Today we’re in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, visiting Susan Simperfender’s garden.
I’m a self-taught gardener who has benefited from advice from locals, friends, and our local nursery—and Fine Gardening! It’s been about 15 years of cultivating all you see here. I got especially passionate about 2010 when things were quite hard and my garden was my haven for healing.
My husband built the stone border for me—60 feet by 5 feet of garden. I chose the location by looking out my kitchen window while doing dishes, imagining what I’d like to see. I started with many silly plants that didn’t make it because I knew nothing.
The late phlox (Phlox paniculata, Zones 4–8) you see here was my first success. Anyone can grow phlox—especially in the Catskills. It’ll make you feel like you can do this!
Next was the showy sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3–10).
When I bought the tall rudbeckia (Rudbeckia laciniata, Zones 4–9) on the ends and middle. I thought I was buying black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida, Zones 4–9)! Oh well. So I replanted them in their current locations for contrast and direction. Finally, I bought black-eyed Susans for real. And again, you can’t fail at them.
Irises (Iris hybrid, bearded group, Zones 3–9) have become a beautiful group in the front and bee balm dots throughout.
Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum, Zones 3–8) is the silliest addition. It popped up as one last year and I kept it; now there are seven. So you see, I work with my Zone 5 and have learned to enjoy it and to encourage what lives our mediocre soil that is supplemented with good soil.
Dark purple columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris, Zones 3–8)
Mountain cornflower (Centaurea montana, Zones 3–8) in front of a birdbath
And last, a magical, foggy morning
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