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Archives for July 20, 2013

Gardening tips

Three ways to store your produce

1. Dry onions, shallots and garlic, then store them in a frost-free shed or garage, keeping them in net bags hung up so the air can circulate around them.

2. Only freeze top quality, fresh produce, so aim to pick and freeze the same day. Freeze leaf beet, carrots, French beans and broccoli.

3. You can leave some produce in the ground until you need it, including carrots, leeks, parsnips and beetroot, but when winter comes cover the vegetables with cloches or fleece to protect them from frost damage.

What to do this week:

Cut back: Prune larger-leaved evergreens including laurel

flowers: Pick flowers such as sweet peas and dahlias to encourage further flowering

geraniums: Give hardy geraniums a haircut with shears to help them stay compact

lavender: Cut lavender for drying, just before the buds open fully, and tie in loose bunches, hanging them upside down in a well-ventilated, warm spot

garlic: When the foliage of garlic starts to yellow, the bulbs should be ready for lifting

tomatoes: Regularly remove side shoots from tomatoes

grass: Keep recently laid lawns well watered at all times

salad: Continue to sow rocket, lamb’s lettuce and claytonia.

fruit: Prune summer-fruiting raspberries when they finish cropping.

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Garden Tips: Watering a little every day not enough in the Tri-City climate

With only six to eight inches of rain a year, even novice area gardeners know that adequate moisture is essential to successfully growing lawns, gardens and landscape plants.

However, not every gardener knows how to correctly water. The tendency is to water a little every day during the summer, such as 15 minutes once a day. That sometimes isn’t enough.

Only 5 percent of the water that plants absorb through their roots is used for growth. The majority (95 percent) is lost through transpiration, which is the loss of water vapor from the pores in leaf surfaces. High temperatures, wind and sun increase the rate of transpiration, increasing a plant’s need for water.

To be able to absorb from the soil, water in the location of the water-absorbing roots. As plants become established, the roots typically move out radially from the root ball. Water that once was applied near the trunk or base should be applied further in the root zone. For established shade trees, the root zone area extends from the drip line (the outermost reach of the branches) and beyond.

If a lawn is watered just 15 minutes every day, depending on the output of the irrigation system, adequate moisture probably is not reaching the roots. The major portion of the root systems landscape trees are found in the top 12 to 18 inches of soil. Shallow, daily watering during a hot summer may keep a lawn alive, but it probably is not providing enough water.

When plants suffer from drought, they wilt or show other signs of stress. Some respond to this stress with yellowing and dropping of leaves. Others develop a disorder called “leaf scorch,” where the edges of the leaves turn brown and crispy, or brown tissue develops between the leaf veins.

Certain plants may show the same symptoms even if there is enough moisture. The problem may be that the root system is inadequate to keep up with the demands put on the plant by transpiration. This can happen when a plant is transplanted in late spring or early summer and the roots have not had time to grow to support the top of the plant. This also happens if the root system is impaired by being planted too deep or by restricted roots. Some plants tend to show leaf scorch because they aren’t well adapted to a hot, dry climate.

If a plant looks stressed, check the soil moisture. Be sure to deep-water once a week. A mature shade tree with a spread of 30 feet should be receiving at least 350 gallons of water once a week during our hot and breezy weather.

— Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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How to create a pet-friendly garden: ideas, tips durable plants

Melinda Frey, the Portland designer who created the pet-friendly backyard where the two dogs live and play, started from scratch with a landscape that was cratered like the surface of the moon. From the beginning, she considered the needs of the dogs and two cats, Tango and Sparky. Instead of trying to contain the dogs in certain areas, Frey turned a well-padded track into a path. If they are going to run there anyway, she says, the best way was to go with it.

“They are really active,” says Frey, who owns Raindrop Garden Design and has done about half a dozen gardens focused on the requirements of pets as well as people. “And now they have space to exert that energy. Then they’re more mellow and chill out.”

Emmerson hired Frey after noticing a flier advertising a tandem talk by Frey and Anne Taylor of Living Elements Landscape.

“We wanted a dog-resistant, dog-friendly, safe garden that was also appealing to people,” Emmerson says. “We didn’t know where to start.”

Fortunately, Frey did. In addition to the paths, she had the couple build raised beds for vegetables. Even though the medium-size dogs can easily scramble in, the boxes act as a deterrent, as do prickly plants placed strategically. The garden has a lawn where the owners can play with and train their pets.

