before and after, a work in progress

dansgrdnAugust 6, 2007

Koidom and Janice's project photos have inspired me to share some photos of my own. This is definately still a work in progress. I started out with a plan, but the collector in me usually rules out, and things tend to end up looking a little cluttered and incongruous. It'll take a few years for me to get it dialed in, omitting certain things and possibly adding others.

Before (May '07)

End of day one ( who would have thought 3 tons of rock would not have been enough, notice the unfinished black paint line in front)

Rain postponed my next effort but that gave me time to rest my aching back. I ordered 2 more tons of rock (this time 8-12" vs. the 12-18" that I ordered the first time) and this is was what it looked like at the end of day two.

Finally here are some pictures from yesterday. Should look better next Spring.

Well gotta go to bed, long day tomorrow, hope you like the pics. Have a great week! Dan

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goldedger(z5 Ontario Canada)

Love the pics, the rocks, the plants, everything Dan. Incredible what 3 months and a lot of work can do. Your "work in progress" is gorgeous, looks pretty finished to - can you come and do mine now???

Great job!!!


    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 4:15AM
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That is fabulous, Dan!! I really, really love your results! I'm a HUGE fan of rocks and your plant choices are wonderful!!

I'm in the process of filling a front bed, that I've sort of had a similar idea, but had to use the larger landscape blocks instead of the rocks, (I definitely prefer the look of rocks) but I am no longer able to do the lifting to move and place them. We hired out that task, and was assured, because of having our yard drop off toward the end of the house, that the blocks would be a more secure application, in our situation!

I will save your pics. (if it's okay) for *inspiration* as I try to come up with a look I like--cause I definitely like yours!! How much sun does your bed get?

I had thought to do an upper level, at the back of our curved bed, and now I'm definitely going to do that, because of your shared photos!!!

Thank you so much for sharing your *work in progress* and the wonderful results!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 9:47AM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

Great job and beautiful design! I am impressed! And I love the Haakon grass it goes so well with hosta.
Would that be an eastern exposure?
It's great now, but as you know, it'll grow into a jungle ina bout 4 years! I can't wait to see it in the spring!
I think you could use a "feature" in there....not sure what...sculpture? bird bath? little fountain...collection of 3 glass balls.....something hard and shiny. But no hurry....and what fun to continue to look..
What's next?
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 10:07AM
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That is really beautiful. It looks full, natural and balanced right now. I like that rather than leave spaces for things to be full in a few years. You must have had mature plants stashed away to do this. It's really nice. McT

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 12:05PM
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I just love your choice of plant materials. You have so much texture in your plantings. A great job and it looks terrific now. I am a big fan of heucheras and I really like the looks of them tucked in the rocks.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 5:29PM
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bunnycat(z6 NY)

It looks super already! Doesn't look new at all. Excellent must have done this before?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 10:08PM
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Thanks for the compliments everybody. I really appreciate it. I'll try to answer all the questions.

June, too bad you're not closer, I'm running out of room in my yard, if you were my neighbor I could move on to yours :) Thanks

Janice, glad you liked the photos, save away. The bed actually gets more sun than I would have expected. It's on the North side of my house but gets early morning sun and late afternoon/early evening sun. The things in the center lower portion of the bed get even more sun. The Heucherella 'Stoplight' got a little fried because of it. I'm going to give it another year to get established though, hoping it will take it, because I think it will make a knockout combo with the Acer palmatum 'Shaina' (the dwarf red Japanese maple in the center of the bed). Good luck with your knew plantings, I'll look forward to seeing pictures.

mctavish6, all the perennials were purchased as #1 plants this year, with exception of the 'Patriot' hosta which came from a neighbor and the Hakonechloa 'Aureola' which was a #3. I can't believe how big the Hakonechloa 'All Gold' has gotten already. I went to at least a dozen nurseries this Spring finding everything, and got really lucky finding what I wanted in really nice sized one gallon plants. The smaller trees all came from mailorder sourches with the exception of the Tsuga candadensis 'Pendula' (weeping hemlock) in the center.
P.S. I'm soooo jealous of your beautiful view!

Linda C, it's a Northern exposure but still gets decent sun early A.M. and late P.M. "What's next?" I have a vacation in September and I'll be reworking a pondless waterfall I did a few years ago that currently has a major leak. Thanks for your compliments and I'll think about the "feature". Here's a picture of the waterfall from when it was working.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 10:26PM
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papou(Z5b Ontario)

Great work, Dan. Congratulations! I like your combination of perennials, shrubs and specimen trees.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 10:58PM
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Wow! That is just beautiful! Looks perfect to me.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 10:59PM
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Thanks Maidofshade, I love Heucheras too. I really didn't have a spot for them until this year though so I'm happy to be able to grow them. The 3 'Silver Scrolls' "tucked in the rocks" were one of my latest additions to the bed so I'm really pleased you commented on them. (They were 50% off, $4.98 each! whatabargain) The bed also includes 3 'Obsidian', 3 'Plum Pudding' and three 'Midnight Rose'.

