Garden Photo of the Day

Victoria’s garden in Indiana

This is where most of my sunshine is so most of my plantings are in the front yard. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte

Today’s photos are from Victoria Witte in Bloomington, Indiana. She says, “I just finished writing a letter to a friend and included a bunch of pictures of my garden and since it is looking so nice this year (even in late July) I thought I would send you some that I have taken thus far this season. After the past two horrible growing seasons we have had a perfect year so far—-lots of rain, nice cool weather and no catastrophic winds to blow things over and make a mess. Maybe all my winter wishes have come true this season.

The bed to the right of the walk is in its third season and it is just now completely filling out. We had an enormous white pine taken out and it looked so empty. Something had to be done and I may have overdone it with coneflowers, perennial grass ‘Hamlin’, Stachys ‘Helene von Stein’, and plumbago in bloom now. Also there are asters, crocosmia, Siberian iris, candytuft, calamentha, and various thymes and creeping veronicas filling in as groundcovers in the spring before the others get up and do much growing. May have to do a little thinning out there, ya think? Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte

“A lot of the plants that I have planted here have come from a group called Perennial Exchange. It’s a organization made up of gardeners from about 15 counties in southwestern Indiana who trade divisions of perennials at twice-yearly swaps. Because of this I don’t know a lot of the varieties and having planted some of them so long ago I can’t remember the varieties that I did buy.”

Who cares about plant names, Victoria? Your garden is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing.

****LOTS more info in the captions****

This is a hibiscus (I forget the variety now) that I planted last summer. I just found out how to prune it properly and so it is blooming beautifully this year. Behind is a mature Japanese maple with peonies planted around it replacing the daylilies that have been in place below it. I’m trying to eliminate “deer food” as much as possible to cut down on the frustration factor. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte

I’ll say it again: This is prime time to take some photos in your garden. So get out there with your cameras and send some in! Email them to [email protected].

This bed, photographed earlier this month, has been around for awhile now. It sports bee balm, and ‘Becky’ daisies and allium just beginning to bloom. Behind the daisies are several different varieties of agapanthus , peonies, perennial geraniums, asters and russian sage which have either already bloomed or are yet to come. It is anchored by a Ninebark ‘Diabolo’ which I planted quite a few years ago before the newer dwarf varieties came along. Wish I had waited, this one has to be pruned every year to keep it from getting too tall. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte
On the other side of the front yard are older beds, the one on the right, I have recently resized and am replanting so it looks a bit thin. I have allium and baptisia coming along with a tiny ornamental quince in the center struggling against the depredations of the deer to make a go of it. The chaste tree in the left-hand bed is one of my favorite plants. This far north it dies back each winter but pruned in late winter it makes for a lovely tall bush. In front of the chaste tree I have put in numerous varieties of salvia, again to foil the deer, as well as veronicastrum for more mid summer bloom and a few daffodils and primroses for spring bloom. Most of the bed has been taken over by asters and obedient plant which need to be thinned out considerably. Last fall I dug out some of the spreaders behind the birdhouse and added several joe pye weed plants which are just beginning to bloom and a filipendula which is blooming but too small to show up as yet. I’ll take out more this fall and add ironweed to fill in. I’ve begun to think that native varieties which you can see blooming profusely by the roadside in many cases, are the way to go because of hardiness, resistance to disease, and ease of cultivation. It’s always good to have some plants that can pretty much take care of themselves. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte
This is the one shady spot in the front yard underneath a tall white pine. Recently I’ve moved the hostas that I like the most from other parts of the yard and placed them around the base of the tree. Having them all concentrated in one place makes them easy to spray with deer repellent. Also in this area are ferns, brunnera, forget me nots, celandine poppies, pulmonaria, european ginger and creeping comfrey. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte
This is the herb garden which I put in about 20 years ago. My husband brought home a pile of pine that he got with some “good” wood at an auction and he offered to build me a fence around the herb garden that I was just beginning to plan. He’s good at what he does and it’s lasted quite well. I have managed to actually fit in some herbs: thyme, bronze fennel, rosemary, parcel, oregano, groundcover St. Johnswort, comphrey, costmary, parsley, sorrel. However, inevitably just regular flowers creep in so I have shoehorned in a knockout rose, lilac, a bush-type St Johnswort, butterfly bush, nepeta and black eyed susan and valeriana. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte
Here’s the walkway between the house and the herb garden. Over the years I’ve put in acanthus, chelone, pulmonaria, hostas, daylilies, ferns, primroses, galium which stick around through the growing season. Little ones like bloodroot, corydalis, dutchman’s breeches, and forget-me-nots, show up early and for the most part then go back underground for a long sleep but something is always going on in this area. A very rambunctious bunch. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte
My husband built the potting shed for me about 7 years ago. He designed it so we got to add lots of interesting details like the leaded windows that we found at antique store and the gingerbread on the porch that I bought from a business in Texas which manufactures all kinds of detailed house and porch ornamentation.  Nothing much going on bloomwise here because of the shade provided by the pine tree next to it. The tall hollies are volunteers from my next door neighbors yard. Finally after 7 years they have gotten old enough to bloom and produce berries. I’ve waited to find out which are males and which are females so now I can take some of them out since they are really too thick right there. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte
Here’s the limestone patio which my husband put in soon after we moved to this house nearly 30 years ago now. This area has until recently been very much shaded by an 80 foot beech tree that we had to have removed last fall. With all the new sunshine the grapevines across the support for the swing have really done well this year. I’ve put in a clematis on one of the uprights and now need to figure out what to put above the patio to utilize the new sun situation. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte
Beyond the patio I put in a border between the semi-shady area and the really shady back. Pulmonarias, ginger, ferns, aconite, cimicifuga, foam flowers, and columbine fill out the border. Behind the border the really shady back has mostly ephemerals and wildflowers which of course are back underground or not blooming now in mid summer. Mayapples, celandine poppies, crested iris cimicifuga, ferns, ginger, big blue lobelia, jacob’s ladder, trillium, bloodroot, cardinal flower, epimedium, sweet woodruff, dutchman’s breeches, as well as a big stand of daffodills in the far corner which light things up in early spring. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte
Last but not least is a picture of the wisteria which bloomed really well this year. It’s hit and miss and I guess depends on whether I do the pruning correctly and at the right time. So sometimes it’s lovely and sometimes a bust. Lucked out this year. And yes, my husband built this too. He’s such a clever fellow and so handy to have around. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Victoria Witte