“You have to understand they’re dogs,” Frey says. “It takes training from humans to let them know what’s OK and what’s not OK.”

Americans love their pets. They spent more than $61 billion on them in 2011, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Labor. That translated to just more than $500 for the average household.

So perhaps it’s not so surprising that two women from the other side of the country called Portland designer Carol Lindsay to create outdoor pooch places after reading her blog.

The first was a lobster boat owner in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, who has three young golden retrievers and wanted a private dog park.

“She had to talk me into it,” says Lindsay of Design in a Day. “I didn’t want a bi-coastal relationship.”

But she gave in. The dog owner, who read Lindsay’s blog post about pet-friendly gardens, sent photos of her favorite off-leash dog parks; one included a sand fort — an igloo-type structure over a patch of sand.

“Dogs can go in and dig like crazy,” Lindsay says. “And they come out happy.”

The second East Coast client was the owner of a brownstone in Brooklyn, N.Y., who was at a total loss about how to deal with four Lab-sized rescue dogs in a 19-by-37-foot garden.

“It was a real challenge,” says Lindsay. “She’d given up.”

But the Portland garden designer took on the job and found that rejiggering the deck, cleaning out some plants and creating rooms provided a lot more usable space. The Brooklyn woman got to keep the romance of her favorite roses, and her tail-wagging friends got room to stretch.

Loading Photo Gallery

Lindsay and Frey agree that keeping a dog happy keeps the owner happy, too. If you watch your canines’ habits, it’s easier to make garden choices. Do they run the perimeter? If so, keep that area free of plants or use containers. Do they love the dog next door? Cut out little windows in the fence so they can go nose to nose. And don’t forget to get toxic plants out of your landscape. Cedar chips, flagstone, gravel, crushable ground covers or artificial grass will help keep your pup’s feet cleaner.

Cats aren’t left out. For Emmerson  and Felton, Frey designed a “cattery” with basking stones, shaded hidey-holes, juniper scratching posts and perches.

“The cats love it,” says Emmerson. “The dogs love it. And we love it.”

— Cover area with netting or some other kind of screening if you want to keep cats from roaming.
— Provide scratching posts.
— Plant shrubs so cats have a shady place to hide.
— Add a flattish rock big enough for them to sun on.
— Build shelves for play and sleep.
— Have a window you can open or a cat door so cats can come and go at will.
— Make sure they have fresh water.

1. Make sure fresh drinking water is always available to your pets to keep them hydrated and to dilute their urine, which will minimize brown spots on your lawn. Give dogs that love water a fountain or pool to play in.
2. Strategically placed plants with a prickly nature and sturdy form can keep dogs from charging through planted beds
3. Toxic plants are commonly found in Northwest gardens. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has comprehensive toxic and nontoxic plant lists for dogs and cats. If you think your pet has eaten a toxic plant, call your vet. (For more, see “Beware of plants, blooms poisonous to cats and dogs”)
4. Training is a major part of a successful pet-friendly garden. Our dogs want to please us. Time spent in the garden with your pet can enrich your outdoor experience.
5. A trip to your local dog park allows active dogs a way to burn off pent-up energy. When they get home, they’re more relaxed and create less havoc in the garden.
6. If you’ve got diggers, make an area where they have permission to make a mess. Some people use sand for this purpose.
7. Make paths where dogs naturally go. If they patrol the perimeter, leave a path between fence and plants.
8. Put in raised beds; they’ll help keep dogs from trampling vegetables.
9. Use plants with stickers or those with smells they don’t like to keep them out of beds.
10. Make a window or two at face level in the fence if your dog likes socializing with the dog next door.
Source: Melinda Frey, Raindrop Garden Design, and Carol Lindsay, Design in a Day

Melinda Frey
Raindrop Garden Design
Carol Lindsay
Design in a Day


Hardy fuchsia
Sword fern (Polystichum munitum)
Redtwig dogwood (Cornus alba)
Montgomery spruce (Picea pungens ‘Montgomery’)

Fountain grass
Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa)
Reed grass (Calamagrostis)
Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens)

(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Carpet bugle (Ajuga)
Miniature stonecrop (Sedum acre or S. requieni)
Elfin thyme (Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin’)

Doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum)
Snowball viburnum (Viburnum macrocephalum)
Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’)
Rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa)
Spirea (Spiraea japonica)
Weigela (W. florida ‘Variegata’ or W. ‘Minuet’)

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Binetti: Two books to help you enjoy your garden

So why not enjoy your garden this week? Sometimes the eye of a gardener becomes continuously focused on what needs to be done — instead of the beauty that is blooming in midsummer glory.