Bunnycat, thanks. I've designed pretty much everything in my yard, some areas turn out better than others. I'm glad you like this design. I'm basicly a frustrated small yard owner. What I wouldn't give for two acres or more instead of my 90'x130'lot. I find it hard to design in smaller areas because I like plants so much. I always want to add more.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 11:03PM
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Thanks, iowa flower nut.

Papou, thanks for the comments and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all of the wonderful pictures of hostas you've posted. You are very generous in sharing pictures of your garden and it really helps hosta novices like myself out. I know it takes a lot of time and I really appreciate it.
Thanks again, Dan

    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 12:09AM
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koidom(8 OR)

I'm in love! It's wonderful, no it's more then wonderful! now if I could only hual home that much rock in the trunk of my Jetta.....MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Great Job, I wish I was that talented in plant placemants!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 1:06PM
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Ever considered being a professional landscape designer! You're obviously VERY gifted
at knowing what looks good with what!! I'm so envious of your talent!! Are you self-taught,
instinctive or did you take some courses?

I love your waterfall feature too! You must tell us how you did it--or rather--would you??? :O)


    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 2:15PM
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Koidom, thanks for the flattering comments. Nope, you're probably right, the Jetta probably wouldn't cut it.LOL.I actually have a truck, which is great for picking up plants, mulch and bagged compost, but I have the rock delivered. The "large cobble" I use, is kind of our native stone here in Illinois. I wish I had more options, but I've found options are kind of limited here in local stone yards. Occasionally, I'll find some new stone, that has come in as a special order, but it's usually crazy expensive, so I stick to my $110/ ton "large cobble". Thanks again for the very nice comments, I really appreciate it.

Janice, I guess it's "instinctive". I start out with a plan that I dream up over the long winter, usually encorporating my most recent plant infatuations into the equation and then I kind of accessorize with cool things I find at local nurseries during the "nursery season" (some guys have golf season, I have nursery season). No I don't have any training, but when my girls get older I hope to take some classes for fun.
As far as the waterfall goes, I made it 3 years ago when the triplets were almost 1. My wife said "You've got a day." The next day, I had 17,000 lbs. of stuff delivered on my driveway and in the parkway. I moved all the rock, with a 600lb. capacity dolly, a wheelbarrow, and a lot of will power. I swear it was the best day of my life, because I didn't have to worry about anything else but getting something done that I was passionate about(what can I say, that first year was rough). I got the waterfall built, (the heaviest rocks were 450lbs.+) and flagstone patio laid, but all of the top soil was still on the driveway at the end of day one. I called my mother to help with the girls, and finished up the topsoil burms and mulching on day two. It has functioned well for a few years and is my favorite place to sit in the garden after the girls are asleep, but it leaks, so it's time to go bigger and better. I have a week this time, instead of a day, and even though it's going to be a major pain in the butt, I'm really looking forward to it. The new waterfall will have multiple tiers, a longer stream, and 2 1/2 times the waterflow. I can't wait to get started. Sorry for the long winded answer, but you asked :)
I always appreciate your positive attitude and good spirit, thanks, Dan

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 12:57AM
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Dan--I am so excited to see the results of your *week*!! If you can accomplish what you did in your *day+*, I can
only imagine what you'll do in a week! I sure wish you were MY neighbor! I'd be going crazy bouncing off the ideas
you have!!!

I love your long-winded answer! So much good information in there! Sadly, I realize I'll never have the 450+ lb. rocks
you have, that I love, but, I'm happy already with the ones I can talk my hubby into stopping the car, for me to pick up
on construction sites, where they've shoved the dirt to the side!!!

How about some *progress* pics. as you go on this next project? I love those!!!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 11:51AM
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koidom(8 OR)

Hey-J Don't you just want to smack your hubby when he looks at you like your crazy for wanting him to pull over and get a few rocks?

Dan, I think you would be Amazed what can be hauled home in the trunk of a jetta my husband is! Whats worse is my husband works for a stone yard but we can't afford to buy the rocks or pay to have them delivered, hubby used to drive the deliverly truck before he hrt his back and got stuck inside so he would drop a load off of sand sometimes if it was on his way. I dream of rocks as wonderful as yours!!!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 2:20PM
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Just amazing Dan. Wow! You have the gift, that is for sure. If my husband wanted to do this kind of work in the yard on his time off, I'd give him a year of absolute freedom. I'd do everything for him so he'd only have to worry about that project. LOL. As it is, I have to almost beg him to get him to help outside, but I'm not complaining, he's great with everything else.

