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Three gardens visible from Ashland Creek Park

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The Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for June 2021 is unusual. Unusual because it is three gardens. And unusual because it is backyard gardens.

Gardens selected for GotM honors must be substantially visible from the public right-of-way (street or sidewalk ordinarily) so that usually means front yard gardens. These three backyard gardens qualify because they are visible from Ashland Creek Park (on Hersey near Oak) and these three are all in a row.

From Hersey Street, walk along the right (east) side of the park about halfway from front to back and watch for signs. Please stay in the park. You will see some gorgeous gardens.

The first (geographically) of the selected gardens is the furthest south of the three; belonging to Deborah and Jeff Wihtol of 589 Oak St. They started their garden with a rounded patio and gently winding path of stones that Jeff designed.

Then in 2017, the Wihtols had Solid Ground Landscaping plan and install most of the plants. Since then, they’ve made changes on their own. The recent loss of a large box elder tree brought more sun to the south side of the garden than it had in the past, to which they are adjusting. And most recently they arranged for Jane Hardgrove to refresh the landscape and accommodate the new sun situation. Among Deb’s favorite plants are hydrangeas, daphne odora, cape fuchsia, and orange sedge. Routine maintenance is by Juan Guerrero.

The second selected garden belongs to Ursula and Marvin Webster, of 603 Oak St., whose historic 1897 home influenced plant selections.

Sage Hill Landscape installed the hardscape and initial plantings following guidance from the Websters.

Ursula said, “What would grandma do?” was her guiding principle.

A massive trumpet vine, stone walls, ivy, and treasured perennials survive from the house’s earliest days. Among her favorites are plants that she considers “romantically old fashioned” such as hydrangea, peonies, erigeron, and cat mint. The hillside setting dictated stairs, and aspen trees thrive in the lowest parts of the garden, nearest the park.

Their quaking leaves add movement to the garden. Ursula handles routine maintenance with assistance from Juan Guerrero. The small building at the back of the garden is a straw-bale office built by EcoNest.

The third selected garden belongs to Susan McKennon of 615 Oak St. The yard is dominated by a huge old oak that some believe is the tree for which Oak Street was named.

That mighty tree is a picture of health thanks to Susan’s care and Canopy’s regular maintenance. Her dazzling stand of iris stems from an early gift from Schreiners, friends of the family — well known for iris cultivation.

Susan brought the iris starts from a previous home. Solid Ground designed the landscape in 2013, bringing in tons of boulders to stabilize the steep terrain and installing stairs to help people negotiate the hill between the house and the park.

Solid Ground brought in many trees except the old oak, including Japanese maples and a dwarf gingko. A friend’s gift of an elderberry bush draws attention at this time of year with its dark purple foliage and pale pink flowers. Rudolpho Ramirez and his crew maintain this garden.

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 www.ashlandorgardenclub.org or arrange to attend meetings mid-day on the first Monday of the month, October through May, at a venue to be determined or via Zoom.

photo by Larry Rosengren Ursula and Marvin Webster’s historic 1897 home influenced plant selections.
photo by Larry Rosengren Deborah and Jeff Wihtol started their garden with a rounded patio and gently winding path of stones that Jeff designed.
photo by Larry Rosengren Deborah and Jeff Wihtol started their garden with a rounded patio and gently winding path of stones that Jeff designed.
photo by Larry Rosengren Susan McKennon’s yard is dominated by a huge old oak that some believe is the tree for which Oak Street was named.
photo by Larry Rosengren Susan McKennon’s yard was designed by Solid Ground in 2013, bringing in tons of boulders to stabilize the steep terrain and installing stairs to help people negotiate the hill between the house and the park.
photo by Larry Rosengren Susan McKennon’s yard was designed by Solid Ground in 2013, bringing in tons of boulders to stabilize the steep terrain and installing stairs to help people negotiate the hill between the house and the park.
photo by Larry Rosengren Ursula and Marvin Webster’s historic 1897 home influenced plant selections.