Your plants will not be scandalized if a few weeds share their bed or stop flowering immediately if you relax and ignore some faded blooms. You can even mow the lawn a bit less often as summer arrives. If you just can’t see the flowers for the weeds, learn to love foliage over flowers or to blur your eyes while you gaze at your garden and enjoy splashes of color and texture — even if there are some blooming weeds adding to the color show.

Give yourself permission to celebrate summer by just sitting in the garden — perhaps with a good book. Here are two suggestions:


By Helen Dillon, Timber Press, $23.12 hardcover (Amazon)

I just finished reading this classic entertaining book by Irish author Helen Dillon retitled from “Down to Earth Gardening” for an American audience.

I loved not only the new nuggets of gardening information but also the humor and personality the author infuses into her writing. We’ll be leading a garden tour to Ireland this fall and visiting the garden of Helen Dillon as part of our tour — so with the idea of research for the trip, I thought I would need to order the Dillon garden books from a British publisher. It was a nice surprise to find out that Portland publisher Timber Press has renamed and reissued this Helen Dillon book that has become a best-seller in the United Kingdom. You can find it at local book stores, your library and for sure at

Here’s some gardening advice from the very opinionated Helen Dillon. Her wisdom is broken down into short chapters some devoted to beginning gardeners and other chapters for more advanced gardeners. The beautiful photographs of her own garden, near Dublin prove the point that Dillon knows how to dig in, design and delight in the gardening lifestyle.

Change is good: Helen Dillon shares many past mistakes and explains how she got rid of the multi-tiered, Victorian fountain that was once the focal point of her garden. She now prefers a more modern garden design with more subtle focal points and she freely shares her past gardening mistakes.

Use real things: Fake flagstone always look like fake flagstone — get the real thing.

Your lawn takes up too much time: Helen replaced her lawn with a long, narrow, water feature down the length of the back garden. She has one of the most photographed gardens in the United Kingdom, so this drastic design change along with getting rid of many demanding perennial plants sent shock waves through the gardening world.

Skip the roses: Most roses are not worth the bother — but roses you love are worthy of constant care and pampering.

Create a space: Every gardener needs a potting shed or greenhouse in which to hide out. Then you can relax and do nothing at all — that is until you hear footsteps heading your way. Then just start throwing soil and pots about and you can fool all visitors and family members into thinking what a dedicated and hardworking gardener you have become.

Dogs are great in a garden: Unless visiting royalty steps in a doggy deposit and tracks it into your home at tea time, dogs are a great addition to every garden. Helen Dillon will tell you how to handle that.


By Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz, St. Lynn’s Press, $16.95

Ready for more summer reading in the garden? Closer to home is this book by local garden designers Karen Chapman (Duvall) and Christina Salwitz (Renton). These two have grafted their ideas on foliage, container gardens and landscape design into a new hybrid of a garden book that is a work of stunning beauty.

Seattle photographer Ashely DeLatour has captured the essence of living leaves as works of art. If you like lots of photos with your garden books and step-by-step ideas on how to duplicate the landscapes and container gardens that use foliage over flowers than this is required summer reading.

The design of this small book is user-friendly with more than 60 plant partnerships. Each page highlights a finished project and the facing page displays a brief explanation of “Why this works” and then a photo, name and description of the plants that were used in the design.

You don’t have to be a gardener to lust after these luscious leaves. Leaf through these pages and even the most committed flower-lovers are going to be tempted to start an exciting affair with Fine Foliage.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at

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Great Dunham garden designer looks forward to returning to Sandringham

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    Bringing out the ‘show-stoppers’

    An upscale development in Seabrook designed with “new urbanism” in mind has a Sequim connection.


    Greg Haskins, owner of Wildwood Nursery, 270 S. Ninth Ave., has been the landscape manager for the Seabrook Land Company, a pedestrian-friendly, village-type development of 220 homes about a mile north of Pacific City.


