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Garden Photo of the Day

Sue’s garden in Arkansas

A close-up of the front door shade garden. There's 'Rozanne' hardy geranium, 'Fire & Ice' hosta, Japanese painted fern, 'Ghost' fern, heucheras, two types of ajuga, plus many other plants not shown. Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Sue Strong

Today’s photos are from Sue Strong. She says, “I moved to Bella Vista, Arkansas, from Florida 2½ years ago and couldn’t wait to grow all the wonderful perennials that I was unable to grow in Florida. When I bought the property there was only one ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae and approximately a dozen boxwoods, so I was working with a blank slate and have been very busy adding both hard- and softscape since my arrival.

The front of my house. At the base of the retaining wall I have planted double pink ‘Knock-Out’ roses with ‘Walkers Low’ catmint and dusty Miller between. To the left of the walkway to the front door is a shade garden anchored by a triple-trunk ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple.

“Ozark soil is extremely rocky so I had a wonderful local stonemason build raised beds, which has allowed me to amend my gardens with generous amounts of compost. I have now completed the majority of my hardscape and large planting projects. Moving forward I will focus on refining and maintaining my garden beds and watching my plants grow; although I’m sure there’ll still be room for a few more “special” projects.”

The front of my house. At the base of the retaining wall I have planted double pink ‘Knock-Out’ roses with ‘Walkers Low’ catmint and dusty Miller between. To the left of the walkway to the front door is a shade garden anchored by a triple-trunk ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple.

Wow, Sue, you’ve done a LOT in 2½ years! It looks great, and I can’t wait to see photos of it in the years to come! Thanks so much for sharing. **More info in the captions** 


The right front/side yard with three ‘Natchez’ crape myrtles, ‘Stella D’Oro’ daylilies, and clematis back against the fence, and lambs ear and hellebores on the left.

***Can you believe that we’d never had a post from Arkansas?! Cross that one off the list. Now we’ve posted gardens from a grand total of 45 U.S. states and 22 countries! Still out there is Hawaii (though I have one posting soon!), Alaska, South Dakota, Arizona, and Mississippi. I know you’re out there……Wouldn’t it be great if we could cover all 50 states by 2014?

The shade garden in the left front yard under a double sycamore and an elm. Planted in that bed are five different varieties of hydrangea, a Japanese maple, purple ninebark, hostas, huecheras, columbine, ferns, anemone, and many other shade-loving plants.

**** I’m still looking for photos, everyone! While I’ve got a bunch of great submissions in reserve, I can always use more. We’re heading into winter, when GPOD submission tend to be a bit scarce. If you still want to see a new and exciting garden every single weekday in your inbox, do your part and show us YOUR garden! You can email photos to either [email protected] or [email protected] Be sure to tell me where you live and tell me a bit about yourself and your garden. And the more photos the better! Thanks!! ****

The shade garden in the left front yard under a double sycamore and an elm. Planted in that bed are five different varieties of hydrangea, a Japanese maple, purple ninebark, hostas, huecheras, columbine, ferns, anemone, and many other shade-loving plants.
Another shade garden under an Eastern red cedar. At the very top is an ‘Empress Wu’ hosta followed by variegated Solomon seal, Boston fern (elevated in a tree trunk), oxalis, oakleaf hydrangea, huechera, hardy geranium, and dusty miller.
My long expanse of back yard. It has a 9 foot deep border garden along the fence. At the top, there are hydrangeas where it’s shady, followed by two groupings of three ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitaes with double pink ‘Flower Carpet’ roses in front where it’s sunny.
Three purple castor beans that I planted from seed. They grew over 10 feet tall! To the left is a hot pink crape myrtle and to the right is a dark purple butterfly bush.
My raised vegetable garden. I have eight 4X6 foot beds. There are blueberry bushes in front, semi-dwarf fruit trees to the left, and a vignette of old garden tools decorating the center fence panel.
My garden shed. It was an ugly little building that I moved, resided (including the door), painted, and added a trellis to each side. Now it’s a focal point.
My newest garden. I call it my secret garden and it occupies the space between/behind my veggie garden and my garden shed.

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View Comments


  1. user-1020932 12/10/2013

    i would say very busy! that is an amazing amount of work in only 2.5 years. i think you had a long list of "want to grow" plants you built up while living in florida. it all looks great and one of my favorite parts,,,,,,,the rectangular cut stone building the raised bed areas.

