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Garden Rehab: Playing Catch-Up After A Family Crisis

perennial garden rehab
After a car accident in 2015, Matthew and his wife Abigail have been working on doing some serious garden rehab on their property.

Matthew, a member of our awesome customer service team, has been having a lot of fun getting creative with his gardens since joining us several years ago. But in the winter of 2015 Matthew and Abigail were involved in a car accident, leaving her permanently disabled.

The accident affected their lives in many ways, but one immediate result was they didn’t have the time to care for their gardens last season. “We let our gardens go and we had done a lot of gardening since I started working here. Most of those gardens eventually became three feet tall with weeds … they were chaos,” Matthew describes.

vegetable garden bed with weeds
Matthew describes his gardens as "chaos" last season, including this raised vegetable garden bed.

Fortunately Abigail’s recovery is going well, which means they can work on garden rehab this season. “She’s doing much better in terms of being able to get outside and be involved with gardening, so we just went crazy this year with tidying things up, but also replacing a lot of plants that got choked out. We’ve been weeding and also we put in new gardens this year,” explains Matthew.

He isn’t exaggerating – they have gone crazy. Matthew gave me a virtual tour of the gardens from last year and this season. Not only have they completely rehabbed the overrun gardens, but have also created several new perennial garden beds in the front of their house.

front garden beds
Before: the front of their home.
front garden beds transformed
After: They've completely transformed the front of their home this season with these garden beds.

The front gardens in their house have seen the biggest transformation. “When we moved in, they had these really tall, narrow cedar trees that were up to the second story of the house and they just blocked all of the windows,” says Matthew. “We took those out … but we didn’t actually finish the front beds until this summer. We added Sedum, Hostas, Clematis and moved a Rhododendron from the side of the house.”

Matthew’s garden philosophy – like many of us here at American Meadows – is all about learning and experimentation. “I grew up around my parents gardening all the time … every year they put in new garden beds,” he says. “I think for me I’m in this weird place where I know a lot about gardening but I also don’t know a lot about gardening.”

perennial garden bed with weeds
Before: this was one of the garden beds that was full of weeds. Even after weeding it this spring, it still filled up with grass.
perennial garden bed transformed

After: They added more perennials (including Hollyhocks and Coreopsis) and are diligent about keeping the garden weed-free.

Matthew says he has a sense for what plants want in his garden, but doesn’t have a grasp on the particulars of each variety yet. “In a lot of ways I’m very experimental about it; I have an idea for where I’d like a garden and I see what I can get from American Meadows. I like to see how it goes, try things out and see what works and what doesn’t,” he explains.


Hostas line the side of their home.

One of the major things Matthew’s learned through his garden journey is what grows well in his climate (zone 5). “I had no idea what Astilbe was when I started growing them and I love them now. They are kind of a no-brainer when I want something that I know I won’t have to worry too much about,” he says. “You just plant them as bareroots and a few days later you start seeing them come up. They are so eager to get going.”

vegetable garden bed with weeds

Bee Balm, Sage and Butterfly Weed made it through the season of weeds.

Matthew also notes that he’s mastered the art of edging a garden in his landscaping adventures within the past few years.

new perennial garden bed

This is one of the new garden beds Matthew and Abigail created this season. Notice the clean edging on the garden!

And although Abigail is wheelchair-bound, she’s been a big part of the garden rehab this season. “Due to her physical limitations it’s not easy for her, but she finds it incredibly rewarding whenever she can be involved,” says Matthew. “I got her a long-handled weeding tool and she loves doing that.”

perennial garden bed

A close-up of one of the garden beds in front of the home.

So what’s next? Matthew says they are already planning for next season and hope to build a waist-high raised vegetable garden bed so Abigail can get even more involved in their gardens.


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