Garden Rehab: Playing Catch-Up After A Family Crisis
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Matthew also notes that he’s mastered the art of edging a garden in his landscaping adventures within the past few years.
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.”
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.
'Deutschland' Astilbe's pure white plumes are lovely in the moonlight and can brighten the shade garden with grace. Soft and feathery flowerheads play beautifully against the glossy green, mounding foliage. Very showy and very easy to care for, like most astilbes, this one is resistant to both deer and rabbits. Try pairing with any fern for a gorgeous, contrasting look. (Astilbe japonica)
'Montgomery' Astilbe produces feathery, magenta-crimson blooms that stand tall over its deep green foliage. A standout addition to the shade garden, 'Montgomery' delivers loads of color and is a perfect choice for mass plantings. Leaves emerge bronze-red in spring and turn green over the course of the season. Prefers moist soil. (Astilbe japonica)
Add bold, bright color to a shady spot in your garden with our Astilbe Mix. 'Deutschland' Astilbe's pure white plumes are lovely in the moonlight, 'Montgomery' Astilbe has feathery, magenta-crimson blooms and 'Rheinland' Astilbe adds graceful pink plumes to illuminate the shade garden. Also known as False Spirea, our Astilbe Mixture is deer resistant and amazingly easy to grow. Make sure to plant extra, as these blooms make for gorgeous summer bouquets and last all year long if dried. Astilbe makes a bold statement on their own or paired with other shade-loving perennials, such as Hostas and Columbines.
For lavender-pink blooms in shady gardens, ‘Maggie Daley’ astilbe is at the top of the list. Slightly more tolerant of dry soils than other astilbes, it’s still at its best in a moist location. Mid-summer blooms are held in dense panicles and will dry in place for fall interest. Pinnate, deep green foliage. Clump forming. (Astilbe chinensis)