Best medium garden: Lissa Abrams and Abe Wasserberger, Evergreen

2011 Garden Contest Winner

  • A lacecap hydrangea shrub softens a bench at the rear of the garden created by Lissa Abrams and her husband, Abe Wasserberger.
A lacecap hydrangea shrub softens a bench at the rear of the garden… (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun )
July 13, 2011|By Liz Atwood, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Lissa Abrams and Abe Wasserberger were interested in gardening for years, but it wasn't until they married in 2004 that they combined their efforts to transform a quarter-acre lot next to Stoney Run Park.

"Essentially when he [Wasserberger] moved in there was a playground in the middle and two beds along the side," recalls Abrams, who is retired as deputy director of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

A gully behind their house that abuts the park was filled with debris. "It was where all the neighbors put their gardening clippings and leaves," Abrams says.

Abrams credits her husband, the development director of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in New York, with being the "mover and shaker behind the operation." He not only helped clear the land but did much of the hardscaping, building the patio, deck and tiered beds.

They designed the garden together with advice from friends and relatives who are expert gardeners. "We wanted something that would fit in with the park. We wanted to transform the whole area into something beautiful," Abrams said. "It kind of evolved over time."

Their garden boasts a large collection of hostas, a camellia bush, wild begonia, Solomon's seal, hydrangea and brunnera.

Many of the plants came from family members. "I feel I have pieces of my family over," Abrams jokes.

And it isn't done yet. They are still adding plants to the gully behind their house and Abrams says they still are trying to find a spot where the peonies will thrive.

"There is a lot of trial and error of what looks good and what survives," she says. "Our garden is constantly changing."

Favorite plant: Camellia bush. "In early spring, it is just covered in lovely pink flowers. It's just a beautiful, beautiful bush."

Tips: "You need to give things a chance to grow before you give up on them. You need to look at a lot of variety so there is different color and different size of the leaves."

Runner up: Jeannette Clayton, Abingdon

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