Reasons to create an improved landscape differ from person to person. Sometimes, the landscape is simply there to be beautiful and admired by others.
Houses left to stand in an unfinished yard can seem stoic with nothing to detract from squareness and predictable lines. In a neighborhood of closely spaced houses, overlooked landscape improvements can mean an eyesore for others. “It isn’t fair,” says Mary. “It isn’t fair to my neighbors, you know? No one wants to look at an unkempt yard. It’s for them; they are the ones who see it. I don’t; I’m in the house.”
For a homeowner, a garden can serve as an extension of the owner’s desire to be a good neighbor. The visual appeal of a home is a part of the visual appeal of the surrounding community. While houses – like people – have their individual styles, total neglect of a home’s exterior spaces can be viewed unfavorably by others who live nearby. Landscapes that show evidence of care are places where people could feel more caring toward one another. Mary’s garden is her way to show the neighbors that she thinks about them and cares.
Her yard’s design is an arrangement of easy care. “I’m not a gardener,” she admits with a dry chuckle. “There wasn’t any emotional need or connection. I just wanted it to look good.” Her yard is now dominated by evergreens, native ferns and hardy flowers. Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ flanks the backyard, a perennial that does well in rain-heavy Duvall. Self-sustaining plants like the hardy ‘Fireworks’, or grasses like Hakenochlea “Aureola.” Ferns and ‘Moon Bay’ Nandina sustain a permanence in the landscape. Each plant is chosen and placed to take advantage of the natural environment and are placed together like a jigsaw puzzle in which the imagery of the completed pieces creates waves of color, texture and rhythm. After all, the plants are intended to serve her needs rather than the other way around.
The garden itself is a creature of strength. Vibrant ‘Anne Folkard’ Geranium pop like bright magenta bursts against all of its predominantly green neighbors, while bright Rudbeckia offer compliments from the front yard. Trees and arbors stand sentry at posts around the yard. The textures of the yard are undeniable, each distinct, each unapologetic with sharp contrasts, spiking reach or rough edges. Whether for color or presence, the plants of Mary’s garden stand in an obedient salute to honor this homeowner.
As Mary has discovered, making a garden part of one’s life need not be a commitment of self. Nature has evolved amazing, self-sufficient life that is very capable to tending to its own needs. With minimal management for the sake of respecting boundaries, a garden can be a low-maintenance way to increase both a sense of well-being and good-will with the neighbors.
Photos credits to Carol Hook Photography