Jody Deem of Vince Road in Nicholasville transformed the back yard at her house. She moved into the property in 2006 and through what she calls a "labor of love," the yard has been changed into a garden.
"We took a slightly hilly, more than slightly rocky patch of grass and have set out to turn it into a garden that makes us happy," she said.
The garden features mostly perennials, especially those that are native to Kentucky, and shade-loving plants — such as hostas and coneflowers — that don't mind living under two big black walnut trees.
"We try to keep it as relaxed and natural-looking as we can," Deem said. "And we're bird lovers, so we also grow some sunflowers and black-eyed Susans for them."
Here are her gardening tips:
1. Listen to your garden. You might have your eye on some special plant, but over time, your garden will tell you whether that plant can live happily at your house. If it can't, that's OK — give it up. There are lots of plants looking for a home.
2. Plants should have friends, too. A mass of the same types of plants together make a much more bold and cheerful statement than a single "specimen" plant standing alone.
3. Don't be in a hurry to clean out faded flowers. A stand of faded yarrow can make a beautiful statement as the seasons pass, and the dying heads of purple coneflowers will feed wild birds well into the fall.
4. If you want your life to be easier in the garden, hang out with plants that are "from around these parts." A native coneflower will grow much more easily than a plant from some exotic land.
5. Plant some flowers and trees that will bring birds into your yard. They will return the favor by eating bugs that would eat your plants. Birds and organic control products will make you and your plants happier.