Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Symphony in Green Shadyside Couple Add Harmony, Color and Visual Rhythm to a Shady Urban Lot Small Garden Winner, Great Gardens Contest

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Symphony in Green Shadyside Couple Add Harmony, Color and Visual Rhythm to a Shady Urban Lot Small Garden Winner, Great Gardens Contest

Article excerpt

Some great gardens are made, and some are made better.

Gerry and Elaine Barron have lived in their Shadyside home less than four years. The most prominent features of their garden -a towering London planetree in front, a picturesque crabapple tree and well-designed seating areas in back -were already established. Yet there was little color, harmony or visual rhythm accompanying these bass notes.

"When we moved in, the quince, honeysuckle and other vines were dying," Mrs. Barron recalled. "The beds were empty and the holly and hydrangea were very small."

In front were a few scraggly shrubs, a privet hedge and some myrtle -all barely surviving in the shade of planetrees likely planted around 1915, the year the house was built. Early on, Mrs. Barron got some good advice from her Roslyn Place neighbor Charlotte Cohen, an avid gardener.

"You need more color in front," she counseled.

So Mrs. Barron supplemented the myrtle and five small rhododendrons with blue and gold hostas, 'Autumn Joy' sedum, 'Fernspray Gold' hinoki cypress, Japanese pieris and Japanese painted ferns.

Elaine Beck, a Phipps master gardener and longtime friend, continued Mrs. Barron's education by taking her to the annual Western Pennsylvania Garden & Landscape Symposium. She learned about the importance of scale, color and texture, then began experimenting.

The result is a beautifully composed symphony of hardscape and softscape -shrubs, vines perennials and annuals -that is beautiful year-round. The garden was chosen as the winner in the small garden, fall/year-round category of the Great Gardens Contest. The competition is sponsored and judged by staff members of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.

The judges' favorite spot was the small patio garden in back. Its centerpiece is that beautifully twisted crabapple. In spring, its limbs sprout tiny white flowers that contrast with apricot-colored quince and pink rhododendron and azalea. In summer, its leaves create a green canopy whose small gaps reveal the white flowers of climbing hydrangea and yellow honeysuckle.

Mrs. Barron changes the mix of annuals in hanging baskets and containers each summer. …

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