Where do you get your plants? At Sid's or some place like that? Take pictures of the new waterfall project. Take before, during , and after shots so we know what's going on every step of the way. Keep sharing your photos of your amazing yard.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 12:07PM
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Crystal--nope, not slap him--he'd slap back I'm pretty sure! LOL But I do have to beg him to stop and listen to him be exasperated and complain that I'm just junking up the yard more!! Funny thing is, when anyone compliments me for it, he seems really proud himself! LOL

He definitely was the strong arm in our yard, implementing my ideas, structurally until his back problem. Now, I do all the heavy work, including the work on our new deck! I did all the unloading of the 42 lb. concrete post supports, the digging out for them and the eventual placement of them in the holes, as level as possible, so that meant taking them in and out of the holes. Also, all the deck boards were screwed on by me, as well as the verticle rails on the railings! He did all the frame work though. He says--it doesn't hurt him nearly as much to bend over as to stand upright. I also hauled all the 2x6x12 ft. boards off the trailer, onto the driveway, then off the driveway to his saw table and from there to the place where they would be used!

And, none of that hurt my *bumb shoulder* at all! Now, that's just amazing to me!!! I've still got the *problem*, but I've learned to work around it, quite well!

All that to say, naw, I'd never slap him (I know you were only joking BTW) cause he's been just the best kinda husband to have!! We've worked as a team through all these years, inside and out to make this place what we really love! I'm happy to never move from this spot, Lord willing!!!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 12:58PM
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I just moved from Chicago 'burbs to Michigan this past spring. We went from a standard suburban lot to over a half acre, and so we're going to have lots of room to dig. I love your design! You have such a great mix of plants. Those grasses and conifers are beautiful with the hostas and heucheras. Would you mind sharing a list of what you planted?


    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 10:44PM
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dan,love your flower beds,especially the black plants w/ the lime green colors.oh,to have a strong back again. you've done a great job.and i beta, your not to hostas,so i'm really enjoyin these pics.molly

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 10:13AM
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i am impressed beyond mere words ... absolutely stunning! ... phyl

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 3:15PM
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Anitamo, most of my hostas came from Green Glen nursery in New Lenox, and Contrary Mary's Plants in Mokena. I just went to Sunrise Nursery in Grant Park today, Wow!, what a selection. Where are you at? I'll definately take pictures of the new waterfall project and share them with the group.

Molly and Phyl, thanks for the very nice comments. Phyl, are you anywhere close to me? I'm in Tinley Park.

Finally Mary, it took me a while to come up with your answer. Here is the list of things planted in the bed. Some are visible in the pictures I've posted and some are not.

DISCLAIMER: I am a rogue gardener, who plants things too close together, to allow their maximum size at maturity. My only mission is to have the fun and relaxation that comes to me by planting cool plants. By stating this list I am by no means endorsing the use of this many plants in a limited space, I am only answering a question that was posed to me. LOL
With that out of the way, here's the list:

Abies (True Fir)

A.x arnoldiana 'Poulsen'
A. balsamea 'Eugene Gold'
A. koreana 'Silberlocke'
A. procera 'Blaue Hexe'
A. veitchii 'Heddergott'

Acer japonicum 'Kujaka nishiki'

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)

A.p. 'Abigail Rose'
A.p. 'Baby Lace'
A.p. 'Beni Fushigi'
A.p. 'Kamagata'
A.p. 'Koto no ito'
A.p. 'Mikawa Yatsabusa'
A.p. 'Scolopendrifolium'
A.p. 'Shaina'
A.p. 'Shadiva Gold'
A.p. 'Shishigashira'
A.p. Toyama nishiki'

Athyrium niponicum var. pictum (Japanese Painted Fern)

Cornus (Dogwood)

C. alternifolium 'Bachone' trade name Gold Bullion TM.
C. alternifolium 'W. Stackman' trade name Golden Shadows TM

Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)

Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern) 'Brilliance'

Hakonechloa macra (Japanese Forest Grass)
'All Gold'

Heuchera (Coralbells)

'Midnight Rose'
'Plum Pudding'
'Silver Scrolls'

Heucherella (Foamybells)


'August Moon'
'Blue Mouse Ears'
'Cracker Crumbs'
'Fragrant Blue'
'Golden Meadows'
'Golden Waffles'
'Great Arrival'
'Great Expectations'
'Ice Age Trail'
'Krossa Regal'
'Orange Marmalade'
'Pandora's Box'
'Queen Josephine'
'Risky Business'
'Stained Glass'

Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood)
'Gold Rush'

Tsuga canadensis (Canadian hemlock)
'Moon Frost'
'Summer Snow'
Man , I'm a bad typer and that took me forever. Dan

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 12:05AM
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That is a lot of J.Maples for that space, but it doesn't even look crowded...not now, anyways. I thought the nurseries you visited would be closer, I'm not familiar with the ones you mentioned. Sounds like you're going farther out in the opposite direction than me. I'm out near Elmhurst.