    Since 2004, Haskins has designed the project’s landscaping and selected plant materials native to the Northwest that thrive in the often windy, cool and rainy coastal area.


    Haskins said the development emphasizes front porches, alleyways, pocket parks and the ability to walk to amenities.


    In 2010, Haskins oversaw the landscaping of the company’s “ultimate beach house,” which ended up being featured in a five-page spread in the October edition of Coastal Living magazine. And although Haskins moved to Sequim about a year ago to establish his own landscaping business, he remains closely involved with Seabrook on a new combination project with the company and Sunset magazine. In its July issue, the magazine announced an upcoming article on the “Ideal Town,”featuring two brand new homes in the development that have “the best ideas in home and garden design” by promoting community and sustainability.


    “My involvement was to do all the design and choose plant materials,” Haskins said. “Because Seabrook’s standard is 70 percent Northwest materials, I’ve incorporated native conifers, really cool wind-swept shore pines, rain gardens with western red cedar, wetland grasses and vine maples. They’re ‘imagining’ the owner wanting a Japanese garden, so I’m including a variety of Japanese pines and cedars. Sunset is always is after edibles in the landscape, so I selected blueberries, thornless blackberries, white currants, hops and lavender to represent Sequim.”


    A ‘big splash’

    Haskins said Seabrook and Sunset favor “big splash” plants, so he included rocket ligularia with its bright yellow spikes, large serrated leaves and mahogany stems.


    “It forced me to bring in more show-stopper stuff,” Haskins said of the opportunity to appear in a feature to be published in Sunset this fall. “I like the blacks, silvers, whites and yellows — whites and yellows are very eye-catching.”


    Haskins said the “Ideal Town” project will feature well over 70 different varieties of his plants, shrubs and trees. Other project design elements Haskins worked with include a greenhouse for hydroponically grown tomatoes and a Mediterranean herb garden. The magazine will have a photo shoot on the site on July 20.


    To see some of Haskins’ local work, visit a drought-tolerant rock garden in the Water Reuse Demonstration Park he designed in conjunction with Joe Holtrop of the Clallam Conservation District.


    Although Wildwood Nursery is predominantly a wholesale nursery, Haskins said he’s glad to provide free consultations for people, assessing their preferences, their budget and what their land can handle. He then arranges the plants much as they might look in the customer’s yard, streamlining the design process by not drawing out a formal design.


    “I try to give people a road map to work on over time. They don’t have to do everything at once.”


    Call Wildwood Nursery at 565-6478 and watch for Haskins’ designs in a fall issue of Sunset.


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    Ross Parcel is one of Alta’s youngest business owners


    Ross Parcel is one of Alta’s youngest business owners.

    At just 19, his business – Ross Parcel Landscapes – is blooming.

    Ross’ interest in landscaping work started when he was just 13 when he began working during the summers with Wes and Brad Bunjes and their landscaping business. He learned a great deal from them. When he was 17, he began doing a few small projects on his own, hauling what little equipment he had at the time in a 6’x5′ trailer.

    Through word of mouth, he was being called on for more and more projects and he realized he had something going. He graduated from Alta-Aurelia High School in 2012 and added to his equipment, including a truck, and this year he added a second truck and trailers, purchased with dollars received from completing projects.

    Ross attends Kirkwood College, double majoring in the landscape construction and design courses. When he returns, he will be learning in greater detail about ligthing and irrigation. He has completed one year and will be done in May.

    He enjoys living in Alta and intends to remain in Alta, in fact, he just purchased two lots in the Alta Municipal Utilities addition from the city/utilities to put up a hoop building to store his equipment and house an office. In his three-year plan is the addition of a greenhouse.

    While there are two landscape businesses in the community, they don’t really compete. “There’s plenty of business,” he said. Both business complete projects in Alta and throughout a large area around Alta.

    “It’s different work everyday and that’s what I like about it,” Ross said. “Many of the projects don’t take more than a week to complete and that’s what keeps it exciting. The ideas are endless. It’s fun to go to a job where the yard is all grass and create something and to see the customer happy with their changed yard.”

    Clients have ideas in mind when they meet with him while many ask him to come up with a design. Though computer programs are available for drawing up plans, he prefers to draw them free hand which allows him to express more ideas. If a 3-D picture is requested, he uses the computer.

