May 2019 Garden of the Month

May 2019 Garden of the Month

The Gettysburg Garden Club, through its Garden of the Month Committee, presents the award for May, 2019, to “Cookie” Shaw, of 319 Barlow Street, Gettysburg.

At 319 Barlow Street lives an artist and a gardener. Some twenty years ago, when Cookie (Levato) Shaw acquired the property, there was little there by way of landscaping or garden. With a happy combination of vision, practicality, and work, Cookie has created a design that delights on several levels. A first challenge for the gardener was a large and graceful maple tree growing in the back yard with roots that spread out partly on the ground’s surface. It was difficult to grow or mow grass there, so Ms. Shaw planted lilies of the valley and black mondo grass within the natural delineations of the roots. Now ferns and aucuba shrubs grow close to the back of the house, and feverfew and a variety of hostas grow alongside stepping stones that lead to a shaded patio and to the other side of the tree, where there is a “beach” or sandy patch. The sand was originally for the grandchildren to play in; now Cookie has a hammock in the summer, and she can pretend that she is at the beach. Bamboo, Leyland Cypress trees, a mock orange bush, and ivy line the white fence that backs the area. Ms. Shaw blends perennials and annuals for an evolving season of blooms and color.

Just as she has composed the shaded garden in back, she has established layered borders in the front of 319. Lilacs of different shades of purple and lavendar, including a later-blooming French lilac, form an arch over the house sign at the entrance to the front walk. The lilacs make a taller backdrop to gently-curving low borders planted now with impatiens, white candytuft, tulips, and iris. The walk leads to a front porch added to the house by Cookie and outfitted with fresh, white wicker rattan furniture accented by blue and white cushions and her hand painted decorative shutters. A few later blooming bushes and a blue bird bath are in front of the white lattice work and simple balustrade of the porch. Later, canna, marigolds, and zinnias will replace May color in the lower border at the front of the porch. Virginia bluebells, day lilies, and other lilies are interspersed.

Two tall pines anchor either end of the front border. Cookie has planted both side areas along the white fences in thoughtful ways. One glimpses on the east side several “memory” bushes, each different and each from the gardens of relatives or friends–forsythia, a boxwood, weigela, and a blueberry bush. A group of tiger lilies grows in the front corner with a small wooden donkey cart hiding in the foliage. In the border next to the side of the house one sees some beautiful iris and bright blue forget-me-nots. Peonies will soon appear. Tucked near the back of this side is a cutting garden space with room for a few vegetables and large twig poles against the fence for lima bean vines. On the less sunny west side, which has a parking area, there are bridal wreath spirea bushes, Japanese aucubas, pretty pinks (now green), and ground cover of myrtle periwinkle vinca.

After 23 years of teaching art at Bermudian Springs middle school, Cookie now has more time to watch her “ever-evolving piece of art.” She enjoys all the physical activity of gardening: amending the soils, shaping the shrubs, and controlling invasions of wild violets. She finds a “serenity” in her garden also. The results of her vision and gardening care certainly give viewers pleasure as well as a lesson in art. A visitor will enjoy the plaque by her front door. The Latin translates as “Bidden, or not bidden, God is present,” words from Carl Jung.

To nominate your property or someone else’s for the Garden of the Month award please call or text Deb Steckler at (717) 357-3623 or fill out our form.


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