Thanks for typing that list. It's very impressive.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 6:10AM
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hostared(Z5, IL)

Dan you have a great eye for contrast and color.
Good selections of plants. I am a lover of grasses & perennials and you have done a fine job incorporating all of that into your landscape. Don't worry about planting to close it can always be removed and placed in another garden bed...that's what gardening is all about. Just think you will have a mature specimen to place somewhere else.
Nice job neighbor I am just a few burbs to the east!
I have family in Tinley.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 8:38AM
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Wow Dan...that is a magnificent garden!!! I Love It!!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 11:25PM
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Thank you so much for going through the trouble of typing your plant list! That will be so helpful. I'm always looking for plants that other people have had success with, and your garden (especially the overall texture of it) is just beautiful.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 4:46PM
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    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 10:42PM
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i have been perusing old posts & pictures on this very VERY cold afternoon .... & came upon yours (which i saw last aug.)

i decided to *bump* this up in case anyone else might be looking for something awesome to think about for next summer!

hey, i live in libertyville, can i hire you & your imagination to do some drawing for me???? i will watch the twins!

we are originally from green bay area, so we are nervously awaiting the start of the packer game ... phyl

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 3:45PM
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Sorry for your loss Phyl! That was an amazing game...I love Brett Favre, but I'm a huge Giants fan so I had to root for them.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 3:14PM
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phyl345, glad you liked the photos. I'm chompin' at the bit to get started again this Spring. I ended up with 90 new hostas last year so I guess I may be an official hostaholic now. I have some hosta seedlings growing in the basement too. Nothing too exiting just some seedlings from 'Blue Mammoth', but I'm enjoying it. I was actually rooting for Green Bay this past weekend (sshhh don't tell any Bears fans). Sorry they lost. Before you commit to watching the girls, it's triplets not twins LOL. I love talking about gardening so if you were serious about drawings/design ideas feel free to e-mail me any time to bounce around ideas. Thanks, Dan

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 11:06PM
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Hi Dan,

Sorry, I didn't mean to hijack your thread, I'm just a football fan. I have to say, I love what you've done with your property. I'd love to see some of what you've done as it sleeps during the winter. The weeping hemlock covered with snow must be a beautiful thing.

Spring is only 8 weeks away from today (March 20th). We'd better start planning, LOL.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 11:00AM
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Hi PIM, I don't think you were hijacking. Besides that's the beauty of the conversations forum, there's no such thing as hijacking, just adding to the
conversation :-). I haven't been taking too many pictures lately, but here is one of the waterfall "sleeping".

Do you have any cool gardening projects planned for Spring?
I'm still searching for inspiration for this years projects. I'm running out of room, so my current plans include some container gardens with Japanese maples and hostas. Have a great weekend! Dan

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 11:55PM
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koidom(8 OR)

I love your Autumn Ferns, I passed up a few last year as the tag did not say if they could live in my zone (7), now I wished I would of got them, they where really tiny 4" pots with one leaf so I did not know how pretty they could be!

I love your Heuchera! I hope to see them all next spring, looking at your pictures I fell in love all over again!

Very nice snow picture, you make winter look good :)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 10:20AM
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Hi koidom, the Autumn ferns were one of the surprises of the season. I got them for $8.00 each at Home Depot and they turned out to be one of my favorite plants in the new shade garden. I definately think I'd include them in any shade garden. I love the Heucheras too. I can't wait until Spring when the garden starts cookin' again, plus this will be my first Spring with alot of hostas and I can't wait until they're in their full glory. Dan

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 8:15PM
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Hi Dan,

Glad you didn't think me to be horning in on your thread. And thanks for posting the winter pic, that is awesome. What a contrast to the one you posted earlier. Your sleeping waterfall looks serene and peacful, and very natural, not contrived at all. I love seeing gardens in all seasons. I haven't thought of taking a pic in awhile, I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark (although daylight is increasing daily!). One of the things I'm going to do in the next month is look at the garden and see what I can do to increase winter interest. Most of my plantings are perennials so when my garden sleeps any remaining plants are nondescript (mostly blueberry bushes & raspberries-to feed the birds).

