by Connie Oswald Stofko
Dick Herr has a way with plants. He had a yucca plant in his garden, but dug it out 35 years ago. Last year– surprise!– it came back.
Now it’s taller than ever and was in full bloom when I visited last week.
You can see his gardens at 180 Hamilton Dr., Snyder, during the Snyder-CleveHill Garden View from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 12. Maps can be picked up at Trillium’s Courtyard Florist, 2195 Kensington Ave., Snyder. A $3 donation is appreciated.
Herr’s backyard is on the small side, but it’s packed with plants. He also has gardens along both sides of his driveway and in the front.
“I have over 300 varieties of plants,” Herr said. “I have more than most big yards.”
In addition to having many types of plants, he has many that spread. Herr places them where he wants them, or they find a spot for themselves.
“I don’t know how that got there,” Herr said several times as he showed me around.
In the window box near the pond in the backyard, there are two upright plants, one at each end of the box. He doesn’t remember planting them and suspects they are “volunteers” that planted themselves, but they’re so neatly spaced, he left them there.
In the front yard, a Japanese painted fern, which looks lovely in the garden bed, also found a spot for itself between the bottom of the concrete steps and the concrete walkway.
“I think it’s funny,” he said. “I can’t stop it.”
One thing that always makes me wonder is where the line is between a plant that “spreads easily” and one that is “aggressive.” Herr has several plants that he would caution others against.
The first is trumpet vine. I have this in my yard, too, and although it’s beautiful, I would also caution people about it. Once it’s established, it will send out runners and you and your neighbors will constantly be digging up these new plants.
Another is gooseneck loosestrife. It grows about waist high, gets attractive white flowers and looks great in gardens I have visited, but those gardeners have also told me that it’s aggressive.
“I keep yanking it out” in order to keep it contained, Herr said.
Another entry on his list of aggressive plants is bachelor’s buttons. This surprised me because I planted them once, and while they’re supposed to reseed themselves easily, I never saw them again.
But for Herr, “They come back every year in droves,” he said.
One thing I should mention is that Herr has his plants packed together tightly. That discourages weeds from growing in between the plants, but it doesn’t mean he never has to weed. While we walked through his yard, he bent down every so often to yank out something that didn’t belong.
“I see a weed and I’ve got to pull it,” Herr said. He probably spends three hours a day weeding.
An originator of the Snyder-CleveHill Garden View, Herr gave it its name. He’s been retired for 18 years, but is busy with things other than gardening. He has more than 100 nieces and nephews, great-nieces and -nephews, and great-great-nieces and -nephews. He plays golf, is president of his ski club, has been with the ski patrol for 32 years, arranges ski trips out west and loves to dance.
Herr obviously likes to have a good time. When I asked whether there were any birds in the many decorative bird houses in his yard, he deadpanned, “Well, the rent’s too high.”
Make sure you take some time to chat when you visit his garden.
Other garden walks this weekend are:
Samuel P. Capen Garden Walk from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 11.
Town of Amherst Garden Walk from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 11.
Buzz Around Hamburg from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12.
Lockport in Bloom from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12. Twilight in the Garden
evening tour will be held from 6:30–9 p.m. Saturday, July 11.