The Wildlife and Foliage Garden
Message from the Gardeners
The first owners of this property were committed gardeners. They combined three lots in order to have a property large and private enough to create their favorite gardens. Their love for Bonsai and the Japanese style of gardening is reflected in their many dwarf or “character” trees as well as several exotic varieties of Japanese maples. We fell in love with the property and purchased the home in 2014.
The house, built in 1993, had been uninhabited for a time before we bought it, so we had some work to do. We removed an old putting green and a few trees from the back in order to make room for the pool, rear gardens, fire pit and the extended gardens we planned to install.
We were full of plans for colorful flowers to brighten up the front of the house. Imagine our surprise to find that we “shared” our property with a herd of deer. Ten or twelve regularly sought out our yard as their salad and dessert buffet. These very tame deer walked up our front steps to enjoy an appetizer from the planters on the porch, eating every annual we installed, Repel X or not. Lesson learned: yard must be deer resistant at the very least.
After removing a few diseased trees in the front and side yard and installing Zoysia grass in the small front yard, we discovered that moles enjoyed our new yard as much as we did, and in the back the voles were busily eating the roots of any new plantings. Several dozen huge, old white and red oaks produce an abundance of acorns which the hundreds of squirrels on the property still love to bury and dig up. We welcome hummingbirds in the spring and summer and songbirds in the fall and winter with habitat and food, and enjoy watching them bathe in the water feature and pool. Squirrels and chipmunks particularly like to lick the salt from the edges of our saltwater pool. Rabbits enjoy the hostas as much as the deer do.
Working with partial to full shade on much of the property was also a major challenge. Some of the front gets six hours of sun daily, but our new grass was not growing well due to the thick canopy created by our many maples. We planned our landscape taking into account wildlife and shade requirements and determined to continue planting unique and unusual trees, shrubs and plant specimens. We did not remove exotic trees and plants in favor of native plants, but continue to add many varieties of native and pollinator plants every year.
The next major change we made was to install a deer fence in the back on slightly less than half an acre. Suddenly we had oak leaf hydrangeas and hostas that could survive until blooming. Ferns were a real possibility. The acuba stopped looking like it was getting a haircut. Guy became determined to establish a tranquil garden space in the back to create a welcoming home for us as well as the plants we love and our many wildlife friends. To that end we provide water, shelter and food for the creatures that live here, and we happily share our additional two acres with the deer to munch on what they will. Seems to be working for all concerned so far.
Our deer resistant shade gardens feature hundreds of Lenten roses, daffodils, yews, ferns and hostas. In complete contrast, the pool area is full sun. The deer have never jumped the fence though they easily could, so here we grow sun loving plants that deer prefer such as irises, hostas, Limelight hydrangeas, peonies, gardenias, clematis, and calla lilies, as well as several varieties of herbs and ground covers. We also have numerous potted plants, some of which are unique specimen trees and shrubs.
Two years after we purchased our home, we became Hall County Master Gardeners. The shade garden in the front yard, as well as a shade garden extension in the backyard, were the result of projects we submitted in class. We still make some mistakes but continue to learn a lot from our MG friends and programs.
We welcome you to enjoy our yard and “wildlife preserve.” Most of our trees, shrubs and plants have labels that may be photographed if you are interested in learning more about a particular plant. Also, you will find QR codes throughout the garden that provide additional information on some of our most interesting plants.
-Guy and Annette Hinton