As for garden projects, I have two areas in the yard that have gotten away from me. They're overgrown with English ivy, trumpet vine, wild roses and both have some awful poison ivy intermixed. Its a matter of ripping it all out (I'm too old for this!!). But once I've tamed the untamed I want low maintenance and may make the one grass for now, this way I can keep it under wraps with a mower until I figure out what to do with it. The other will be kind of a Japanese area, with andromeda, red Japanese maples, pachysandra, ferns and hostas of course. I hope its a cool Spring, I hate working in the heat.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 2:12PM
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Thought I'd share a picture of what the snowy picture looked like yesterday. I posted some pics in the gallery of a few hostas too. A few more weeks and they should all be in their full glory. I can't wait.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 12:14AM
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tsbccowboy(Minnesota zone 4B)


This is one reason I like the different seasons, after seeing the snow in your pictures, it makes the Spring picture that much better.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 8:29AM
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You have designed such a lovely garden. The mixture of rock and plants are delightful. I wish I had your talent. I also wish I could get rocks like those around here. Maybe I need to look harder.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 10:28AM
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Pat yourself on the back for making such a natural looking area!

I'm so glad I got to see the winter and spring 'looks' you posted.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 9:48AM
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Cowboy, Mary and Connie, Thanks for the nice comments.Here a couple more photos.

I'm working on getting some good shots of the new shade areas with my hostas. I'm going hosta shopping tomorrow. I think I can find a few more spots for a few more : )


    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 11:01PM
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Dan--the colors you've chosen, coupled with the textures are remarkable!!!
You definitely have the knack! You and Nancy/Bunnycat are two of my gardening heros!!
You both are very gifted in the area of design!!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 11:37PM
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Hi Janice, I completely agree with you. Bunnycat's gardens are amazing and when my hosta beds grow up, I hope they look like hers. As for the the flattering comments about my gardening, I'm not sure I'm deserving, but I'm really glad you "get it". Not everybody "gets" my style of gardening, but it really makes me happy when someone does. Color and texture is exactly what I aim for. Thanks for the very kind comments! Dan

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 10:41PM
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WOW Dan, that is fabulous! You really have an eye for design and color. I'm loving what you've done! Kudos to you!!

And is that an Aureum Japanese Maple in your last two photos? I added one to my garden last year, it is the brightest spot and I really enjoy the vibrancy it adds to the landscape.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 9:45AM
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I just found the extra photos you posted Dan! I'm speechless!!! You have such a talent for placment,and your work with color and texture is amazing. There is something so restful about your pictures. I could just sit in a chair and relax as I look at each new wonder I view.

How long have you been gardening? Are you sure you aren't a professional? LOL LOL Do you do all the work or does your wife lind a hand?

Some day I'll have to grab some hosta friends and we'll make a trip to see the beauty you have created, with your permission ofcource. LOL


    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 12:11PM
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Hi PIM, yes that's Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'. It's gotta be my favorite. You've got great taste : ). Thanks for the compliments.

Connie, you're welcome any time, assuming you're willing to overlook the not-so-great areas of my garden. It's always easier to take photos of things that you like in their prime, than show everything. Unfortunately no, my wife has absolutely no interest in gardening, but she tolerates it, so I can't complain. My four daughters like to help me on occasion though. My 4 1/2 year old triplets are always eager to help. Lastly, no I'm not a pro, but if I had it to do over again, I would be. I LOVE it! : ) Thanks, Dan

P.S. PIM another A.s. 'Aureum' pic

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 11:27PM
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4-1/2 yr. old TRIPLETTS?? No wonder your wife has no interest in the garden--when would she have the time or the energy??LOL My heart goes out to her
and you and, yet, I also know you are so blessed by your children!! I hope they will 'catch' your passion and your innate sense of what-looks-great-with-what
in the designing of a landscape!!

I'm starting to get the 'bug' for the Japanese Maples, myself! This year we purchased 3 of them, to add to our collection of 'one" we purchased two summers ago!
This could get dangerous, and very expensive!!! Gulp!!!!

I have yet to find a *couple* where both share the same passion for the garden! That is so strange to me, and yet, maybe it's the balance we need, not to go bankrupt
in the process! Yikes!!

