by Connie Oswald Stofko
A natural slope combined with raised beds add interest to the Hamburg yard of Barb and Dave Whittemore.
“There are seven steps to the top deck,” Dave pointed out. “We really have vistas with this. The elevations make a world of difference. That’s one thing I really enjoy.”
A screened-in seating area is perched at the top of the garden looking down on the main part of the yard.
“You can sit up there and see the whole thing,” he said.
I visited the Whittemores’ garden last year during Open Gardens, part of the National Garden Festival. The information on which gardens will be featured on Open Gardens this year, as well as dates and times, will be ready and available at Plantasia, Dave said.
During Open Gardens, the public can visit the gardens on Thursdays and/or Fridays in July. The gardens are clustered geographically. Gardeners are encouraged to be home at the time of Open Gardens so they can answer questions from visitors.
The Whittemores’ garden will also be featured again on the Buzz Around Hamburg Garden Walk, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12.
Vendors are being sought for the vendor fair to be held during the garden walk at Memorial Park, corner of Lake St. and Union St., Hamburg. For more information on becoming a vendor, go online or call Jeff Leyonmark at 861-4356 or Dave Whittemore at 830-5258. You can also place an ad in the brochure for the garden walk.
If you’d like to share your garden on Buzz Around Hamburg, get more information here. The deadline for signing up is June 20.
Barb manages the gardens at the top of the yard while Dave handles the gardens at the bottom. Their yard is shady, but they each have an affinity for plants that do well in the shade. Barb collects hostas and Dave collects astilbes.
When it came to a centerpiece for their yard, Dave and Barb had different ideas. Dave likes trains and wanted a garden railway layout. Barb wanted a waterfall. The compromise: a train that winds around a waterfall.
The yard may have been more colorful than usual when I visited. Spring was so late last year that the colorful flowers on the astilbe were blooming later than they usually do.
After the bloom is done, Dave leaves the brown flower heads in place. He heard that people spray paint the dried flower heads while they’re still in the garden, but he doesn’t do that.
“I’m content with them” as they are, he said.
For color, Barb uses annuals. Like so many Western New York gardeners, she depended on impatiens for her shady garden until downy mildew struck two years ago and killed her plants. (Here’s an update on the impatiens situation from spring 2014; we’ll keep you posted on what it looks like for 2015.)
“For me, not being able to use impatiens is tough,” Barb said. “It was nothing for me to buy 18 flats of impatiens. Impatiens was my flower of choice.”
Now when she wants color, Barb uses a mixture of annuals, including coleus, which has leaves in many hues and patterns. She likes the new trailing coleus plants. Tip: She will buy one plant, cut off the ends, and root those pieces to get more plants.
“Shade gardens can present a challenge, but they can be great fun,” Barb said. “And on a hot day, you don’t get overheated working in a shade garden.”
“What’s so nice is this is a hobby Barb and I can do together,” Dave said.