Beverly Fortune is a master gardener, but her urban space has presented some major challenges.
The round, mulch-filled break in the brick sidewalk shows where a failed fountain once gurgled.
A fish pond proved a too-tempting buffet for raccoons and blue herons.
A previously prim herb garden is now wild with spindles of fennel and clusters of spearmint.
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But maybe the biggest change is that the once-sunny expanse that used to nourish two large vegetable beds has shrunk over the years as trees have grown to spread ever-growing shadow and shade.
Fortune, a former Herald-Leader reporter, is opening her yard for the community to see what she has tended for 14 years. Her yard is part of the 2015 Open Gates to Bluegrass Living Garden Tour, June 6 and 7.
Her garden has evolved over the years into a fun urban space that she hopes will inspire others to create their own oases.
Fortune and her husband, Bill, do the pruning and planting and tending, but three designers — Richard Weber at Springhouse Gardens, landscape architect Andy Moore and designer Jon Carloftis have helped to tweak the space over the years.
Fortune knew the first thing that had to go. "There was a huge concrete block," she said. In its place is a quaint garden house-turned-guesthouse with a loft and a back porch deemed by the Fortunes' granddaughters as the perfect place for tea parties.
Next came a pergola, perfect for entertaining, with a garden view.
Mother Nature has dictated some changes of her own. Over the years, a large ash tree in her yard and a tulip poplar in the neighbors yard have shaded much of the garden. (Fortune says in jest that she secretly hopes for an ash borer infestation to claim the tree.)
As the shade crept in, the garden plants were shifted to hostas and boxwoods, which can thrive there.
The space is really now a summer garden, and Fortune frets that in its current state, there's not much to see. She talks gleefully about the beauty and aroma of the fall-blooming clematis on an arbor over the front of the garden house and how you can hear the buzzing of the any insects drawn to it.
There were many trips to the garden store to bring in petunias and other bursts of color in time for the tour, she said.
But even before the partially sunny patches of cleome, zinnias and cone flowers erupt in a blaze of orange and pink this summer, the yard is a tranquil wonder in hues of green: lime, celadon, deep-blue green and jade.
When she was a garden writer for the Herald-Leader, people often gave her plants, she said. She invites visitors on the tour to share their shade-loving plants with her if they'd like.
There is a small patch of grass. Her husband, she said, can mow the square of grass with a push mower in a snap. "I'll say 'Dinner is ready,' and he'll say, 'OK, I'm just going to mow the yard. Be there in a minute.'"
She refers to the garden now as "a laissez-faire garden," with plants that grow as they will.
But a shovel, some recently dug dirt and a few plant containers lining the brick walkways show that Fortune still helps push them toward their destiny.