My hubby 'tolerates' my gardening pretty well but I have to say, it saddens me, a little, not to have him enjoy the process and the results as I do.
You know how it is---you get so excited about a new plant, a newly 'put together' grouping and you can't wait to show it to someone--like your
spouse, and they say "that's nice, honey!" but they lack the excitement you feel over the whole process and the potential of what you've done!!
Then the 'kicker' for me is in when he ALWAYS says--"I thought you were going to be DONE--20 years ago! When DOES it end?" I always think,
"hopefully, only when I'm planted in this garden!"LOL

It HAS helped for us to get together with 'Davemidohio' and his wife, (who has the same lack of passion for the garden as my hubby)!
Dave has a very infectious and fun personality--and he and my husband have hit it off greatly, despite the gardening differences. And,
they share other passions, such as golf and cameras--and humor! Now, my hubby can see that 'real men' (his thinking) CAN, also, love
a plant and gardening(I know 'Dave' will love reading this)! Big Grin!!!

Oh well--that's why I'm here! I love to share in the excitement of others who have a like passion for the garden! I love to stroll through
your gardens by way of your photos and it is so easy to detect your passion in those photos and in the conversation over what you've done
and will do, Lord willing and you have the 'back' for it!

Again, thank you, Dan, for sharing your passion and photos with the rest of us! We are enriched and encouraged, and inspired by your abilities
and your zeal, in this realm! :o) Keep up the excellent work!!! I hope and pray your children will evidence those traits in their own lives, one day.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 9:03AM
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I loved reading this last bit from Janice. Like her, my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I heard you have TRIPLETS!! Wow. When I was younger, much younger, I thought twins would be very cool. Are your girls identical? I remember a few summer ago my sister and I were walking around Greenlake in Washington. We passed, going the other way, two moms both with triplets in strollers. They were just talking, casual like. Judy and I both had our mouths drop open and turned and stared as they went by. Triplets are pretty unique.

I'm jealous of you, Dan, and Janice. Zones 5 and 6 are able to grown Japineese Maples. Having that bit of 4 in front of my usual 5 makes a HUGE difference. I use to work at a nursery and we sold the odd maple but warned the people it had to be in exactly the right spot in order to surive. If we got a very bad winter it would be gone. I love that golden one in your picture. If I remember right some of the golden ones are slightly more hardy than the reds. I may try one as I expand into the wooded area over the next few years.

Wishing you sunsine like we are finally having. McT

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 12:06PM
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Hi Janice and McT, First of all in answer to your question, no my girls are not identical. They're fraternal.The rest of the these comments are things that I have to answer on a regular basis, so don't feel like you've brought them out of me. I just feel like sharing with friends.The next question,that everyone on the planet seems to ask is "Do triplets run in your family?" That's if they are being polite. More often they say "Were you on fertility drugs?" The answer is no, we had our first daughter without any problems. She's beautiful , smart, athletic, and she has a million friends. My wife wanted another child and so began the odessey. After 2 years of trying, it became apparent that we were going to need some help. 60 months of disappointment, 7 artificial inseminations and 5 invitros later we went from nothing, to being pregnant with triplets. ( I'm not even going to go into the financial ramifications of all of this) The Dr. told us we should "reduce". I had had this conversation with my wife before we started, that I wasn't crazy about all of this in the first place, but if we were going to do it, we just couldn't "reduce". 35 1/2 weeks later (a miracle in itself) my wife gave birth to 3 amazing daughters, Olivia 4 lbs 12 oz., Alexa a whopping 6.0lbs and Jenna 5 bs 3oz. I'm a big pushover by nature. It's probably the only thing I've ever insisted upon in my life. Apparently I decided to lay down the law at the right time of my life, because I have an additional 3 gorgeous daughters to show for it. Has it been hard , yes! in every sense of the word . Would I change it for the world . NO WAY! I'm totally blessed and every time I come home to 4 daughters yelling Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, and giving me hugs and kisses, I know we did the right thing. Dan

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 4:31AM
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I think you are obviously blessed by 'sticking to your guns' on that one! Can you imagine
being without even one of those three--"no"--you've already deduced that one--obviously! :o)

Thank you, Dan, for sharing your story!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 9:17AM
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A big thank you from me too for telling us your touching story. I feel very connected with the fertility challanges you faced. I know how you and your wife must have felt all those months and years. I lost my only pregnancy at 36 weeks with my first husband. No medical reason was ever discovered. I remarried after this marriage broke up and seven years went by until my first son (adopted) was placed in my arms. Invetro was just begining to be done in England at the time and the cost of everyting was not ever an option. My second adopted son is 4 years younger. They are my boys in every sense of the word. To jump through hoops to be a parent must make us appreciate it all the more. My boys are grown now and I couldn't be more proud of both of them. We both had a different, successful, outcome. Congratulations to all of you. McT (Myrle)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 1:01PM
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bunnycat(z6 NY)

Dear Dan,

What a wonderful person and Dad you are! Such a heart-warming story! It's so good to read a nice story when there is so much awful stuff on the news every day.

