Take a look at our favorite award-winning gardens from the past eight years of the Country Gardens magazine Garden Awards contest.
This forlorn front yard became an eye-catching cottage garden in the hands of a Minnesota couple. We love how the homeowners updated the curbside view by replacing lackluster foundation shrubs with an abundance of perennials, annuals, and bulbs. Pink phlox and purple veronica are accented by yellow and white snapdragons and purple petunias to create a vibrant, cheerful color scheme, and a white picket fence adds instant charm.
Test Garden Tip: Recreate this look by planting old-fashioned flowers in front of a white picket fence
Every garden needs a focal point -- and this potting shed provides the perfect finishing touch for a half-acre Kansas garden abloom with perennials and annuals. We love that the homeowner built it himself from recycled windows and lumber he had collected over the years. Trailing blooms cascade from the shed's rain gutter, bringing additional bursts of color to the green and blue facade.
Test Garden Tip: Try an easy-to-build garden-shed kit to match the style and architecture of your home and landscape.
Smart use of native plants spelled success for this breathtaking Oregon garden. Located in an area with little rainfall, alkaline soil, and extreme temperatures, the Zone 5 garden features tough, drought-tolerant perennials that are native to the region or to areas with similar climates. Here, salvia and rosy centranthus lend brilliant color to one corner of the garden.
Test Garden Tip: Use plants native to your region for a beautiful, low-maintenance garden.
This small front garden in Minnesota graciously welcomes visitors with a successful mix of container plants and overflowing beds. We were enchanted by the antique goat cart that doubles as an eye-catching centerpiece and a unique planter for 'Red Wave' petunias and yellow African daisies. Next to the cart, lysimachia adds brilliant color behind a weathered iron fence.
Test Garden Tip: Recreate this look by mixing antique garden accessories with a salvaged section of fence or edging (or even an old metal headboard for a bed).
The distinctive details on this cottage-style potting shed -- not to mention the homeowner's ingenuity -- made this a clear-cut garden structure winner. Surrounded by a cutting garden, the shed becomes the star attraction of this Kansas City landscape. Built by the homeowner, it's cleverly upgraded with decorative accents, such as a pediment added above an antique door and a classic finial atop the peaked roof. It's practical, too -- offering an ideal spot for entertaining guests, potting up plants, or preparing bouquets of flowers for friends.
Test Garden Tip: Look for recycled treasures at salvage or antique stores, flea markets, or yard sales to upgrade the look of your garden shed or garage.
The timeless charm that defines this Michigan garden caught our eye. It invites visitors to linger awhile and savor a few quiet moments amid the pink carpet roses and geraniums. An old garage that's been transformed into a Nantucket-inspired garden house serves as a charming backdrop for a secluded seating area, while a flagstone path adds instant age to the outdoor room.
Test Garden Tip: Soft pink is the perfect color for creating a relaxing, romantic retreat.
We were impressed by the artful way this Ohio garden preserves and celebrates the past. New flowerbeds and twig structures blend in with the 1800s farmhouse and original outbuildings on the property for a seamless mix of old and new. Here, Virginia creeper frames a composition of vintage accessories and potted plants displayed on one side of the garage -- creatively transforming everyday objects into art.
Test Garden Tip: If you display them well, just about anything can become garden art. Consider a collection of old trowels, watering cans, or even particularly pretty stones and driftwood.
Sometimes beauty is hidden -- just waiting to be revealed by an intrepid gardener. We adored how this formerly run-down shed was transformed into a charming focal point for a New York garden. Accented by practical garden tools and quaint salvage finds, it looks right at home amid lush beds of cucumber vines, morning glory, chartreuse sweet potato vine, and coleus.
Test Garden Tip: Dress up your shed by displaying tools -- old or new -- on the outside of your shed. Old tools will give a unique, aged appearance.
We love to see everyday objects used in new ways. Here, an antique showerhead serves as a unique fountain for a charming backyard pond. Lined with cobblestones, the koi pond attractively anchors one corner of this Indiana lot and adds the soothing sounds of water to the backyard landscape. Siberian irises, water lilies, ferns, and grasses provide lush greenery that softens the rough texture of the surrounding stone surfaces.
Test Garden Tip: If you don't have space for a pond, create a water garden in an old barrel or any other watertight container.
We love that this garden feels like it's in the country, but it's actually crafted from a compact (tiny!) 25-x-75-foot suburban lot in Oregon. Surrounded by fencing and mature trees and featuring a cozy seating area below a white-painted arbor, this garden serves as an oasis from the rest of the world. A mix of antiques and collectibles, including watering cans, birdhouses, and window boxes, brings country charm to the suburban setting.
Test Garden Tip: Create a nice backdrop of plantings around any deck or patio to help it feel larger and lusher.