Shades in the Garden
Bexley backyard features landscaping in complementary colors
By Connie Ruhe | Photos by JE Evans
“I love blue and I love blue in the yard,” says Beth Grimes Flood. “I love different textures and different shades of green and red in the trees and shrubs, but I particularly love accents of blue.” Her garden of evergreens, hydrangeas, roses and boxwoods complements the country manor style of her Bexley home.
Beth has been happy to share her yard in past Bexley Women’s Club House & Garden Tours, but she calls her late husband, Pete Grimes, “the real gardener.”
“He’s the one who had the vision,” she insists. “I always said he used to plant and grow the flowers and the vegetables, and I would cut them, arrange them or cook them!”
She describes Pete’s work as a “free-form cottage garden.” He didn’t try to tame every plant, and he placed numerous pots of vivid annuals along the yard’s rambling stone walkway.
After Pete’s passing and her later marriage to Tom Flood, Beth felt the time was right to make changes in the garden. Tom found a drawing of a courtyard that appealed to her penchant for symmetry, so she shared it with accomplished landscape architect John Reiner, ASLA, of Oakland Nursery.
“I love working with John Reiner,” Beth says. “He just sensed from the beginning what we were trying to create here. We were looking to give the garden a more formal and tranquil feeling.”
She also wanted to preserve certain elements from the earlier garden. They had enjoyed the view of a small pond from their kitchen’s bay window. Its focal point was a bronze statue of a young girl sipping water from cupped hands. Friend and prominent Columbus artist Joan Wobst, best known for the Umbrella Girl statue in Schiller Park, had sculpted it. “When I saw it, I immediately loved it,” Beth remembers. She also was fond of the Japanese maples and blue spruces out back, and she wanted to keep the climbing rose bush next to the garage.
Reiner found a way to incorporate soothing blues and Beth’s favorite features in his design, and succeeded, as he says, in “creating spaces for people to be in and to create views with interesting subspaces.”
The pond was relocated for visibility from the kitchen and the family room, and enlarged to about four by eight feet. Now a paved patio connects doors from the kitchen and family room and creates space for hot tea on cool mornings, dinners for two and small, informal gatherings. A grassy quad extends from the patio; it’s anchored by a shrub at each corner. The patio and matching path surround the courtyard and are lined with boxwoods. Mature trees, including Japanese maples in deep red and bright green and blue spruces, are visible beyond the courtyard.
As Beth says, “When you’re in the house and you’re looking back, you feel you’re in another little world.” And she’s pleased with Reiner’s suggestion to plant rows of lavender blue Walker’s Low catmint along side Knock Out roses—her favorite—in two shades of pink along the driveway next to the garage.
“It’s a meditative space bounded by all kinds of really wonderful plants, hydrangeas and Japanese maples—and color—but there’s a real beauty, simplicity and elegance to that garden,” Reiner says. “It has a contemplative quality and very interesting spatial definition that makes it superior to many of the larger gardens in the area.
“In the design process you want to incorporate and reflect the personality of the owner,” he adds. “She’s a gracious lady and it’s a beautiful garden.”
Time to smell the roses
With mature, lush plants surrounding the house she has lived in for nearly 28 years, Beth knew she could use a bit of help managing the maintenance side of things, so she hired Beth Humphrey to tend the grounds three days a week, which makes the garden all the more enjoyable for the Floods.