Video by Susan Harris. Music by Fast Eddie and the Slowpokes, whose frontman Ed Crowley is a long-time Greenbelter. Garden and narration by Katrina Boverman, who writes:
FRONT GARDEN When I moved to my home in 1987 the front yard had an adorable sugar maple tree and a barely limping along spread of grass. For years I determinedly attempted to have a lawn and eventually came to realize it made sense to stop fighting Mother Nature and instead to work with her. So I planted pachysandra, hostas, liriope, a few azaleas and some black-eyed susans where there had been lawn. I was thrilled when the 2002 House and Garden Tour touted the front yard as an example of a low-maintenance shade yard.
Over time, the tree lost more and more limbs and the construction on the storm drain required hedges, a flower bed and part of the brick walkway to be dug up. Sadly, the tree was eventually taken down and the yard was transformed into a sunny yard. Amazingly, many of the original plants managed to survive and the black-eyed susans took off. After feeding the birds for years, random sunflowers appeared and I’ve added even more sun-loving plants, including vegetables.
A Japanese rose bush and hibiscus greet visitors by the road and the walkway. A wonderful eunoymus hedge provides privacy and some noise reduction. The front yard and hell strips includes still more plants than I mentioned in the video: yellow evening primrose, mini purple irises, obedience plants, swiss chard, hydrangeas, st. john’s wort, camellia, forsythia, lilac and butterfly bushes.
BACK GARDEN For years, the back yard was mostly shaded by two very tall oaks. Somehow grass was able to grow and the flower beds lined with rocks and concrete pieces expanded over the years. Both trees were eventually taken down and the yard transformed from being partially sunny to full sun. Plus, the yard has been dug up three times over the past 10 years for drainage work.
This garden holds hydrangeas, evening primrose, red cardinal plants, cosmos, zinnias and catnip, plus the plants mentioned on the video. Earlier in the spring there were some glorious sunflowers that appeared after I put out flower heads for the animals and birds to nibble on. Several years ago I added a compost bin, which creates wonderful organic material plus lightening up my trash bag each week.
DESIGNING FOR WILDLIFE AND ENJOYMENT Every now and then a hawk makes a dramatic appearance, which sends the birds scurrying for safety. This summer, for the first time that I know of, a pair of hummingbirds has been visiting daily and are so exciting to spot. Another first this year is the presence of milkweed plants I transplanted from a neighbor’s yard.
Both yards have evolved over time to be relatively low-maintenance and fairly tough without needing regular watering. My old rule of thumb when purchasing plants was to buy several types of plants, see which ones flourished and then divide them, spreading them throughout the yards. Many of my plants were passed on from neighbors, from my childhood home or just appeared as volunteers. The annuals have come up from seeds or they reseeded from previous years.
I prefer to have gentle flowing movement with curved lines and surprises of color. I’ve sprinkled fun, whimsical and spiritual objects around both yards. I’ve added bird baths, feeders and houses for the birds, squirrels, humans and cat to enjoy. I like to think of both yards as living playgrounds and homes to many birds, bees, moths, insects and squirrels, including praying mantises, lizards, ladybugs, and only Mother Nature knows who else.
PASSING PLANTS ALONG Spring is the most labor intensive time when I need help weeding, moving seedlings to more desirable locations, and dividing up plants that have gotten too large. Thankfully, many freecyclers show up year after year to dig and adopt the extra plants. I am proud to say that yards in Greenbelt, Beltsville, Cheverly and beyond have offspring from my yards.
Throughout the summer I gather seeds from flower bouquets I get from the farmer’s market and seeds collected from neighbors’ and my own yards, which I toss in the garden to see what grows the following year. I also love sharing my seeds with others. Throughout the year I toss out winter squash seeds for the animals and birds, which surprisingly have yielded butternut and acorn squash plants.
THANKS! It brings me great joy to have others experience pleasure from my yards. Thank you so much for watching, and a very special thank you to Susan Harris, who filmed the video and very patiently encouraged me along the way to share my yard with you.
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