  2. gloriaj 12/10/2013

    Sue, in 2.5 years you have done an amazing job. You must have had a plan and plowed through until it was none. Your shade gardens is one of the best I have seen.. How did you get your Chocolate Ajuga to grow in height, mine grow close to the ground. I just plant a Madame Wu hosta this year. I understand they get pretty large. I hope so. All your plants look so healthy even your lawn.

  3. tractor1 12/10/2013

    That's a tremendous amount of hardscaping and planting in such a short time, and many of the plants are already looking quite mature... must be some magic in Arkansas soil. I too like that raised bed veggie garden with its massive hewn stone border, never have to worry about those rotting away. All lovely photos but I think my favorite is of the shed with the magnificent fall foliage back drop. I like the high rise birdhouse to the right and the bird house on that antique coal shovel... and it looks like the Welcome lamp is lit. Thank you, Sue.

  4. jagardener 12/10/2013

    Wow! All that in two and a half years. Love your lawn. Focus and hard work is clear. Love it all.

  5. flowerladydi 12/10/2013

    Wow Sue! You HAVE done an amazing amount of work in only 2 1/2 years!,,, and it is beautiful!!! Everything looks so ' neat ' and healthy! LOVE all your stone,,,your raised beds, paths and pavers,,, so warm looking,,,, and the fence line is gorgeous! Of course I totally love shade, and the area by your front door as well. Beatifully done!!

  6. bee1nine 12/10/2013

    Hi Sue, To repeat with others, you certainly have been one busy lady in 2 1/2 years! Remarkable design layout of plants
    so beautifully capturing every part of your yard. Nice garden
    shed and vegetable garden area.
    Totally amazing that you created all this yourself?


  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/10/2013

    Sue, I am in awe of your productivity and creativity. You were/are a lady on a mission ...having a beautiful garden with lusted for plants...and it looks like it is Mission Accomplished! You were very wise to be so deliberate about building up your bed areas so the planting is easier and the nutrition to your new residents is ample.
    I love your combo of the pink "Knock Out" Roses and the "Walkers Low" catmint with the little extra pops of silver...simply stunning.

  8. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/10/2013

    great job. gotta love those castor beans! i think this is the first zone-envy i've heard yearning for a colder zone. makes me feel better about all of the snow this morning here in central Ohio......

  9. Wife_Mother_Gardener 12/10/2013

    Lovely garden, Sue! Your veg garden is just great!

  10. mainer59 12/10/2013

    How wise of you to lay out the bones first, working with a stonemason. I love the platform your vegetable raised beds are on and may just try that here.

  11. wGardens 12/10/2013

    Fabulous! Lovin' it all. Great birdhouses; awesome rocks too... ah, wonderful. The Nurseries must have LOVED seeing you coming!!! :-) ! Do you do this kind of work for a living?
    Please send more photos next season!

  12. greengenes 12/10/2013

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful yard and gardens. I see that you are not afraid of hard work! Awsome job in every area. Iam sure it is lovely when all the knockout roses are blooming! I didn't know you could grow all of those kinds of plants in Arkansas! I hope my castor beans will get 10ft tall this coming summer! It will be so fun to see how much your areas grow in the next year or two! Keep having fun!

  13. SisGof5 12/10/2013

    You should be so proud of yourself! You've done an incredible amount of work and have a gorgeous outcome. You will inspire any homeowner that feels overwhelmed with the prospect of relandscaping. Awesome job!!!

  14. soilsister8 12/10/2013

    Sue, Accolades on every front are well deserved. I looked up to find out that you're zone 6a....cooler than I would have thought. THANK YOU, THANK YOU for the captions on each photo.
    Your front entry is over the top! Thank you for inspiring us.

  15. celiahoneysuckle 12/10/2013

    All very nice, love the hardscaping work.

  16. NWAgardener 12/10/2013

    Thank you all for your kind comments. Yes, I designed the beds myself while I was still living in Florida using a plat map and pictures of the property. Of course, I made some changes to the "master plan" once I got here. Chad (my rock mason) gave me wonderful suggestions for the stone work. NW Arkansas has fantastic nurseries! The summer of 2011 had record-breaking heat, so I was able to purchase many larger shrubs and trees half price. I planted them in 100 degree weather and watered them daily. Only lost one small tree! Since joining Benton County Master Gardeners and the Bella Vista Garden Club I have been able to add plants that have been gifted to me and purchased at plant sales. I am a retired accountant and risk manager and gardening is my hobby (full time). Our wonderful native Arkansas rocks give the house and garden character and permanence. The chocolate chip aguga that gloiaj asked about was a 4" pot planted just this spring. I use lots of compost - 16 yards laid this year, one wheelbarrow full at a time!

