Garden Photo of the Day

Sue’s Pennsylvania Garden

22 years of making paradise

Flower garden planted on a hillside

Sue McCreary is sharing their garden with us today.

I live in North East, Pennsylvania, a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania, Zone 5A. My husband and I have been gardening at our current home for 22 years. The three-acre lot had not been developed with plants and is situated on a hill. Our garden started on the hill when I suggested we create a rock garden so my husband would not have to mow it and would be less work. He believed me, and so began the creation of our garden moments.

With Geoff’s artistic eye, he created the hardscape and artistic creations, and I planted the plants and shrubs. I’m a planter and a mover, so he became an expert on digging holes as well. He has learned to enjoy gardening almost as much as I do.

We’re downsizing to a much smaller property this summer and will miss the seasons of gardening. I’d like to share some of my favorite pictures throughout the year.

Red primroses bloom by a small springA natural spring creates a water feature in the woods. Candelabra primrose (Primula japonica, Zones 4–8), marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris, Zones 3–7), Leucojum (Zones 4–8), plus native trillium are now growing there.

mazus ground coverGround cover mazus (Mazus reptans, Zones 5–8) blooms for two to three weeks on this path. The railing was made with limbs found in the woods.

Bridalveil spireaBridal wreath spirea (Spirea prunifolia, Zones 5–8) in full bloom makes a statement through the archway.

Climbing hydrangeaClimbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea petiolaris, Zones 4–8) have covered our shed over the years. My husband created the “hand of grapes” when we first moved here over 20 years ago, since we live in wine country.

Hostas growing in front of upturned tree stumps.Our love of hostas is probably the surprise joy we’ve discovered. We created this “stumpery” from found stumps. The swinging bridge in the background was inspired by visits to Chile and Switzerland.

bears britches plantOne of my most unusual plants is bear’s britches (Acanthus spinosus, Zones 5–9). This show-stopper multiplies easily and grows well in our Zone 5b garden.

huge hydrangea shrubA lacy hydrangea (possibly the variety Hydrangea serrata ‘Diadem’, Zones 5–9) was a gift from my husband for our anniversary 20 years ago. It surrounds “flowers” created by him from repurposed fire nozzles and the tops of exhaust fans from a roof.

Flower garden planted on a hillsideOur hill in June, with ajuga (Ajuga reptans, Zones 3–10), Allium, rockcress (Aubrieta deltoidea, Zones 4–8) and more. 


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.

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View Comments


  1. User avater
    user-7007816 02/17/2021

    A beautiful and original garden. I really like the way you repurposed found objects.

    1. SueMccreary 02/17/2021

      Thank you. I"m always amazed at what Geoff creates from "found" items.

  2. User avater
    musabasjoosue 02/17/2021

    I love the thought and creativity that has gone into this beautiful garden. I hope the new owners will appreciate it as well.

  3. daisy8 02/17/2021

    Beautiful hillside garden! I’m sure it’s difficult to move away & downsize, but you will have the opportunity to create something new & of a smaller scale that will be more manageable. The new owners are so fortunate to have this beautiful garden. Good luck and thanks for sharing.

  4. blondie3 02/17/2021

    A dream Garden, beautiful, love the stone walk, you both have a good eye, thank you for sharing....I would hate to leave that.

  5. alicefleurkens 02/17/2021

    Your garden has everything I love. space, shade, beautiful plants, wood, rocks. What a wonderful garden. Alice

  6. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 02/17/2021

    Especially enjoyed the photos of the hillside garden. Thanks for sharing!

  7. raggedrobin1 02/17/2021

    Beautiful garden, and it will surely be sad to leave! I’m curious whether, if you are selling your home, your extensive garden is a selling point, both for you and the buyers. For you, will you be swayed in leaning toward gardener and away from nongardener buyers? I can’t imagine anyone being immune to the beauty, but do you think some potential buyers would walk away from it.

    1. SueMccreary 02/17/2021

      Thank you. Yes we are sad to leave the garden but we're at a stage in our lives that if something happens to one of us the other one could not take care of the property. It took us awhile to come to that conclusion but are now looking forward to our new property. I hope the garden is a selling point but are a little concerned it may be a detriment and seem overwhelming to a prospective buyer. We certainly hope anyone interested in our property would enjoy gardening.

  8. mischael 02/17/2021

    What a LOVELY garden-really special. I'm curios about the ground cover on hill picture by the retaining wall. What is it? I think the reference says its rockcress, but the leaves are so nice and shiny, and it seems like it's so shady. We are in the process of landscaping a hill...

    1. SueMccreary 02/17/2021

      THe rockcress is on the steeper hill. It's sedum (Not sure what kind....gets pink flowers). It spreads beautifully. there is also lamium ,primrose, lady's mantle, dianthus, and more planted on the hill. Have fun planting your hill.

  9. coastalgardener 02/17/2021

    Wow, what a beautiful garden! You and your husband have been so creative with stumps and other found objects. It's truly a delight to the eye!

    1. SueMccreary 02/17/2021

      We enjoy visiting other gardens and are members of The National Hosta Society which allows us to visit private gardens that may not be open to the general public. We always come home with at least one idea to incorporate into our garden.

  10. User avater
    simplesue 02/17/2021

    When I first read North East, PA I thought you were on the other side of the state so I'm glad you mentioned it was in the Western side of PA... and I looked at a map and realized I'm pretty familiar with your part of Pennsylvania from taking trips to Lake Erie and exploring antique shops around there...the smell of grapes in wine country is just amazing to experience.

    It's easy to see how creative you and your husband are with all you've done in this gorgeous garden, sorry that you are moving away from it, I had to do the same a few years ago, but the experience & memories- you will have forever, and take lots of photos.
    I'm so amazed with your Mazus reptans, I became familiar with that plant growing in the crack of a city sidewalk and took a start but never had much luck with it like you have- wow- I love it!
    That's a great stone path lined with the Ajuga reptans, I know what a task that is as I just laid a short one myself, so can really appreciate a well done one like yours when I see it!
    Such a beautiful hillside's super nice!

    1. SueMccreary 02/17/2021

      Thank you so much. IF you are in our area I would enjoy you visiting our garden. Our local gardening group did a Pop Up garden tour last year and we plan to do it again this year. Great way to invite other garden lovers to see your garden.

  11. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/17/2021

    All so lovely.

  12. wittyone 02/17/2021

    So sorry you have to leave all this loveliness behind but every gardener comes to that decision at some point in time. Hope you find another property to work your magic on. The new owners will be handed a treasure and I hope that they appreciate it and continue your superb work.

  13. User avater
    bdowen 02/17/2021

    Wishing you a smooth transition to your new home/ garden, a new owner for your current bit of paradise who will appreciate the beauty, and time and energy to create a beautiful garden in your new location. Please share your journey with us!

  14. btucker9675 02/17/2021

    Oh the stream with the primroses... so beautiful! You and your husband are truly artists and I'm sorry that you are having to leave this wonderful place. Really hope you will find a buyer who will appreciate all of this - I am always astonished that anyone wouldn't want to find a property like this, but having had to leave other homes and gardens, I know that lots of people just don't seem to care. Makes me sad...

  15. user-5117752 02/17/2021

    All I can say is, you're breaking my heart!!! You certainly have created a paradise and now, to have to leave painful!!! You have shown us how creative and artful you both have been all these years. There ought to be a law that the new owners will give your gardens the same kind of love you have!!!
    I send you both the very best of wishes in your new home!!!

  16. carolineyoungwilliams 02/22/2021

    Sue, Thank you for sharing your garden. Your creativity and designs are like a work of Art. May your new journey be Blessed.

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