I love your Japanese Maples and small conifers. We have one Japanese Maple, and would love to add more. I really need to fix up one area of the front yard....beyond the deer net. However, I just read that deer destroy Japanese Maples. Do you know if that is true? Another reason we have been holding back is that they are quite expensive, and we are on a tighter budget right now. Can't see making the investment if they are going to end up as deer snack.

I am writing down the names of your choices, so when we go looking next spring we will have some ideas. I misplaced my old Fine Gardening issue which discussed the merits of various cultivars. I've only noticed 2 clearly different cultivars in our neighborhood. Nobody has beauties like yours.

(PS-Happy Father's Day, in advance, to a super Dad!)


    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 9:42AM
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Dan, Your post about your girls made my eyes all tear up. How wonderful! Thank you for sharing, it was an encouragement to me on this harried day.

And thank you for posting another pic of your Aureum maple. I have mine on the south side of the property in the sunniest spot of this shady area. It almost glows. I'm hoping it will like it's location and "take off" even though its a slow grower. I'm not a collector like you, but I saw a 25' specimen in a garden I visited and it was love at first sight.

Bunnycat the deer love eating the Japanese maples. I have mine behind a tall fence with my gardens. They nibble my DBF's to the nub. I get so frustrated that it doesn't seem to bother him enough to do anything about it. So, I wouldn't plant a tree without some type of protection.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 1:10PM
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bunnycat(z6 NY)


What is a DBF? (so I don't buy any!) I have enough deer food here already.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 3:19PM
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Wow, you guys are great. I was worried that my most recent post would go into the TMI (too much information) category. I know my wife is the real hero, in this whole situation. I'm really proud of her. Still, it is nice to hear that I am an O.K guy too. I could go into the specifics, but instead, let's talk gardening. But first, Myrle, I want to say how sorry I am about you losing your first child. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been after 36 weeks. You sharing your experiences, made me glad that I shared mine. I'm glad your perserverance resulted in two wonderful sons!

I was watering my hostas again today, by the way that's one of the coolest things about them is that it's tough to overwater them, when a few other things in the garden caught my eye and I thought I'd post a few pictures so you didn't think I was an all-folige guy.

Wisteria 'Amethyst Falls'

Iris germanic 'Rare Treat'

Okay that's enough flowers : ). Here are a couple more pics.

Abies koreana 'Silberlocke' cones

Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst'

Thanks for all of the extremely nice responses! Dan

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 12:50AM
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Si-----sh!!! That is a sigh of "Oh---that is just so beautiful!!! Love your Wisteria--mine covers our 'pagoda' of sorts over our decking
but never blooms, very well--and if it does the color is an insipid lavendar! That's the one on one end--the other is white which has never

I think it may be because I don't trim it back severely each year! But--boy--once established I have to wrestle it off our roof every year!

I hope you and your wonderful wife sit on your porch area, often, sipping coffee or tea, early and late in the day!
You have to absolutely relax when you do---or, if you are like me, you find yourself dreaming of other 'projects'
to enlarge what you already have. Just about the time I do imagine I am done--another idea springs forth--amazing
that it doesn't occur until I'm 'done' with the current projects!! ;o)

And you don't worry about this thread dying off--just keep posting those wonderful pics.
and we'll be here to feast on them and let you know what a good job you ARE doing!!!
Love the photos and your progress and the opportunity to get to know you and your family better!!!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 9:07AM
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Bunnycat a DBF is a dear boyfriend, LOL. He loves gardening, but only started appreciating it after he started dating me.

Dan wonderful pics, and I love the wisteria! I've never come across that variety before. Those Silberlocke cones are soooo interesting.

Janice if you root prune your wisteria you'll get blooms next Spring. You take a flat headed shovel and cut a circle around the trunk about a foot away. You're simply sticking the shovel into the ground, no digging. Am I confusing you?


    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 1:34PM
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Thanks, Donna--but the problem is----my wisteria's roots (on the one side at least) ae all under our deck! We have a cut-out, that is boxed in, like a planter,
with the Wisteria growing up from inside that! The other one, is the white one, and maybe 1/4th of it is in a garden bed, off the deck! Oh well---I love them anyway!!!

Thank you for the advice--I had just learned about that a few weeks ago, but it's well worth repeating for any who can do what you have suggested!!!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 2:15PM
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papou(Z5b Ontario)

My Lord! What a way to start a week!
it took me a while to reach this post but let me tell you that it is a treat to my see all those great pics. I see that you are a very 'artistic' put all these shrubs, ornemental trees, grasses, plants together in such a perfect harmony.
Do you do this as a hobby....or are you a 'professional' at it?
Great design! Great work!


