Garden Photo of the Day

Wild but Wonderful

This wild garden still looks pretty great

Today’s photos come from Deb Skup.

I have submitted photos before of my garden in the woods near Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. When I was starting my gardens 25 years ago, I got carried away and now have trouble taking care of all of them. My long garden that is along the side of our driveway has gone a bit wild with Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum, Zones 2–9), cup plants (Silphium perfoliatum, Zones 4–8), and blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica, Zones 4–8), but the butterflies really love it. Here are a few shots of my “wild garden” and then a few of my more managed beds in front of our house.

Wild it may be, but it looks pretty good! Combining tall, vigorous plants like cup plants and Joe Pye weed works well because they won’t try to dominate each other the way they would smaller plants. And they’ll even outcompete most weeds.

The cup plant and Joe Pye weed complement each other beautifully. Their tall flowers bloom at about the same height, the colors work together, and of course, native pollinators adore both of them.

One last look at the wild garden. Cup plant may not be a good choice for small gardens, but if you have room for it, it is very beautiful and easy to grow.

This shade planting by the house is all about texture and different shades of green, with the Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra, Zones 5–9) providing a wonderful contrast to the bold leaves of hostas.

A wide view of the beds by the house. Hostas are mostly grown for their leaves, but their flowers are looking pretty good in this shot too.

This is Deb’s husband’s goldfish pond, next to the back patio. I love the shade perennials growing in pockets between the paving stones. They really soften the stone and add a romantic, wild element to the scene.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/03/2019

    Your cup plant looks like you are growing your own personal supply of sunshine of a stick. I can well imagine how popular that long bed lineup is with the winged insect population of your neighborhood. The word must spread...head on over to Deb's Diner where the fixins are plentiful and yummy.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/03/2019

    Deb, I totally understand getting carried away & then as time passes it gets harder to take care of it all. Love your cup plant!

  3. btucker9675 09/03/2019

    HI Deb - I was so excited to see a Wisconsin garden, especially a "wild" one! You may have heard of the Ridges Sanctuary up in Bailey's Harbor - my grandfather, Albert Fuller, was primarily responsible for the original land being set aside, protected against development. The educational/research Cook-Albert Fuller Center was named after my grandpa and Chester Cook, his friend and research assistant. My grandpa was the curator of botany at the Milwaukee Public Museum for over 4 decades, part of the time he served as acting director of the Museum. The Ridges Sanctuary is well worth a visit for any of you who might find yourself up in Door County, WI - ridges

    Grandpa would have loved your "wild" garden - that was right up his alley, he was an avid supporter of native plants and actually discovered a couple native orchids and a species of blackberry. He went to heaven many years ago, but I still miss him!

    Thanks for sharing your garden and your husband's pond is quite lovely.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 09/03/2019

    That part of your garden that went wild looks so amazing and natural! I really love your garden and the way it blends into the woodlands! That little pond is so darling! Really a nice world you created!

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