Peg Carmack Short - Produced by Jill Leslie Haack
- Photography by Dick Kaplin
you ever buy a great pair of shoes that you found
on sale, only to get home and decide you didn't
have a thing to wear with them? So, you bought
a new dress to go with the shoes, and then you
had to have a purse to match both. Before long,
your bargain shoes led to a surprisingly stunning
town home owner, Kim Kilpatrick, her "new pair
of shoes" was actually a $20 Adirondack bench
that she found at a discount store. But once purchased,
she didn't have a place to put it. Too big for
her deck, she decided to take out a section of
her lawn and build a path on which to place her
bench. Then, she created a garden to surround
it. Voilá! A new phase for her small backyard
garden was begun.
most gardens as stunning as Kim's begin with a
well-conceived plan, Kim finds part of her delight
in being spontaneous. "It's a creative outlet
for me," she says. "It's like art."
like a painter starting a fresh canvas, she prefers
to lavish her garden in a variety of colors and
patterns, doing whatever pleases her. "It's all
in the eye of the beholder," Kim says, explaining
her fearless approach to gardening. "If you like
pink with red, it's your choice. You can always
try something else next time."
most of Kim's flowers are annuals, like her favorite
red geraniums and white bacopa, she sees this
approach as very low risk. "I love annuals because
they provide color, color, color," she says. "And,
they are not as invasive as perennials, which
is important when you have a small space for gardening."
a serendipitous approach to gardening, Kim plants
annuals to allow room for experimentation. She
buys new plants and places them in different locations
each year. Not limiting herself to certain colors
or types of plants, Kim often chooses whatever
is the best buy or newest plant for the season.
"When the creeping petunias came out, I bought
some in purple and pink," she says. The red geraniums,
placed in pots that anchor the corners of her
deck still, however, remain a mainstay in Kim's
willingness to adapt and change her garden, reflects
Kim's thinking of it as a "transitional" garden.
Though this term is typically defined as various
perennials blooming throughout the garden season
alongside newly-imported annuals, Kim uses the
term to indicate a sensible approach for creating
a garden for a homeowner who is likely to be moving
on. "I see myself as a short-term resident," she
says, "and I didn't want to make a large investment
in a permanent infrastructures."
Kim's garden has been planned with an eye toward
change. "Everything in the garden can be easily
expanded, altered, or moved with me to my next
home." Her ability to create a "movable" garden
extends beyond her choice of annuals instead of
perennials. Bargain basement trellises, found
at a winter clearance sale, were cleverly used
to create an inexpensive fence for her backyard.
Salvaged bits of a picket fence form a charming
surround for plain, white planters. And an old
gate creates an interesting backdrop in the garden,
while at the same time, hiding her air conditioner,
which might otherwise be an eyesore. Other portables
include the many containers she places in and
around the garden.
addicted to flowers and gardening, Kim also confesses
to being a "knickknack sort of person." Much of
the charm of her garden is derived from the variety
and clever uses of her finds, like the pathway
she created using heart-shaped stepping stones,
which she purchased from a garage sale. "I did
it [the path] all by myself. It seemed to take
forever, but it was an act of love."
weekend gardener, Kim loves spending all day planting
the many flats she purchases at the start of each
season. Starting with a few plants, her garden
now encompasses her tiny backyard. Besides her
own joy in tending the garden, Kim recently got
an extra bonus when a neighbor left a note saying,
"You have the cutest house in the neighborhood."
Not a bad compliment for a small, but splashy
included here are copyrighted by Peg Carmack Short
and may not be copied in full or part without
written permission of the author.
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