Why have two gardens, and why hide them both in the backyard?
More than six years ago, Joe and Linda Hertzler not only decided to mingle their vegetable and flower gardens, they put both in the front yard just behind a picket fence and arbor. “The garden welcomes guests and puts them at ease. It’s a little whimsical, and a little nostalgic,” says landscape designer Joe Hertzler of Hertzler and George.
Linda says, “I used to volunteer with the local garden club tours which raise money walking through Colonial Williamsburg gardens in the spring, and I fell in love with the gardens. My favorite garden is behind King Arm’s Tavern. It’s a mix of veggies, herbs and flowers. That was my inspiration. What better concept for a colonial revival house near Colonial Williamsburg than a colonial cottage style garden?”
When asked why Linda and Joe wanted the garden in the front yard, Linda explained, “I chose the front yard for two reasons. First, it has the best sun. Second, I wanted people who passed by to have something beautiful to see. It‘s a great way to meet people and to give back to the city.”
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The unusual garden arrangement hasn’t escaped the notice of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, which photographed the Hertzlers’ College Terrace garden in July 2008 for an August 2010 story.
“There was a lot of pressure to add extra color to my garden.” Linda says. “They brought about 2 dozen extra flowers to fill in and hide any mulch or little spot left open. However, the magazine shows basically my garden the way it was. My neighbors can attest to that —I like lots of ‘stuff’!”
“An interesting note was when they heard I had tons of dill, they wanted it pulled. I had to draw the line on that. It was in full bloom and I needed the dill for my butterflies. Sometime a person has to be true to who they are. So, being the stubborn person I am, I decided to leave my dill. Amazingly, they loved it mixed in with everything. In fact, the photographer called it “an amazing little surprise.” Everyone was happy I left the dill in the end.”
The Hertzlers’ garden displays “careful design,” according to Better Homes and Gardens producer Marty Ross. “The garden is young, but it has its roots in the neo-colonial gardening traditions of Colonial Williamsburg … It’s always fun to see a garden designer’s own garden.”
You might think it would be difficult to manage a garden like the Hertzlers’, but Linda says don’t be intimidated. “People always say I am lucky and have a green thumb. I say baloney! There’s no mystery, just follow some common sense guidelines.”
- My first and most important tip? Love your plants! I treat my plants like my babies—would you forget to feed your child? Would you step on it, let it dry up?
- Secondly, soil is key. Have your soil tested and get the Ph correct. And mostly, add lots of worm poop. Lots of worms mean healthy soil.
- Third, find a way to give back to nature with your garden. Add a bird bath, a broken pot for a toad house, flowers for butterflies and bees. Adding nature is like adding living art to your garden. You will have so much more fun being in and watching your garden.
- Fourth—this probably should be first—add architecture. A few pretty flowers are lost without a beautiful backdrop. Put your money and energy in defining your space. Add a fence or evergreen shrubs as your walls. Lay stones, broken concrete, and straw, whatever as paths.
- Fifth, get a back pack weed sprayer. When I turned 45 my husband asked me what I wanted for my special birthday. Most ladies would ask for jewelry. I asked for one for a backpack herbicide sprayer like the one our guys use at the office. I love that thing. It is so easy to use and to keep weeds under control.
- Lastly —and this helps immensely —marry a man who owns a successful landscape company! I love to sneak over to the office yard and take left over stones. Most of my shrubs are orphans and rejects from customers. I am known for bringing plants back to life that customers forgot to water or no longer wanted. Our guys have done an amazing job of building all the architecture in my garden, but I do all the planting, weeding and maintenance myself.
Linda goes on to say, “What nature takes out, stays out. If a plant struggles, I leave it out and plant something that will be happy in that spot. And, I love volunteers! I get free dill all summer long and free snap dragons year round from seeds blowing around.”
But of all the plants in the garden, What are Linda’s favoites? Here are her top 5:
|Cardoon- If you love hummingbirds and bees you gotta get one of these. It has sort of a big thistle like flower. My good friend Patricia lovingly brought me a baby cardoon one day that she had bought at the Williamsburg Farmer’s Market. I didn’t know what to do with it. So I stuck it in the ground. It grew over 7 feet tall this year.|
|Giant zinnias- The gold finch love these. I can watch those beautiful little birds for hours as they pluck the petals and seeds from the zinnias. Also, the giant 3 to 4 feet variety hides most of my veggies from the view of the street.|
|Dill- the black swallow tail butterflies lay their eggs on my dill. I let the birds eat some of the caterpillars and others are rescued by my daughter. She raises the caterpillars in a big container and sets them free when they hatch.|
|Peonies- I have lots of these in the spring. I just love them. They are so beautiful and romantic.|
|Variegated English holly- My favorite anchor plant. I have two flanking my front door. I love anything variegated. But, this is my favorite because it adds year round interest. If you can get it a boyfriend—it needs a male for pollination—you will have gorgeous red berries in the winter. It is my favorite Christmas decoration.|
Hertzler and George is best known for its environmentally conscious and sustainable landscaping and design, which employs flowers, shrubbery, and grasses native to the area. To see more of Hertzler & George’s landscape designs, visit www.hertzlerandgeorge.com.