Garden Galore

Local interior designer creates beautiful gardens with her eye for design

 

Story by Pam Meade
Photos by Tom Hawley

Interior designer Linda Welch may have retired but her creative energies continue – outdoors.

Her designing eye and love of flowers have transferred her modest Frenchtown Township yard into a garden paradise.

“I’ve always loved flowers and gardening but never had the time to devote to it until later in life,” Linda said.

“It’s truly a passion with me. I even completed the cooperative extension’s master garden course a few years ago, and now. I’m a certified Master Gardener.”

Visitors to Linda’s ranch home are greeted by stone paths bordered by groups of flowers behind brick edging. The main flowerbed clusters around a brick-bordered flag pole. A wrought iron arbor and bench welcomes those who veer off to the left or, closer by the front door, wicker chairs invite relaxing on the stone terrace. Containers of flowers, some on the porch, some hanging, frame the front door.

But the true wonder is the back yard.

Sliding glass doors bring visitors to a wooden deck replete with dark wicker seating surrounded by colorful bursts of flowers.

Containers of flowers nestle around the edges of the deck and the steps
“I have different garden areas with different themes,” she said. “The area around my desk is the tropical garden.”

To the left is a pond area surrounded by Linda’s Zen garden, which features stones and greenery. Stepping off the deck to the left, a stone path leads to a garden shed featuring a cozy bench beneath a picket arbor.

To the right of the deck, a path leads to a large stone patio terrace off the garage. The patio features a wrought iron table with chairs and an outdoor stove beneath a sizable pergola, perfect for outdoor summer dining.

“The patio is my Tuscan garden,” she said.

More flowers extend beyond the front of the patio, with a stone bench tucked amidst the garden. Another arbor with bench and potted plants nestles in a far corner of the yard.

“I use a lot of containers,” Linda said. “They’re decorative plus the flowers are easier to care for. And the containers help keep out certain pests.

“I have a lot of seating throughout the gardens. I want people to be able to sit, enjoy and take it all in. It’s also easier for me to have places to sit and work from, too.”

Vertical gardens figure prominently at Linda’s home, transferring bare walls of her buildings into works of art.

“Vertical gardens bring the flowers to eye level,” Linda said. “They prevent some disease due to the available air circulation. They’re easier for me to maintain, since I don’t have to bend down and get on the ground as much. They’re good if you want to plant a garden in small spaces.”

For many of her vertical gardens, Linda plants her flowers in soft-sided pockets called Woolly Pockets, composed of a breathable, recycled material akin to felt. Metal grommets make them easy to attach to a wall with screws.

She also uses shipping pallets for some of her vertical gardens. The pallet serves as a basic frame for a hanging garden; landscape fabric is securely stapled to the back before planting.

Linda’s gardens have been years in the making and are a labor of love. When she and her husband Chuck bought their current home 20 years ago, it was bereft of flowers and had no landscaping to speak of.

“It was like a blank canvas,” Linda said. “I had all these ideas of what I could do.”

Linda kept busy earlier in life raising two children and working as an interior designer for 30 years. Later she taught interior design part time for 10 years at Baker College, retiring completely from teaching just two years ago.

But as family and job demands decreased, her gardening time increased – the planning as well as the planting.

Linda takes pictures of her gardens each year and notes which flowers were planted in what area.

“That helps me plan for the next year,” she said.

“I like a variety in color and texture,” she said. “I’ve been doing it for so long I know what I like and what works and what doesn’t.”

One of her favorite plants, scattered throughout the bursts of flowers, is the coleus. Coleus plants, with their bright colors and wide variety of foliage textures, leaf shapes and forms, are easy to grow and durable, she said.

Without her garden in the winter months, Linda keeps busy with paper crafts. A favorite hobby is quilling, an art form in which strips of paper are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. She also makes life-like decorative paper flowers out of card stock.

But she always looks forward to spring, when she can put aside the paper flowers for the real thing. She usually starts planting in mid-May.

“I focus on one garden area at a time, spending about a day on each section,” she said. She usually spends $300-$400 annually on her flowers and plants.

She hires professionals to do major projects, such as stone work or the pond installation, but planting and caring for the plants is all Linda. Maintenance isn’t a problem if she keeps up with it daily, she said.

“Usually I go out each morning and walk around the yard, watering and weeding. It only takes about an hour. If it’s something you enjoy, it’s not a job.”