New Castle News


August 29, 2011

Garden retreat makes great use of small space

NEW CASTLE — Serenity, for Sandy Bumgardner, involves simply stepping outside.

It’s symbolic that her last name is just one “e” short of containing the word “gardener,” because that is her favorite pastime.

“One of the reasons I love to garden is the joy I receive from the beauty of the flowers and plants as I sit on my swing and relax,” Sandy told me.

All four sides of the North Hill home she shares with husband, Don, are surrounded by flowers.

The dogwood tree in the front yard was planted in memory of their son, Matt. Perennials — day lilies, coreopsis, balloon flowers and astible, to name a few — are a colorful show along the front walk. There’s also a fairy garden or miniature landscaping that Sandy fashioned from an old fountain.

But it’s in the back where a small space is utillized to the maximum.

Sandy became a Master Gardener from the Penn State Cooperative Extension office in 2006. Before that, she was learning from others and took classes from Paul Skuta.

Including the house, the whole lot is about 40 feet by 120 feet, Sandy estimated.

Yet, without piling one flower on top of another, she created a space that flows in design.

“The grass has shrunk and the garden has grown,” she joked.

Getting there means going through the carport built by Don. It doubles as a summer room.

When a diseased maple tree was removed three years ago, the whole garden went from shade to sun.

She tries to incorporate native American plants in the back yard. As I walked from one to another, Sandy identified coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, bee balm, New England aster, white snakeroot, cardinal flower, blazing star, columbine, sundrops, phlox, foamflower and winterberry.

White birch, weeping cedar and Japanese white pine were also planted.

I later learned that, in German, their last name means tree garden. Very fitting, indeed.

According to Sandy, Don remodeled various sections of their house, and built the fence, a shed and its trellis and the carport. She tends to the planting, watering, deadheading and designing.

“She likes to play in the dirt,” Don noted.

There’s also a raised garden on the west side of the house that neighbors enjoy.

From early spring with daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and tulips through mums and the first hard frost, there is something blooming all the time.

“Look at the blooms on these things,” she gestured as I made my way toward the Rose of Sharon with its double blossoms.

Here, it is the ideal refuge. Hydrangeas and hosta co-mingle with herbs and a fountain provides tranquility. At night, solar lights and others change color to give this place a different look.

Before I left, Jake, a black Labrador retriever mix, got comfy with Sandy on the porch swing under the arbor. It is a great vantage point for observing everything she put into the ground.

This home turf is sweet turf to the Bumgardners.

(To submit a Cruisin’ idea, contact Lugene Hudson at lhudson@ or (724) 654-6651, extension 620.)

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