Garden Photo of the Day

Gail’s Garden on the Side of a Mountain

Springtime blooms from a garden rife with challenges

sloped garden bed full of wildflowers

Hi GPODers!

Today’s photos come from Gail Bromer in Black Mountain, North Carolina. As the name suggests, Gail gardens in a very mountainous region and deals with something many gardeners dread: slopes. Given the treacherous planting and growing conditions, you might suspect that she has limited garden space, but Gail has created garden magic on just about every available inch of her landscape. She was generous to share what’s been blooming this spring.

Here are some photos so far this season. It seems like we’ve had more rain this spring than I remember in the last couple years. It has produced a lot of blooms, but they haven’t lasted as long because of the rains. I thought I was going to have fewer gardens here than I had in Connecticut, where I gardened for over 30 years, but I was wrong. We live on the side of a mountain, and even with these slopes I am managing to fill all the available space. It’s taken some time. The only thing that slows me down are the chiggers. I harvested serviceberries this weekend for pies and got my first chigger bites, which means I don’t go into our big front slope until mid-fall after the chiggers die.

We moved here eight years ago. As with all gardens, some things have worked, some haven’t, and some have needed to be moved to thrive.

sloped garden bed next to long drivewayThe view above is off our driveway from part way down the front slope. Morning is just beginning to arrive. (What a view! I’m not sure if any garden challenge would out weigh the gift of waking up to this every morning.)

Gulf Pride azaleaThe first azalea bloomer of the season. (Looks to be a ‘Gulf Pride’ azalea (Rhododendron ‘Gulf Pride’, Zones 6–9), which is a fabulously fragrant early bloomer.)

close up of bright pink azalea bloomsAnother breathtaking azalea, this time in sensational sunset colors with wonderfully ruffled petals.

close up of pink ladys slipperThe pretty pink plants continue! Here, a small pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule, Zones 2–9) is glowing in the sun.

Geranium sanguineum with Hypericum calycinum BrigadoonGail creates sensational plant combinations in her garden as well. Here, a bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum, Zones 3–8) is the perfect compliment to the chartreuse Brigadoon St. John’s Wort (Hypericum calycinum ‘Brigadoon’, Zones 5–9), with the fabulous foliage of Carolina cranesbill (Geranium carolinianum, Zones 2–11) bridging the gap.

Ice N Rose helleboreThis Ice N Rose hellebore (Helleborus x glandorfensis ‘Ice N’ Roses’, Zones 6–9) has the most profuse blooms I have ever seen.

close up of leatherleaf viburnumA leatherleaf viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum, Zones 6–9). I originally planted 3, but only one survived.

sloped garden bed full of wildflowersMaking the most of a tricky garden situation, Gail absolutely covered this slope in flowers. A beautiful wildflower mix creates a kaleidoscope of colors without having to regularly climb these slopes for maintenance.

close up of purple dwarf irisI have half a dozen dwarf iris (Iris pumila, Zones 4–9) scattered about. They seem to flower better for me than the traditional bearded iris.

And one final artful combination to wrap up our time in Gail’s garden. Garden chives (Allium schoenoprasum, Zones 3–9), one of the prettiest herbs out there, looking like a firework of color next to spires of lupine and bursts of pink peonies.


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View Comments


  1. btucker9675 06/04/2024

    Lady's Slipper!!! Your garden is so lovely. We stayed in Black Mountain a couple of months ago - it is so beautiful and the Asheville area is only a couple of hours from where we live. Chiggers.... boo hiss. I used to get bitten terrible every summer on my grandparents' farm in southern Indiana. Went through bottles of Campho Pheneque... Thank you for sharing your beautiful space.

  2. [email protected] 06/04/2024

    When I lived and work in Calabasas, CA, there were lots of properties that were built in the foothills of the Santa Monica mountain range. Many properties had steep hills in their back yards. I used to love planting on them because you could make it like an abstract painting only with plants instead of paints. I am trying to remember the plants I would use that might work for you. I am assuming you have snow which we didn't have to worry about, but there are many grasses that work in the snow and are colorful.
    Also I used various varieties of Cistus,( Rockrose) and some ceanothus. I'm not sure if ceanothus would be happy there, but they really have some fabulous blue blooms.

  3. [email protected] 06/04/2024

    Would love to be able to read the complete wording in the post in the last photo. But I love your garden! Thanks for sharing.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 06/05/2024

    What a challenge and you still managed to make a pretty garden. Love the slope with the flowers and love the foxgloves.

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