Here is a link that might be useful: Papou's Hosta website

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 8:04AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

I love hosta, and I love blooming plants, but Dan, that last photo of Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst' just knocked my socks off! I've recently moved to the UP (MI) and don't know the local nurseries. Do you happen to know anyone who sells Taylor's Sunset online? I've been looking and just haven't spotted it yet. Most of the hits I get are information or photos only.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 10:37AM
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Papou, thanks for the compliments. It's especially nice coming from someone with a garden as beautiful as yours. I visit your website often and find it very helpful as I'm trying to get my hosta knowledge up to speed. Thanks for all of your efforts. I really appreciate having access to a resource like your website. I was just looking at the individual hosta leaf pics yesterday and find the leaf dimensions extremely helpful.

In answer to your question, no I'm not a professional(at least not a landscape pro). I garden as a hobby and as a creative outlet. I don't think I've ever admitted what I do for a living on GW, but I'm a dentist. Between all of my responsibilities at my office and taking care of my four daughters, I don't get a lot of time to spend in the garden, but the time I do get I relish and try to get as much done as possible.
Thanks again.

Jel48, I've posted a link to my favorite mail-order nursery for conifers (Coenosium Gardens). They do have P.c. 'Taylor's Sunburst' in their catalog. It's also a fun and informative site with lots of pictures as well. Also if you don't mind a drive, you may want to check out Gee Farms in Stockbridge Michigan. It would probably be quite a drive, but if you do end up getting the conifer bug, I think you'd enjoy it. One final suggestion is to try to find a local nursery that sells conifers from Iseli Nursery ( They're a wholesale nursery that supply many nurseries and all of the 'Taylor's Sunburst's' that I've seen locally have come from there. Happy hunting! Dan

Here is a link that might be useful: Coenosium Gardens

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 8:49PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Thanks for all the helpful information, Dan! I can't get too badly bitten by any plant bug at the moment, as the new place has a very small yard (the only thing I don't like about living here) but I do think I can fit at least one small conifer in (maybe two if I squished :-).

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 8:12AM
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Wow Dan ~ just came across this and had to join in and tell you how absolutely gorgeous your gardens are. I "outgrew" my last yard and am now in the process of creating everything new in my new home. I thought I was doing pretty good until I saw this ... Wow-wow-Wow!! Kudos.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 3:41PM
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    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 8:05PM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

Corrine, thanks for bumping this! I wasn't here when this thread started, but what fun to see it now. Inspiring and it is also nice to see the message from Papou.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 4:06PM
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Since this oldie got bumped up, I'll add a few photos from this Spring. I haven't done much with this area since '08 and the hostas are taking over. A few things should get moved, but I've been concentrating on hybridizing hostas the last few years.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 7:46PM
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Dan, I just discovered your garden work, and hope you will be continuing to update us with what you plan to do.

The list of plants you used is very helpful too. I thought I was doing great with TWO Japanese maple in myy small garden, but I see more is possible.

One question: is everything always so perfect in your space? How much time do you spend each week working just outdoors, not at the hybridizing?

Truly what you've done is a work of art. I think Olmstead would have complimented you on a job well done.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 8:43PM
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Thanks for the nice comment moccasinlanding. I don't get as much time to work in the garden as I would like, but usually go all out when I get the time. Here are a few more pics from this Spring of the pondless waterfall garden looking a bit more mature.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 2:18AM
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These pictures are enough to take your breath away. I can only imagine what it must be like to actually walk through such a fabulous place. Thank you so much for sharing and the inspiration to work a little harder on what I have.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 10:10PM
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I just had to bump this up to show the wonderful transformation Dan and Janet have done in their yard. Spectacular growth in not many season

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 6:53PM
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Thanks jaco42 and Faye.

Here's a few pics from this year.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 10:54PM
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littlebug5(z5 MO)

Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 6:38PM
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Linda's Garden z6 Utah

WOW! How did I miss this post before? I know it is a very old post but definately worth looking at. This is exactly how I want my hosta garden to look. I have a few Japanese Maples planted in my yard and just ordered a new one called "Jordan Full Moon". I also love all the conifers you have planted and would love to see pictures of how they have matured. I would like to get a few for my yard but have no idea what a good one would be. I have a small yard and need something that won't get too big. Your hosta are stunning! I think I have to rethink my gardening space now to look more like this!

Looking forward to seeing more pictures from you!
Linda :)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 4:58PM
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