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View Comments


  1. user-1020932 08/01/2013

    great space and garden . my favorite,,, the bed to the right of the walkway with the coneflowers, don't trim it. i LIKE it a lot the way it is and the potting shed area is another favorite. the part i enjoyed the most,,,,,reading your photo captions, i would love to visit the garden just for your descriptions and history of each bed. great structures your husband has built. i need him, Darwin Anderson and Rob here in tennessee for about a month for their carpentry skills! great job and i like the plant swap event idea

  2. crizmo 08/01/2013

    Yesterday I listened to the new episode of Garden Confidential:

    The subject of the podcast had developed a garden over several decades. I am struck by what can be done when a gardener settles in for a long time, in Victoria's case at least 30 years.

    At 62, I am pretty sure I am not going to be able to give any place that kind of attention but I am glad for those who can and the ability to enjoy the results of their effort.

  3. user-1020932 08/01/2013

    so right , Crizmo, a garden takes lots of work, plants and TIME to fill in and develop roots and legs. don't be so sure at 62 that you can't give the attention i have a 91 year old client who gets ahead of me sometimes she is a firecracker

  4. terieLR 08/01/2013

    Good morning Victoria, Your herb garden fence is fantastic. Handy husbands rock! The potting shed looks so inviting and the fact that you were able to incorporate some antique treasures make it extra special. Sometimes the 'no bloom' areas are just as beautiful, signifying simplicity. These are the areas that I find the most restful when placing a bench. I am basking in winter wishes this season also. All blooming is lasting longer and numerous hummingbirds are very happy. :)

  5. tractor1 08/01/2013

    I love a mature garden and knowing how it evolved. Victoria and her husband accomplished a remarkable transformation over many years, kudos! And yet another garden shed to add to my list of favorites. That limestone patio is superb... I like all the paved areas, the brick walk, and the round stepping stones set in shredded bark, and not a speck of cheapo lazy man's shortcut gravel in sight. That hibiscus is a real show stopper, even matches the stop sign. Thank you, Victoria.

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/01/2013

    Victoria, what a delightful visit I feel I have had with you this morning. I have so enjoyed and appreciated all that you shared via your commentary which accompanied each photo. Is there such a thing as a "gardenlogue"...if not, I am officially declaring it a word and thanking you for taking the time to put one together for us here on GPOD. Ha, hope that all made sense!
    You have such an abundance of diverse plant material...I am in awe.
    You and your husband are a formidable gardening team...his contributions add so much...nothing like great hardscape to get the creative juices flowing in a gardener. Is the aqua blue toned bench in the sightline at all of the potting shed since its door seems to have the same color as the bench? And is it the same paint color...just curious.
    I love everything!

  7. cwheat000 08/01/2013

    Victoria your garden was a real treat to peek at this morning. Thank you for all the commentary. I felt like I was on a personal tour. It sounds like you are a real plant lover. You have a wonderful mix of many plants. I too love the stuffed bed with the coneflowers, I love the little white fence around your herb garden ( I would love some pics inside there, some closeups, and some pics in springtime if you find the time),and your back patio. That area, I am sure, will only get better as the vines mature and you capitalize on the new found sun. Your house is lovely and unique. I love all the stone. I always thought chaste tree was too large for my needs. You made a light bulb go off in my head. In my cold climate it would probably behave like yours. You and your husband make a great gardening team.

