Garden Photo of the Day

Spring Comes to Massachusetts

A slow but beautiful spring

Today we are taking a stroll through Ellie Gilbert’s garden.

Spring was a bit late this year in my Zone 6b garden in Plymouth, Massachusetts, but now that it has finally arrived, all of my plants seem to be flourishing. I’ve been an avid gardener and photographer for over 50 years, but my Plymouth garden is only about 18 years old.

Ground phloxGround phlox (Phlox stolonifera, Zones 5–9) on my hill garden was made even prettier this year with a fresh coat of mulch.

Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’Nestled in the needles under our scrub pines were lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis, Zones 3–8) and Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’ (Zones 4–9).

peony ‘Dancing Butterflies’Next in line to bloom in my patio garden were my early single peony ‘Dancing Butterflies’ (Zones 3–8).

Siberian iris ‘Dreaming Spires’Siberian iris ‘Dreaming Spires’ (Zones 3–8), Salvia ‘Blue Hill’ (Zones 4–8), cranesbill ‘Karmina’ (Geranium ‘Karmina’, Zones 5–8), and Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’ (Zones 4–9).

Close-up of Siberian iris ‘Dreaming Spires’.

ninebark shrub ‘Diablo’The ninebark shrub ‘Diablo’ (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’, Zones 3–8) on the corner of our garage also added to the array of blossoms.

The azaleas were really special this year. I always refer to that bright one in my front garden as my “day-glo” azalea. I don’t remember the exact cultivar, but each year it blooms in full fluorescent glory. When I bought it several years ago, it only had buds, but I felt its size and shape were just right to fill a spot where another shrub had died. You can imagine my surprise when those buds finally opened! (Actually, I’ve grown to love it.)

Siberian iris ‘White Swirl’Also in the front yard, Siberian iris ‘White Swirl’ and bachelor buttons (Centaurea montana, Zones 3–8) make their home.

front yard garden bedA large island garden that is also located in the front yard is host to Salvia ‘Blue Hill,’ Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’ (Zones 4–8),  ‘Karmina’ cranesbill, and Veronica austriaca ‘Venice Blue’ (Zones 4–8), along with other perennials that are not yet in bloom.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we haven’t been hosting as many visitors as usual on our patio this spring, but my husband and I still enjoy the view—the stone steps surrounded by Spirea ‘Goldflame’  (Zones 4–9) and hostas, and the ‘Rosebud’ azalea (Zones 6–9) and dwarf lilac ‘Miss Kim’ (Syringa pubescens ‘Miss Kim’, Zones 3–8) that are currently in bloom. As the other plants in the hill garden come into bloom, we’ll have lots more to enjoy over the coming months.


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View Comments


  1. nwphillygardener 06/25/2020

    Those rich gardens look like a happy start to healthy season. Once question about your first photo: aren't those creeping phlox actually sun-loving Phlox subulata and not shade-prefering Phlox stolonifera as you described?

    1. coastalgardener 06/25/2020

      Actually, I was not the one who identified the ground phlox in this photo, it was the editor.

    2. User avater
      simplesue 06/25/2020

      Good catch "nwphillygardener" you're right! I think Ellie would enjoy also having some Phlox stononifera in her garden.

      1. User avater
        simplesue 06/25/2020

        oops can't spell - stolonifera

  2. cheryl_c 06/25/2020

    Beautiful gardens, and I can't wait to see the future blooms that you have planned. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. User avater
    pattyeckels 06/25/2020

    I am salivating! Gorgeous! I can’t have all that down south. Your gardens are very well kept and landscaped. You did good! Lol

  4. Dusanka 06/25/2020

    Your flower color combinations are lovely, so enjoying it.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 06/25/2020

    Oh how lucky you are to live and garden in Plymouth, such nice place. Your garden is so tidy- You have inspired me to tidy up my own to look so well groomed!
    Love that classic New England photo of your garden with the blue and pink plants that has the lawn chair in it, and the photo big rock in your front garden.
    I recently started growing the shade loving Phlox stolonifera Sherwood Purple aka Creeping Phlox and I think you would love them planted at the edge of the woods at the top of your hillside garden. Sort of a happy accident that your Phlox was mislabeled by the editor. That Ajuga you are growing is the prettiest and healthiest I've ever seen.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. nwphillygardener 06/25/2020

      IF anyone comes across Phlox stolonifera 'Fran's Purple' which is hard to find in the trade for some reason, it was a top performing phlox in trials by the Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessing, DE. Their program of trialling many varieties of plants for the Mid-Atlantic region is really invaluable. So many plants are hybridized or propagated in places with different weather conditions, it is always hard to assess the vigor and reliability of new-to-retail-market perennial offerings.
      'Fran's Purple' has a very vivid true purple color bloom on a very tight and well-behaved creeping mat of tiny oval leaves.

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/25/2020

    Oh, how very, very lovely!

  7. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/25/2020

    BTW, Ellie has submitted photos several times. Type her name in the search box & see.

  8. btucker9675 06/25/2020

    How your friends must miss sitting in your perfectly lovely garden! Love that single peony's stunning color. Isn't ninebark a fabulous shrub? I have one hiding an ugly electrical box at the front corner of our lot and it is so full and striking. When it's in bloom, it reminds me of a Victorian greeting card and I get so many questions and compliments about it. Thank you for sharing your truly beautiful garden.

  9. Maggieat11 06/25/2020

    Gorgeous. Especially love the last photo. Pretty enough for a lovely wedding.

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