Garden Photo of the Day

Succulent Containers and Lush Gardens in Eastern Canada

By Kim Charles

Deborah Smith focuses on succulents and container gardens on the east coast of Canada.

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"I garden on the east coast of Canada.  We have many foggy days and usually wet periods in the summer.  Not so, this past summer.  Probably the most challenging aspect of trying to garden successfully is the wind. 


Nevertheless, I have a large succulent collection with some cacti.  They are a challenge to keep happy in these conditions but always surprise me with their hardiness.  When they start looking too sad, I chop their heads off and replant them.  They do not get as large and lush as I would like because of the elements.

I overwinter many plants in a sunroom and a greenhouse room that has three stands of grow lights.  I hang grow lights from the sunroom ceiling.  I also have a collection of phormium as they are so dramatic and tough beside the ocean.


My passion is container gardening.  My next email will have a few more container pix.  My husband made me 13 fibre glass boxes that serve as window boxes and boxes for our 80 foot ocean side deck.  They are light enough that I can manage them myself.   

I loved your container pix!!!!!  We do not have unique places to buy plants in this area.  I usually travel to Nova Scotia with a Hort buddy in search of the different and unusual."


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  1. frankgreenhalgh 11/07/2016

    Hello there Deborah - You have done an absolutely remarkable job with your gardens under difficult environmental conditions. Lovely gardens, lovely house and lovely outlook. I look forward to your next post.

    I guess you wouldn't want to look too sad in your neck of the woods, or else heads might roll - sorry Deborah, Aussie humour. Cheers from Australia

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      We look out at the state of Maine. Always very interested in our neighbours. This was my first time posting anything myself on the internet except for Fb. Love looking at all the stunning gardens. Thanks for your kind comments!

  2. Vespasian 11/07/2016

    What a lovely garden, I love what you have done with all the planters and shrubs. How lucky to have the ocean outside the door, it must be wonderful. Looking forward to your next post.

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Hi Ann: when I first started gardening many years ago I wanted every wonderful perennial I could find but now, if I had the room, I'd start off with great shrubs and small trees first!

  3. wGardens 11/07/2016

    Good Morning, Deborah~ You certainly have quite a collection! I especially like your wall succulent containers. Your deck fish and the brick pavers also caught my eye! Very nice.
    Great job dealing with your difficult weather conditions!

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Thanks, Margaret!

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/07/2016

    Happy day, Deborah. As much as I love succulents (and trust me, I Love succulents), I am captivated by the huge, super orange coneflower in the first about an attention grabber! It is positively electric. Do you happen to know which particular named variety it is?
    Love your hanging succulent collages. They are so cool. I'm suspecting that your husband made the framed containers. Kudos to you both!

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Yes, that echinacea is 'papaya'. It is a show stopper and it goes beautifully with coreopsis 'Route 66'.
      Yes my husband made the frames. Lucky me, eh. I use soilless mix and sheet moss from the woods around here to hold the soil in. It is a fun and gratifying way to show off succulents.

  5. user-7007498 11/07/2016

    Good morning, Deborah. I understand the wind must be tough, but the view. WOW. The overhead view of the back garden looks like you have created a good windbreak for the patio. I really love the windowbox in the 3rd picture. Great use of color and texture. The vertical garden are awesome. This is something I want to try next year. To have a sunroom and a greenhouse rooms leaves me so envious. Thanks for sharing your wonderful garden.

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Hi Kevin: you have to try the vertical succ boxes. They are easy and so much fun. I do them at least 6 weeks before they go outside as they are just cuttings and have to root in the frame. They look so little at first but explode after a few months!!!

  6. greengenes 11/07/2016

    What joy this morning you have brought to us Deborah! Your gardens, pots and succulents are very beautiful! Wonderful job keeping everything so lush and full! You truely have the gift of gardening! Thank you for sharing and i am so looking forward to seeing more!

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Thank you so much. This was a first for me. I always tell folks that I kill a lot of things. But guess enough plants hang in there to please the eye!

  7. annek 11/07/2016

    That last photo did me in. I'm booking a trip to the ocean.....your garden with the waves rolling in as a back drop is spectacular. (As are your containers. Fabulous!)

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Try the east coast of Canada and you'll be in heaven!

  8. Doxnmomx2 11/07/2016

    I can only imagine what you could do in ideal conditions! Oh my goodness! All of your photos are beautiful. What a charming home and cove!

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Thanks Peggy.

