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Photo by Nancy GarriottThe garden at the Nancy and Ted Garriott residence at 622 Drager St.

Garden of the Month: Greatest joy is in sharing her garden (just not with deer)

Earlier this year, Ashland Fire & Rescue Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator Alison Lerch gave a presentation to the Ashland Garden Club about firewise landscaping. She mentioned a garden that was not only firewise but waterwise, calling it “the perfect Ashland garden.” Since then we have discovered that the garden at 622 Drager St. is also pollinator-friendly and deer resistant. The perfect Ashland garden, indeed!

Nancy Garriott is responsible for this wonderful garden. She and her husband, Ted, had the craftsman house built on the corner lot five years ago and took on the landscaping project themselves, relying on knowledge accumulated over the years.

Nancy has been creating gardens all of her adult life. Each of the eight gardens in her past taught her something about the secrets to gardening success. Early on she immersed herself in gardening publications and classes. Later, she found each plant was teaching her what it liked and what it needed.

She says, “It turns out that getting your hands dirty does have a ‘grounding’ affect and is a great way to learn how to care for your plants.”

Nancy and Ted started with the hardscape of small rock retaining walls and garden borders, flagstone and gravel paths, and drip lines. They found a stone mulch that looks like wood but is obviously not fire-prone. Nancy propagated many of the perennials, including favorites that are drought tolerant, deer resistant, and non-invasive with colorful, long-lasting blooms. Among them are echinacea, gaillardia, helenium, coreopsis, rudbeckia, crocosmia Emily McKenzie, sedum autumn joy, and yarrow. She discovered that a bonus is that these plants are great pollinator plants too.

She also propagated several varieties of sedum, which she likes because they are evergreen, drought tolerant and come in many colors, which adds interest to the winter garden. They also spread easily without being invasive.

Then Nancy developed a list of shrubbery that would enhance the small space, but would add an evergreen element to the winter garden when the perennials die back. She focused on dwarf varieties of native, drought-tolerant, deer resistant plants, looking for a variety of textures and colors which she thinks helps the plants contrast with each other and stand out visually. The plants she settled on were low growing manzanita, arbutus, nandina, evergreen candytuft, myrtle, hebe and choisya (Mexican orange). She also found that some evergreen herbs such as sage and basil make good aromatic border plants.

In designing the new garden, she applied the knowledge that she needed to leave enough room around each plant to accommodate its growth, put taller plants in the back, and create a color and texture balance. She also leaves room for her favorite annuals which are gazanias and many varieties of zinnias. These also happen to be drought tolerant and deer resistant and add joyful color to the garden.

Nancy says that “The favorite thing about my garden is that we live in an accessible part of Ashland where I can share my garden with the many people that walk by.”

The Ashland Garden Club has been selecting Gardens of the Month, from April through September, since 2000. Nominations are gratefully received at aogardenclub@gmail.com. Check out the Club’s website at https://ashlandorgardenclub.wordpress.com/ or come to the meetings at 12:30 on the first Monday of the month, October through May, at the Community Center on Winburn Way.

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