Visiting Great Gardens & The Role of Native Plants

Visiting Great Gardens & The Role of Native Plants

Written by

David Levine


July 28, 2022

I have had the privilege of visiting two extraordinary gardens recently and want to share some photos and ideas.  The first has been designed by Peggy Spaeth and John Barber in Cleveland Heights, OH.  Their garden is unique for two reasons: They only plant native plants; and They have become experts in shade-loving native plants. 

Peggy and John are generous in sharing their plants and even broker plants among neighbors.   They look at their garden as an evolving habitat for pollinators and birds, and take a lot of time observing what each plant wants to do.

From Peggy and John I have learned some valuable lessons:

1) You can plant all-native plants and have a beautiful garden and many different styles.  We have designed our My Home Park Combos exactly in this way.

2) Shade plants are as attractive as sun plants, just in a different way.  Shade plants often have color in the spring, yet their foliage is often more rich and interesting than sun plants.

Shaded garden beds with many green plants

3) You need to watch your plants over time and see which belong in those conditions.  Your garden is evolving and your help is going to bring more success.  My Home Park provides garden growth and care reminders for this reason.

I was invited to see Adam Woodruff's garden outside of Boston.  Adam is influenced and mentored by Piet Oudolf,  the designer of the Highline in NYC and the Lurie Garden in Chicago.  Walking through Adam's garden in Marblehead, MA reminded me of walking into my first Frank Lloyd Wright building: I knew enough to notice the beauty and original design, but I did not know enough to appreciate all of the experience, vision, testing and revising that went into the finished product.  

A meadow of native coneflowers and grasses

Adam does not restrict his plant selection to native plants.  His designs provide a sense of a native scene, and his end objective is to paint a scene that evokes both a sense of nature at its best and most comfortable state.  To accomplish this, Adam has developed a list of grasses, perennials shrubs and trees that provide specific artistic impressions and effects.

My Home Park exists to guide homeowners to achieve their perfect garden.  We believe that this can be accomplished while using 100% native plants.  We expect to prove this out during 2023, and will upload photos of the beautiful gardens that we have designed.  Can we achieve the beauty of an Adam Woodruff garden?  We will let you be the judge over the next few years.