  9. sheila_schultz 11/07/2016

    Deborah, you have definitely risen to the occasion when it comes to gardening in challenging conditions. Your succulents have obviously acclimated to their increased moisture, they certainly look very healthy and happy! I'm particularly fond of the Fuchsia Autumnale and Plectranthus 'Troy's Gold' in the 3rd photo... I adore using those two plants in containers, but I rarely find them in the Denver nurseries. Aeonium '"Zwartkop' looks pretty fab with either plant!

    Have fun overwintering all your babies, how long do they have to be inside in your neck of the woods? Mine have to tolerate 6 mo. on average! I'm eager to see more of your containers.

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Hi Sheila: I use a lot of plectranthus and am not always sure of their names. I take cuttings of my favs every year. Troy's gold was wonderful with black mondo grass edging spots in the garden this past summer. Am hoping the black mondo grass will over winter. I kept it in doors last year for the winter. Love Zwartkop! I use aeonium in many containers as they can take more water than most succs. Am always fighting mealy bugs on them indoors though. I just brought my phormium in a few days ago. Even though they can take a light frost, I err on the side of caution. They go outside in a protected area the first of May. On line weather is a great thing for gardeners as I will put things out earlier depending on temps. We also put up a temp greenhouse and start hauling plants outside the first of May. Need a heater in it most springs.
      I had a lot more pix on a former iPad that died on me!

      1. sheila_schultz 11/08/2016

        Deborah... Black Mondo grass would be dreamy with Troy's Gold!!! It's really expensive here so I don't use it that often, but what the heck when a combo is perfection? A pop of red, yellow or orange and Zwartkop would be the star! Combo's can be so intriguing and artistic don't you think?
        Do you have a fan circulating the air in your overwintering spaces? I overwinter so many succ's and cacti during our CO winters and adding the air circulation made a massive difference for mealybug infestations. I also switched from plant lights to fluorescent bulbs because the plant lights produced way too much heat and seemed to be an incubator for mealy's. I also started using straight isopropol alcohol both in spray and dabs w/ q-tips whenever a bit of cotton was observed. Last year was bug free!!! Good luck ;)

        1. LeeGun 11/09/2016

          Thanks Sheila for the good tips! I have used a fan in the past but haven't for awhile. Will def this season after reading your post. I also use fluorescent bulbs. Also use straight isopropyl alcohol with q tips but never as a spray! Cheerio

        2. LeeGun 11/16/2016

          I now have fans in both rooms!

          1. sheila_schultz 11/17/2016

            Let me know if the fans help... airflow is key, but as we know, sometimes we bring in too many plants for the reality for a good flow of air!

  10. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/07/2016

    Fantastic. You had me at Fuchsia autumnale. Love everything and need to come back to review when I have more time.
    Really awesome collection and setting.

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Thanks, Tim. Fuchsia Autumnale came from Toronto many years ago. I propagate bits every year to make sure I don't loose it.

  11. schatzi 11/07/2016

    Fantastic! Everything looks so happy and healthy. I especially love the color and texture combinations in the window box and the fabulous wall of succulents. Great job!

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      For me I want a garden that has of texture. I like to weave together burgundies, lime greens, and silvers. Thanks for your comments.

  12. OregonGardenGal 11/07/2016

    Beautiful window boxes! I also love the big clump of coneflowers and the succulent containers.

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Yes, I love all the bits of red!

  13. user-4691082 11/07/2016

    Waah! I want a house by the ocean! Is the water ever warm enough to swim in? I love your containers and your hubby sounds very helpful! I guess with lot of wind, you don't have to deal with mosquitoes? I guess we all struggle with something!

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      The ocean here only differs 5 degrees from winter to summer. There are a few crazy souls that try the water. We have just recently had great white sharks in our bay because of global warming and lots of seals so that would be enough to keep my toes dry! We seldom have any bugs except on calm evenings. I used to garden in a bug suit in northern Ontario so this is easy. But try being in the wind and gardening when your hair is standing on end.

  14. Meelianthus 11/07/2016

    Deborah, your potted succulents are really amazing, so lovely, and the plants hanging on the wooden fence are just beautiful. You have done very artistic arrangements of all ! Thanks for sharing

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      Thank you so much! I love it! Getting a chance to share with other green thumbs is the ultimate in fun!

  15. User avater
    treasuresmom 11/08/2016

    The sea and flowers -- you can't ask for anything better ;)

    1. LeeGun 11/08/2016

      You're right!

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