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August Yard of the Month is an unprecedented tie
The front yard at 159 Pengethly
The front yard at 159 Pengethly
Angie Cowart with her sign at 158 Pengthly.
Angie Cowart with her sign at 158 Pengthly.

By Gloria Shearin, RHGC

The August Richmond Hill Garden Club Yard of the Month contest resulted in an unprecedented tie. Our judges simply could not decide which of two yards was better than the other. The winners are Angie and Jeff Cowart at 158 Pengethly Drive and Terry and Pete Houtkooper at 159 Pengethly Drive.

Both yards exemplify gardening success in the hottest part of summer.

Both will also clearly be attractive throughout the year..

Both Angie and Terry rely on pots and planters for seasonal color; both use trees to their advantage; and both have carefully considered how to accomplish their gardening vision.

Angie’s wide front porch stretches across the front of her house and has full exposure to the sun until afternoon. She relies on a mix of hanging baskets and planters atop her banister and credits her success with these to diligent watering. The planters contain periwinkles in multiple shades—including an unusual blue. Although she insists her periwinkles haven’t performed as well this year, they certainly were blooming nicely.

Plus, since they reseed freely, she can pull out any that become too leggy and count on the baby ones to grow quickly.

Angie’s steps are flanked by urns containing pink mandevilla vines winding up short trellises.

The double shepherd’s hooks beside the shrubs hold hanging baskets and reinforce the yard’s symmetry and color scheme.

The trimmed shape of the shrubs flanking the steps points up to the porch.

A bright Sunshine Ligustrum on one side assures that the front is not too symmetrical and brightens that space.

Terry’s front yard relies on repeated patterns in a different way. It draws the eye to the front door with matching white planters on either side at both the bottom and the top of the brick steps.

A clean, white, backless bench echoes the curvy shape of the driveway and the steps. Her casual sign by the door sums up the front yard’s appeal—welcome.

While Angie’s yard is a wide expanse of green, Terry’s incorporates huge curvy beds around oak trees that block much of the hot afternoon sun. These are neatly edged and mulched with pine straw. Planters are in each bed. These are galvanized or white and filled with both flowers and greenery, especially ferns. Along with the planters, clumps of elephant ears brighten the spaces. A pair of white Adirondack chairs tells everyone to sit and enjoy the pleasant view of the yard.

Along one side, cut stones delineate a bed running the length of the house. This provides an attractive solution to house runoff in heavy rains. River rocks instead of mulch continue Terry’s light color scheme. Planters, including one featuring plumbago, are spaced atop the rocks. Hibiscus in another planter in front of the house provides a splash of color as it towers over ilex shrubs.

Angie’s yard also makes the most of trees in a different way. The back view is a wide expanse of natural forest—pines, oaks, sweet gums, and other native trees there when the house was built.

A Little Gem magnolia blooms at the front of the house and smells delightful. A variety that is relatively small, the magnolia will not grow too tall and overwhelm the space. A large gardenia bush—another sweet shrub that blooms earlier in the year-is nearby.

Angie’ back space could have been a problem, but she has found solutions. Inside the back of the fence surrounding her pool is a row of shrubs. Near the entrance to the pool grows a huge philodendron. Pots of flowers are scattered around the pool, and knockout roses are in a nearby bed.

It’s clear that both families enjoy gardening.

Both have made their spaces inviting in different ways. Gardening is really about looking closely at your space, deciding what approach will work best for you, doing little bits at a time, being willing to rethink your plan if you are not truly happy with the result, and then enjoying what you have created.

The blue birds nesting in the newspaper slot at Angie’s mailbox surely approve of both yards.

Startled by our unexpected approach, the mama blue bird found shelter in one of Terry’s trees.

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