Thursday, July 14, 2016

Garden Visit: Wendy Bell

Guest post by John Powers

Wendy Bell is a Takoma Park, MD resident of 23 years who maintains a large, four-season garden in her front and back yards. 

“I am retired, so I spend quite a bit of time playing in the garden,” said Bell, who started cultivating her garden little-by-little when she first moved to the property in 1993. The lawn was only grass at the time, but you would not guess that from looking at the garden today. The dense array of pollinators, small trees, and lawn decorations cover the front yard, giving viewers something new and beautiful to notice each time they pass by.

Bell has been showcasing her garden this summer for the Takoma Park House and Garden Tour, the Montgomery County Master Gardeners, and the Takoma Horticulture Club. She has tried to prune most of her plants in order to prepare for the coming tours. “It’s always fun to see each other's gardens,” she said. Bell, a graduate of the landscape design program at George Washington University, decided that gardening would not be her livelihood, but rather an intensive hobby.

Stepping into the backyard, you are sealed off from the rest of the world by several large trees on the outskirts of the area. Two crape myrtle trees provide shade throughout different parts of the garden, and in the middle is a vegetable garden, which gets the most sun. Bell has been growing vegetables since she was in college and has continued the practice to this day, with beans tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and many more. Though Bell admits that she has not netted them properly, she has a number of berries growing in her back yard as well.

“At least we’re feeding the birds,” said Bell as we watched a sparrow nibble at her bushes. A fig tree off to the right of the vegetable garden had a very fruitful crop of figs, to be picked once they are fully ripe. The backyard also features many plants for pollinators, specifically hydrangeas, which Bell loves and wishes she had room for more of them, and viburnums.

Bees fly from flower to flower in this hidden paradise of plant life, and blue jays call from the treetops of Bell’s backyard. She pointed out a plant she was particularly fond of, her bottlebrush buckeye. It took six years, but the plant is finally flowering for the first time. 

The "GardenVisit" is a monthly blog series showcasing a Mid-Atlantic home garden.

About the author:

John Powers is a rising senior multi-platform journalism major and environmental economics and policy minor at the University of Maryland. He has worked as a staff writer for "Stories Beneath the Shell," an online publication at UMD, and currently works at the copy desk of The Diamondback, the university’s official newspaper. He has spent a summer working as a farmhand back in his home state of Massachusetts. He is an intern with Washington Gardener Magazine this summer.

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