Today we’re in Evanston, Illinois, in the Chicago suburbs, visiting Jason Kay’s beautiful garden.
I’ve been gardening since around the age of 12. (I’m now 62.) I’ve had my current garden for 18 years. Within days of moving in, I started digging up the front yard to plant flowers, grasses, a few herbs, etc. Now about 90% of the front is planted, almost all in ornamentals. The only lawn left is for paths between the beds.
As far as challenges go, I would mention pests, especially rabbits and (the last couple years) four-lined plant bugs. Regarding rabbits, I’ve started to avoid certain plants; others I try to protect with chicken wire or by mixing them in with plants that are toxic (for example, interplanting tulips with daffodils). Regarding the four-lined plant bug, I have a no-insecticide policy, so mostly I just tolerate the damage. The other challenge, which comes from using LOTS of tall plants, is plant flopping. I do a lot of creative staking, use tomato cages, and do a bunch of cutting back.
In spring, this Donald Wyman crabapple (Malus ‘Donald Wyman’, Zones 4–8) makes a huge display in the front garden.
Uvularia grandiflora (fairybells, Zones 4–9) is a favorite plant in the garden. This perennial for shade is native to wooded areas over most of the eastern half of North America.
Visible in this side view of the bed at the foundation of the house are towering ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris, Zones 3–7), Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica, Zones 3–8), and wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis, Zones 3–8).
Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ (Zones 3–9) is here underplanted with starry solomon’s seal (Maianthemum stellata, Zones 3–7), which is native to pretty much all of the United States and Canada, with the exception of the Deep South.
The front of the house in summer. Notable plants include the orange Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia, annual), the huge pink-domed flower heads of Joe Pye weed ‘Gateway’, (Eutrochium maculatum ‘Gateway’, Zones 4–8). The shorter yellow flowers are yellow coneflower (Ratibida pinnata, Zones 3–8), while the supertall yellow flowers to the left are cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum, Zones 3–9).
View from the front door, with wild bergamont (Monarda fistulosa, Zones 3–8) and cup plant.
Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ (Zones 4–9) transforms a brick wall into a great wall of purple.
In late August, the rudbeckias, especially Rudbeckia triloba (Zones 4–8) and R. fulgida (Zones 4–9), start taking over with their sunny flowers.
For more of Jason’s garden check out his blog!
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