Garden of the Month: September 2010

Linda Truax and Rick Jacobs have owned the property at the northwest corner of Park Street and Hope Street for 26 years. They have gardened the nearly half-acre here seriously for nearly twenty years and have developed a beautiful and serene, mostly shady garden working slowly and deliberately almost entirely on weekends only. Linda, especially–consulting occasionally with Jane Hardgrove–has developed an uncommonly fine eye for color, texture, and shape. She has created an enchanting space.

A colorful, constantly changing, border draws the eye in from Park Street. Bright yellow Coreopsis are noteworthy in August. Massive trees, including a beautifully spreading and healthy walnut that is over 100 years old, as well as Deodar Cedar, pine, birch, and Liquidambar dot the emerald green lawn (Rick’s specialty). A charming, whimsical metal sculpture by Cheryl Garcia is featured in a shady spot, and colors are everywhere.

Sections of the garden have names to distinguish them. There is the herb garden close to the house with its sculptural rock retaining wall; the “railroad-tie” garden features a pleasant place to sit among the many blooming and thriving plants that include Rhododendron, ferns, and candy tuft; a “woodland” garden that was revealed when the lowest branches of the Cedar deodara were trimmed away where plants that thrive in shade were added and volunteered; the “bird bath” bed includes Japanese anemone, Daphne odora, Acer suminagastui, and Forsythia; and other sections that have character all their own. The enormous walnut tree provides shade for a terrace paved with flagstone and lined with Helleborus, Geraniums, Hydrangeas, and Impatiens. Secret spaces are shared with neighbors to the north.

At other times of year, two types of Viburnum (davidii and shasta) draw attention in the front yard. Also featured there are Daphne odora, Winter and Summer heather, and Japanese anemone. A Japanese Maple adds a touch of contrasting color most of the year and a perfect shape and mass year-round. Grouped potted plants ornament the deck and entry. Fragrance near the front door comes from Jasmine both planted in a pot and growing against the chimney.

The owners have made minor changes (by eliminating certain plants) over the years to acknowledge the increasing presence of deer. But the many squirrels who covet the walnuts are welcome, and Linda reports that they don’t do much damage. Lilac hedges line the driveway that has been paved interestingly with exposed aggregate and plain concrete, including a bump-out for parking an additional car. A lilac hedge also lines part of the Hope Street side of the property although it was recently cut back drastically at the city’s demand.

Anyone lucky enough to have Linda guide them through the gardens (she’s a gracious hostess) will be rewarded with gorgeous sights in every direction.