We’re Almost There!

With the Garden tour just a few days away, it’s time to wrap up the previews. Today is number five and tomorrow is the sixth and final sneak peak.


stella“The owners have been designing these gardens since 2001, but one’s involvement and influence has increased in the past couple of years. The gardens reflect this transition and are a beautiful blend of formality and “let’s try this shall we.”

At first glance, the garden at the front of the house appears formal – nice neat borders of boxwoods and liriope with roses and a centerpiece tree. But look again and really notice the trees that accent the house and gardens. In addition to the white form of the redbud tree, other selections make unusual and effective choices – a seven-son tree, a lacebark elm, and a Kentucky coffeetree. As for the low growing portions of the garden, the owner adjusts those for different purposes and varies the garden mood from season to season. The more formal woody vegetation remains, but in between the boxwoods and roses the changing herbaceous perennials and annuals mix things up.

When owner’s daughter married at the house, they filled the gardens with white annuals and perennials. Now, the theme is butterflies, and the changeable portion of the garden sports giant hyssop, Pentas and day lilies.

Arbor vitae round the northeast corner of the property and provides a screen from the busy street. Sitting at the corner is a stately sweet gum tree, and under its shade grow hydrangea, hostas, azaleas and daffodils in a thick carpet of vinca.

Rounding the north side of house you will find heirloom peonies, planted by the original owner of the property, guiding you to the rear of the house. Once you enter the backyard you quickly conclude that this space is no yard, but a handsome landscape formed on a slope where bright sun interchanges with shade. Such conditions are not for the faint-of-heart gardener.

A small vegetable garden fills one sunspot, a pollinator garden a second brightly lit spot, and roses are in yet another. The flagstone pathway winds its way to the far end of the garden, where a giant oak stands. The owners have filled the oak’s shaded space with hostas, pachysandra, hydrangeas and a stone sitting bench. This is about the best spot around for those hot Kansas summers. Down the slope to the property line is a dry creek bed, lined with stones and edged with a narrow band of liriope and Siberian iris. Downspouts from the house direct water to the creek bed. The property on the other side is obscured by a heavy row of yew and arborvitae.

But what really adds form and magic to this shady sanctuary are the unusual trees: tamarisk, black gum, Japanese lantern, weeping Norway spruce, Persian ironwood. These trees make you feel as if you are passing through a small, hidden arboretum.

Tip: To create changeable gardens when the mood suits, designate patches among perennial gardens that can host a variety of annuals throughout the year.”

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