Container plantings add color to the garden surrounding the backyard patio of Mary Murrett, who shared her gardens at 178 Hirschfield, Williamsville, during the Village of Williamsville Garden Walk on June 30.
“I go nuts at the nursery,” Murrett said. “I take one of these, and one of these and one of these.”
When she gets all her plants home, she sets a piece of plywood across a carpenter’s trestle to create a work area. Then she starts planting her containers, squeezing lots of plants into a container. She starts with the larger, major containers and pulls out smaller pots if she needs them. Sometimes she finds she has just one or two plants left, which is not enough to fill a container.
“Then I’ve got to go back to the nursery again!” she said eagerly.
The hanging planters scattered around her yard become bird feeders in the winter.
A container planting at the center of the garage holds a passion flower vine, an annual. On the sides are vines planted in the ground to grow up on the arbor. She has mixed clematis and a climbing rose together on the right side. Since they bloom at different times, she has flowers for a longer period. The mixture on the left includes a climbing hydrangea that Murrett said is a plant that is slow to start, but hers now gets big, fragrant flowers.
The garden surrounding her patio, which you can see in the first photo, is a sunny garden. As you walk farther back, it gets shady, and tucked behind her garage is the area she calls her secret garden, seen below right. She couldn’t grow grass under the maple tree, so she had a flagstone patio put in and extended the garden around it.
“It’s always in the shade,” Murrett said. “I love to sit back here with a cup of tea, a book and the dog (a long-haired dachsund named Riley). It’s always 10 degrees cooler back here.”
Part of the garden abuts the trunk of the tree, and plants in the garden have to fight the roots of the tree. Mature plants will grow there, but not fledgling plants. In the area along the left side of the photo, Murrett is able to to extend her garden past her property line into her neighbor’s garden and nurture plants that can later be transplanted to the troublesome spot.
Murrett has 70 varieties of hosta. Some she chose because she likes the name. She picked ‘Paul’s Glory’ because she has a brother named Paul, ‘Toy Soldier’ because she has a nephew in the military, and ‘Anne’ because she has a niece by that name.
“I choose it because the name triggers something, or I choose it because it’s just a cool looking plant,” she said.
One of her favorites hostas is is ‘Spilt Milk’, seen at left, which has both a great name and is a cool looking plant. The aptly named hosta gets streaks of white in the leaf, as if the contents of a baby bottle are streaming down the leaves. It also has coarser leaves, so the deer leave it alone.
In her front yard, Murrett said, she has a deutzia bush that she has never had to prune because every year the rabbits chew it down to nothing. With the mild winter we had this year, the rabbits left it alone and it’s the biggest it’s ever been.
Another problem Murrett has had is weeds, specifically a large patch of bishop’s weed in her lawn. To get rid of it, she covered the area with five or six layers of newspaper to smother the plants. After the weeds are dead, the paper will eventually decompose. You can also use a layer of cardboard, such as broken down UPS boxes.
Cover the newspaper with black landscape fabric, pinning it down to keep it in place. Cover the fabric with mulch. The fabric won’t smother the weeds; Murrett added the fabric because it looks nicer if the mulch blows around.
Murrett waited two years to remove the landscape fabric and plant grass. Her neighbor waited a year, left the landscape fabric in place and planted a garden through it.
Murrett has another method for keeping weeds down in her gardens. In the spring, she works on one section at a time. She weeds, adds compost, sprinkles in a commercial product that prevents seeds from germinating, then covers the dirt with mulch. When one area is done, she moves on to the next.
To maintain your garden and catch new weeds while they’re still small, she suggests walking through your garden once a day.
“And that way you enjoy your garden,” she said.
Garden walks this weekend:
Sunday, July 8
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Snyder-CleveHill Garden View, now in its tenth year, is a self-supported community garden tour. It consists of roughly 25 private gardens and carefully tended public spaces in the Snyder and Cleveland Hill neighborhoods of Amherst and Cheektowaga. All types of garden styles and plants are represented in a backdrop of architecture from 1910s to 1950s. The gardens range from newer to well-established, smaller to larger, and vegetable to perennial. Several gardens include water features and garden structures. Get maps at Trillium’s Courtyard Florist, 2195 Kensington Avenue, Amherst. A $3 donation is appreciated.
See our Upcoming Events Page for more great gardening activities.
Photos by Connie Oswald Stofko