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One garden philosophy the Greens don’t embrace is the concept of distinct garden “rooms.” Their gardens, even the themed ones, like the knot garden and labyrinth, are integrated with and open to their other garden features.
“Lots of people like to do gardens with rooms, but I like seeing the whole vista,” Barb said. “I can’t see cutting it up.”
Charlie concurs. “If you start putting up rooms, you lose the view,” he said. “When I built the bower, I did it with a trellis that’s open, so your eye can stop or go past.”
Having adjoining gardens in back has helped them connect with their neighbors. “They’re a block away if you go by the sidewalk, but the gardens are right next to each other,” Barb said. “I didn’t know them at all until I started gardening.” Now they compost with their back-yard neighbors. “I built the bin, and our neighbors put stuff in it,” Barb said. “Gardening is a shared experience.”
Springtime is the Greens’ favorite time to share their garden. In early June, when the irises are blooming, their front yard is a kaleidoscope of color and fragrance. It’s too beautiful to keep to themselves, so about nine years ago, the Greens started hosting an annual spring garden party.
“The first year, we invited hard-core gardeners,” Barb said. “Now it’s grown to any friends — people from work, church and the neighborhood.” Last year, 70 people showed up to stroll and chat — and bring home cuttings. “It’s a successful garden party if people come and take plants,” she said.
The couple’s ambitious garden is a lot of work, especially for two busy people with day jobs — Charlie is a professional fundraiser; Barb is a pharmacist. But they’ve found ways to minimize the workload.
“We design things so we don’t have to be on top of it every day,” Charlie said. The garden is almost all perennials. “The only annuals are in pots,” Barb said.
And they use a lot of mulch. “It keeps the water in, and the weeds down,” Barb said.
Working in the garden, even after a long day on the job, is therapeutic, they’ve found. “A lot of cultures are tied to the land,” Barb said. “Ours is not. We’re a very mobile society. But the garden brings you back.”
Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784