Kathy Robert, a multi-faceted architectural designer, has a unique understanding of garden design for SW Idaho. She has worked at local nurseries, took Master Gardener classes, then enrolled in horticulture classes, finally getting a degree in Landscape Design from U of I, Moscow along with ISA Arborist certification.
While touring her garden she provided lots of tips for successful gardens.
Originally her property was comprised of large grassy lawn with a few trees, now it is a park-like setting surrounded with shade trees, perennial beds, and flowering shrubs.
Shrubs and trees form the foundation of the property, providing shade, habitat for native pollinators and three seasons of color. The color starts in February with the blooming of the witch hazel trees.
Trying to keep gardening chores and expenses down, her preferences have changed from planting masses of annual flowers to allowing perennials to reseed and colonize areas of her front yard, making for large swaths of color in even the hottest, driest parts of her yard.
Kathy’s opinion on annuals, “they are for the birds, just too much work!”
Entering her yard, the first tree to catch your eye is the huge weeping Cedar of Lebanon located behind the garden bench, shouldered by the pink blooming elderberry. The cedar was originally planted in front of her shop, but it had to be moved because it was not thriving in its current location. So she, along with one helper, moved the 2000 lb root ball and now it provides a magnificent display all year around.
Certain perennials may be difficult to overwinter in the Treasure Valley and their demise is often due to root rot from winter’s wet soils. To combat this she leaves the seed heads on many of her perennials, so they can self-seed. So, even if you lose the mother plant, there will be several offspring coming up not far away.
Three strikes and you’re out!
Kathy explains there is not enough time in the day to have to babysit finicky plants. If they cannot tolerate the heat, or dry humidity or soil conditions, they are gone! There are plenty of other beautiful plants that can handle the conditions here and don’t require constant attention, fertilizers, soil amendments, etc.
Have you noticed your shrubs getting in the way of the lawn mower, or crawling up the house siding? It is most likely because the planting beds around the house are too small and so the shrubs are planted too closely to the house. Kathy recommends planting beds be a minimum of 5 foot deep and if you are using large shrubs, they beds should be even deeper.
If you are admiring her bright red metal garden trellis’ she had it done at an auto painting shop. The powder coating makes for a bright and durable finish.
Her favorite ground covers? She favors Corsican mint Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida) for shady areas.
Wooly thyme (evergreen and durable), blue star creeper and white star creeper get her approval for sunny spots.
If you need some help designing or redesigning your yard, or diagnosing tree problems, give Kathy a call. Her design goal for her clients is to create a space that nurtures the soul and quiets the mind through the beauty and peace of the garden. Her garden is a perfect example of that beauty and peace.