Garden of the Month for May

Gardens don't just happen by themselves. There is much thought, planning and visualization involved. That is certainly evident in this month's garden of the month recognized by Ashland Garden Club for the month of May. We have selected the garden of Marilyn Caracciolo, located at 606 Oak St. Do drive by and see for yourself. The garden is located on a corner so you can really appreciate all that it has to offer if you park and take a walk around the parameter.

The original house was built in 1925 and was the main home of what is now a subdivision on Crispin Street. Caracciolo purchased the home on its 1/3-acre plot back in 1996 with the intention of remodeling and re-landscaping. She rented the home out until 2003 when she retired as a correctional peace officer for the State of California and moved here from Sacramento. She was aware that this corner lot property had been mostly neglected for years. It was her desire to create a colorful, pleasant landscape to be enjoyed by all from both inside and outside the picturesque fence that now surrounds this unique property.

"I could have built the house out further on the lot but I wanted to maintain the space and create a park-like setting to share with others that pass by," she said. "I believe that God is the Master Artist — I respect all the beauty that he has given us to create from and enjoy."

And that is exactly what she did. The home remodel was completed in early 2007 with much of its original Craftsman integrity enhanced and landscaping was started in the spring shortly thereafter. Preliminary concepts were done by Kathryn Casternovia of Elemental Designs. Landscape plans were developed and finalized by Karen Marshall of Naturescape Design and Stacey Page of Greentime Landscape oversaw the entire project. It was Caracciolo, though, that had the long time vision of what she wanted to create.

"I have a passion for original plants," she said.

Many of the purple irises (Iridaceae) that you will see along the borders were in the original yard. She dug them up and put them in flats for about nine months before replanting. Many of the original trees were kept and revived.

You will immediately notice the beautiful Hawthorn (crataegus) tree in full bloom and in vivid pink. The snowball (viburnum opulus "roseum"), hazelnut (corylus) trees, arborvitae (thuja), oaks (quercus), almond (rosaceae) and apple (rosaceae) trees are all part of the original landscape. The old oak was almost dead and the apple tree in the back yard was especially ailing and now both have been brought back to life with a little of Caracciolo's tender-loving care.

She also gives credit to Steve Siewert for his help with the trees, shrubs and watering system. New trees were added to the landscape and include an Aptos blue coast redwood (sequoia), weeping pussy willow (salix), magnolia "Susan" (magnoliaceae), birch "jacquemontii" (betula), and Japanese maples "bloodgood" (acer). A favorite of Caracciolo's, butterfly bushes (buddleja), are scattered about to welcome the many butterflies that frequent the property. A berm was placed and is now home to the four birch trees and some additional iris plants, heather and shrubs. The property is part of the "million ditch" from way back when. She incorporates a dual watering system using city water and water from the ditch.

A peaceful waterfall welcomes the visitor with the refreshing sounds of water emanating from its three tiers "¦ strategically placed next to the inviting hammock to relax and enjoy the surroundings. Caracciolo also shares her garden with the many deer that wander over from Ashland Creek. They are welcome to the apples that fall from the tree or whatever other delights they choose, within reason!

To most gardeners, the garden is always a work in progress. Caracciolo had a vision and worked together with a team of like-minded folks to create her dream, which continues to be a work in progress!

If you see a garden that you would like to suggest as a Garden of the Month, please call Judie Richardson-Loveless at 482-6310 or Sherri Morgan at 488-9211 or Kristi Gomez at 488-1109.

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