Northeast Iowa, are you ready to get outside and plan some awesome backyard landscapes? Here's a few ideas I got from strolling through Becky Timp's garden in Calmar.
Enjoying a summer stroll through Becky Timp’s gardens in Calmar was a delightful experience with all her beautiful landscaped gardens full of unique plantings and objects. Every available spot holds some type of landscaping. Even across the road by the bike trail Becky planted gigantis grass that blends in well. Right now the backyard is in full bloom, especially with a whole lattice fence full of clematis that has just begun to bloom. Becky’s nephew, Reed Backes, made the fence years ago when he was in high school and the long fence takes up about the length of the Timp’s house.
A unique dome arbor is one of Becky’s latest garden projects. It is covered by Virginia creeper which produces a small berry that the birds enjoy in the fall, making the gardens a spot to enjoy the birds. Last year Becky found out the bluebirds especially like the berries on the vines that climb up the arbor. Becky completed the arbor garden last year when she bricked the bottom to make a patio. She has found a relaxing place to sit when she added a patio set, making it a place to sit back survey her hard work and a place for her and husband Marty to unwind. “It is also a good place to put a few pots that like filtered light also,” explained Becky.
As gardeners know, it takes lots of work and dedication to keep the gardens up and watering the plants is a must during the summer. Just watering the plants takes up a good amount of Becky’s evenings and she is very thankful for her rain barrel.
One great idea we can learn from this avid gardener is planting spring bulbs like daffodils and “tulips between other plants so there are flowers from spring thru fall. “I like to incorporate a lot of flower pots in my flower beds, along with objects that I find interesting, some old items such as an old Studebaker Grill. I also have an old push mower, and several bird houses made from gourds. I think putting other things in the flowers bring the eye to the next step which always leads you further into the yard,” advises Becky.
Becky came from a family of eight and planting large gardens were a necessity back then. Her father, Charles Stockman, was a big influence, though she had no idea at the time that she would ever become a gardener herself! “As a child, my parents had huge vegetable gardens which at the time I swore I would never waste my time with, but as I have gotten older I find I love the quiet and the beauty of watching things grow and bloom.”
Location is always important when deciding where to live and Becky is very fortunate to have two of her favorite people as next door neighbors, whom also like to garden. She lives beside her sister Nancy Poshusta, and her sister-in-law Betty Backes. “The three of us have a Salsa garden which includes tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and onions. We get together several times in the fall and can many jars of salsa. We like to think it's the best! We also do a large pumpkin and gourd garden which we hope produces many of each to share with our grandchildren. Nancy and I also share a Gazebo garden that sits where our properties meet. We are in the process of making it a mirrored flowerbed, so that both sides are identical.”
Special features add to the backyard beauty of the Timp’s yard. “I put in a small pond a few years ago, which is nice to listen to. It also brings the birds in for a quick drink or a bath. I started with a few goldfish, but now have twenty plus. The water lilies are always so beautiful.”
Becky is always on the lookout for something unique to add to her scenic yard. “I love to go to greenhouses wherever I travel--I'm always on the look-out for something different. I have found several different kinds of grasses, which is one of my very favorite plants. They add beautiful grace to the gardens all year round in particular during the winter when the sun shines on the frost and snow. I also love hydrangeas, this year I found a new variety called Quick Fire, which starts out white in the spring and turns red in the fall.”
Advice to the novice gardener? “I think of gardening as a game of trial and error. I can't begin to count how many times I've moved plants from one end of the flower bed to the other. Many times, I just didn't have any luck with certain plants. I enjoy being outside, working hard, and bringing a small part of the beauty that Mother Nature can bring.”
What’s next for this avid gardener? “I love to sit in the evening with a glass of wine and survey the garden and contemplate what could be arranged differently or would draw the eye. From early spring till late fall you can usually find me in the garden. In the winter I look forward to the arrival of the first seed catalog and dream about being back in the garden.”
That's what makes living in the beautiful open landscape of Northeast Iowa. Call your friends and neighbors and plan a block party to celebrate the arrival of spring!