Time in a Garden and Seasonal Changes

Gardening Gone Wild is holding their monthly Garden Blogger’s Design Workshop, and this month’s topic, Time in a Garden, gave me a great excuse to go through some of my pictures and see how things evolve and change over the seasons and years.

What did I discover? Well, for one, I don’t usually take photos from the exact same viewpoint through the year! As the seasons change, I follow the display around the garden, trying to photograph each plant at its best and kindly ignoring those plants which crumple ungracefully after their moment in the spotlight has passed.

Still, I found a few easy comparisons to show! This first series is a subtle comparison of how the highlights change from spring to summer (click on the photos to see larger):

Spring and Summer Viburnum and Hydrangea

See how the white-blooming Doublefile Viburnum takes over the shot in spring? That and the variegated pink-blooming Weigela look rather lovely and watercolor-ish. On the right is the summer look, with the blue Hydrangea bringing a crispness to the foliage colors around (you can see how the fresh mulch makes a big difference in the look, too).

Spring and Summer Weigela to Hydrangea

In the foreground here is Hebe albicans ‘Red Edge’, then Golden Oregano in center, with the Blue Lacecap Hydrangea and the Variegated Weigela (Tasmanian Tree Fern in backdrop).

Geranium 'Rozanne' in forground highlighting the Lacecap Hydrangea

Above you can see how the Hardy Cranesbill, Geranium ‘Rozanne’, picks up on the blue Hydrangea in the backdrop for summer.

The next seasonal difference I found, in another garden, was more stark – December to May (again, click on the photo to see larger):

December and May

About a month after taking December’s picture, I cut down the Miscanthus Grasses that are adding some winter interest here – by mid-January, they were shedding everywhere and being most annoying. Here’s a different view on the winter scene (use the position of the pot and the cone-shaped Spruce to orient yourself):


Next up are some photos that show the passage of time in a garden – from nothing, not even an idea of a garden, to ickle baby plants, to a full-looking garden. As Nan Ondra said in her article about Time in a Garden – this would be a before-and-after, except that us gardeners know that a garden’s always a work in progress.!

Below left is what I found when I was first called in, and at right is just after planting:

Before - the Baby Garden

And three years later:


The thing I find most shocking about this before and after is the middle stage – if you saw those tiny little things floundering about in a sea of mulch, would you have suspected in three years they’d look that different?

Here’s a better example of just how much things  grow in that time:

Three Years Later - Deutzia, Spruce, Rose

That tiny little plant front and center in the picture at right? That’s a baby one-gallon Deutzia, and you can see the little ‘Montgomery’ Blue Spruce behind it. Three years hence, the Deutzia’s turning a bronzey fall color in the foreground, the Blue Spruce and Flowercarpet Rose have grown up, and you can just see the tips of a purple Mexican Bush Sage beyond.

I’ll leave you with some gratuitous flower photos from this garden, just because I can:

Gratuitous Flowers

Color! Vibrant, Vibrant Color.

Color! And Grass! And Exclamation Points!

If you enjoyed this post, go on over and check out the others in this month’s Garden Blogger’s Design Workshop.



  1. says

    Great bit of writing and the photos are a treat. It’s great that you took the time to graphically demonstrate the evolution of the garden over time. I’m especially gaga over the pink / orange combo at the end. Luscious!
    .-= Billy Goodnick´s last blog ..The High Line =-.

  2. says

    Oh, that across-the-garden match-up of the blue hydrangea and geranium Rozanne is Killer! And I also appreciated the good reminder of just what you need to do to Miscanthus in the winter. I usually specify Super Bowl Sunday as the day by which roses must be pruned and thatchy grasses hacked to the GROUND! Love the transformation of the ‘wall garden’ at the end, beautiful choices for the long haul. Wonderful work, thanks so much for sharing!!
    .-= Laura Livengood Schaub (InterLeafer)´s last blog ..Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – August 2009 =-.

  3. says

    Great photos that really capture the changes in those gardens. I especially love the combinationof plants in the last photo. Looking at photos of the same garden over the course of several years is always rewarding. I know I forget how quickly time passes and how quickly plants grow and fill in.

    I also love seeing the seasonal changes in photos of my garden. I sometimes forget why I paired two plants together until I see them in full glory in the fall and then I remember why I put up with their so-so relationship the rest of the year.
    .-= Debbie´s last blog ..Crocosmia…A Brilliant Addition To The Mid To Late Summer Border =-.

  4. says

    The discipline of photographing gardens regularly is very challenging – you’ve captured some great shots. To pile on to Billy and Laura’s comments, my fav combo are the bright pink roses and the blue juniper.

    And regarding photos from the same view, I got nuts when people say,” gee, this would have been better if the before photos were from exactly the same angle.” People, when I’m taking reference photos before a design begins, I have no idea what angle I’m going to want to photograph the complete installation from a year later! Or to quote Dr. McCoy “I’m a designer, Jim, not a photographer!”
    .-= Susan (garden-chick)´s last blog ..Before and After – Starring Purple, Orange and Black =-.

  5. says

    Hi Monica, I had to go through years of photos to find ones from the same vantage point, so quite honestly it’s an idea I’ll be putting into practice now too! I loved finding these comparisons.

    Billy, thank you so much for stopping by! I’m a sucker for that tropical color combo, too – I’m not even usually a fan of orange, but that Alstroemeria has me hooked.

    Hi Interleafer!! (I swear someday I’ll start calling you Laura like a normal person.) I loved that Geranium and Hydrangea combo too, and it was a happy accident. I didn’t design the garden, but specified the geranium when another plant died. When I squatted down and found that shot I was quite pleased! Rozanne’s a great do-er in the garden.

    Debbie, you are SO right. Taking some of the splashy flower photos at key times of the year helps me remember in winter why I haven’t added more winter interest or color to this or that spot – because it is delectable when it’s in full flower!!

    Susan, oh my goodness yes about the before photos being from different angles!! That is so funny, I have had the exact experience and was frustrated by it for years.
    What I’ve started doing recently is right after I present the finished plans, I’ll bring my camera to that meeting and snap a few quick pics of the areas that I am imagining will be showiest once the garden’s going. At that point I have some idea at least.

  6. says

    Great post, Genevieve! I’m so glad you took the time to sort through your photo archives for these examples of how much gardens can change from season to season and year to year. When I was a new gardener, I used to wonder why established gardens often looked overcrowded: surely their creators understood that they had put the plants too close together? But when it was time for my own garden-making, I realized how hard it is to allow ample spacing at planting time; it’s just sooo tempting to cram in more stuff so it looks good right away. Your photos are an excellent example for those of us who still struggle with the concept of proper plant spacing!
    .-= Nan Ondra´s last blog ..Reminder for Picture This Photo Contest Deadline =-.


  1. […] Time in a Garden and Seasonal Changes (Genevieve at North Coast Gardening): Genevieve found some excellent photo examples showing seasonal changes in her own garden, as well as changes over time in another garden. Her post includes some mouth-watering combination ideas, too! […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *