An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

September 28, 2015

Reflections on a Coastal Garden

     Last year a gardening friend, Mac Houfek, paid me a great honor by asking me to contribute photographs of her garden to a book she was writing about it. Knowing how special her garden was, and how much it means to her, I said yes. I got to know Mac at my last job, where she was one of our landscape clients, and at the garden center I would help her find new and/or special plants. When I started working at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, I was pleased to see that she was an active board member there. In fact, she has dedicated the book to the garden and its staff, and is generously donating all of the book's proceeds to the garden. Although Mac is quick to offer visitors a piece of this plant or that, she is also generous with her knowledge and enthusiasm, especially so with new gardeners.

     The photos were taken over the course of a year on three different visits, and are a mix of spring and fall shots. I took way more pictures than were needed, but given the economy of digital photography, more gives you more to choose from. All of the photo files were delivered unedited, but those that follow I have tinkered with a bit in Photoshop.
Front Garden (2)

Weigela florida (2)

Front Garden (1)

Front Garden in Fall (2)

Charleston Garden in the Spring

Clematis armandii

Charleston Garden in the Fall

Sitting Circle

Rumex sanguineus (3)

Under the Black Cherries (1)

Under the Black Cherries (3)

Under the Black Cherries

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii (4)

Statue in the Shade

Alium (1)

Nectaroscordum siculum (2)

Nectaroscordum siculum (1)

Petasites japonicus 'Variegatus' and Lunaria annua

Ferns Unfolding

Farfugium japonicum 'Aureo-maculata' and Fatsia japonica

Cotinus (probably 'Golden Spirit')

Bletilla striata (3)

The Gardener Admires Her Tree Dahlia

     If you want to see more of my photos from Mac's garden, here is a link to an album on my Flickr page.  For more information about Reflections on a Coastal Garden, including how you can get your copy, visit the book's web site 


  1. Never heard of a tree dahlia before! And it really is a dahlia, too. Amazing!

  2. Amazingly beautiful photos, Les, of a stunning property. It's always interesting to see the same spot in a garden during different seasons. I really like the rock pathway, too. Congratulations on your involvement with the book!

  3. What a lovely garden. Your photos are gorgeous.

  4. Beautiful garden and your photos are stunning!

  5. What a feast for the eyes, I'd love to be able to spend a few hours in that garden.

  6. Nor have I ever heard of a dahlia tree -- that's really what it is?? V showy flowers. Appreciate being able to see the garden and your lovely photos.

  7. Les, The garden is delightful and your photos are spectacular.

  8. I think your photographs make the property into a botanical garden by itself. She should have you produce all her photos.

  9. Lovely garden and photos! Your client looks pleased with the results.

  10. Great photos but the last one of the tree dahlia is amazing. What a plant!! I never suspected it was growable to such perfection on this coast.
    How generous of your client to put the book together and donate the proceeds to the garden. I don't think it's a simple task at all....

  11. Your photos are always a treat.

  12. Wonderful pictures, your friend is fortunate to have your expertise. The "Under the Black Cherries" taken at different seasons is stunning. Adding my voice to all who were introduced to the tree Dahlia here for the first time: Magnificent!

  13. Stunning garden Les. Congrats !

  14. Beautiful photos, beautiful gardens. (Isn't that what I always say about your blog posts? But always true!)