A hidden house on hosta hill

During the National Garden Festival‘s Open Gardens, I got to visit the home of Jayette and Steve. I’ve known them as casual acquaintances for many years and we’ve talked gardens before, but I never had the chance to go and actually visit their garden. They certainly underplayed their gardening hand! Their house is practically buried in hostas, and they have a spectacular wooded swale separating them from a busy road nearby.

The area around two sides of the house is actually more of a slope, but they jam-packed it so lushly with hostas that it looks like the house is half hidden by them. As with most gardens though, as you get closer, more plantings, sophisticated pairings and surprises become more apparent.

A break in the hosta leads to a dry-stacked stone stairway leading up to a patio outside the living room and here the hosta migrate into plants with more color – hydrangea, daylilies, rudbeckia, dahlia, red-striped cannas, and other potted annuals. Around the patio the colors were invigorating.

The swale of hostas and ferns in the formal front of the house is a light-dappled forest of paths through their hosta collection. Rather than the tight mass plantings around the house, each hosta here has its own space, and space between each other, looked more relaxed – encouraging a walk through. And a bad photo cannot be taken of the swale – even during the brightest part of the day – when I was there.

Here’s how they describe their garden: Our gardens surround the house so it is an easy walk from the deep shade gardens in the front of the house through the hummingbird and butterfly sanctuary onto the patio in the yard and back out to Rydalmount, where there is plenty of parking. We call our front garden “The Swale”. There you will find many different shade perennials featuring an array of hostas, ferns and other shade loving plants. You can access this garden using the 4 slate steps to get a better view or walk down the hill. The Kitchen Garden features perennial plantings that attract butterflies and humming birds. Some of the plants you will see here are canna, cone flowers, daylilies, astilbes and beebalm along with bird feeders and a bird bath. There are also garden sculptures throughout to keep your eye moving. Facing Rydalmount Rd there are hosta, astilbe, ferns and hydrangea accented with colorful pots on the patio filled with pretty annuals. Here you can sit and enjoy the garden in the shade with a glass of ice tea. A small vegetable bed is tucked into sunniest spot. We look forward to welcoming you into our gardens.

They call it, “The Swale.”
Behind the house (from where I parked, anyway) outside their kitchen is the bird garden. They have a bird feeder, plants chosen specifically to attract birds, as well as a heated birdbath, that, in the summertime anyway, is attached to a hose and timer to keep the water fresh (and less work for them to fill every day).
The bird garden.
The view from the patio, across the yard to the property edge of trees and ferns.
Lots of sculptures were within the garden. Many were too fine to photograph well, but in person added to the textures and colors of the mass plantings.
Once you were up close to the hosta around the back patio, smaller, artfully chosen, and carefully placed plants and pots were more apparent.– like this cactus and succulent dish.
It’s hard to tell that they didn’t just have the house airlifted onto a patch of hosta!

Jim Charlier is an advertising designer/photographer/crafter with a serious gardening problem. He's co-written a garden design book featuring the funky, quirky and fun gardens by the gardeners of Buffalo titled "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" (BuffaloStyleGardens.com); he writes a long-standing garden blog (ArtofGardening.org); led the largest garden tour in America, Garden Walk Buffalo; has written for, or provided photography for dozens of magazines and books; has made presentations and participated in panel discussions on garden design and garden tourism nationally and internationally.

0 comments on “A hidden house on hosta hill

  1. What a unique and wonderful yard/flower beds! “Swale”! My new word for the day. Hosta lover that I am, I could really appreciate this place (even as I mourn the loss of several white astillbe) 😦


  2. This is beautiful 🙂 I love the bird garden.


  3. Swale is a swell word. I don't have room for many hostas in my garden any more. I've been trying to concentrate on any new ones being of the more unique varieties. But they're so easy to divide – I find myself justifying dividing over spending money on new ones!


  4. I spend my garden days trying NOT to attract birds. Most of my garden is driveway (cars) or deck and patio. I don't want to encourage bird droppings on any of them!


  5. swaleswāle noun NORTH AMERICAN dialecta low or hollow place, especially a marshy depression between ridges.


  6. Fab garden. Over the top, just like I like em.


  7. Anonymous

    Now that is a lot of hosta. One think I learned from this post, is not to cut off the flowers like I almost always do. They look very nice with so many different hosts in this garden.


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