The final touches are going into the gardens: new plants are being added, art brought in to create a new vignette and the ever so few weeds pulled. Why the flurry of activity? My home is part of the Cincinnati Nature Center’s Garden Tour on June 29th. If you should join the tour, you shall see my yard is about as close to natural as you can get.
The lawn was given up years ago for a landscape inspired by my time in the Smoky Mountains. Masses of plants were added and allowed to mature as they see fit with little intervention from me. Pine straw is used in the fall to carpet the area to minimize weeds and rough cut, locally sourced stones create the retaining wall and steps. My garden has Mother Nature on a very generous leash.
Most often the reaction I get is, I love this, but I couldn't do this in my yard. A bit of conversation reveals that many of us are still attached to a lawn: perhaps for the pets, the kids or the beauty of a rich, thick healthy stand of grass. In that case, a wild garden is easily adapted to a space that also includes a lawn. In landscape design, the answer is seldom this or that. A good designer can say, here’s how we work with both ideas, no matter how far afield they are from each other.
If you are drawn to a slightly wild garden and still want a lawn, the lawn can be modest, perhaps the path used to wander about landscape. Or, it can be more traditional, claiming half the front yard space. To create a slightly refined look of what I have, plant in large bands of the same plant, with a slight border between each plant community to give the eye the impression of an orderly space. You’ll quickly discover this type of design is very easy to maintain, should you handle the task on your own.
One final note: When you visit, be sure to take note of the pollinator plants. My garden is an official Pollinator Garden withe Cincinnati Zoo’s Plant for Pollinators program.