Garden Photo of the Day

Small, Cold, and Full of Flowers!

A cold climate doesn't stop these gardeners

Today we’re visiting Ed Elliott’s garden. He and his wife have a small yard and live in a cold climate with a very short growing season, but they haven’t let that stop them! They make the most of their gardening time and space, filling the garden with a wonderful array of flowers.

To give you a sense of the climatic challenges we deal with, I have included a photo of the entrance to our home last year, which is typical. In our Zone 4 climate we have 4 to 5 feet of snow each winter, which means our ground is covered with snow for approximately five months each year. Our annuals and perennials have to grow quickly!

We have been living in our home for 45 years, and virtually every plant you see has been put there by my wife and me, with the exception of the large pine trees. I experiment extensively with a variety of perennials, shrubs, and trees with numerous failures and occasional successes. I am successfully growing almost two dozen varieties of maples, including a true Acer palmatum ‘Ozakazuki’.

Although our property is relatively small, we have an incredible variety of soil types and sun exposure. This allows us to enjoy everything from shade-loving plants, sun-loving plants, moisture-loving plants, and even plants that love poor, dry soil. Here’s an explosion of color for annuals and perennials in a sunny spot.

shade gardenIn a shady area, hostas, ferns, and other shade-loving perennials grow to lush perfection.

The flower-filled garden sits on the edge of a lake, with some pretty amazing views.

Petunia, Calibrachoa, and geraniumAnnuals bring maximum flower power through the summer growing season. Here, Petunia, Calibrachoa, and geranium (Pelargonium) bloom together, while yellow and orange black-eyed Susan vines (Thunbergia alata, annual) cover pillars in the background.

Looking down at the deck seating area. Repeating the same annuals through the plantings helps draw the space together.

SneezeweedSneezeweed (Helenium autumnale, Zones 3–9) is hard to beat for sheer flower power in late summer and fall.

Our vegetable garden in the middle of our driveway produces the tastiest greens you can imagine.

annuals and perennialsColor! Annuals and perennials combine for over-the-top impact.


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View Comments


  1. Camamum27 12/18/2019

    What magnificent color!! And to be situated on a lake! What more could you ask for. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. davlinkun 12/18/2019

    Love “Small Gardening “
    Winter cones and so does Spring...
    Thank You

  3. pam_clemmons 12/18/2019

    Oh wow this is the most beautiful and colorful garden we’ve seen on here in a while! Definitely shows hours of dedication and love for your garden, and flowers of color. Award winning!

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/18/2019

    Your garden is a spectacular living color wheel...and your photos are a particular delight since the winter drabs are starting to settle in. I'm also impressed with all the beautiful stonework that defines your pathways and raised beds. Thanks for the wonderful tour.

  5. nwphillygardener 12/18/2019

    A total delight to open up todays GPOD! Ed, you are surely doing everything right to achieve such a bounty of annual color. And the shade areas reveal you've got serious skills with perennials, too. I love that path made with slices of wood beside that low wall of rounded stones…..both great textural contrasts to the hosta and other leaf textures. Brilliant!

  6. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 12/18/2019

    Fantastic explosion of color and beauty.
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. cheryl_c 12/18/2019

    Wow, a technicolor dream come true. Ed, you and your wife have produced spectacular gardens under some really tough growing conditions. Congratulations! Can you tell us what state or province you live in?

  8. avongardener 12/18/2019

    What a beautiful garden! A real treat for the eyes, especially now in the cold, dreary winter months. The lovely colorful annual combinations look gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!

  9. coastalgardener 12/18/2019

    What a setting and such an explosion of colors! I particularly like your shade garden. Thank you for sharing this...especially in this dreary winter season.

  10. moyra_b 12/18/2019

    What an absolutely beautiful garden! I'm curious where you are located. I live in central N.Y., and also get lots of snow!

  11. User avater
    simplesue 12/18/2019

    What a seasonal contrast with the 4-5 feet of snow in one photo and then the garden full of life and color!
    That river rock wall is so beautiful in the garden, curving with the driveway in the garden. I'm so in love with that shady path with the ferns, hostess and do I see an interesting sculpture on a pedestal...a rabbit? guys really know gardening- just gorgeous...and then add a lake view to top it off!!!

    1. User avater
      simplesue 12/18/2019

      Ooopps, I'm sure you know I meant to spell Hostas not hostess!

  12. User avater
    treasuresmom 12/18/2019

    Wow, just amazing! I adore that stone wall & all those amazing colors!!!

  13. btucker9675 12/18/2019

    Holy Toledo! What a stunning garden you've created, that raised rock vegetable garden is wonderful. And the view across the lake is to die for. Thank you so much for sharing your marvelous space.

  14. wittyone 12/18/2019

    Good gracious what an riot of color! Love it!! You certainly must have more than "occasional successes" to have amassed such a terrific collection of plants. Annuals mixed in with perennials is such a good way to get continuing color throughout the growing season.

    The rock walls you have are just beautiful. Did you do them yourself or have them built? Are they drywall or mortared in place?

    This is just gorgeous and shows a lot of work and dedication.

  15. stewpot 12/18/2019

    Ditto on all the above remarks. You and your wife must work 24/7. Your results are spectacular! Thanks for sharing.

  16. user-7020748 12/18/2019

    A wonderful explosion of colour at this dreary time of year, in the outdoor plant world at least. Are you by any chance in the Invermere area in south eastern BC? That lake shot (beautiful!) looks familiar.

  17. carolineyoungwilliams 12/18/2019

    WOW Ed, This is my kind of garden. Your slice of Paradise is breathtaking. You all have done an awesome job. I love everything. Thank you so much for sharing your Blessings.

  18. User avater
    pattyeckels 12/18/2019

    All I can think of to say is WOW!!!!

  19. foxglove12 12/18/2019

    What a beautiful garden. The photos and your views are amazing. You are lucky to be in such a beautiful location. And so impressive to see all the snow you have to work with. Here's looking forward to an early thaw!
    Great job!

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