The National Garden Clubs, Inc. is sponsoring National Garden Week June 3-9. The theme is “Help Us Plant America.”
In accordance with the week long celebration, The FPS toured the gardens at the home of Becky Day which were included in the Carroll County Arts “Garden Art Stroll” last August.
By Leigh Ann Rutledge
CARROLLTON – To say Becky Day has a green thumb is an understatement.
The flower gardens at her Meadowbrook Rd., Carrollton, home are filled with blooms of vibrant colors, ornamental grasses and hidden surprises.
The gardens are situated on three tiers with walkways and benches located throughout. Taking a tour of the gardens on a hot, sunny day, Becky and her sister, Chris Herd, banter back and forth over who is the most creative of the two.
The sisters grew up on a farm in Hartville. Both worked in the large family garden and Chris also liked to draw and paint. Today their artistic talents meld into creations both inside and outside the home.
Day collected dolls for years before one day switching to fairies. (She likes the magic of them.) Several fairy gardens are hidden among the assortment of perennials in the gardens. Day claims Herd is the creative one, thinking up ideas for the fairy garden designs. Herd, of course, disagrees.
Day and her husband, Dennis, moved into their new home at Carroll Meadows Golf Course 18 years ago. While the construction team was digging for the basement, they unearthed numerous large rocks which Day asked them not to remove from the property. They placed them in a row and she used them to create a walkway between tiers and as decoration, mixed in with plants and fairy gardens. “I like wood and stone,” Day simply stated.
Along with the pile of rocks, there was only grass and wild daisies in the yard when the Days moved in.
“The first thing I did was plant three pine trees,” she explained. “I also moved a lot of my plants from our previous home in Canton down here.”
Day worked as a hairdresser for 20 years and had a shop at her home. When she did not have a customer, she was in the gardens working. She transplanted bushes, trees and Annabelle hydrangeas, among other perennials.
Perennial geraniums bloom in different sections of the gardens and mix in with hostas, tree peonies and sedum. Day previously planted a vegetable garden on the bottom tier near a small pond but had trouble with ground hogs, deer and other wildlife eating the produce. This year peppers, tomatoes, butternut squash and cucumbers mix in with the flowers in the various tiers. Tiny blueberries are forming on her blueberry plant that she will pick and freeze when they ripen.
Herbs, such as oregano, parsley, and spearmint grow throughout the mix, along with garlic.
“I let things grow. I don’t cut them unless I have too,” Day explained. “I do thin out my day lilies, though.”
She explained she looked at them one day before they bloomed and the leaves were a mess. She pulled the leaves off and they grew back and bloomed beautifully all summer. “They didn’t get as big and looked very nice, not sloppy ,” she added.
Day created a watering system using two 55-gallon drums. Pipe runs from the spouting on the house into the first barrel hidden among the trees and leaves on the second tier. When it gets full, the overflow goes into the second barrel.
Being creative and resourceful, Day built trellises in the yard and birdhouses which are scattered all around. Herd painted gourds which are hung in various locations.
Sitting on the upper deck at the back of Day’s home gives guests a view of the gardens. Along with several fairy gardens is a bashful girl statue, deer and a golf bag with flowers spilling out over the top. A guinea frequents Day’s property and even gets on the roof of the house. Last year during the Garden Art Stroll, the guinea walked through the gardens with visitors. If guests look quick enough, they may even see the elusive bigfoot hiding among the branches.
Day is currently putting boards along the top of the upper deck to give it a Japanese feel and planted the old vegetable garden patch with canna lily bulbs. (They have to be dug up before the frost and replanted each year.)
What does Dennis think about her creations?
“He loves to golf and watch sports on television,” Day stated. “He doesn’t care.”
She did note, however, the wisteria growing over the side of the upper deck is making it hard to get through the gate. She may have to trim it. Once its flowers die off, she can use the vine to make wreaths.
Day is a member of two garden clubs, Mohawk Trail Garden Club in Malvern and Suburban Garden Club in Carrollton. Amongst the salvia, bridal veil, foxglove, Rudbeckia and fire bush are many plants she cannot name.
“Being in a garden club, my friends are always giving me starts of their plants,” she said. She had several starts of cleome in containers she put in the plant sale the Suburban Garden Club held recently.
Day represents the Suburban Garden Club at the Canton Garden Center and teaches craft classes there five times a year. Her “Nature and Natural” class teaches guests crafts out of wood, stone and paper and uses nothing artificial, especially flowers. The classes have featured owls made from wood pieces and pinecones, rabbits and more.
Chris recently relocated to Carrollton after living in Florida. Once she gets settled, the two plan to make crafts to sell.
Day said she finds a lot of her ideas on Pinterest then adapts them to what she likes.
“All artists look at someone else’s work for inspiration and then create their own,” added Chris.
Over the years, Day has grown elephant plants and made cement leaves from them for decorations. She also has a variety of mushrooms sitting by the plants. Using various items for forms, she uses quick cement to create the mushroom caps. She inserts a stick in before it sets for the stem and paints them in different colors.
“I never dreamed I would do this much,” Day admitted. “But it is what gets me out of bed each day.”
Asked if there is any plant she does not have she would like in her gardens and she laughs.
“I would like to have a Magnolia but they are so messy,” she said. “If I take one plant out, I put two more in. If I see dirt, I have to plant something.”
Big allium plants with big purple flowers stand in front of her home.
“Our dad planted these down the middle of his vegetable garden,” she said.
The gardens are my playground. I move this and that and talk to my flowers. It’s what I enjoy.”