Backyard Garden Objective: to provide a sense of intimacy in the backyard, to create a boundary in front of a steep bank, and to create a beautiful space that can be enjoyed by the family and visiting butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
Backyard Garden Plant List:
This garden spans the entire back of their property, lining a steep bank. Although you would never guess, these are actually the newest gardens on the property. Heather says she started just two years ago with gardens along the house to hide the foundation and an oil cap. After that, things just took off.
“I just kept expanding,” says Heather. “I tested to see if Astilbe would do well, then Hostas, then Geranium and Lamium -- all the things that I figured would grow but you never know because we have clay soil.” Heather says they mixed in several yards of compost with their existing clay soil and things are growing just fine.
As she finished the gardens by the back of the house, Heather set her eyes on the steep bank at the back of their yard. The long garden along this steep bank is the showpiece of their landscape. Framed by an arbor on the right, which her dad built, and tall Hydrangea on the other, the garden spans the entire length of their backyard. Heather says this garden was a lot of work, but that she finished it all in one season. The garden design is simple and repetitious, which is what makes it such a calming feature in their shaded back yard.
Heather has been in the garden industry for over a decade, so it’s no surprise that her landscapes are as spectacular as they are. She says a lot of the ease of designing the gardens at her home are that they all serve a purpose, and are planted near a a structure or landscape feature that helps to anchor the gardens in the landscape.
She also had inspiration from a client’s garden she worked on several years ago. “A client’s garden in town was so cute, cozy and private, you wouldn’t even know there was a main road right next to it,” says Heather. “ I loved the texture and feel of the garden, and it looked really polished. I was her gardener and I didn’t have to weed it; so I loved that it was easy, but looked really nice.”
Heather is quick to say that she wouldn’t necessarily call her gardens “easy,” which I think is pretty apparent after several hours of photographing without a weed in sight! But she does say they are easier than others. Heather chooses plants she knows will work in her shade garden, such as easy to grow Hostas, Daylilies, Begonias, and Bee Balm. “I only like to garden in the shade, so for me it’s fun to work in the backyard. It gets about 4 hours of sun per day, so most of the day is shaded and easy to work. It’s just enough sun that we can pretty much grow most things,” she says.
Heather’s 5 Tips For Garden Design:
Choose easy-to-grow plants first. Heather likes to choose plants with proven success stories like Daylilies, Hostas, Bee Balm, and Hydranges.
Decide the purpose of the garden. All of Heather’s garden serve a purpose (to line the back of a steep bank, to hide the foundation, reduce mowing, attract pollinators, or even as simple as to add beauty).
Plant. You can never have too many plants! If garden beds are full, containers are an easy way to experiment and add color.
Divide, move, and replant. Nothing is ever permanent in Heather’s garden. She digs things up and move them every year.
Don't forget to enjoy your garden! Adding seating, such as chairs or a picnic table, will give you a space to relax and enjoy your garden after all the hard work.
“Gardening absolutely my passion and my hobby. People always ask me, “Why do you have so many gardens? How do you keep up with them?” I garden because it’s easy for me and I don’t find it stressful. It’s my number one thing I do every week. My husband likes riding bikes, I like to spend hours hanging out in the garden. And I have pet hummingbirds so I love sitting out there and watching the hummingbirds. Gardening also feeds into my cut flower addiction.
Heather’s love of gardening is obvious as you walk around her property and her family enjoys the fruits of her labor often, sitting at the picnic table out back or on the floating adirondack chairs. “It’s just so private and cozy,” says Heather, “it’s a great place to sit out and have a cocktail at the end of the day.”