When together is better in the garden

A little luck and a whole lot of hard work have produced award-winning results in this front garden.

Knowing the traits and needs of individual plants is important – very important – but the knack or skill of taking that knowledge and combining plants to create beauty is what good design is all about.

One of my favorite examples is a front garden in Lewisburg. Here the owner has considered the house style, the amount of sun, the soil, and the care required to create what was recently named August’s Yard of the Month by the Greenbrier Gardeners.

This 12-year tradition happens when they meet and vote on area gardens. Together, they decide which garden will be awarded and signed for the month. This is done through the town’s association with the prestigious America in Bloom organization.

From the street, it is hard to miss the full blooms of the strawberry ice hydrangea bushes. An abundance of blooms! These flowers are white now but will fade into a pale pink as they age. The blooms are heavy and could easily topple them to the ground if not for the permanent wooden supports added to the primary undergrowth.

Next, the eye follows the drifts of hydrangea blooms to a large burst of yellow rudbeckias. Then smaller plantings of pink echinacea. All of this is underplanted with deep Heucheras, which has just finished sending shoots of flowers from its leaves in mid-August. This is a smart move.

Hydrangea, rudbeckia, and echinacea like full sun. The heuchera thrives in dappled to full shade, provided by the towering stems and leaves of the hydrangea. This is an example of knowing your plant’s needs and incorporating the right plant in the right spot of the garden’s design.

The stairs and porch get a punch of color with planters of tuber begonias. The intense colors of orange, yellow, pink, and white are displayed in the begonia’s layers of petals within each flower.

Under the Haint Blue of the porch ceiling is a comfy seating area where I have laughed, cried, had dinner, and on this afternoon, fallen asleep after a day at the WV State Fair.

The edge of the porch garden is framed with a large Baptista or False Indigo bush. The spring blooms have turned to seed pods this time of the year, but the leaves are shiny and healthy. It will be pruned after the first frost, but for now, it provides a restful spot as your eyes travel the garden.

Cranes bill geraniums are blooming along the side steps. The lovely lavender color complements the silver lamb’s ear and chocolate chip ajuga.

A pineapple, kitten, and other stones add to the foundation of the design. These additions add the owner’s personality to the landscape. Same for the light post.

The light post and surrounding garden at the front corner light the way home. All that changes in the fall when it is dressed as a fabulous witch. By late fall, the blooms have faded or been attacked by frost, but the stone wall is still covered with ivy, and the lamp post still shines.

In this garden, the individual plants shine. The smaller vignette plantings create interest and add interest.

The hydrangea adds drama and charm with the large blooms drooping off stems. But just like we learn early on, “teamwork makes the dream work.” Here, the plants work together to create an award-winning garden and frame a home filled with family and friends.