the Last Peek at the Gardens

Here are the two gardens left to be previewed. We look forward to seeing you Saturday!

When Diane and Bob Oakes moved into their home 25 years ago, they had a large sloped yard, mostly grass, with a few large trees. Water runoff was an issue. They now have a beautiful woodsy wonderland garden that takes advantage of slope and waterflow.

The unique stone circle on the front of their house is surrounded by blooms. As you stroll through the garden, notice how their cleaver use of rock and stone accents the garden. Their front, sunny yard greets visitors with lots of color. Native plants line the drive way, including native primrose, poppy mallow, tatarian daisy and native plumbago. A knock out rose and perennials provide color and work well with shrubs such as weigela, variegated euonymus, hibiscus and butterfly bush .

Then descend into the shaded side yard. The big boulders of the retaining wall create a lovely valley dropping down to an urban stream. The beds in front of the wall are planted with hosta, bee balm, snake plant and blazing star. If you’re lucky a five-lined skink may be peeking out from amid the boulders.

Enjoy the stone terraced flower beds descending along the Oakes house. This helps control water and is a pleasant stair step of blooms, planted with cone flower, black eyed susan, daisy, yarrow, peonies and indigo.

In back the Oakes have wonderful vantage points to enjoy their garden. A high deck is up in the tree tops. Listen to the lovely sounds of the urn fountain on the stone patio in the midst of the garden. Down by the stream the lower seating area looks up at the garden. When the deck and patio were built, the Oakes used the excess dirt, creating a berm to surround the patio and add height to the garden. The berm is planted with astilbe, foam flower, ligularia, butterfly balm Russian sage a and oak leaf hydrangea.

They noticed that the berm was directing the water to an area making it marshy. As Diane says, “You go to these garden workshops and get ideas and a rain garden was born!” Bob built a wall to further slow the water runoff. Native plants, such as turtle head, native penstemon, golden rod, swamp weed and bleeding heart, fill the rain garden with blooms and can handle the extra moisture.

The Oakes used native stone, ground covers and wild flowers such as Danes Rocket to line the stream to prevent erosion and give the area a natural feel. Hosta, hydrangeas, sweet spire and a mulberry tree also naturalize the area.

The one sunny area in their back yard is devoted to their vegetable and herb garden. The use raised beds, again leveling the slope. A clever use of cider blocks to makes a gate into the garden. Chives and other herbs love to grow in the blocks. Bob built a wooden dividing wall between the ornamental and vegetable garden. The wall has spaces to plant lettuce, herbs and flowers and provide a lovely, living screen.

Favorite plants:
Snow on the Mountain (Aego Podium) ground cover of verigated leaves and white flowers, a prolific bloomer
Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstromia) white elegant bush with white flowers
Purple Cone Flower (Echinaceas) long blooming, birds love it
Teucrium (Lamiaceae) hardy low impact ground cover with pretty purple flowers
River Oats (Chasmanthium) native plant, low to ground, blooms in summer

If you watch for sunny spots and other micro climes, you can grow sun loving plants in a shady garden.
Observe! Then, adjust. As you change the water flow in the garden, observe how your changes affect the garden. Observe and adjust until garden works.
Rocks are beautiful and naturalizing. They accent the garden, provide erosion control and will “grow” where other plants might not.


When Teri Guntert, a Landscape Designer, and her husband, David, began designing their garden, their goal was to keep it as natural as possible, finding inspiration on their hikes in woodland areas.

A large white pine next to the driveway, one of the first trees the Gunterts planted, marks the beginning of a stone pathway into a remarkable garden full of color, variety and surprises. Near the white pine, an upright juniper and crepe myrtle are planted with groundcovers and perennials, including pachysandra, lamb’s ear, iris, mums, false indigo, more upright junipers, and bee balm. Several varieties of sedum grow among the rocks. Many of the rocks used in the path and the rock wall came from the former Clinton town site, and were salvaged by the couple.  The Gunterts also developed the landscape design by collecting and harvesting much of the glacial rock seen throughout the garden, obtaining permission and collecting rock on many hikes near Clinton Lake and other rural properties.

Teri likes to do a lot of foundation planting, filling beds all around the house with a colorful mix of shrubs and perennials. A large ash tree provides welcome shade on the patio. A Golden Smoke tree, Tamarisk tree and climbing honeysuckle on the fence provide the backdrop for more perennials, including herbaceous and tree peonies, and a variety of Asiatic and oriental lilies, as well as daylilies. She enjoys relaxing on the patio, listening to the sounds of the waterfall and birds, and enjoying the fragrance of the lilies and calico garden of Coral Bell Collection.

The centerpiece of her garden is the self-designed and self-built waterfall with double streams feeding into a huge pond, which are home to koi and goldfish, with lotus and waterlilies blooming in the summer. Several interesting specimen trees grow near the water garden: a magnolia, several serpentine and upright conifers, and a Harry Lauder’s walking stick with its characteristic gnarled and twisted branches. Along the rear fence, lilacs and dogwoods provide privacy and a feeling of enclosure around the water garden.

In the rear of the garden, Teri has reserved space for a fruit and vegetable garden, which includes raspberries and blackberries, a red currant shrub from which she likes to make jam, tomatoes, rhubarb, herbs and other edibles with Winterberry shrubs and another Gold Smoke tree in the backdrop, mixed among the upright conifers.

Throughout the garden, Teri has artfully placed found objects, such as twisted tree limbs and interesting rocks and built numerous berms,  Peonies, roses columbine and other perennials fill the area around the shed and along the vintage iron fence and a couple of vintage water pumps. In the front of the house, a welcoming statue is accented with perennials including hostas, hollies and astilbe. Solomon’s seal grows under the windows and a tall brilliant red-flowered weigela strategically placed to anchor the northeast corner of the house while hiding the gutter and downspout. Teri says the weigela is “the most colorful attractive thing in the garden when it’s in bloom as it takes on it’s natural growth habit.  A recently planted Black Gum tree in the front yard will eventually replace the 32-year-old Bradford Pear near the curb.

“My goal is to keep it as natural as possible,” she says. “and while in and around the house, during the day and most evenings, I rarely turn music or TV on,” she says. “I prefer to listen to and watch the waterfall and birds.”



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