Our first stop on the garden tour was in old Moore to see Freddie Hill’s small, creative, handicap-accessible, highly personalized, and truly uplifting slice of heaven. His front yard and back yard both are packed with handmade garden ornaments and plants of every variety, and just walking along the cozy, meandering paths I felt the creativity rubbing off on me. Here is the write up provided on our tour sheet:
Freddie Hill’s home in Moore had no landscaping when they arrived 38 years ago. Their gardens evolved from a family vegetable garden and a raised strawberry bed. He built his mother a water garden then built his own. All gardens were designed to be (handicap) accessible and can be tended in 15 to 30 minutes each. There is a keyhole garden, a walled butterfly garden, hardy and non-Oklahoma-hardy succulents, water, bog, and terraced, all designed to be a teaching landscape with perennials and seedling annuals. Vegetables are mixed into ornamental gardens. The 2013 tornado meant reconstructing some of the gardens.
The experience of touring Freddie’s property was lilting. Stimulating. Such a perfect way to start the day, especially with the morning sun streaming over his orange tree. Every little space in the standard city lot has a purpose, a focus, and I was flat out amazed by just how much he has managed to include in a relatively small space. Yet none of it looks cluttered. Every bed is well tended. Weed free, mulched, healthy, overflowing with life. Every path is clean and plenty wide enough to enjoy in a leisurely way, maybe brushing against something fragrant or ticklish now and then. And the close quarters afforded us fun surprises around every bend.
Just such fun.
Here are some details that especially delighted me:
- He has a narrow wooden shelf loaded with small succulents, I think it was on a fence wall as you enter the back. Really eye catching. And as it turns out, this just hints at the stunning collection in the far corner of his backyard. I don’t know if this foreshadowing was intentional, but it was wonderful.
- He has placed a tall ornamental grass to sort of fluff up or disguise a bare tree. I loved the effect! The tree’s trunk was covered demurely with the grass then the canopy topped it all. The effect was so freindly.
- He grows already tall, magnificent zinnias in raised beds, causing them to look about eight feet tall, haha it was magical! I felt like I was in Oz.
- I spotted a low pyramid of castoff bowling balls. Bowling balls in the garden? Okay! Loved it so much I laughed out loud.
- A massive, long legged, casual potted plant perched atop a tall Grecian stone pillar? Clever mix of styles. This is my jam. I will be copying this idea.
- His koi pond should probably be photographed for a water garden magazine. (Sadly none of my photos turned out.) There is a magnifying bowl at the surface where the fish come to eat, and it affords a great view of the beautiful creatures.
- Freddie has added so many personal touches everywhere… I lost track. Mirrors on the fence wall, old iron headboards, clay art, the plastic bottle tree, you name it. Having never met the gentleman before this day, I felt somewhat acquainted with him after touring his garden. And isn’t that a wonderful thing?
- He grows loofahs, cucumbers, oranges, figs, autumn clematis, portulaca, every sort of cacti, herbs, licorice, gomphrena, cypress vine, and much more. So much more. And I overheard conversations about how he sources his plant material. Everywhere! haha, I love it.
What are the big lessons and take-aways from Freddie’s garden? Here’s how I see it:
- Infuse your outdoor spaces with your true personality. Adorn your garden. Don’t be shy.
- Use what you have and be creative rather than shopping retail for everything pretty. And YES to mixing styles!
- Learn to see small spaces as opportunities rather than limitations. Use them to build tight shapes and curving, overlapping paths. The small spaces will cause visitors to walk more slowly, absorb every detail.
- Speaking of small spaces, YES you have room for a compost bin system! And it can be attractive in its own right.
- Speaking of paths, finish them. Gravel, mulch, something. Define your garden paths and give them a good surface for meandering. Think in curves instead of straight lines.
- Build and groom your gardens with realistic maintenance in mind. Raised beds may be an excellent solution. And consider building them taller than you’d expect. This will bear the unexpected gift of jaw dropping, skyscraper plants! : )
- Design your smaller gardens-within-your-garden with themes and focus but be flexible about the contents. Sprinkle in some veggies here and there. Offer surprises.
- Let things evolve over time. A beautiful garden does not have to be installed in a weekend.
Freddie, thank you so much for opening you home to us! I was on cloud nine after visiting, and I am already exploring our farm with fresh eyes. Looking for empty spots where I can apply my own artsy sensibility. Also? I smelled oregano yesterday and the heady perfume took me straight back to your front yard shade garden. So nice.
Happy gardening friends! If you were on the Members’ Tour, I would be so happy if you shared your thoughts on Freddie’s garden! What made an impression on you? Are you planning to incorporate any ideas at home?
If not, but you have questions, add them in comments. I could talk gardens all day long and into the night.
“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens
reflect the kind of care they get.”
~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.