front yard of Carol Rhodes’ home is full of colorful flowers.
(West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
transition in the spatial relationship in this garden
By Thea Steinmetz
Published Sept. 1, 2010
garden can display many faces, and that is one of the allures of
gardening. The personality of the homeowner can be expressed in
a garden. Pity the person who does not care one wit of what goes
on outside the confines of his or her home.
of Carol Rhodes in North Olmsted suggests the owner is deeply involved
in exhibiting what joy the garden brings to her. By the end of August,
most properties show signs of retreating from the lush growth of
summer. As nature will not be held back, there are a few signs of
the times here, but they are minimal. The earlier seasonal perennials
are gone but hardly missed.
The curb appeal
here is far superior to most homes. The profusion of late August
color is surprising. The tightness of the logistics of the design
suggests that a garden designer was consulted. Earlier this summer,
Carol had invited her North Olmsted Garden Club to come to her home
for a picnic. This resulted in asking her friend, Kathy Stokes-Schaeffer
of Garden Graphics in Strongsville, to come up with suggestions
for the curved bed in the front lawn. She is a garden designer with
much experience and understood what Carol had in mind.
attention-grabbing feature is by the front door. A large urn quietly
bubbles and brings a serene element to the entrance. At the base,
dark stones anchor the urn in a harmonious way.
“I get quite
a few compliments,” Carol said. “And I like the water very much.”
plethora of plants in the curved beds and trying to identify them
takes great concentration. The junipers and red Japanese maple trees
bring height to the design. The weeping cherry tree acts as an anchor
at the beginning of the bed.
are grand, and there are several blue-flowered beauties that are
attractive but nameless. Snapdragons and New Guinea impatiens are
interspersed in several locations on the property. The pink knockout
roses are still in full bloom. Another plant, and here is where
I am not sure about the name, Carol claims is a “hydrangea named
pinky-winky that was bought under that name.” A trellis against
the front of the house lost its pyracantha, or firethorn, and has
been replaced recently with a fall blooming vine.
The side yard
also offers a wealth of plants. Black potato vines flourish and
have spread to become a groundcover in one space. The blue salvia
Victoria is always a wonderful addition to the garden, as is the
gray dusty miller, in contrast, planted next to it. There are multiple
geraniums here and hardy ageratum. The bordering white alyssum is
without fault. Cheery and still-perfect petunias are sticking around
as if to say, “don’t count us out just yet.” A healthy stand of
blue-flowering catmint is a favorite for two reasons. Fragrance
comes first, and then the fact that a piece may be broken off, deposited
in the ground and a new plant forms without difficulty.
Some years back,
Carol and her husband, Ralph, decided that straight lines in the
garden were less appealing than curvilinear contours. She wanted
more of the traditional English appeal while he opted for the more
formal style with plants repeated in certain numbers and breathing
space in between. The rear of the property displays a marriage of
both styles. To one side, there is a massive stone raised planting
bed. The curves lead the eye not only around the curvature but also
from plant to plant.
waist-high Fleur de Le fountain echoes the sound of water from the
front of the house. It is banked with ferns that are not set in
the ground, but in containers. That gives them extra height and
encourages ease of watering.
feature is how Carol treats her houseplants that are summering outdoors.
A great specimen of a jade plant is planted in the ground, right
under a maple tree. The Christmas cactus also does well here. She
feels the maple trees make a great host for houseplants during the
warm weather months. There are some interesting varieties here,
and a copper-colored example, with great texture, has a leaf that
almost looks quilted.
“I know what
I like,” Carol said. “But I don’t always remember the name of the
The North Olmsted
Community Garden was mentioned, and I suggested we go there to see
what it is all about. There are 10 each of 4-by-8-foot raised beds.
These were a recent addition to the community. Each of the 10 citizens
fortunate to snatch a plot is allowed to plant vegetables or herbs
of his or her choosing. In Carol’s bed, there are tomatoes, peppers
and herbs, all thriving. Others have planted beans, onions, eggplants
and whatever caught their fancy.
A mesh wire
fence surrounds the area and spells success for keeping deer out.
For a first-year effort, especially since it was started well after
the growing season got underway, the weed-free beds are a pleasure
to see. It can only be hoped that this trial attempt will expand
for next year so more residents can experience the joy of growing
their own vegetables.