    Being young, Ross often gets peculiar looks when clients meet him for the first time but once they see the quality work he does, they realize that his young age doesn’t matter.

    At this time, Ross does not have any fulltime employees working for him but does have a few guys that help out when needed.

    Friend Alex Stephan will be attending Kirkwood come this fall, also majoring in landscaping. Just as the Bunjes brothers served as mentors to him, he will pay it forward and share his knowledge with Alex next summer by offering him an internship.

    To contact Ross call 712-2xx-xxxx. You can view some of his projects at the Ross Parcel Landscapes Facebook page.

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    Nature Scapes by Kim: Creating and caring for home landscaping designs


    By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer

    Kimberly White, owner of Nature Scapes  (photo/submitted)

    Photo: Kimberly White, owner of Nature Scapes (photo/submitted)

    Business name: Nature Scapes by Kim

    Address: P.O. Box 113, South Grafton

    Owner: Kimberly White

    Contact Information: 508-868-2170,


    What does your company specialize in?

    “We specialize in creative, economical landscape solutions for residential customers. Every homeowner has their own vision for their property. As a landscape designer, I work with them to make that vision a reality,” said Kimberly White, owner and designer for Nature Scapes by Kim since 2000. She received her education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in addition to a five-year apprenticeship with an award-winning landscape designer. She is currently working on a degree in environmental science at Worcester State University.

    “We build outdoor living areas, as well as spectacular front entrances, depending on what the homeowner needs. Sometimes it is rearranging a perennial garden and transplanting shrubs along with pruning, trimming, weeding, mulch application, edging. Other times it may require repair or installation of patios and walkways. No job is too big or too small.”

    White’s work can be seen in the Grafton area and surrounding towns and in pictures on the website,


    How do you get started on a project?

    “Usually a customer calls with an idea of what they want. I’ll meet with them to see if their ideas will work in the space available and fit within their budget. Sometimes we’ll scale down or do different areas at different times,” White said.

    “I put together an estimate, and once we have agreed, my crew and I show up on a scheduled date and do the work through to completion. I like to show my customers the courtesy of getting the job done as quickly as possible once we start.

    “I want people to be thrilled when they walk away from our experience. Not only with what we’ve done with the landscaping, but with my crew and myself.”


    And you recommend and provide the needed plants?

    “I’m a landscape designer, which means I have a lot of plant knowledge and I am particularly knowledgeable about perennials. I know what a particular plant likes—sun or shade, the type of soil, drainage, when it’s going to flower, what color. A well-planned garden includes conifers, evergreens, deciduous shrubs and trees, as well as perennials. The perennials are where the garden pops. A well-planned perennial garden will always have something flowering, something new going on. And I choose those for foliage as well as the flowers.”


    Nature Scapes maintains gardens as well?

    “We do perennial maintenance, taking care of the garden after it’s been planted. For regular customers, in the spring we do the spring cleanup, mulch, fertilize everything with organic fertilizers. Then in late July or August we prune everything, cut back where needed, do a lot of weeding. In the fall we put the garden to sleep, whatever the plants need to protect them from the harsh winters,” White said.

    “We try to stay as organic as possible. I try not to use chemicals unless it’s absolutely necessary. And then, sparingly.”


    What are popular projects?

    “Replacing foundation plantings in front of the house and along the street. Often a builder puts all the money into the house and very little on the landscaping. They buy whatever’s on sale and plant it 12 inches from the foundation. Years later, there are problems. Sometimes we have to rip it out, sometimes we can move it, sometimes we can just prune it.

    “Often a few years after people have bought a house and finished what they want to do inside, they want to customize the outside. Landscaping also adds curb appeal when owners are putting their house on the market.”

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    Meet our Great Garden contest winners

    To walk through an amazing garden is like stepping into another world with all your senses on alert. Colors, textures, shapes envelop you. A bee buzzes around you. The smell of roses fills the air.

    We asked St. Louisans if their garden had what it takes to be crowned the best in the area. More than 200 gardeners responded in our Post-Dispatch Annual Great Garden Contest.

    Picking just six winners (first, second and third place in the amateur division and the amateur with professional help division) was a challenge for our four judges. But design, color and elegance stole the show.

