Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lemke Garden

Gardening over at my parent's house is what I call 'extreme gardening'. Between the underground springs, the ivy and just the overall size of the lot you could employ a team of full time gardeners - easy. That said, my parents have done an amazing job maintaining and continually adding to their beautiful garden.

It's been a team effort to get to this point. My parents get stuck with most of the grunt work and maintenance and I mostly just get to pick out plants and tell them where to put them. This virtual spending has also been a huge help in curtailing our own plant budget.

My mom is quite the decorator. She's always coming up with new ideas - many of which I copy. Yesterday I helped her add to a beautiful moss wreath that she had made. This of course involved another trip to the plant nursery to buy an assortment of succulents. She had a form made of (grapevine?) branches which is so easy to work with because you don't have to worry about the form showing through. We put a layer of moss on the top and bottom of the form and tucked our succulents in between. It takes a little bit of maintenance to keep the wreath healthy. It needs to be taken down and watered about once every four days. The succulents will die back in the winter but with some luck they'll return in spring.

This basket of begonias is a real focal point in the corner of their yard. The color really pops off all the greenery around it. This is actually kind of a problem area in the garden because of all the ivy so instead of trying to dig it all out, she just set the plant on top of it. Brilliant! Sometimes you just have to learn to work with what you have rather than trying to fight it.

I love using these McKean Hebes as a miniature hedge. This spot used to be home to a GIANT willow tree and now has beautiful plantings surrounding a white dogwood.

About 15 years ago, I helped my parents build a rockery built with rocks from a nearby stream. This rockery runs the entire width of the beach and in winter storms it acts as a bulkhead when the water starts rising. Mom has created a beautiful planting bed in this area and I am constantly amazed at just how well the hostas grow in this spot. They are the most lush and healthy hostas I've seen. We also have mixed in peonies, crocosmia as well as Japanese forest grass and wirevine which spill over the edge.

Moving for a moment over to the neighbor's house, we have an incredible dahlia and sunflower garden that is so beautiful to look at from the water. This garden is very carefully planted each spring and then all the bulbs are dug up and stored away each fall. I on the other hand, usually just leave my bulbs in the ground and hope for the best next spring.

Planter box with coleus.

This area in the front was completely transformed last year from an overgrown muck hole to a Japanese inspired garden. An underground spring supplies the fountain with water and the dry river bed helps define a small creek and keeps all the muck in check. A bridge separates the two planting areas. On the other side of the bridge we put lots of low maintenance grasses (blue fescue, elijah blue and sedge) mixed with mosses and crocosmia for a splash of color in mid summer.