Garden Photo of the Day

Visiting John’s Beautiful Gardens Again

Blooms, blooms, and more blooms!

cat sipping water from garden water feature

Today we’re revisiting John Blair’s beautiful garden in Michigan.

I thought Garden Photo of the Day might enjoy seeing some updates on the progress of my pollinator gardens since my previous submissions (John’s Butterfly Garden in Michigan and More From John’s Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden in Michigan). After filling all available sunny space in my original southeastern Michigan gardens, my wife and I decided to move to a beautiful rural area with nine acres in the middle part of southern Michigan in early 2019 with lots of room for new gardens. Since then, we have created three large pollinator gardens focused on blending native plants with our favorite nonnative (and noninvasive) nectar plants. The first garden we made in 2019, the Back garden, is outside of our walkout basement. In 2020, we made the Front garden inside of our driveway circle, and in 2021, we created what we call the “Monolith” garden. There is a sandstone mine about 10 miles away, where we picked out a 10-foot-tall monolithic stone and had our landscaper erect it on our property to be the centerpiece of the new third garden. It has been fun seeing the gardens get more beautiful as they mature each year and thought folks here might like to see.

There is a wide variety of plants used in the three gardens. Here are some of the highlights: Native plants include Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium dubium, Zones 3–9), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata, Zones 3–6), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa, Zones 5–9), Rudbeckia and goldenrods (Solidago spp.) of several kinds, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 4–8), liatris (Liatris spicata, Zones 3–8), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis, Zones 3–9), Monarda, asters (Symphyotrichum spp.), garden phlox (Phlox paniculata, Zones 4–8), and others. Nonnative favorites used are Zinnia (California Giant, State Fair, Profusion, and Zowie Yellow Flame), Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia, annual), Verbena bonariensis (Zones 7–10 or as an annual), ‘Victoria Blue’ salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’, Zones 8–10 or as an annual), cleome (Cleome hassleriana, annual), Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum, Zones 5–9), Sedum, black and blue salvia (Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’, Zones 7–11 or as an annual), Veronica, and others.

We are pleased to see numerous pollinators visiting throughout the season, including butterflies, moths, bees of all sorts, and also hummingbirds! We look forward to increasing and expanding the gardens more each year as we are able. We have included a selection of photos from each of the three gardens for you to see. We hope you enjoy!

colorful flower garden with pot fountain and monolith The monolith in the new front garden makes a dramatic statement, surrounded by clouds of flowers.

mulched path and garden beds leading to cabin at sunsetThe dramatic light at the beginning and end of a day turns any garden in a magical space.

hummingbird flying toward orange and yellow zinniaA hummingbird comes in to nectar at a zinnia bloom.

close up of water feature and surrounding flower bedsA burbling water feature takes center stage, surrounded by low-growing zinnia hybrids and tall black and blue sage.

mulched garden path cutting through colorful flower bedsA tidy mulched path leads through the lush displays of flowers.

wide view of the garden beds full of colorful flowersNo wonder pollinators love this garden. Look at all the blooms!

close up of zinnias of various colorsIt’s hard to beat good-old zinnias for their ease of growth, beautiful colors, and popularity with pollinators.

garden bed with blue and purple flowersThis section is all shades of blue, purple, and mauve flowers, anchored by Verbena bonariensis, Salvia ‘Victoria Blue’, and cleome.

rainbow over garden bedsA rainbow over the garden

close up of Swallowtail butterfly on tiny flowersA swallowtail butterfly nectars on the flowers of Verbena bonariensis.

cat sipping water from garden water featureA four-legged garden resident sips at the water feature in front of a blazingly bright clump of butterfly weed.


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.

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View Comments


  1. alicefleurkens 03/03/2023

    John, you literally have turned your property into a piece of paradise. Love everything about it. alice

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      Thank you so much, Alice!

  2. katherine_8 03/03/2023

    Hello from Ontario, John :)

    Your garden is absolutely spectacular. Takes my breath away. I love how it's so natural and not all "manicured".
    Congratulations on a lovely garden.

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      Thanks for your kind comments, Katherine. So glad you enjoyed the photos.

  3. katherine_8 03/03/2023

    ...........oh and cute kitty cat too :)

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      Yes! That is Charlotte :-)

  4. User avater
    bdowen 03/03/2023

    So much color! Nice photos of the hummingbird and butterfly as well. Would love to see the progress, earlier to what's to come as well as different seasons.

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      I have all of those photos. If you friend me on Facebook, I can direct you to my photo albums. My Facebook profile photo is a group of colorful zinnias.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 03/03/2023

    Fabulous garden! You had me with the amazing cat at the fountain drinking water!
    I love seeing your all blue and purple border, just a gorgeous as I could imagine!
    Also you've captured so many amazing birds and butterflies with your excellent photography!

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      So glad you enjoyed the photos, Sue! My photography hobby dovetails really nicely with gardening. It allows me to share the beautiful things I see with others.

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 03/03/2023

    9 acres!!! Unreal! It is all so very, very lovely.

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      Thanks, Sheila! It is a dream come true for us to have this wonderful piece of land to work with.

      1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

        Whoops! Meant to say Treasuresmom. Looks like Sheila is just below :-)

  7. sheila_schultz 03/03/2023

    John, your gardens are a dream come true for all the pollinators that take a rest stop in your area and the humans that get to gaze upon the gift of color and texture your abundance of flowers provide. Bravo!!! Keep the photos coming.

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      Thanks, Sheila! It is truly amazing to see the variety and numbers of butterflies and pollinators that visit the gardens. One of the highlights was the fall of 2019. We were directly under (by shear luck) a continuous train of migrating Monarchs. They were dipping down into the garden to feed and rest and then rejoined the line of Monarchs in the sky. There were literally hundreds at once in the garden!

  8. wittyone 03/03/2023

    Beautiful flowers and great photographs. I love the low light early evening one. What are the tall (they must be tall!) purple-blue things on the outer edges of the monolith garden behind the annuals in the blue pots. Gorgeous---I have just the spot for something tall and blue----I need that name!

    Being a cat lover of long standing, I have to also ask what kind of cat is that. The markings are wonderful and add an extra element of beauty to your gardens.

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      The tall purple flowers you asked a lot are Senioritta Cleome but unfortunately, they aren’t as tall as it appears in that photo. I have a three foot tall pedestal on either side of the water feature with a cerulean blue ceramic pot on top. The chromes are both planted in those pots. The pedestals are hidden by the plants. My cat Charlotte is a Classic Pattern Ocicat. We love this breed because they want to be with you and help (lol!) you all the time!

      1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

        Looks like there is no way to edit here after posting. Should say “about”, not “a lot” and “cleomes”, not “chromes” . These autocorrect things sometimes are more trouble than they are worth, lol!

  9. User avater
    user-7007816 03/03/2023

    John, Beautiful garden for both us humans, and pollinators, and your kitty. Thanks for sharing.

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      It’s my pleasure!

  10. user-7821942 03/03/2023

    John, truly a labor of love. Beautiful, peaceful, dramatic, and inspiring. Even the cat is beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the gardens!

  11. btucker9675 03/03/2023

    Wow, just wow!!! Love your beautiful kitty, too. I have two miniature poodles who also consider themselves to be very ornamental in the garden. : )

    1. JohnBlairgardens 03/03/2023

      Pets are such a joy and having them enjoy a romp in the garden with us is splendid!

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