Small Garden, Big Impact: Peaceful Cottage Garden
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.
Gene and Carrie Swiech’s garden reflects over 20 years of labor and love. When they decided to build a home on a typical western Pennsylvanian lot, they took up the challenge of planting on a clay hillside. With some added compost and lots of elbow grease the couple added local flora to brighten and enhance the hillsides of their home. Annuals and perennial flowers hug the slope, blanketing the area in a burst of colors. The garden features day lilies, roses, hostas, Peonies, assorted hydrangeas and various deciduous and evergreen trees.
The hillside is the perfect place to put a waterfall that then leads to a pond. This is Carrie and Gene’s favorite part of the lush garden. Of the area they say, “The water pond garden is certainly the focal point, chalk full of Koi fish, lily pads, waterfalls and lighting features deceptively built among the hillside.”
Of course the wildlife enjoy all of the plants and water features. Carrie and Gene say, “We are very proud of the sanctuary we have created by incorporating various species of flora and placement of bird feeders that attract a plethora of Cardinals, Hummingbirds, Blue jays, Orioles, gold finches, Pileated Woodpeckers, and even a resident Owl.” They also enjoy the various bushes and flowers that attract multiple species of butterflies and other pollinating insects that support this mini ecosystem.
In addition to all of the natural elements of the garden the couple has included camouflaged speakers hidden throughout. This creates a welcoming atmosphere that invites visitors to step closer as they investigate the many pathways of the garden and commune with nature.
In order to create such a beautiful, sustainable garden Carrie and Gene focus on utilizing organic gardening practices and employed a lot of time in planning and properly matching plants to the conditions of their yard. When asked what they enjoy most about gardening, the couple say, “The perpetual nature of constantly improving and enhancing the garden from the year before. We find the elements of nature and gardening to be relaxing and therapeutic, especially after a long day/ week at work.”