Garden Photo of the Day

Surprises and Lessons From Barbara’s Garden

Looking back at the past year in the garden

Self-seeding columbine

Today’s photos are from Barbara Owen in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

I’ve been enjoying the submissions from many gardeners showing their “best in show” or “summer highlights.” As I reviewed my photos from the past gardening season, I was reminded of the surprises and lessons my garden had for me.

Sargent cherrySargent cherry (Prunus sargentii, Zones 4–7) is so beautiful for about three weeks. Take time to appreciate its beauty while it’s blooming.

HelleborusHellebores (Helleborus hybrid, Zones 4–9) are such workhorses, starting early in the season, blooming like this mid-April in Massachusetts. It’s wonderful to have plants blooming in the garden for early bees. Plant more!

snow covering lounge chairsWe had a snowstorm on April 16. Mother Nature is full of surprises. Gardeners live with a constant reminder to be resilient and able to adapt to whatever happens.

Self-seeding columbineSelf-seeding columbine (Aquilegia hybrid, Zones 3–8). These flowers grow where they choose, moving around the garden with occasional encouragement from me, sometimes surprising me with their choices. Sometimes the garden is best appreciated from a sitting-in-the-dirt level.

RhododendronRhododendron (Zones 5–9). As I listen to my California family count each raindrop, I’m extra appreciative of the rain that falls in my garden, even when it seems like more than necessary in one storm.

Daylily ‘Strawberry Candy’This is ‘Strawberry Candy’ daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Strawberry Candy’, Zones 3–9). I plant, sometimes it rains; often it’s sunny and this exuberance happens. I am so grateful for the joy of the garden flowers.

Garter snakeRemember to be appreciative of the visitors who appear.

Monarch butterflies on zinniasMonarch butterflies alight on zinnias (Zinnia elegans, annual) grown from collected seed. Monarchs, painted ladies, viceroys—all are welcome visitors. Next summer I’ll plant even more zinnias as well as other plants important to pollinators.

Garden borderSometimes the most carefully planned color schemes don’t work out. My “red” garden didn’t look right until I added some accents of purple and white. I think I needed to learn from the range of colors in the zinnias and build from that.

burgundy coleus, red-orange dahlia and red salviaI put a randomly purchased deep burgundy coleus (Coleus scutellarioides, Zones 10–11 or as an annual) in an out-of-the-way place behind a red-orange dahlia (Dahlia variabilis, Zones 8–10 or as a tender bulb) and zinnias bordered by red salvia (Salvia splendens, Zones 9–11 or as an annual). It decided to grow to have a major place in the color scheme, picking up the color of the dahlia leaves and contrasting with all the flowers. Sometimes the plants have their own message to share.

the garden is covered with a blanket of eight inches of snowToday the garden is covered with a blanket of 8 inches of snow, a reminder of the dramatic and beautiful changes in our New England landscape from one season to another.

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  1. sagebird52 01/17/2022

    Great garden!! love the colors - well kept

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/17/2022

    Everything is gorgeous but that cherry is just a wowzer!

    1. User avater
      bdowen 01/17/2022

      Thank you. The transition from a teacher's garden to a retiree's garden was helpful.

    2. User avater
      bdowen 01/17/2022

      When so many more people were out walking in the spring of 2020, it was fun to see how many people stopped to take a photo or selfie with the cherry. It in a perfect spot to be enjoyed by anyone on the street.

      1. madcosta_7 01/18/2022

        looks like a Leave it to Beaver street....LOVE IT! Also your photos and plantings are beautiful.

  3. PattyLouise 01/17/2022

    Lovely gardens! Thanks for sharing!

  4. user-7037040 01/17/2022

    Beautiful photos of beautiful flowers Barbara! As one of your Boston suburb neighbors, I hope you get to NativePlantTrust to pick up some natives to boost your pollinator powers, like Rose Milkweed for your Monarchs to deposit eggs on! And "Jeana" phlox and Mountain Mint- you will be amazed!

    1. User avater
      bdowen 01/17/2022

      Definitely - that's one of my favorite spring walks. Thank you for your suggestions of specific plants to look for.

  5. dceddowning 01/17/2022

    Beautiful! This is a wonderful set of photos, and some interesting lessons that that gardens can teach us, if we're willing to take the time watch and observe. I think it is a truism that gardeners are among the most thoughtful, observant, and patient people I know. This garden is always a delight to see, and even better when we can learn from it. Thank you!

    1. User avater
      bdowen 01/17/2022

      Thank you for your comments and appreciation!

  6. User avater
    cynthia2020 01/17/2022

    Hi, Barbara.
    I enjoyed reading your text and looking at the wide views of your garden and the close-ups of the flowers and wildlife. I appreciate you sharing your challenges and surprises - like how the addition of burgundy, pink, and white affected the red theme - made me think of advancing or receding hues, tones, tints, and shades.

    1. User avater
      bdowen 01/17/2022

      I always appreciate the chance to play around with the color palate in my garden with each season, though I think the reds, oranges and yellows end up dominating in the garden as well as in my closet. I try to put the pastels against the fence, a 20' setback from the house to give some illusion of space.

  7. user-5117752 01/17/2022

    Just love your posting, both photos and text. But, you didn't label that snake and it is beautiful if not scary. I love all my creatures too. Love your shot of the Monarchs on the zinnias. Your colors are wonderful!

    1. User avater
      bdowen 01/17/2022

      Snake- basic New England garter snake, helpful, not dangerous, just often a surprise when they choose to appear.

  8. btucker9675 01/17/2022

    The snake is an Eastern Garter snake and they are beautiful and very beneficial in the garden. Your gorgeous cherry tree reminded me of the two beautiful crabapple trees I had in my garden in northern NJ - when they were in full bloom they were traffic stoppers, too. Part of their beauty is their ephemeral bloom period. Thanks for sharing your truly lovely garden.

    1. User avater
      bdowen 01/17/2022

      Thank you for your comments! Yes, capture the moment.

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    simplesue 01/17/2022

    Wow your Hellebores are amazing...the best I've ever seen!
    The snake is beautiful and I like your appreciation for allowing nature to exist peacefully in your garden.
    Such a nice river rock wall too!
    I really enjoyed this post, your writing and garden photos!

  10. User avater
    simplesue 01/17/2022

    PS....oh how could I forget to marvel at the beauty of your Cherry Tree, such a perfect tree!

  11. User avater
    bdowen 01/17/2022

    The rock wall- New England soil! All dug from garden areas in our 1/4 acre. The last time I rebuilt it was a scorching hot day so I appreciate your noticing it.

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