    And the winners received some great prizes:

    • First place in both categories: $1,000 gift card from the Home Depot; $100 to For the Garden; $100 to Sugar Creek Gardens

    • Second place in both categories: $150 to the Bug Store; $100 to Sherwood’s Forest; $50 to Sugar Creek Gardens; $50 to Bowood Farms; $25 to For the Garden; $25 to Hillermann Nursery and Florist.

    • Third place in both categories: $50 to the Bug Store; $50 to Sugar Creek Gardens; $50 to Sherwood’s Forest; $25 to Bowood Farms; $25 to For the Garden; $25 to Hillermann Nursery and Florist.

    • Every winner receives a $25 gift card from Eckert’s Garden Center and a family membership to the Missouri Botanical Garden, valued at $150.



    First place • Debbie Hadley

    Home • Webster Groves

    Family • Husband Bob; three grown children

    Occupation • Debbie is the owner of Gardening Angel Landscaping in Webster Groves, and Bob is a machinist at Bodine Aluminum.


    The success of the Hadleys’ garden lies in their two ponds, a wooden swing, a hammock, tables, benches, a bottle tree, a fountain, an arbor, a pergola, statues, bird baths, and, of course, the plants. They have a variety of plants, including 42 trees, hundreds of shrubs and thousands of perennials.

    The couple started renovating their primitive backyard and badminton court into a lush garden in 1995, when Debbie was just getting interested in gardening. In 2003, she opened a landscaping business, and her staff helped construct the second pond and made a handmade swinging bench. A fire pit was also installed.

    The couple moved into their home 33 years ago and raised three kids. Originally, the home was purchased by Debbie’s great-grandparents when they came from England in 1909. Five generations of Debbie’s family have lived there.

    The half-acre garden’s design includes levels. Each level is bordered with walls built by Debbie’s dad and grandfather 60 years ago and constructed of broken concrete from the streets of St. Louis.

    “My yard has been my test and trial garden,” Debbie says. Twelve years ago, they built an 8,000-gallon pond, home to 26 large koi. It has a stream, waterfall and a bridge. The smaller pond, built three years ago, showcases a tall, double waterfall and three fish. Hardy and tropical plants surround both ponds.

    The paths are all made of natural stone, and among the varieties are granite boulders.

    All four of our judges chose this winning garden. “This has all the elements of a great and soothing getaway garden, not only to stroll through but to stop and relax and enjoy the sounds of nature,” says Fred Ortlip, master gardener and Post-Dispatch copy editor.

    Chip Tynan and June Hutson at the Missouri Botanical Garden agree. “Water feature is excellent. Wonderful paths to view close-up many beautiful specimens of plants. Split level pools in foreground plus waterfall in background. Many beautiful conifers dot the landscape, giving a sense of structure.”

    Debbie says, “Our garden will never be finished. We love to add things and change it up.”

    Second place • Dee Jay Hubbard

    Home • Ballwin

    Family • Wife, Audrey; two grown sons, Brock and Colin

    Occupation • He’s a retired speech pathologist with the Veterans Administration, and she’s a retired teacher.


    After a trip to England, Dee Jay and Audrey Hubbard wanted to bring back more than a spot of tea. With the help of gardening professionals, they built a luscious garden spot inspired by the gardens they saw on their trip.

    “We were tired of looking at an asphalt driveway and large parking pad,” Dee Jay says. In 2000, Chesterfield Valley Nursery tore up the asphalt, graded the area and built a mound for the waterfall. They dug the pond, put all the stone in and began planting most of the major trees and shrubs such as boxwood, holly, lilac, bright yellow shrubs, a Weeping Atlas cedar tree and an oak. The nursery also constructed a flagstone garden path, and the couple placed wood chips around the stone. Christine O’Brien, production manager at Bowood Farms’ growing facility in Clarksville, Mo., helped with the selection of the perennial plantings. The stone pillars were built by Jim Fobian, a private stone mason.

    “It’s still a work in progress,” Audrey says. “Every year we’re planting new plants, cutting back bushes and replacing hostas that have been eaten by the deer and rabbits.”

    Judge Ken Miller of Miller Horticultural and owner of the Bug Store says, “It’s a garden where wild and elegance interact. Tastefully appointed and elegant garden in an elegant setting.”

    Third place • Kathy Gugger

    Home • Edwardsville

    Family • Husband, Joe; children, two grown daughters

    Occupation • Kathy is a retired dentist, and Joe is self-employed.


