A Peek Behind the Curtain


As the Garden Tour grows closer it’s time for a preview of our six lovely entries. Every few days I will post a write up of the gardens. Thanks to Sharon Ashworth for her work on these preview articles!


“One of the owners began as a garden consultant for this property before jumping at the chance to buy the house when it went up for sale. He spends time just looking at and listening to his gardens. The result is a spectacular, head-turning display of grasses and color in front of this sunny yellow house, and a cool, dappled retreat in the back. You almost don’t notice the five-foot tall metal rooster.

grimesMost of the initial design of the gardens catered to the flow of water around the house. In the front yard, the only patch of fescue is a very neat grass swale that divides two large garden beds. The swale serves the dual purpose of walking path and carrier of water from the rain gutters.

Notice that the garden directly in front of the house is triangular, mirroring the peaked roof of the house. The plantings in this garden are meant to invoke the prairies of eastern Kansas with use of tall grasses and perennials whose bloom times keep color in the garden all season long. The patch of deep green in the center is Juncus, an unusual and striking feature. The Mexican thread grass along the edges provides form and color even in the dead of winter.

By summer, it is the giant castor bean that demands notice in the garden that fills out the front yard from the southern property boundary. The castor is grouped with another large-leafed annual, the Jimson weed, along with a variety of grasses, a small bald cypress and a thick clump of hardy mums for fall color.

Between the sidewalk and driveway is a garden with yet another personality: bright colors mixed with low-growing cedars and short grasses surrounding another small bald cypress and a willow tree. Here you really notice the annual hardy snapdragons that provide so many colors and the great variety of sedums that fill the spaces in-between. These three beds are a kaleidoscope of form and color. The visual treat this spring will be poppies, lots of them!

Turn your attention to the north border of the driveway which contrasts with the other gardens in the softness of its colors – the blue-green of Artemisia, the muted yellow leaves of hardy oregano and the trailing vines of squash plants with their ephemeral yellow blossoms. A large red cedar provides shade, as will a small white pine in the coming years.

Continuing to the backyard you enter another world entirely, a cool space deeply shaded by the largest Bur oak in Douglas County. A gravel and then grassy path winds around neatly mulched mounds: one mound highlights hydrangea, Lenten roses, and rhododendrons; another a magnolia fronted by hostas, ferns, and pulmonaria; still another features bleeding hearts, coral bells and whatever the owner attempts to grow in the “black hole” where nothing has yet to survive. If you’ve got shade, limited space, difficult soil, and tree roots this yard gives you just what you need: hope.

Tip: Mix in a variety of grasses to give your garden form year-round. ”


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