Garden Photo of the Day

Tim and Laura’s Garden

Making beauty in dry, sandy soil

gravel garden path at late day

Today we’re visiting the garden of husband and wife Tim Boland (a botanist) and Laura Coit (a designer).

Here are some pictures of our home garden on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. It is a drought-tolerant garden amid an oak forest where the soil lacks organic matter. We garden on composted soil built up over 16 years. We have selected plants for their ability to grow in the tough conditions of sandy soil and intense island winds. The design is a modern take on a cottage garden, with an ecological approach to plant selection. As a result, several island seed-grown natives are used in combination with nonnative but highly adaptable perennials and grasses.

gravel garden path at late dayPictured here, and capturing the late-day light, is the gravel path entry to our home. It is flanked by Nassella tenuissima (Zones 5–10), Baptisia tinctoria (Zones 3–9), Aquilegia canadensis (Zones 3–8), Stachys ‘Helene von Stein’ (Zones 4–8), Symphyotrichum oblongifolium ‘October Skies’ (Zones 3–8), and a liberal dose of island-grown Asclepias tuberosa (Zones 4–10).

caterpillar eating a milkweed plantA monarch butterfly caterpillar munches on Asclepias incarnata (Zones 3–8) which, despite its common name of swamp milkweed, is happy in wet or drier soil.

orange butterfly weed in full bloomButterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) of course is a great host plant for monarch butterflies, but it is also just incredibly beautiful.

flowers in various shades of orangeButterfly weed and hybrid coneflowers (Echinacea hybrids, Zones 5–9) make a fiery combination of colors and great food for native insects.

Mountain mintThis combination of mountain mint (Pycnanthemum sp., Zones 4–8) backed by amsonia (Amsonia hubrichtii, Zone 5 – 8) looks great now and will only get better in the fall as the amsonia takes on its wonderful yellow fall color.


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View Comments


  1. runfortheroses 08/04/2021

    Beautiful gravel path, and the combo of mountain mint with paired with Amsonia is clever. Nicely played!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/04/2021

    Wow! Lovely!

  3. user-7694639 08/04/2021

    What variety is the ornamental grass growing along your path? It seems to be just what I’m looking for. Very nice garden.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 08/04/2021

    Beautiful plantings, I was hoping to see your home also, on Martha's Vineyard in context to your garden.
    I love Martha's Vineyard, but I sure bet it is a gardening challenge as you said with the type of soil there, and the salt mist winds!
    Love that garden path to your cottage!

  5. sheila_schultz 08/04/2021

    The photo of your garden path is made almost magical with the softness of Nassella tenuissima. It's all quite beautiful and must be a butterfly magnet with all of the wonderful Asclepias. I'm especially drawn to the combo of coneflowers and butterfly weed, it is stunning!

  6. btucker9675 08/04/2021

    Agree with others - that gravel path is lovely and the perfect introduction to your beautiful garden.

  7. [email protected] 08/04/2021

    I like all the photos, but agree that the combo of coneflowers and asclepias is my favorite! I have planted similar varieties, but they haven't taken off like yours have (yet). Here's hoping I have a pretty result, too. Thanks for sharing.

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