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Your garden: Artist makes use of color, texture

Steene said she has come to accept that full-sun plants aren't going to thrive in partial shade.
Steene said she has come to accept that full-sun plants aren't going to thrive in partial shade.

This summer, we're asking gardeners to tell us about their gardens and share some growing tips.

Artist Helene Steene's garden on Madison Place is a hidden, lush treasure in the old Woodward Heights neighborhood. Her New Dawn climbing roses, which have bloomed and faded, cover her front porch and her fences, spilling over in abundance; one plant provides thousands of roses.

Here are her five gardening tips:

1. In the spring, I have classic tulips, narcissus, daffodils, hyacinths, bleeding hearts and more. Next to the flowering bulbs, I have planted large-leaf plants that come up as the spring flowers fade. Because the large leaves hide the dying spring crop, I can leave them alone. Their nutrition goes back to the ground, making for a richer soil.

2. My garden is very shady in the summer, so color, texture and variety are created with different greens and a few flowers. You can create a beautiful effect with big versus small, pointy versus round, prickly versus soft and cool colors versus warm colors. I use quite a bit of variegated-leaf hostas, especially in the dark corners.

3. I plant in groups of the same plant to give a stronger presence and create differently shaped groups. Put higher plants next to some lower ground covers, even further back in the beds. Like negative space in paintings, it gives the eye a place to rest and gives importance to both the flashier and the smaller plants, and creates an illusion that the beds are deeper than they are.

4. I have accepted the fact that if plant instructions state that the plant requires full sun, they most likely do. I think most gardeners have optimistically tried the opposite and realize it does not work well.

5. I give my plants magnetic water and they love it. It's easily done by installing a strong Nikken magnet. If you can clamp it on the water pipe at the first entry point inside your house, then you get magnetic water in the whole house which is good for people also. Go to Nikken.com for more information.

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