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A labor of love brightens Forest Street

The wonderful garden at 720 Forest St. is a labor of love for homeowners Vicky Sturtevant and Alan Armstrong, and it is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for May.

They have deftly combined edibles with ornamentals in this space they have gardened since 1983. It is a heavily shaded lot, particularly the upper, forested quarter-acre parcel that they purchased separately.

In all, they have a half-acre that they manage beautifully. The hardscape was designed by Covey-Pardee Landscape Architects in 2009. Eric Cislo welded the gates, and Ted Loftus constructed the stone walls. The deer are kept out.

The couple enjoy being outside and are inveterate hikers. They devote a lot of time to gardening, and it shows. Nothing is neglected. They follow the sun throughout the yard and throughout the year.

Grandparents of both instilled in them a love of plants and a tradition of gardening. Alan’s grandparents were farmers. Vicky’s had a large lot and grew all kinds of things, especially roses. There is a vigorous peony in the yard that came from Vicky’s grandparents. She speaks fondly of how much certain plants remind us of certain people. Their adult son loves gardening, too.

Both Alan and Vicky are very knowledgeable about plants and have noticed that plants native to the Pacific Northwest, in which they have specialized, are beginning to struggle to survive and that now plants native to Northern California are more likely to thrive in Ashland. So that’s where they are turning their attention.

Visitors who walk or drive by will notice the great diversity of plant life in this garden.

Among favorites of the couple are species of rhododendron (includes azaleas), penstemon, salvia, agastache and marionberry. In May, dogwood, lilac and rhodies make a stunning display.

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 ashlandorgardenclub.org or go to the meetings at 12:30 p.m. the first Monday of the month, October through May, at Pioneer Hall on Winburn Way — pandemic conditions permitting.

Photo by Larry RosengrenThe Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for May is at 720 Forest St.
Photo by Larry RosengrenThe Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for May is at 720 Forest St.