An imaginative garden with delights for all seasons

Don and Ruth Othoson's beautiful, fanciful Kent County garden is full of surprises for the eye and heart

Home&garden

September 25, 2005|By NANCY TAYLOR ROBSON | NANCY TAYLOR ROBSON,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A rustic grapevine-covered fence surrounds a cottage that is actually a toolshed. A stone rabbit peeks out from behind fragrant phlox. A little red schoolhouse (now a workshop), complete with hitching post and stacked woodpile, dominates another "room." Behind a split-rail fence lies still another "room" with a black Amish carriage and an old buggy acting as objets d'art.

It all started with the garden just outside their kitchen. It boasts a pond that's home to bullfrogs, dragonflies and well-fed goldfish.

"We did one 'room' at a time," says Don Othoson, of Galena in Kent County. "We'd open up an area and decide how we were going to lay it out."

The eclectic design, in part inspired by regular visits to Colonial Williamsburg, is Ruth Othoson's. "I look at books and magazines and visit other gardens for ideas," she says.

In addition to the design, what is striking is the garden's continuing bloom. In spring, creamy roses spill over fences and pergolas. In summer, lilies, salvias and iris fill perennial beds, and clematis climbs a lamppost. In early fall, fragrant autumn clematis foams over a roof and tangles in a mass of sunset-hued (noninvasive) honeysuckle.

Purple liriope lines the brick walkway. Magenta crape myrtle nods by the toolshed, and burgundy hyacinth bean scrambles over an old iron grating. Delphinium, hardy native begonia, turtlehead and pennyroyal share space by the garage.

"I go to [garden centers] once a week to see what's blooming," Ruth explains of her method for ensuring perpetual bloom.

Specific plant choices are also inspired by bargains. Don Othoson scoops up orphaned perennials and sickly looking shrubs on sale, nurses them back to health, then plants them in various rooms. "I got 15 scraggly little cut-leaf red maples, planted them, pruned them," says Don, "and now some are planted by the [schoolhouse]."

TIPS FOR AN ALL-SEASON GARDEN

Visit garden centers often throughout the season to see what's in bloom.

Don't bite off too much at once. Do a section, then move on, but continue tinkering.

Keep things pruned, watered and fertilized.

Be sure that everything is good and wet before we go into the winter.

EVENTS CALENDAR

TODAY

HARFORD LIVE! HOME AND GARDEN SHOW

Today's the last day of the Harford Live! Home and Garden Show, which also features health and fitness and food shows. It's at Ripken Stadium, 873 Long Drive, Aberdeen, just off Interstate 95. Admission: $5 for adults, free for children 12 and under. 443-512-0265.

FRIDAY

BOTANIC GARDEN LECTURE

Holly Shimizu, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden, will tell you how to use trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals to create your own fragrance garden. She speaks from noon to 1 p.m. Friday at the Botanic Garden Conservatory, 100 Maryland Ave. S.W., Washington. Registration: 202-226-4082 or usbg.gov / education / events.

SATURDAY

AZALEA AUCTION

Rare and unusual azaleas and companion plants will be auctioned Saturday at Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glen Allan Ave., Wheaton. View plants starting at 10:30 a.m.; auction, 11 a.m. 301-962-1400, or mcmncppc.org / parks / brookside / .

UNTIL OCT. 4

LONGWOOD GARDENS

Enjoy GardenFest through Oct. 4 at Longwood Gardens near Kennett Square, Pa. The festival celebrates gardening and the charms of the former estate of Alice and Pierre S. du Pont, now the world's premier horticultural display garden. Longwood is open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults ($10 on Tuesdays), $6 ages 16-20, $2 ages 6-15, and free under age 6. 800-737-5500 or longwoodgardens.org.

UNTIL OCT. 23

DECORATOR SHOW HOUSE

Historic Ellicott City Inc. is having its annual Decorator Show House fundraiser through Oct. 23 at Longwood, a Federal-Greek Revival-style mansion in Glenwood. The Show House, at 7188 Route 97 (Georgia Avenue), will be open daily except Mondays. Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at door. 410-461-6908 or historicec.com.

Send notices of garden and home decor events to harry.merritt@baltsun.com.

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