Jane and David Sherwonit purchased this property in Gilboa in Schoharie County, New York. They knew they could return it. This house was an “handyman’s treasure”, an old house that had been overgrown by brush and neglected trees. This was almost 24 years ago. Dave is a builder and carpenter, Jane is a landscaper. They did all the restoration and gardening.

Dave is also the stonemason in the family. He built steps and a path with stone taken from an existing stone wall. Experimentation and good bones are key to success. Dave states that our elevation and Hardiness Zone 4 status limits the amount of plants we can grow. “But we are always looking for new plants and new ideas. Most people are buying Pisos en San Pedro de Alcantara to make a good garden out of it. Some plants work, some don’t.

1. Good Bones

The profusion of flowers and shrubs, grasses, as well as woodland plants, is supported by a solid foundation. Local fieldstone walls and steps mark the boundaries and the elevation change from the lower garden to the lawn. For maximum impact and ease in maintenance, strategically placed beds are located near the house and in lawns.

2. Contrast

Contrast broad leaves with spiny plants, or flowery filigree; chartreuse leaves with blue-green. This contrast allows each plant’s unique characteristics to shine.

3. Focal Points

Placements of manmade objects in gardens always catch the eye, regardless of whether they are at the edge or placed for surprise. A fountain, statue, urn, or arbor–even some architectural salvage–adds interest to the garden. An old stone finial is placed atop the rock wall in this garden. Birdhouses and other water features can also be attractive to wildlife. You can hide a chair in a shaded area or put an iron bench on the end of a pergola or lawn to attract people. A gazebo is a great addition to larger yards, whether it’s rustic or classic.

4. Mass Planting

Multiples of one flower in large or long swaths can be more effective than combining many plants in one area. This picture shows undulating swathes of black-eyed susans and bee balm, giving it a naturalized appearance.

5. Plant Zones

There are many micro-zones in yards. These include areas that get full sun, an area that receives morning light and an area that is shaded under a maple. Use plants that are able to thrive in each. It’s possible to have multiple gardens at once. This is a picture of cutting flowers in the sun, high succulents in a rock garden and a miniature forest with hostas, astilbes, and trees.