Think of a beautiful picture with a lovely frame around it. The picket fence surrounding the Hayes home at 519 Pershing Ave. S.E. is the frame around this front, back and side yard gardens. The centerpiece is a water feature surrounded by numerous plants and shaded by tall birch trees.
While the water feature gives a satisfying sound of trickling water the plants around it, the sight of liatris, lamium, veronica, iris, sedum, Russian sage, English thyme, baby's breath, foxglove and other perennials frame this part of the picture. Lobelia and snap dragons are the annual flower part of the picture. And if you look closely, it is easy to see the Japanese lantern and shells. However, it takes a careful eye to spot the "elf door" that is also hidden in plain sight in this same area. Hydrangea, bleeding heart and a blue spruce are located a few feet away from the garden centerpiece, along with a seating area for outdoor dining.
There are plants around the mail box, plants by the front door and plants growing on both sides of the front fence. There is no shortage of variety in this garden, including a moon flower that blooms, of course, after dark. And if the owners desire to expand their collection, they could do so using a large area on the north side of their lot now known as the family soccer field.
This garden struggles with a common problem, areas that are not full sun but also are not full shade. While some plants are a little smaller as a result, this does not seem to bother the hosta that is featured in many parts of this garden. Several varieties of hosta range in size from mature plants 3 feet across to very young beginners. Also comfortable with variegated lighting are astilbe, painted daisy, and penstemon all well accented by antique bricks. The bricks and flagstones provide paths between the many plants.
Also visible from the side street is the back yard or west side garden, which features shade plants and iron items found on the property. The remains of sewing machine along with tree stumps brought from Michigan pleasantly contrast with the shade plants and flowers growing in this area. A fire grate found on the property and standing on end and now resembles a human rib cage. What at first glance looks like bleeding heart is bugbane, which is also known as black cohosh or snakeroot. This plant which has interesting leaves now will provide blossoms in August. Jacob's ladder, delphinium, jack in the pulpit and many other plants also grow in this area.
Many of the plants in this garden are gifts from parents or transplants from the owners' previous homes giving them emotional as well as physical value. Don't miss the lime tree on the south side of the house. This plant started as a tiny tree sold as a souvenir in Florida. It has grown into a full size plant that must be moved in and outdoors every fall and spring but produces approximately two dozen limes harvested in December each year.
Out of sight from the street are ivy, another variety of lamium, wild geranium and vinca minor. Barely visible from the street is a vegetable and herb garden. This garden is watered with drip lines and provides shallots, tomatoes, squash, leeks, cilantro, tarragon, savory, flax and asparagus. They grow along with lemon balm and other herbs and vegetables, which are used in family meals. A large green rain barrel collects rain water needed to sustain this flower, vegetable and herb collection.
This front yard garden is proof that one does not need a large amount of ground in order to plant a large variety of plants and provide a beautiful oasis on a quiet city street.