Here’s anther teaser of the gardens on our tour.
As you drive up to the home of Susan and Doug Rendall, the first thing to notice is the field of restored prairie along the driveway. Many varieties of native grasses and wildflowers thrive here, and Susan is adding more. Occasionally there are unexpected surprises, such as finding the fringed puccoon blooming in the prairie for the first time in April 2017.
Her priorities in garden design are the use of color, along with leaf texture, shape and pattern. “I would describe the look of the garden as “organized, but not manicured,” Susan says.
When the Rendalls moved to Kansas from Wisconsin, they specifically looked for a homesite that had loose, loamy and well-drained soil, which would provide a good foundation for the garden she wanted to create. One important decision that has made a big difference in the success of her garden was their choice of location.
“We have been here for 16 years,” Susan says. The garden has reached a level of maturity since it was previously included on the Master Gardener tour in 2009.
Many of the large trees are natives, including several different species of oak. Smaller, understory trees such as redbud, dogwood, magnolia and fringe tree thrive in the dappled shade of larger trees, along with varieties of viburnum, hydrangea, spirea and others. Conifers such as arborvitae and juniper that were originally planted to protect people and plants from strong winds now provide an evergreen backdrop for smaller shrubs and perennials.
The garden next to the driveway features a mix of perennials that provide a succession of bloom, including many varieties of daylilies, as well as Coreopsis, Lavender, Phlox and Rudbeckia. A spirea shrub called ‘Mellow Yellow’ keeps its golden color all year and is a prominent feature in this area.
Susan readily acknowledges that she is a “plant-a-holic” and says there are only a few plants she would not consider growing, such as invasive bamboo and loosestrife. While she appreciates and incorporates native plants into her garden as much as possible, she doesn’t limit her plant palette exclusively to natives. “There are too many other wonderful choices. I could never take out all the roses and clematis!”
Stone paths wind through the garden, and stone benches provide seating areas. Many of the plantings are designed to attract butterflies and other pollinators. White-flowering plants are a focal point in the area surrounding the patio. The hot garden, named for its bright yellow, orange and red hues, is often her favorite. The golden-hued Redbud ‘Rising Sun’ is a feature here, along with orange and red daylilies, and the annual orange Sunpatiens.
She also acknowledges that managing a garden this large and diverse is a commitment. “You have to be dedicated,” she says, and for her, “it’s a mental health kind of thing.” She also doesn’t do it alone. Her husband, Doug, does lot of the maintenance, including
mulching, mowing, trimming, and limbing up trees. The copper trellises placed throughout the garden, which were designed and built by the couple, have aged to a lovely dark patina, providing focal points and structure for vining and climbing plants. As the garden continues to mature, Susan recognizes the need to continually adapt and make adjustments. Fortunately, she has always liked shade gardens.