Topic: Landscaping

Date Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2015
Posted by: Tanya Zanfa (Master Admin)

Secret to Glenmore Place yard’s success? A plan, charming ‘destinations’ and something black & white and re(a)d all over

Secret to Glenmore Place yard’s success? A plan, charming ‘destinations’ and something black & white and re(a)d all over

A hodgepodge yard?

That’s what Jetty Donaldson calls the garden she has been working on for the past 40 years.

But it did start with a plan in 1975 when she and her husband, Richard Donaldson, had the late Robert Reich create a master plan for their Glenmore Place yard.

“I told Dr. Reich that the front yard was just fine, but the backyard needed help,” recalled Jetty Donaldson with a laugh.

Reich’s answer: “No! It’s just the opposite.”

Reich, founder of and for whom LSU’s landscape architecture school is named, designed both front and backyards with graceful curved beds lined with liriope and monkey grass and filled them with his favorite plants — gingers, Mexican petunias, pentas, irises, boxwood, cast iron plants and Asian jasmine.

“Dr. Reich was a big proponent of getting your basics in and adding as you go,” said Donaldson.

Over the years, Donaldson has put her green thumb to the test.

“I am not a structured landscape person,” she said. “I go to plant nurseries and buy things I like. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

The Donaldsons designated areas and objects in their yard to attract the visitor or the eye, places Reich called “destinations.”

They added a front porch to a storage shed and created a cottage on the north side of the backyard. An attractive backyard greenhouse is another destination.

About four years ago, the Donaldsons decided to add a small outdoor kitchen and deck. They called in interior designer Bruce Foreman, who stood in the backyard and made a pencil drawing of what he thought would work.

“I gave it to the carpenter, and he built what we wanted,” Jetty Donaldson said. “It’s small and not elaborate.”

Foreman designed a brick transition area that leads to a deck with a combination pergola and covered kitchen.

On both sides of the deck are built-in garden boxes filled with Jetty Donaldson’s “hodgepodge.”

Behind the deck is a large, open backyard lined with Reich’s curved beds.

Throughout the yard are what Donaldson describes as “little vignettes,” like a fountain area behind the driveway. A plaque on a stone at the base of the fountain is a copy of a donation brick given in honor of Richard Donaldson’s father, who served in Korea. The original brick is part of a veterans walkway in Columbus, Georgia.

Their home got a new look in front when Foreman suggested they brick over their original front door and create a new wide entrance in the center.

“This is the most important thing that Bruce ever did for us,” Jetty Donaldson said. “It made a huge difference.”

Over the four decades the Donaldsons have been maintaining their yard with its many beds and planted areas, Jetty Donaldson has comes up with ways to make it a little easier.

“I do a lot of pots,” she said. “When seasons change, I just pick up the pots, change the plants and move them where I want.”

Her biggest trick is to cover her flower beds with newspaper at least three times a year.

She and gardener Ellen Gilmore treat the beds with pre-emergent weed killer to keep unwanted seeds from germinating, lay out the paper in thick layers and then wet the whole thing down. The final step is to cover the wet paper with mulch.

“Weeds have to go through all of that to grow,” Donaldson said. “Ellen says I have the fewest weeds in town because of the newspaper.”


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