Jealous of these beautiful green gardens.BaoHa

South Buffalo garden walk 2012 front yard

Catherine Hetzler chooses plants that spread in order to keep her gardens full and to supply plants for the gardens at the Sisters of Mercy Convent and Mt. Mercy Academy.

Hetzler, of Lorraine Avenue, shared her gardens during the South Buffalo Alive Annual Tour of Gardens on July 15.

After becoming a Master Gardener, Hetzler began volunteering at the Sisters of Mercy Convent. Over the course of 11 years, she has developed 11 foundation beds. For two years she has also been doing the front landscaping at Mt. Mercy Academy.side garden in South Buffalo NY

Hetzler relies on perennials to keep all of these gardens full of plants. After Easter, she rescues azalea and hydrangea plants that were used to decorate the chapel at the convent. Sometimes people give her their half-dead plants that they don’t know what to do with, and she is able to nurture them and transplant them to a garden.  Sometimes she gets donated plants, and friends share their plants.

And Hetzler divides the plants in her own garden.

Some plants, such as a juniper, can be propagated by cutting off a piece and sticking the piece in the ground. In the photo above left, the small rounded juniper in the left foreground was started from the tall juniper on the right side of the path. The rose of Sharon on the left can be started from cuttings, but there’s no need– Hetzler has plenty of seedlings. This view is the side garden heading toward the backyard.lacecap hydrangea in Buffalo NY

She starts lacecap hydrangeas from cuttings, but her bush didn’t do well this year.

“It froze, then thawed again, then froze, then thawed again,” she said, which is a pattern many of us are familiar with after the 80-degree temperatures we had in March. While the bush is small, it did get more buds, and you can see the beautiful flower at right.

She has had 30 or 40 spirea bushes that started from seed.

“The seed has to fall on the earth, not on top of three inches of mulch,” Hetzler explained. “That’s why I don’t use mulch.”

Having bare earth around your plants makes it easier for all kinds of seeds to sprout, not just the ones you want to grow, she noted.

“It means a lot of weeding,” she said.

Her backyard, which you can see below, is grassless. In the center garden, a ground cover called mazus reptans, creates a spongy surface that you can walk on. It grows over everything, she said, and gets little purple flowers.backyard in South Buffalo NY 2012

To camouflage the garage wall at the back of the photo, she planted red twig dogwood seedlings that she bought at the sale held early each spring by the Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District.

For winter interest in the bed at the right of the photo, she has planted boxwoods and a dwarf blue spruce.

The purplish-pink flowers are cleomes, which Hetzler refers to as “thugs” because they can take over your garden. (Get  closeup view here.)

“I must have pulled out a hundred,” she said.

Another flower that spreads is the Japanese anenome, seen at right, which sends out runners. Japanese anenome in Buffalo NY

“It’s one of my favorite flowers,” she said. It blooms in the fall with daisy-like flowers and looks great alongside mums.

Some people might regard cleomes and Japanese anenomes and similar plants as invasive, so they steer clear of those plants.

“I look for these invasive things,” Hetzler said, because they help her cover large areas and block out weeds since she has no mulch. When she gets too many plants, she just pulls out the ones she doesn’t want.

“Even if you pull out every bit, they still come back,” she said. While she sees that as beneficial for what she’s trying to do in her own gardens, “Don’t put them in the middle of a formal bed,” she cautioned.

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