My Garden: A Photographer's Dream Homestead
A photographer moves to a new house, only to discover that it is brimming with plant treasures that she has always coveted.
Amy Kauffman lives with her husband Alex and her three sons, a cat, four hens, and a groundhog on two acres in rural Pennsylvania. Her garden is nestled between a Christmas Tree Farm and a wooded glen, and between Hershey and Harrisburg, just five minutes away from Hershey Park.
Join us in a slide show tour of this garden, which turned out to have all sorts of hidden plant treasures.
See more Pennsylvania gardens.
How do you think this garden reflects you and your family?
We moved last year and I totally got a tiny bit of, yes, *grief* about leaving my garden. I tried to bring as many things as possible—I carried little cuttings in pots in my car during a four day trip from Nebraska to Pennsylvania. (Please don't make me tell you about the cat using one as his personal toilet 30 miles from our destination!) Needless to say, only a few things survived, but I do have a little reminder of our old home.
But God taught me a lesson with this move. Once I gave up having a real garden in our rental, which had a small deck and large cliff out the back, we purchased a home and it happened to come with some overgrown, but beautiful gardens. The gardens are tenfold what I’ve ever had in the past and every plant I bought or wanted to buy or wanted to bring along is here.
The garden in the rain.
What kind of plants were in your new garden?
Under all the layers of weeds, there were hibiscus plants; peonies; lavender bushes, which ALWAYS had died on me; two apple trees (I left behind fruit tree saplings that I had nurtured for a year); gorgeous hydrangeas, which I had been layering in our old home to create more plants; hostas; coneflowers, which I’ve always wanted; a smokebush, (left) which I had just read about in a magazine and wanted to try; and lamb's ear, which is truly growing like a weed. My heart is so full of plants!
How would you describe this color palette?
There are many plants with deep purple foliage, balanced with a healthy dose of yellow, lime green, and deep green. When in bloom, the garden is a riot of purples and pinks, peaches and apricots. Blue is banned and before long red will be too.
If I could have my druthers, the garden would only bloom in the lightest feminine shades of blush pinks and apricots and fiery deep oranges and lush deep aubergine. Perhaps next year...
Did you work with a landscape architect?
I did not, but I was blessed to have many of the beds laid out, with good soil underneath and many plantings in place and mature when we purchased the property.
I have added many of my favorites to the gardens, and added new garden paths and beds. In fact, I've added so many that my husband has set a moratorium on planting any more in the middle of the lawn.
Any particular challenges with this space? How did you address them?
There are large electric wires running down our neighbor's property that are slowly being covered up by evergreen trees from our viewpoint. It is difficult to photograph an open horizon on our property because of the lines. Another problem for me is that there is a beautiful front garden, but I can't really spend time with the kids in the front yard beacause there is no barrier between the garden in the street. Last fall I planted a hedge of red twig dogwood, Montauk daisies and 'Autumn Joy' sedum, all from cuttings that were free from elsewhere in the garden.
What was most important to you when you started planning your garden? Did you want to have an emphasis on flowers, vegetables, greenery, etc.?
I wanted a huge amount of edibles and flowers for cutting, so those are the two main things I have contributed to the garden. We have added an asparagus bed, a pumpkin patch (left), a strawberry patch, hazelnut trees, pecan trees, chestnut trees, plum trees, a thornless blackberry, two varieties of blueberry bushes and we are currently training several 'Concord' grapevines up a large, iron room trellis.
We have three very hungry little boys that eat a huge amount right now, so I can only imagine what they will eat when they are teenagers. I'm planning ahead with fruit and nuts!
Can you tell us the names of some of the plants you used in your garden?
Some of the plants in my garden include purple smoke bush, star magnolia, purple coneflower, Japanese blood grass, pampas grass, switch grass, various hosta varieties, lilac, peonies, various clematis, various rose bushes including David Austin roses, Knock Out roses and rugosa roses, various daffodils, crocus, tulips, glory-of-the snow, 'Bashful' sunflowers, 'Jarrahdale' pumpkins, various hydrangea, beautyberry, apple trees, birch trees, a host of evergreens, lots of sedums, and a giant old oak.
I am David Austin's biggest fan. I cannot get over how stunning the roses are from his collection and I paid a small fortune to purchase my first David Austin roses this year.
To know me is to understand that I never pay full price for anything, save seed to save money, and frequently can be seen around town grabbing free furniture off the street to repurpose and redesign. I hate spending money when it is not necessary. However, I found that it was necessary to spend money on my David Austins. I purchased Shropshire Lad climbing, Evelyn and Emma Hamilton and I have not been the slightest bit disapointed with my purchase!
[Our slide show of David Austin roses.]
A tree peony in full bloom.
How would you describe the style of your garden?
My garden is a working garden. I expect my garden to look great, provide wind breaks, look gorgeous in photographs, and feed my family. The garden is also a peaceful garden.
When I walk in the garden, I instantly feel grounded and safe. I want my children to grow up with that feeling and I want my clients to feel at ease when I bring them into the garden for a shoot. There is nothing that breaks the ice easier than a chicken running up to your car when you pull in the driveway for a wedding photography consultation.
The masterpiece is finished! Now how are you going to change it next year?
I am creating a redbud allee and will continue to baby the tiny saplings next year as well as starting to fill out the beds surrounding them. I have also already purchased many seeds for next year including some gorgeous new sunflower, hollyhock and pumpkin varieites. I will finally have a 'Cinderella' pumpkin!