Garden Photo of the Day

Susan’s Garden in the Catskills

Easy plants help build a gardener’s confidence

pink phlox flowers

Today we’re in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, visiting Susan Simperfender’s garden.

I’m a self-taught gardener who has benefited from advice from locals, friends, and our local nursery—and Fine Gardening! It’s been about 15 years of cultivating all you see here. I got especially passionate about 2010 when things were quite hard and my garden was my haven for healing.

garden bed in full bloomMy husband built the stone border for me—60 feet by 5 feet of garden. I chose the location by looking out my kitchen window while doing dishes, imagining what I’d like to see. I started with many silly plants that didn’t make it because I knew nothing.

pink phlox flowersThe late phlox (Phlox paniculata, Zones 4–8) you see here was my first success. Anyone can grow phlox—especially in the Catskills. It’ll make you feel like you can do this!

yellow flowers next to light green flowersNext was the showy sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3–10).

garden full of yellow flowersWhen I bought the tall rudbeckia (Rudbeckia laciniata, Zones 4–9) on the ends and middle. I thought I was buying black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida, Zones 4–9)! Oh well. So I replanted them in their current locations for contrast and direction. Finally, I bought black-eyed Susans for real. And again, you can’t fail at them.

purple and white irisesIrises (Iris hybrid, bearded group, Zones 3–9) have become a beautiful group in the front and bee balm dots throughout.

Joe Pye weedJoe Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum, Zones 3–8) is the silliest addition. It popped up as one last year and I kept it; now there are seven. So you see, I work with my Zone 5 and have learned to enjoy it and to encourage what lives our mediocre soil that is supplemented with good soil.

dark purple columbine flowersDark purple columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris, Zones 3–8)

Mountain cornflowerMountain cornflower (Centaurea montana, Zones 3–8) in front of a birdbath

tree-lined street on a foggy dayAnd last, a magical, foggy morning


Have a garden you’d like to share?

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View Comments


  1. btucker9675 09/24/2021

    What a very pretty garden - this is exactly the style I love, so natural, textural and colorful. And that foggy morning photo really is magical!

  2. User avater
    simplesue 09/24/2021

    Such a gorgeous garden!
    I just had to save your photo of Mountain cornflower (Centaurea montana to my Pinterest page to look at again.
    The beautiful fog photo of the road is so nice to see also!
    Your stone border planting bed is a great kitchen view!
    You sure can grow healthy plants!

  3. Rebeccazone7 09/24/2021

    I'm still moving stuff around as you never know how something will grow til you try it. Every year is a new adventure. I'm learning about shade, as trees are so much bigger...Looks like you have the all looks great. I'd love to borrow your husband, just for the stone

  4. User avater
    bdowen 09/24/2021

    Beautiful garden but I especially appreciate your sense of humor about your adventures with the garden.

  5. bsavage 09/25/2021

    Lovely! Live and learn with a zone 5 garden! Hello from Dolores, Colorado!

  6. carolineyoungwilliams 09/28/2021

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful yard Susan. I love your choice of plants, colors and heights. Keep up the good work.

  7. reymac214 10/14/2021

    This is one of the most beautiful garden i saw. Thank you for sharing.

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