Garden of the Month: June 2011

550 Fordyce Street-
Up until eight years ago, June’s Garden of the Month at 550 Fordyce Street was pastureland hosting llamas and pigs.Alla and John Farrell and their three sons moved into the new house in 2004.The garden was professionally installed, but since then, Alla (with some help from her sons, now 19, 15, and 11) has developed the garden into a showplace.

An attractive redwood fence (alas, not high enough to keep out deer) separates the front garden from a carefully planted verge along the street, giving pleasure to all who pass by.(The verge includes deer-resistant Oregon grape, pampas grass, flowering plum trees, rock rose, burning bush, rhododendron, and various evergreen shrubs.)

Approaching the front door, a birch tree, drought-tolerant evergreen ground covers, and a bed of annuals greet the visitor.Alla tries different annuals every year.This year, it’s geraniums with a verbena border.Bright blue ceramic balls from Legends Pottery Outlet in Central Point add a whimsical touch.Tea lights in glass holders and year-round Christmas lights add a festive touch at night.

Three separate patio gardens give welcome shade and entertainment spaces in the summer.A small one in the corner of the front yard is covered by an arbor with climbing rose coming from one side and wisteria from the other.Walking through an archway of clematis, a side patio attached to the house is framed by a wandering Chardonnay grape.(Unfortunately, raccoons love this grape.)Large pots are planted with mixtures of shade-lovers, especially begonia, for a splash of color.In 2007, Alla built a terraced back patio garden, planting a fruitless mulberry for shade, as well as dogwood, oak leaf hydrangea, and smoke bush. A variety of honeysuckles and trumpet vine adorn side and rear fences, attracting hummingbirds and giving privacy.

The south side of the property – a narrow strip outside the kitchen window along a driveway to a rear flag lot – is devoted to a delightful kitchen garden, with blueberry, black currant, red currant, and gooseberry bushes (Alla uses them for jam and jelly, as she did in her native Russia); cherry and pear trees; a white, seedless grape framing the kitchen window; and two small raised beds with a variety of vegetables and herbs. Bright blue ceramic pots along this side of the house on a stream of small river rock continue the whimsical theme from the front yard, softening the driveway further.

The front south side is bordered with a thornless climbing rose along a low fence. Japanese maples, burning bush, and fall mums dot the property for a blaze of autumn color.Alla has mixed various shades of evergreen shrubs for added interest.

Other attractive plantings in the Farrells’ garden include a silver dollar eucalyptus by the front patio; iris, azalea and rock rose; mimosa, veronica, camellia, Blaney’s blue rhododendron, baby lilac, and star magnolia; chocolate mimosa and chocolate maple (Alla loves chocolate); black lace elderberry, a columnar blue spruce, and even a fan palm. A small garden with a longleaf pine tree and a border of boxwood and annuals softens driveway concrete.Weeds are kept at bay with a thick layer of bark mulch (and the help of sons).

The Farrells’ garden will be open for viewing on Saturday, June 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Julia Sommer