Small Garden, Big Impact: Diverse Wildlife Garden
Mar 16

Small Garden, Big Impact: Diverse Wildlife Garden

By Juliette Olshock

As we wrap up the winter months, we will continue highlighting gardens of Western Pennsylvania that inspire us with their beauty and their positive impact on the environment.

Rose Romboski's garden is a magical landscape for people and wildlife alike. Rose describes her garden this way, “Instead of just one garden, there are landscape beds surrounding the house creating an environment for native plants, trees and shrubs to grow. I like to think of it as nature giving the house a hug. These beds also offer places for the wildlife to thrive.” Birds especialy enjoy the waterfall, birdbaths and fountains where they stop to take a drink or splash around. In addition to the water features and perennial plantings, Rosemary also enjoys a vegetable garden box that her husband, Larry, built. Hinged doors help keep away hungry deer and rabbits and allow the Romboskis to grow lots of pesticide-free produce.  

Rose has been gardening for nearly 30 years and says that organic practices have always been important to her in order to protect the environment and keep wildlife healthy. “Gardening in an eco-friendly way to enhance nature and not cause harm has always been a priority. It’s all about less lawn and more garden for me, as well as less water requirements” says Rose, about her passion for sustainable gardening. In addition to these eco-friendly practices, Rose also uses organic products, plants many natives and makes sure to set the “right plant” in the “right place”. She has a diverse list of trees, shrubs and perennials for seasonal color and interest. There are interesting textures of trees and shrubs to admire in the winter months and flowers blooming from early spring through late fall, which the pollinators like! In fact, Rose is proud that her landscape is certified as a Monarch Waystation, National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat and Penn State Master Gardener Pollinator Garden.

Of gardening, Rose says, “There is a true sense of connecting with nature when I’m gardening. Having the opportunity to nurture a plant and watch it grow is very gratifying. Dividing and sharing plants with fellow gardeners is also so fun!” The Romboski garden is home 20 different varieties of trees, 23 different varieties of shrubs and too many perennials to count! A few Rose’s favorite trees are the Japanese stewartia, sweetbay magnolia and riverbirch. Her favorite shrubs include hydrangeas, boxwoods and clethra. And her most beloved perennial flowers include milkweed, hosta, brunnera, peony, catmint, coneflowers and wooly thyme.

Rose spends much time in her garden during the growing season, completing pruning and other tasks. Her favorite part of the garden is the perennial bed that moves across the entire backyard. It sits on a slope above a 5 foot stone wall. This is where Rose jokes with friends that she is an “extreme gardener”. She says, “Tending to that large bed takes a little balance and good boots. It was the lay of the land when we bought the property and built our home. I designed that perennial garden around what nature provided us. It took a little creativity in excavating the hillside to terrace it but was worth the time and patience.” Beyond that, there is a swath of grass for the dog to play and a meadow area created as a habitat area. Milkweed, brown eyed Susan and native grasses grow uninhibited there.