Garden of the Month

by Jackie Reid Dettloff, photo by Kurt Johnson

May is the month of mowing. Everywhere in our neighborhood, people were cutting grass last month, sprucing up their yards after the long winter dormancy. But there seems to be at least one yard on every block this year where people are not mowing, where lawn has been eliminated and people have switched over to planting perennials. This month we focus on the consummate example of this change-over.

When Jim Poliak moved into his home at 2044 North Booth, he inherited a backyard that was planted in grass and a few well-established trees. It was located on the edge of Reservoir Park facing out on a view of the lower eastside. Jim made the decision to eliminate his back fence and he built a classic wooden archway to accentuate the sense of his garden opening out to the world. Around the base of his trees he began planting shade-loving perennials, at first common groundcovers like hosta, ferns and pachysandra but eventually he added exquisite plants like trillium and Solomon’s seal. Little by little the grass was eliminated completely as Jim created an oasis of woodland tranquility with a meandering path of flagstone and terraced raised beds.

On the north side of Jim’s fence, a neighbor was working a similar transformation in his backyard. But that is a story for next month. For now we want to highlight the beauty of Jim Poliak’s yard and suggest that you stroll over to the western edge of Reservoir Park. Follow the slope down from Lloyd St. and take in the beauty of a grassless backyard garden.

Riverwest Currents online edition – June, 2007