Carol Eyman has gardened at her home in suburban South Nashua since 1998. Growing up in CT, her parents grew a patch of “corn on the cob”, but she really was bit by the gardening bug in college, where she tended to numerous houseplants. She began her home garden, which is mostly perennials with some herbs and vegetables incorporated throughout, after her two children grew beyond the preschool years. Carol likes flower gardening in particular because she enjoys cutting flowers all summer, placing them in vases around her home to enjoy, and bringing arrangements to work and friends.
As I entered Carol’s garden, I was welcomed by a subtle bubble gum scent, which she told me was the astilbe plant, with its feathery, tiny white flowers. When I asked Carol about the history of her garden, she explained that, like many gardeners, it seems to have grown in size year after year, slowly decreasing the yard space (less mowing!) but creating habitat for birds and insects. She created her garden by hand the old fashioned way…with lots of hard work. Carol dug up the established sod then amended the soil with peat moss and manure. Her toiling has paid off, as the garden is deep like a raised bed with rich, dark soil. She adds a thick layer of bark mulch to the entire garden each year, which suppresses weeds and eventually breaks down into organic matter to further feed the plants. The result is a lush, green garden, which she tends to organically.
At this point Carol’s garden is fairly self-sufficient and at its final size (says every gardener!). Some of her perennials are still going strong from her original garden, such as the Stella D’Oro daylilies, which were in bloom when I visited. The daisies are enormous 15 year old plants and her large, productive blueberry bush, a gift from her son’s teacher, is 13 years old. Carol’s garden also features: black eyed susans, phlox, clematis, huge, gorgeous columbine, “double knock out” roses (which bloom until frost), green peppers, thyme, basil, and lettuce in pots so they can easily be moved to cooler areas of the garden. Many of her flowers were purchased at local greenhouses or come from the infamous teacher’s plant sale near Bicentennial School each May. Besides her bountiful garden, Carol has several potted cherry tomatoes, which she chooses for their sweetness and short number of days to maturity.
When I asked Carol about any gardening “fails”, she laughed and mentioned a rather traumatic incident involving her netted blueberry plant and a chipmunk that she had to dispose of…you fill in the blanks! Lesson learned: It is probably best to share your berries with the birds and leave them uncovered! She also is still digging out the shoots from her obedient plant, which ironically is quite invasive in the garden. She bought the plant because in cut flower arrangements, they stems can be bent and will stay in place, hence “obedient”. Lesson learned: When another gardener mentions that a particular plant is invasive, heed this subtle warning.
Carol’s garden shows me that vegetables and herbs are great, but an abundance of flowers in the garden, even if “just” grown for their showy beauty, are equally important and truly embrace our short summer season here in New Hampshire!