Four in a Row

The fourth of six garden previews for the fast-approaching tour.


pohl“This particular haven in the city doubles as garden and bird sanctuary. One owner is the plant person, the other is the bird person and they have been “doodling” in their garden for six years. Doodling describes perfectly this delightful space full of color, movement, and surprises.

To start, the owners creatively exploited the six-foot fence that edges their driveway. No longer a typical property boundary, it is an artful, living border. At its base, a narrow strip of lilies and stonecrop is interrupted by decorative wire trellises covered with clematis and hyacinth bean. Imagine parking your car and walking a short, wide garden path to the back of the house. Planting the fence allows visitors to feel as if they have exited the harried campus soon upon arrival.

Stepping into the garden around the back of the house, the busy-ness and noise of the campus street is replaced by the squabbling, singing and fluttering of all manner of birds. The owner, who has put up 25-30 feeders, says, “The birds make the garden come alive.” After tearing your eyes from the multitude of darting browns, oranges, blues and golds, take in all the different spaces to explore in this oasis.

It’s not a large area, but the owners have successfully created multiple garden spots. The perimeter of the brick patio is formed by a long window box and many pots of all sizes. In the pots are colorful annuals, large-leafed tropical plants, palms and ferns. It’s like relaxing in a greenhouse, but with a breeze. Then there is the shade garden, filled with hostas; a flagstone path, creeping jenny between the stones, runs under a canopied pergola. The path leads to a grassy oval, perfect for a game of croquet and rung with flowering shrubs, peonies, and zinnias.

One owner uses structures to define different garden spaces, creating doorways for passage, like the pergola from the shade garden to the oval lawn. To exit the oval to the front yard, move under the overhanging redbud and simple archway. To step onto the patio, move through the metal arbor wound with moonflower vine.

Nestled among the various gardens and pots are small pieces of garden art. Wander slowly or sit for a while to notice the details – the hibiscus tucked between the patio and the house, the variety of pots in a corner, the pretty catmint and volunteer impatiens growing in the hot spot near the corner of the garage. Some of their favorites are the impatiens and the hostas that friends have donated to the garden over the years.

One owner describes herself as a “good luck” gardener, and named one of her garden beds the good luck garden. This has nothing to do with superstition or lucky charm plants; it is her gesture to each plant as it goes in the ground.

Tip: One owner saves the seeds from her annuals, puts them up in separate bowls over winter and then mixes and scatters them around her garden. In the fall her garden is full of multicolored zinnias and impatiens.”


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