Monday, July 21, 2008

On Patrol: Garden Walks

Many of you know Kim Hartmann from the greenhouse department. She joined Countryside in 2006 after a stint at Craig Bergmann’s retail garden center and 18 years as a management consultant at Hewitt and Associates. She has given many talks about gardening and perennials at Countryside and she often mentions that her mother was her gardening inspiration. Last Saturday I had the opportunity to visit Kim’s mom’s garden as it was on a garden walk sponsored by the Fox Valley chapter of the American Association of University Women.

There has been a house and barn on the Hartmann farm since the 1890s. The garden of present occupants, Ron and Pat Hartmann, has been a work in progress for the past 46 years. Kim’s dad, Ron, grew up on the farm and her mom, Pat, was raised on the neighboring farm. Ron currently farms about 800 acres of corn, soybeans, and hay. Originally, it had been a dairy and then a hog farm.
Pat told me that she "likes plants that look good all season." She usually selects plants based on their foliage. She finds flowers "too noisy." Her goal is to create peace. She also wanted to have something nice to look at out of each window of the house. She has lots of hostas and woody shrubs, such as hydrangeas. When she wants some color she will plant impatiens or coleus. She has several specimen conifers from Rich’s Fox Willow Pines that add vertical elements and interesting textures to the garden. Her other favorite places to shop are Countryside (of course) and Wasco Nursery, which is closer to her home.

Pat is pretty sanguine about her garden’s evolution. "Gardens are always changing," she stated, noting that trees grow, mature and fall down and you have to react to the changing environment. In some cases Pat and Ron are on the second landscaping of an area. Now they are contemplating changes to the porch and garden beds around the side door.
Pat offers these words of advice to new (and old) gardeners:
1. Make sure the soil is right. Amend it if necessary.
2. Keep the mature size of the plant in mind when you plant.
3. Where nothing will grow, put in annuals or a rock or a piece of "tchotcke."

Here is a link to more pictures from the Hartmann farm as well as several other gardens I visited that weekend. Don't forget the Ball Seed Open House on August 3 in West Chicago.

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