  8. NevadaSue 08/01/2013

    Victoria, I love your garden. I love your house and the setting.. You have done a lovely job of placing plantings. The patio is beautiful and the little picket fence has the look of creatively as does the potting shed. What special gifts from your husband. Thanks for the descriptions under each picture. I enjoyed the tour. Thanks for sharing with us. and do send more as time goes by. You give me inspiration in my task of creating something from nothing here in NV. :)

  9. wittyone 08/01/2013

    tractor 1 I may have to go with some of that cheapo gravel rather than the shredded bark mulch around the stepping stones. This walkway is a new addition and put in hoping to slow down the run off from the lot above us and the patio when the gutters overflow. I have a major wash out right now after a couple of downpours. We'll see how it holds with just regular rain and then decide what to do.

    meander1 Yes, the bench is the same paint as the trim on the potting shed. I love that color all by itself but it really goes well with the two greens of the shed and the green of the pine and holly. Makes the trim really pop. And yes, the bench by the pathway between the house and herb garden is just across the way from the potting shed and behind the herb garden. There is a curved backless bench in the back corner of the herb garden that is also painted that same color.

    cwheat000 You will love the chaste tree. I dithered over getting one for a year since it was listed as hardy only to the zone below mine. But since I am right at the bottom edge of my zone I decided to give it a shot and with a lot of mulching it has done fine. I do wish I could grow it as a tree and a couple of zones south that would be possible. I've seen pictures of it in tree form and it has a gorgeous shape and is covered with flowers! It has a very Mediterranean look. The stone is easy to come by here since this is an area rich with limestone quarries and numerous fabricators.

  10. tractor1 08/01/2013

    wittyone: Runoff will wash gravel down hill, will also wash away the soil beneath the gravel, eventually you'll have a major erosion problem with stones all over where you don't want them amd you will not have resolved your issue, only made it worse. I have several areas on my property where runoff creates errosion, I would strongly suggest you consider installing a culvert... you may only need to create a swall or a small ditch. I have a seasonal stream that passes behind my barn. The last owner covered the area where it turns with gravel but each time there was a heavy rain the gravel would wash away. To eliminate this problem I had a culvert installed; a large diameter corrogated plastic pipe covered over with shale and topped with a good layer of topsoil, not very expensive and problem solved... depending on the magnitude of your problem area you may even be able to do this yourself... I had a local excavating company install my culvert, cost $800... my only extra expense was a fifty pound sack of grass seed that I planted myself.

  11. user-1020932 08/01/2013

    wait a minute, i only now "figgered out" that wittyone and victoria is the same person! so nice to see your garden and it is a great one. my experience with gravel and/or pebble walkways is that if one addresses the water issue prior to installation there won't be a problem. that's just my experience over the past 40 years and i haven't had a problem with it yet mulch , however, can and will float

  12. tractor1 08/01/2013

    Obviously if one corrects the runoff issue it wouldn't much matter what materials one uses... organic mulch won't float once the runoff issue is resolved. But gravel will not correct the runoff issue, it'll hide it (sweeps it under the rug) for a short while until the next heavy rain and the soil underneath washes out... just long enough for the landscaper to cash the check. lol I would correct the water issue before doing anything. I prefer either permanent paving or organic material, organic decays so it's very easy to make it a planted area in the future, but with gravel it's a big hassle to remove for planting (you'll never get it all) and to me gravel always looks cheap because it is cheap... a lot of landscapers like to use builder's gravel to keep prices low, it's cheap to buy and installs very quickly with no expensive machinery and with a little unskilled labor... anyone who can wield a wheelbarrow and a rake can install gravel walks. And you cannot compact gravel, because of its configuration gravel easily migrates, round stones do not interlock like crushed stone. I could have kept the shale but I decided I much prefered grass so I had the extra top soil installed, now it's a lovely lawn area to match the rest of my property... I don't need any extra stones to wreck my mower blades. The excavating company I use does good work, they even scraped my good topsoil to the side before commencing work and then scraped it all back, they only had to add six yards to fill the voids in the shale. I suggest Victoria have an experienced excavating company survey her problem before doing anything, she may not need to do more than dig a trench and install a small diameter perforated pvc pipe (6-8") to divert runoff, something one may be able to easily do themself and at very little cost.

  13. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/01/2013

    Victoria, sign me up as a big fan of that aqua blue color also. You are so right with how well it goes with the various greens offered up by Mother Nature as well whatever green might be an accessory paint color. My husband just recently finished up 2 woodworking projects for me (an awesome wheelbarrow and a 2 story birdhouse) and I have already painted them an aqua blue.
    Your garden shed has such the hint of Victorian "gingerbread" trim on the porch columns.

  14. janeeliz 08/02/2013

    Thanks for sharing your lovely garden, Victoria. Love the lush blue plumbago ground cover in front of your beautiful stand of echinacea. Your husband wonderful structures add so much to each individual garden. Please send us future photos showing some of your special spring ephemerals...

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