  17. janetsfolly 12/10/2013

    Love it ALL! But that veggie garden made my heart flutter. Are those repurposed barn foundation stones? So neat, so healthy, such an inviting place to play in the dirt! I gave my sister that same '3 little birds' to remind her of Bob Marley's song, "singing, don't worry 'bout a thing, 'cause every little thing gonna be alright.". So sweet! Thanks for sharing your vision and hard work results.

  18. wittyone 12/10/2013

    Most people have no idea what a beautiful state Arkansas is. My sister lives quite near Bella Vista so I've visited quite often. You have just added another bit of loveliness to the area. The raised beds look wonderful and certainly are called for with the rocky soil that is the general rule. Love the edging around the vegetable garden. Big rocks are such wonderful things----you just have to get them in the right place the first time around!

  19. quinquek 12/10/2013

    It's an unbelievable amount of work for 2.5 years! What a lovely garden, and thanks for all the plant identifications. I love the stone beds and the total design.I think I'm missing a spatial gene. Can't imagine looking at our plat map and coming up with any ideas at all! Great job!

  20. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/10/2013

    Loved reading the back story you just came back on and added. Whew, not only did you endure 100 degree temps but everybody should know about the accompanying strength sapping south eastern HUMIDITY...you don't know the meaning of sweating until you garden vigorously in that kind of humidity. My area of east Tn has it also...I hate when I'm blinded by the sweat (and, no, it's not lady-like perspiration) dripping all over my glasses.
    Sue, you're more impressive than ever!

  21. GrannyMay 12/10/2013

    Congratulations Sue! What a great garden you have had the vision and energy to create! Love the permanent rock retaining walls, paths and raised veggie garden. Beautiful plants, both annual and perennial, complete the picture! This is more than a hobby for you, it is a passion.

  22. rarhode 12/10/2013

    I love the stonework!

  23. GrannyCC 12/10/2013

    Beautiful stone work and healthy and happy plants. The design is wonderful. Love all the added touches such as old tools and birdhouses. You have worked hard to produce all this in 2 years. Congratulations.

  24. wildthyme 12/10/2013

    Where to start!?! The stone foundation for the vegetable garden is really impressive; those are some hefty stones! I'm also really impressed that you had the foresight to have a ramp up to the garden for a wheelbarrow . . . alas, we were not so prescient when we put our garden in! I also have shed-envy, and believe it or not, fence-envy. Fences are frowned on here in Montana, unless they're keeping in cattle, and I've been surprised how much I miss the structure they add to a garden when used well. Congratulations, and I too look forward to more from Arkansas!

  25. Sheila_Schultz 12/10/2013

    Sue, your last name, Strong, is so very appropriate! Only 2.5 years to accomplish this... really? Your gardens and hardscape are spectacular, and the color of the stones remind me so much of Arkansas, where I spent many happy vacations as a child visiting my grandparents.
    And YAY, one more state added to the GPOD list!

  26. Meelianthus 12/10/2013

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful gardens Sue. I am in awe of all. I love your 9' border in your back of house area. What a wonderful area to go crazy with plantings! And it leads right up to that charming little garden shed with the mysterious 'secret garden' behind. Your layout is most interesting and the plant choices are beautiful.

  27. ancientgardener 12/10/2013

    I'm speechless! What an accomplishment in 2 1/2 years.Your backyard with its sweep of lawn and lovely border is splendid. Your Secret Garden is my favorite. When my husband and I built our retirement home we also invested in a lot of stonework and have never regretted it. It adds so much to gardens and yours is all delightful.. loved the walkway in the Secret Garden.

  28. ancientgardener 12/10/2013

    An after-thought -- My name also is Strong - June Strong. Maybe gardening runs in Strong genes :)

  29. PamWittenberg 12/10/2013

    The huge stones for the raised vegetable garden and throughout the landscape, the castor bean, the bright pink and white crepe myrtles, the hostas, the fern in the tree trunk...it all makes me (to quote Michelle) swooooon....lovely!

  30. PamWittenberg 12/10/2013

    The huge stones for the raised vegetable garden and throughout the landscape, the castor bean, the bright pink and white crepe myrtles, the hostas, the fern in the tree trunk...it all makes me (to quote Michelle) swooooon....lovely!

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