    Not all backyards are perfectly flat. When the Guggers moved into their home in 1987, they decided to utilize their terraced (upper and lower) 2 1/2-acre backyard design. In 2005, with the assistance of Burns Landscaping in Edwardsville (closed in 2007), they inserted large rocks into the yard slopes and built a gravel pit. A waterfall was constructed next to a garden path. Tile setters from Premier Hardwoods in Pontoon Beach built a blue-stone terrace for seating. The couple purchased two stone benches from the Market Basket in Edwardsville to create a relaxing area around the fire pit on the terrace. They planted prairie-type flowers such as black-eyed Susans, different types of grasses and tiger lilies. “I have three helpers to keep my garden looking great,” Kathy says. “Me, myself and I.”

    Miller says, “It’s a great execution of waterfall and great natural design. Dramatic use of the hillside with many beautiful specimen plants.”


    First place • Terry Metzler

    Home • South St. Louis County

    Family • Husband, Steve; grown son, Matt

    Occupation • Dental hygienist


    When the Metzlers bought their South County house in 1990, the backyard was “a dust bowl on a hill.” They started by planting trees and grass. “One year later, my husband convinced me we needed a fish pond,” Terry says. That began their journey to their award-winning garden.

    It’s now mostly Terry’s baby. “When we got married, I told my husband I love to cut the grass,” she says. “However, working full time and being a mom, I could not do it all. We made a deal. I do the lawn and gardening, and he does the laundry. It makes for a great marriage.”

    The garden consists of more than 350 hostas with 250 different varieties. There are coral bells, hellebores, azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, ferns, evergreens and 17 different types of Japanese maples.

    For color, Terry has peonies and daylilies, several kinds of iris, roses and other perennials. “When I started gardening I thought the flowers were IT. I have come to appreciate all the textures and shades of greens and purples present just in the leaves of my plants.”

    Our judges (three of whom chose Terry as their first-place winner) loved the layers, too. Tynan, of the Missouri Botanical Garden, says: “The contrasting texture and color of foliage lend interest in the absence of flowers. The clock and plantings between the streams lend a new meaning to the term ‘island bed.’”

    Ortlip agreed: “A backyard with a long slope toward a house can be a nightmare or a perfect landscaping opportunity, and Terry took a lemon of a layout and created a great glass of lemonade. The hardscapes and water combine with an appealing variety of color in the deciduous and evergreen plantings to make this a remarkable getaway, just outside the back door.”

    Terry says she spends about 20 hours a week on her garden, “but I love it. I just love it.”

    Second place • Karen Frimel

    Home • Ladue

    Family • Husband, Greg; three grown daughters

    Occupation • Karen works part time for her dad’s company; Greg is a dentist


    Except for the front of the house and some edges of the garden, the Frimels’ house is in total shade. After removing river rock and Japanese honeysuckle, Karen started dividing the common hosta that were already there. “Thanks to the St. Louis Hosta Society, (I learned) that there were really so many more choices,” she says.

    Greg found ornamental trees to create an interesting understory to the large ones already in the yard. Favorites include several varieties of Japanese maples, tricolor beech, peeling bark maples and many varieties of dogwoods. Over the years, Karen added hydrangea, ferns, lenten roses, bulbs and azaleas. “Gardening ‘in the woods’ has been a challenge. I like neat and tidy, but I cannot have it too formal or use tropicals and keep the woodland feel.”

    Hutson, of the Missouri Botanical Garden, says she liked the well-placed steppingstones that “provide a meandering path through hosta specimens of many colors.” Miller, from the Bug Store, says he loved the exciting and bold contrast of leave and their colors. “Truly an alluring shade garden.”

    Third place • Phyllis Weidman

    Home • Kirkwood

    Family • Husband, Jim; two grown children

    Occupation • Homemaker; Jim is a consultant to nonprofits


    The Weidmans’ garden is divided by a long, meandering dry creek that helps drain the three terraces that go up the hill in the back of the house to the edge of a woods. It contains about 350 varieties of hostas, Japanese maples, conifers and shade companion plants.

    “As the years have passed, the garden beds continue to grow with the grass area becoming smaller and smaller,” Phyllis says.

    Judge Miller appreciated the “powerful combination of texture, form and leaf color to create a striking composition.”

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