Sun Prairie Garden Club

July Garden of the Month

Rhonda Trueblood

1614 Don Simon Drive

The Sun Prairie Garden Club picked this garden for great use of space and plant vigor.

“The yard is small but big in the landscaping impact. We were very impressed with the plant selection and how well the plants did,” said Diane Powelka, of the Sun Prairie Garden Club.

The garden was also noted for its backyard with a private oasis along with bird feeders and a water wiggler.

Here’s a what Rhonda Trueblood has to say about her garden.

Q: What is your garden’s history?

My husband and I bought our home in 2004, it was new construction and as most are familiar with new homes, there is minimal landscaping and only about 2-3” of some sort of soil product that has been replaced. By soil product, I mean mulch, top soil or compost. The only garden area that came with our home was two small spaces in the front of our home, one on each side of the walkway leading up to our house and a small footprint garden in the back next to our driveway.

Over the course of the 15 years that we have lived here, we have consistently amended our soil by adding a thick layer of compost in the spring and fall followed by a layer of mulch. We have also increased the size of our garden space significantly, to include expanding the front two garden spaces and continued the garden along the south side of our house and connected it to the footprint garden. Several years ago we added curbing to outline our entire garden area starting in the front and going all the way around the south side of our home and ending at the driveway. It’s probably safe to say that we now have more garden space than grass. We were pretty happy with how our garden areas were looking with all the spring flowering bulbs that we had planted in the fall and perennials that had been added. We thought we were pretty much done with the exception of planting some annuals to add some extra color every spring until a couple of years ago...we had a rabbit explosion occur in our neighborhood. They decimated pretty much all of my perennials that were planted all around our home and all the plants in my vegetable garden. That pretty much put us back to square one. We’ve been trying to recreate how our garden looked then but other plants that weren’t eaten by the rabbits took advantage of the new open spaces that had been created and have multiplied significantly, it seemed like overnight. So we are in the process of trying to restore our front garden areas back to their original appearance. We have been trying to thin out all of these opportunistic plants and relocate them elsewhere. I hate to throw away healthy plants. We’ve even offered them to our neighbors, but everybody’s gardens are full. It’s a true labor of love.

Q: What varieties of flowers and plants are noteworthy in your garden?

In the front of our house we try to be mindful of plants and flowers that help the migrating birds, monarch butterflies and bees. We plant several varieties of salvia each spring for the hummingbirds, milkweed for the monarch butterflies, lots of flowering annuals for the bees, coneflowers for both the butterflies and birds. There are large bushes that produce berries in the fall (not sure what the bushes are called) they were planted as part of the new home landscaping and we noticed that the birds were eating the berries, so we left them in the garden. We also have a ninebark bush on each side of the walkway which provides shade and protection for the smaller birds, plus we like the contrast of the darker foliage with the small white flowers they produce in the early summer.

Q: What are your favorites?

In the spring I would have to say the Virginia Bluebells. I had a large front yard when my husband and I lived in Bayside, a suburb north of Milwaukee. We had a large area that was full of Virginia Bluebells, and in the spring when they would be in bloom it was the most spectacular sight. Their flowers are an electric bluish purple and that entire garden area would be full of that color. It was absolutely gorgeous! I wish they would bloom all summer long. So every spring I add 3-4 more Virginia Bluebell plants to the front garden areas. I also make several hanging baskets with tuberous begonias that I hang under our tree by our patio. I had traveled to British Columbia a long time ago and we went to Butchart Gardens. I remember walking under this large pergola that had numerous hanging baskets of tuberous begonias and I was fascinated by how beautiful and delicate looking their blossoms were and the colors of the blossoms were so vibrant. It just made an impression on me and I have loved them ever since.

Q: What’s your gardening philosophy?

I would say our gardening philosophy is multifaceted. Our first philosophy is that we try to create curb appeal by adding flowering plants that provide splashes of color in pink, yellow, purple, red, etc. The south side of our garden is reserved for our vegetables. We try to keep our vegetable garden will maintained and organized since it is visible to passersby and our garden area by our patio is densely planted for privacy. Another philosophy is to be mindful of supporting the wildlife by planting flowering plants and creating areas that attract the butterflies, bees and migrating birds. To further support that, this year we added an insect house next to our vegetable garden to attract several varieties of pollinators and to give them protection and a place to nest. Our other philosophy is regarding plant care: We believe that if you want healthy plants that are going to give you great results you need to amend your soil and water frequently when the temperatures get hotter and it hasn’t rained in a while. We let our garden be a respite for wildlife (except for the rabbits) by adding a birdbath and water feature in our patio garden area.

Q: What other information/comments do you have on your garden?

Our garden brings us a lot of enjoyment. Is it a lot of work? Yes, sometimes. I like to refer to it as therapy. We love the wildlife that visits our garden areas, with some exceptions, of course. We love sitting on our back patio, listening to the birds and the water fountain, it’s so peaceful and relaxing.

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