June 2016 Yard of the Month
The Gettysburg Garden Club, through its Yard of the Month Committee, is pleased to present its June, 2016, Award of the Month to Jeannette and Walter Smith, of 2866 Mummasburg Road.
Jeannette, a mechanical engineer, and Walter, a building foundation expert, met at work. After many times moving and traveling for the job, they settled on Gettysburg as home base 26 years ago. They soon found the opportunity and challenge of a lifetime, buying the 216 year old historic stone Throne House near Arendtsville, and bringing house and grounds back to life.
They removed overgrown trees, leveled the ground, grew grass, and added dogwood, azaleas, and tree peony. Jeannette, of English ancestry, loves the “comfortable feeling that the English Cottage Garden gives.” So it was natural she would incorporate its design around their new home.
Driving north on Mummasburg Road the first thing that grabs the eye is the pretty, dark-pink English rose vine climbing the house wall, as if quietly saying, “Over here!” Around the corner, dark blue clematis and pale pink English rose vines bookend the street side wall. With these three smiling vines as “nannies” and several anchoring peony and azaleas as “big sisters,” the “flower children” in this compact, wrap-around English Cottage Garden, seem to be enjoying a day at the park. Jeannette has planted blue and yellow irises, bleeding hearts, Asian lilies, lamb’s ear, green succulents, blue and pink lupines, and tulips and other bulbs, daffodils, Shasta daisies, asters, columbine, hyacinths, pansies, English bluebells, primroses, black-eye-Susans, lavender, salvias, and Johnny-jump-ups, among others, following her favorite color pattern of soft blue-purple-pink with yellow accents. Finally, to fill in any temporarily bare spaces, she adds small potted azaleas or geraniums.
It is fair to say that, to the eye, this lovely space appears very casual, but that is the way of the English Cottage Garden. For the gardener, it takes planning and work. Mature plant size and height, placement for soft palette color coordination, and bloom time must all be taken into account. Roses, both climbing and shrub, are mainstays, as are freely-spreading perennials, which eventually find their preferred spots, all without fighting. Simple lessons from these gardens are that one can get good results with inexpensive materials, and every inch that is planted is one less inch for weeds!
Yet, this beautiful English Cottage Garden is not the only feature of this property. With a private rear landscaped area, entered through a rose and clematis-covered trellis set in a very stately row of lush arborvitae, the visitor has an expansive overview of the property beyond. The deck, with its geranium-filled wrought iron wall planter, and focus of potted geraniums and evergreens, plus hand-painted bird box, all resting among Jeannette’s artfully-placed stones, also provides an extended view of the property. Finally, a lush Green Garden fills the viewer with calm as its waves of hostas and ferns provide another, “Ahhh.” moment.
Walter most enjoys the view from the deck, plus the fragrant, fresh-cut garden flowers filling the house. Jeannette prefers sitting under the pink dogwood, facing her beautiful cottage garden, while sipping a cup of tea. But the visitor’s most interesting view just might be up the old stone path to the welcoming front door, with the many randomly-placed grind wheels nearby, appearing ready for work!
Asked for landscape design advice Jeannette said to, “Be flexible and change plant location for arrangement or growth, if and as necessary; do what makes you happy; plan ahead; and divide pants as necessary.” Walter responded, definitively, “In spring, make sure you know if something is a flower or weed before pulling it!”
For a cottage garden, she emphasized, “Start with what you like best, and use complimentary flower colors.” And Walter added that, “One should prepare the soil—for any garden— with mulch, wood chips, or aged horse manure, adding mushroom soil every two years.” Jeannette added that roses love horse manure, especially in heavy winter frost.
As someone once told Jeannette when passing the house as she was working in her garden, “Your house smiles at me every time I pass it.” No one could say it better.
To nominate your own, or someone else’s property, for the Award of the Month, please call Lorainne Farmer at (717) 253-7730.