Shrub border views

– Posted in: Garden Design, Garden Photography

A recent post on photographer David Perry’s fine site A Photogapher’s Garden Blog challenges his readers to spend 15 minutes and take a garden photo from a window in their house.  Hmmm, I can waste 15 minutes . . .  grabbed my camera and opened the door of my studio.  Here is what I sent him:


I thought immediately that GGW readers might want to know that the photo, taken from my office door looking out to my driveway and shrub  border, is the book-end complement to the photo with urns from my Making a Photo posting on Jan 18:


Notice the Weeping Katsura tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Pendula’, at the end of my driveway is the tree with the weeping branches looking out from my office door in the photo for David Perry’s post.  The point of my Jan 18 post was about cleaning up the view above and adding some terra cotta pots as accent plants.  But my post implied I had cleaned up my entire border, mulched, swept and generally made it tidy.  Ah,’twas a lie.  The Camera Aways Lies.

This is what my border really looked like when I photographed the end where the urns were put:


I just could not leave it looking so messy and now I have finished cleaning the border, have pruned back the rest of the shrubs, and washed away the grime:


And since several readers asked to see more of the shrub border, I took a series of photos documenting my progress.  Look for the daffodils blooming between the lavender hedge in March and Mahogony Red Poppies in the summer.

I do enjoy the process of pruning and cleaning up the shrubs.  Somehow I know they appreciate getting rid of the clutter removing last year’s spent and tired leaves and twigs.  Rejuvenated and ready for another year:


In the foreground – Lavender ‘Fred Boutin’ with Liriope ‘Silver Dragon’; shrubs from far left – Carpenteria californica with gray peeling bark, pink flowering Camellia sasanqua ‘Kanjiro’, pruned French hybrid Ceanothus (Ceanothus x pallidus ‘Marie Simon’), foliage Camellia sasanqua ‘Cleopatra’; behind ‘Marie Simon’ in the meadow is Deer Grass, Muhlenbergia rigens which I have not cut back in three years.

And now more to do, and the week-end is gone.  I still have to cut back the mixed border, most of the roses still need pruning, and if I don’t get to the fruit trees they will be blooming soon with all this warm weather.  Is there no end to garden work?  Actually it is not work, it is therapy.  Work is what I must do in the morning ….  Monday awaits.

Saxon Holt
Saxon Holt is the owner of, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at
Saxon Holt

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Melanthia February 2, 2009, 5:39 pm

Saxon, even your “mess” looks more put together than some of what I’ve got going on. Thanks for sharing. While I’m a fan of close-ups, I always enjoy seeing the big picture. It gives me more ideas! Cheers.

Close-ups are great visuals and a quick hit of information but don’t begin to tell a garden’s story. I love looking at a complex garden picture and wondering about plant combinations. – Saxon

Nancy Bond February 2, 2009, 6:01 pm

Oh, all that lavender. It must be heavenly. Everything looks just lovely.

Thanks Nancy. Lavender is such a durable dependable perennial for us in Northern California, not quite as long lived as a shrub. Once it flowers it will look filled in and walking close to it from summer until the early winter cut back unleashes its fragrance. I will post about it then. – Saxon

Ken from Sweden February 3, 2009, 2:42 am

Your garden looks good.
I have bouth a Weeping Katsura tree last year, i hope it will groow and bee like yours in a few year ( just now it is only a stick)

Unfortunately my Weeping Katsura, that I so carefully placed in front of my office at the end of the driveway, is in decline. I removed a large diseased pine tree 2 years ago and the Katsura now gets too much afternoon California sun. I am going to try to move it next week. – Saxon

Anna/Flowergardengirl February 3, 2009, 5:33 pm

It looks wonderful and so well balanced. I like the silver in front. You must know what you are doing;)

Gee thanks Anna; though often I don’t know what I am doing . . . other than gardening. Sometimes it works out – and I photograph it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out – and only I know – Saxon

Mr. McGregor's Daughter February 3, 2009, 6:53 pm

How wonderful it must be to actually see the border! David Perry’s challenge is interesting, but not that interesting in Chicagoland right now. It’s more of a monochromatic black & white effect.
Thanks for showing more of how the camera lies. The cleaned up border looks wonderful even in the winter.

. . . well, “even in winter” for us in CA can be some of the prettiest times. Late summer is the most difficult and this year, with water rationing imminen,t it is going to be rough to have things lookin’ good – Saxon

Cameron(Defining Your Home Garden) February 3, 2009, 10:43 pm

Well, right now (9:41pm EST) it is dark and SNOWING out the window.

I have quite a few photos looking through the windows. I like to take photos from the 2nd story, too.


I guess I was cheating a bit by looking out my doorway instead of a window, and I am sure I would not have accepted David’s challenge had it been nighttime – Saxon

inadvertentfarmer February 5, 2009, 4:32 pm

You have wonderful views, the shrub border has a great design!

Thanks . . . and we will see how drought tolerant it actually is this coming year. – Saxon

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