I jokingly call my garden the “Kennedy Compound of Cohasset.” (It even has its own Facebook and Instagram feeds.)
I'm blessed to have a lot of outside space, but it feels like a compound because it requires a lot of maintenance. One of my goals, for my own garden and for others, is to cut down on the annual chore and expense of weeding and mulching. To reduce the open space, I fill my gardens with plants. Yes, I do happen to own a garden center, so I have access to my pick of plants. I purposely choose those that fill and choke out weeds. Plus, I personally like the look of a lush garden versus vast empty spaces.
“A garden is not a place…. it is a journey.” We landscape designers like to use this expression to say that no garden is ever 100% complete. Plants are living things, and gardens evolve over time. Mother Nature has a way of throwing us curve balls. Change is to be expected. Landscape design is unlike interior design: your coffee table (generally) doesn't get eaten by a deer.
My own personal garden and the display gardens at Kennedy's serve as test gardens for new plants. For example, I experimented with a new boxwood that I thought would make a great low hedge. However, I experienced problems with this particular plant at my own house, and it helped me spot this trend at our clients’ gardens, as well. The result: We no longer sell that variety of boxwood.
At home, I switched it out with a perennial called Amsonia 'Blue Ice,' which has proven to be indestructible. It also has spectacular blue flowers (see photo) and beautiful fall foliage. The only drawback–it has no leaves in winter, so I cut it to the ground. But on the plus side, when we shovel our walkway in winter, I no longer have to worry about damaging my boxwood.
You should expect your garden to evolve and grow with the seasons. Enjoy the process---and try not to view gardening as a chore.
Chris Kennedy is a Landscape designer, a Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist, and the owner of Kennedy's Country Gardens in Scituate. Chris and his family live in the Ledgewood neighborhood in Cohasset.