Garden Photo of the Day

The Summer That Was at the 45th Parallel

The year in Susan's front garden

Today Susan Warde is letting us visit her St. Paul, Minnesota, garden. She was inspired by the posts from Cherry and me looking back at “the summer that was” in our gardens, and so she did the same in her garden! We’re going to see her front garden today and the back garden tomorrow. I hope you’ll share your “summer that was” in your garden as well! It is fun seeing how everyone’s plants have performed throughout the year.

April 27: Crocuses and wildflowers come up in early April in chilly Minnesota, but the garden only starts looking like one when the scilla (Scilla siberica, Zones 3–8) and ‘Royal Star’ magnolias (Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’, Zones 4–9) come into bloom.

May 16: Here’s the sundial (seen in the background in the former photo), surrounded by midsize bearded irises (‘Cherry Garden’) and an unknown heuchera that I bought at a yard sale. It produces starry white flowers for much of the summer. You can see a bit of prairie smoke (Geum triflorum, Zones 3–7) at either side of the photo. The scilla are done blooming, but the foliage is not yet wilted and yellow. By the time that happens, other plants will have covered up the unsightly leaves.

May 21: The azaleas (Rhododendron hybrids) are just coming into bloom. These are from the Northern Lights series, bred at the University of Minnesota to be fully hardy in cold climates (some down to –40°F). Mine are in yellows and pinks, but there are also some show-stopping orange and flame varieties. The little pink flowers to the left of the walk are primroses (Primula sieboldii, Zones 5–7). The small tree to the right of the front door is a Zone 4–hardy Korean-Japanese maple hybrid (Acer× pseudosieboldianum, ’North Wind’).

June 5: This is the place where the front garden becomes the side garden, though actually there are no clear boundaries. A ‘Honey Gold’ peony (Paeonia ‘Honey Gold’, Zones 3–8) is in the foreground. The fern to the right of the peony is narrow-leaved spleenwort (Diplazium pycnocarpon, Zones 3–8). In the same garden are irises: Siberian (Iris pseudacorus) and a tall bearded iris (‘Sultry Mood’). The beginning of the back garden can be seen at the top of the photo.

June 27: An enormous white-flowered hosta (a gift from a neighbor) takes center stage. The spiky leaves of Iris pseudacorus (Zones 5–9) are in the foreground.

July 23: The tall white lilies with gold centers are Lilium ‘Conca d’or’ (Zones 4–8). I had them for about six years. They are gorgeous and fragrant but so dramatic that I felt they detracted from the rest of the garden. I gave them away and have now substituted lilies that I hope will fit in better. The tall pinky-lavender blooms are from an Astilbe.

July 29: This is the part of the garden seen in the fourth photo, now dominated by blazing star (Liatris, Zones 3–8), black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia, Zones 3–8), and coneflowers (Echinacea, Zones 4–8).

July 31: I don’t plant any annuals, but July is truly an over-the-top month in the garden even without them. Here’s the sundial seen before, and now the heuchera are in bloom. The gold daylilies are Hemerocallis ‘Erin Lea’ (Zones 4–9). Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum × superbum, Zones 5–9) and phlox (Phlox paniculata, Zones 4–9) are also flowering at this time.

September 12: Angelica gigas (Zones 4–8) is just beginning to go to seed. It’s a biennial. The little first-year plants can be moved if they appear in awkward places. This specimen is by the wall that separates the garden from the public sidewalk, and people often stop and examine the flowers (and the many bees and wasps that visit). In the background is a 40-year-old white pine (Pinus strobus, Zones 3–8) with a climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris, Zones 4–8) scrambling up the trunk.

October 22: Last winter, rabbits girdled two of the three stems of a serviceberry planted here next to the porch, and by midsummer two of them had died. I planted this ‘Royal Raindrops’ crabapple (Malus sp.) instead. (Its burgundy foliage can be seen on the left side of the porch in the previous photo.) By October the foliage had turned a brilliant orange. I’m looking forward to its magenta-pink flowers next spring.


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.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. User avater
    simplesue 11/16/2023

    Beautiful! So peaceful! I just love your garden! Although it's a common design as a perennial bed garden with grass paths, so often done- your's has such a unique feeling with your plant choices and combinations. Very outstanding! Oh and your iron gate and cottage are darling!

  2. btucker9675 11/16/2023

    Love your house and beautiful garden!!!

  3. gardenconcierge 11/16/2023

    Your garden is just lovely! Everything just works so well. What a pleasure to imagine myself there through your photos.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest