“Small but Mighty” by Darlene Scott

“Small but Mighty” by Darlene Scott

Flower Gardens – 3rd Place

Garden description: After 27 years of creating gardens on my NJ suburban property I was eager to see what I could create in my Wilmington row house back yard 16′ wide by 40′ deep that had nothing more than weedy grass. Starting six years ago with dozens of divided pieces of plants from my NJ garden I started building my backyard oasis. To the lilies, iris, peonies, astilbe, penstemon, heuchera, yarrow, phlox, hosta, coneflower, tradescantia, cactus, grasses and herbs I brought with me, I added fence climbers such as honeysuckles, clematis, and jasmine. Trees and shrubs were placed strategically to create some privacy and future shade. And then I added my favorite – several varieties of hydrangeas. Now six years later a large variety of plants clustered along the curved gravel walk gives us many months of blooms. A fig tree, raspberry plants, and some vegetables and herbs squeezed in here and there add to the benefits and pleasure from my garden.

Who are the gardeners? My husband Ed and I both work in the garden. I am the planner and designer, although we usually choose plants together. We share in the labor of planting and maintenance but there’s a difference. It’s fun and a joy for me, not so much for Ed!

Why do you garden? I don’t know how NOT to garden! Raised on a farm in a large family, growing fruits and vegetables was essential. But my mother went beyond the essential to the beautiful, adding flowers wherever she could. She was my teacher and model as I learned the process of working the soil, nurturing plants, and creating a palette of colors and textures. Gardening enriches my life. And I have learned from neighbors and passersby that my garden also enriches their lives! It has been a joy to share what I love with others.

How has gardening impacted you during this time? I have been sustained by the reliability of plants. Throughout the months of uncertainty I could count on my flowers to return and bloom again. Even a small garden has added variety to a life that was limited by the pandemic. When I feel confined, working in my garden opens up the world.

What do you have in your garden? In addition to all the plants listed above, my garden features spring bulbs and annuals, shrubs such as Nandina, Pyrocarpus, Perovskia, Caryopteris, and Bloomerang Lilac. Several specialty trees purchased at the Rare Plant Auction have been great additions: Acer Triflorum; Chocolate Fountain Albizia; Nootka “Green Arrow” Cyprus. The cyprus has been the perfect skinny tree for our skinny space.

Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? We have few problems with pests. Squirrels like to dig in the beds but don’t do any real damage. In a small garden the insect pests we have can be managed with hand removal.

 

 

 

 

“City Courtyard” by Loretta Moniz

“City Courtyard” by Loretta Moniz

Flower Gardens – 2nd Place (Tie)

Garden description: The 25 x 20 ft paved courtyard behind our twin home in Wilmington incorporates a fertile 3 ft wide border backed by a weather-beaten picket fence on two sides and a contrasting brick wall on the third. They provide a backdrop for 50 varieties of shrubs and flowers that I have planted and care for individually. The space is also a welcoming stop for birds, butterflies and bees to eat, bathe and drink.

Who are the gardeners? I am the main gardener, my husband looks after the front and side beds street side. I’ve been gardening for about 30 years. We downsized from the suburbs to a home in the city about 9 years ago to a much smaller plot. When we found this house, we were excited by the opportunities that the courtyard behind the house offered. Volunteering at two city gardens has helped my work significantly.

Why do you garden? For our allotted space I wanted to create something aesthetically pleasing, neither overwhelming nor underwhelming. A private courtyard, not a stark backyard. I’m very particular getting things right (ask my husband), arranging and rearranging, and ensuring different species peak at different times during the seasons to sustain the glory of spring, summer and fall. Having spent part of my life in England I admire how they use space and I tried to emulate the features of a country garden. Above all I value relationships and regularly exchange cuttings with kindred spirits. I estimate 30% of the plants in my garden have the added feature of having belonged to somebody in the community we’ve built. Plants and people, new friends and old friends.

How has gardening impacted you during this time? Having one’s own space benefits one’s physical and mental health, and for me it has been essential during a pandemic. The garden invokes an exhilaration that only nature gifts, especially when the birds sing their hearts out. I like to think it is good for their physical and mental health, too. To transform the long haul of covid into a magical journey, my husband concocted an unusual birthday present (it was a significant milestone, but never ask a lady her age). He asked local artist and poet e.jean lanyon, herself an ardent lover of gardens, to create a painting that features every plant and flower in the garden at its peak. She is developing the work from sketches made in the garden and photographs I’ve taken when each plant was in full bloom. This will be a work of fantasy and befits the name we gave our courtyard: Eden.

What do you have in your garden? Seven species of hostas in the shade garden. A couple of heucheras which the bees love. Various salvias, echinaceas, Shasta daisies, upright phlox, a dwarf yarrow, purple sage, a couple varieties of clematis climbing the fence, lambs ear, dwarf coreopsis, heavenly bamboo, turkey plant or chelone, bee balm, dinner plate dahlias, euonymus, redtwig dogwood, winterberry, azalea varieties, Japanese forest grass, white hydrangea, 3 pink hydrangeas, cherry tomatoes, Iris, dianthus, pink astilbe, white astilbe, hens n’ chicks. Variegated English Ivy, liatris, sedum, coreopsis, foxgloves. I’m trying to achieve the look of an English cottage garden.

Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? The biggest problem in our courtyard garden have been slugs. They seem to favor beer, I believe it’s the yeast that they are attracted to. I leave beer out in a flat dish overnight, the next morning I see many dead slugs. I also crush eggshells and put it at the base of the plants. We’ve also had some baby rabbits come through the slats in the spring. They devour all the tender shoots that come up. We put an end to that by installing short length of bamboo between the recurring gaps in the picket fence just high enough to prevent them leaping through so that they do not disturb the aesthetics.

 

 

 

 

“Tropical Deck Garden” by Vernon Chubb

“Tropical Deck Garden” by Vernon Chubb

Flower Gardens – 2nd Place (Tie)

Garden description: I found myself getting cabin fever from not being able to travel. I decided to try and recreate a sample of some of the tropical regions I had visited while vacationing. Starting with a few potted palms, the vision took off from there. I added more tropical plants along with many of my indoor collections. In its second year, the addition of Spanish moss, orchids, begonias, I expanded with Colocasia, several varieties of bananas, Bougainvilleas, and Mandevilla. The colors came together more unintentionally, by rejecting plant coloration that offset the blend. The fountain in the seating area provides a distraction to adjacent highway noise. The deck being amongst tree branches adds to the feeling of being in a tropical region far from urban living.

Who are the gardeners? My name is Vernon and am a home Gardner for the last 20 years. My initial interest was only in outside gardens but in recent years, I slowly integrated houseplants. After cold winters and a lot of watering, I always found myself ready to put them out come spring. This resulted in noticing expansive growth while outside. To me, this was the best of both worlds.

Why do you garden? I garden because I love the feeling of being a caregiver to nature.

How has gardening impacted you during this time? I was actually excited that I had more time to garden because of the lack of outside temptations and distractions during the pandemic.

What do you have in your garden? My garden consists of Five varieties of banana plants, Majestic palms, Mandevilla, Four varieties of Colocasia, Sansevieria, Dragon Wing Begonia, Orchids, Spanish Moss, Bromelaids, Pothos, Tradescantia, Monstera, Castor Bean, Crotons, Sweet Potato vine, and various integrated house plants.

Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? I had two major issues that have since been resolved. My indoor plant suffered a mealy bug infestation and another outdoor garden was rampaged with white caterpillars one year that decimated my rhododendrons. I don’t use any herbicides or pesticides, so it proved challenging. I tried neem oil for the indoor plants but it seemed to not affect them resolved. Mealy bugs infested some of my indoor plants, and a strange white caterpillar appeared for two summers and ate a lot of my leaves on my Rhododendron. I don’t use pesticides or herbicides outside of Neem Oil so it proves challenging.

 

 

 

 

“Flowers Galore!” by Christine Pochomis

“Flowers Galore!” by Christine Pochomis

Flower Gardens – 1st Place

Garden description: In my early years as a gardener I relied heavily on annuals, but as I became more experienced I began to appreciate the variety of forms and textures many perennials provide. My gardening style is greatly influenced by the English Cottage gardens of Vita Sackville-West and Penelope Hobhouse, although I have a tendency to plant for a slightly “wilder” effect. Every spring I envision a new theme – whether it’s a color theme, or perhaps trying new grasses – but I immediately deviate from the plan as soon as I step into a garden center and see all the exciting plants that are available!

Who are the gardeners? I am the sole gardener in the household!

Why do you garden? I garden because I love being surrounded by flowers, but also because of the wildlife it attracts to my garden. The exercise is an added bonus.

How has gardening impacted you during this time? During the period of isolation last year due to COVID, gardening provided a routine that helped to distract from the anxiety caused by the daily headlines. I also had much more time available for gardening, and helped to introduce my niece to the joys of gardening.

What do you have in your garden? Ferns, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Muhly grass, Stipa grass, lilies, daylilies, sunflowers, Ragged Robin, Hosta (many varieties), 4 cultivars of Clematis, roses, hardy hibiscus, Japanese blood grass, verbena, gladiolus, iris, peonies, Baptisia, phlox, Physostegia, salvia, lobelia, coleus, vinca, begonias, fuschia, senecio, crocosmia, astilbe, shasta daisy, canna, calla lilies, black-seeded lily, Ligularia, Filipendula, various succulents, etc.

Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? Been battling Spotted Lantern Fly – Neem Oil.