A Neighbor’s Garden

There’s a remarkable garden just a few blocks away from where we live. The owner, Pat, is a garden designer and works in the landscape business. She was nice enough to let me come by and take some pictures of the front.


Here’s a view from the street. The Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ and Bee Balm (Monarda didyma – probably ‘Raspberry Wine’) are growing in the parkway between sidewalk and street.

DSC_0629And here’s a view from the sidewalk showing the stone path that leads to the front door. The garden surrounds a simple single-story house.
DSC_0577The parkway plantings from the other direction. At this end it’s mostly Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) with some tall Dill (Anethum graveolens) mixed in. The honey-like fragrance of the Milkweed is delightfully strong as you pass by.

DSC_0575It takes some courage to grow masses of Common Milkweed in front of a suburban home, as people who grow up in the Midwest tend to think of it as an unwanted pest. Also, the seeds with their little parachutes will travel into your neighbors’ yards and self-sow freely. However, I’ve noticed that there’s Common Milkweed in the flower beds of some of the nearby houses. Perhaps the virtues of this plant have become more widely accepted.

DSC_0625On one property line Pat uses the Common Milkweed as a hedge.


Here’s a view of the plantings along the sidewalk. Drifts of Butterflyweed (A. tuberosa), Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and other plants make for an exciting tapestry.


This is a view of the front from the opposite end of the sidewalk. There are several gigantic Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis) placed carefully in strategic spots around this garden.


Where the sidewalk meets the path to the front door.


I really like how Borage (Borago officinalis) has been allowed to self-sow and fill in among the perennials.


Just a few of these petite lavender-pink Columbines were blooming when I visited.


The Columbine plants themselves were enormous. Pat wasn’t sure of the variety, but she offered us some seeds.

DSC_0583I don’t remember the name of this Birch with the purple leaves. However, Pat says it has birch borers so it won’t be around too much longer.


This blue fountain with its shallow water is really well-designed for thirsty birds. Pollinators were buzzing all over this garden.

DSC_0623This miniature wading pool provides bees with a safe place to get a sip of water.

DSC_0622Looking back toward the sidewalk from in front of the house. That shrub in the center is a Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris).

DSC_0595This grass (not sure of the name) looks like green fireworks.

DSC_0617A hedge of tall grasses marks the west border of the property.

DSC_0586Another view from in front of the house. This may give a better sense of how Borage serves as a filler – something that is giving me ideas. Also, I really like this mix of Purple Coneflower varieties. Yes, I know I’ve said nasty things about Echinacea cultivars but these are more acceptable to me because they don’t go too far from the plant’s natural color.


It’s inspiring to come across this sort of garden in my own neighborhood. It’s nice to know another person who has similar ideas about what makes a beautiful property. Thanks for letting me take the pictures, Pat, and sorry about disturbing your dogs.

46 Comments on “A Neighbor’s Garden

  1. Love it. Just looking at those lovely flowers I expect to see something magical pop up in their midst. How nice to have someone close by to share your gardening passion. Thanks for this post. Lots of great ideas here.

  2. Pat has a beautiful garden. I hope you will tell her this or that she reads your blog. I love the mixes of plants and grass. How many years has it taken her to get it to look like this?

    • I’m not sure how long she’s been there, but I think it’s been many years. We certainly let her know that we think her garden is beautiful.

  3. What a wonderful garden, I’d love to know how long it took Pat to get it to this stage, packed with vitality & blossoms. Very inspiring for fellow gardeners, congratulation to Pat.

  4. That is a spectacular front garden! Yes, heartwarming too to know that someone else in your neighbourhood is caring for the pollinators! 🙂

  5. A beautiful garden, and with lots of nice plants. I will copy the miniature wading pool, to please my bees. Echinacea is also growing well in my garden, as we have sandloam.

  6. In the last photo of this post, what is the tall green foliage on the left side, between the darker purple coneflower and the light grayish-blue flowers (borage)?

    The garden is gorgeous!

  7. A gorgeous front garden. Doesn’t make you curious as to what the back garden looks like? Hopefully some time she (you) will share this with us too.

    • I’ve seen the back,it’s also very nice. However, Pat isn’t showing people the back now because she’s working on some changes.

  8. I love it, so wish I had a neighbor with this beautiful garden. Going to add a wading bowl for the bees to my garden.

  9. Wowsah! That is SOME garden. Yes, so wonderful to have it in a neighborhood.

  10. Pat’s garden is attractive to humans and pollinators alike. The butterflies must love this space! How fortunate to find a kindred gardening spirit in your own hood.

    • Thanks. Just looked at your website. How is it I’ve never heard of you guys? Looks like you are doing good work. Do you have an affiliate in Evanston?

  11. What a beautiful front garden! Thanks for sharing your photos, and thanks to your neighbor for letting you take them. I love the shot of the large swath of coneflowers. I’m curious what the ferny thing is standing straight up in the middle of them?

  12. Wow, wow, wow – I love that garden! It has so many of my favourite plants incorporated – milkweed, echinacea, butterflyweed, bee balm! I’ll definitely be borrowing some ideas from this one.

  13. More and more, it seems folks are planting wildlife gardens. I think it may be due to they are a bit more self-reliant (the gardens), take less upkeep and provide color and want to help the environment and its elements. Beautiful photographs and garden as well. Thank you!

    • It’s positive that people are thinking about the impact their gardens have on birds and insects – we just need that trend to become a dominant one in landscaping.

  14. I really love outstanding front gardens. Unfortunately there are few of us who move from our back gardens and step out to give pleasure to our neighbors and passers by. You and Pat are to be congratulated for being in the vanguard!

  15. I’m late to the celebration of this stunning garden, but thanks for the tour. The photos are lovely and profile this gorgeous, pollinator-promoting garden. I can only dream about something like this in hot, dry Central Texas.

  16. Wow, what a wonderful front garden! It’s not easy to design a front garden. I like the idea with the borage inside.
    And…damn! I hate my poor English knowledge! Sometimes I struggle a little bit with the English plant names!

    • Your English is far better than my German (which is almost non-existent). And sometimes I struggle with the plant names, too.

  17. Hello Jason, she has an amazing garden! I love how all the plants are so familiar and we grow many of them, but the way Pat has but them together is just breath-taking. I love the idea of the bee wading pool too.

  18. If only Pat would tell us her secrets for keeping her milkweed unravaged by aphids. If I dared to have a swath like that, every day would be a battle to the death (the aphids would triumph).

  19. What a fantastic antidote to boring front lawns. The color is amazing and it’s such a nice mix of forms and texture. Love it!

  20. I did enjoy seeing Pat’s garden, some lovely plantings. I especially liked the milkweed and monarda.xxx

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