit. When it's too hot to venture out into the big garden much, I can putter in the shade of the porch. Win, win!

  12. NOVAgardener 06/23/2018

    What a beautiful balcony! You have inspired me to do something with my small patio. Thank you so much for sharing your photos and story. I love the variety and the textures of your plants as well as the containers, Buddha and the bubbler. The colors are so serene and restful! Will you share with us where you found your bubbler?

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest