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Highlights of the Brookside Gardens Fund-raising Tour

I sure hope Brookside continues this new tradition, now in its second year, of organizing tours of the best private gardens in lower Montgomery County – because the gardens and the organization behind the tour are fabulous.  Here are just a few of the highlights from the June 1 event, under totally clear skies.  That means my photos are overly lit and shadowy, but what can you do?


At our first stop I immediately coveted this trellis festooned with lights and roses.  I’m shopping for outdoor lights myself, so took a close-up of them for reference.


Along a boring side wall these same imaginative homeowners installed another awesome display of lighting.  Just now seeing these photos, I want to go back at night when the lights are turned ON.


I love a well-designed path like the one below in the same garden.  Real flagstones surrounded by Mazus, with touches of Japanese Forest  Grass.



Above and below are scenes from the back garden of garden designer Kathryn Everett.   This rather large space has no lawn at all, but plenty of seating, full borders, and even a well-screened trampoline.  The detail shown above includes one of my favorite grasses – Stipa, paired with Nepeta in bloom.



Above, an unusual side garden and path that packs a punch because the designer (landscape architect Lisa Siri) picked one easy but gorgeous perennial (Nepeta in this case) and filled a whole border with it.   Below, in another sunny spot in the back garden, two more great perennials – Amsonia hubrichtii blooming in light blue and Hypericum, both native to this region.



Above, an otherwise all-ornamental garden includes this small space for edibles.  Notice the easy-to-use screening devices that protect the plants from pests, and the use of a groundcover Sedum in between and around pavers.


Next up, a brand new garden that looks fabulous despite its newness, thanks to the genius of the design firm Backyard Bounty.  The photo above is of the front yard, which has no lawn but instead, a small patio, seating and lots of borders.  The view is from the front porch facing the street.


I’ve raved before on this blog about Carexes, a large assortment of grass-like plants (called sedges) that are gaining in popularity.  Above is ‘Blue Zinger’ and below is ‘Bunny Blue,’ a native of this region.  These had all been planted just a few weeks before the tour, but so remember they’ll fill in and not only look great but prevent erosion on that hillside.


Another eco-friendly plant used in this garden is Eco-Lawn, shown below.  That’s the one tiny bit of lawn on the whole property, and the seed mix was chosen because it grows slowly enough to need mowing only once or twice a year.  Alternatively, it can be left unmown, in which case it folds over, so it stays low.  Again, it’s new in this photo but will fill in completely by the end of the season.


Finally, I wasn’t the only tour-goer who loved these fun tool sheds, made to look like outhouses.  What a hoot!


Photos and text by Susan Harris.

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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