Lakewood Garden of the Month: Herb And Renewal

This month I introduce you to neighbor, someone who shows her love of Lakewood through gardening. Silvia takes care of her own spectacular garden with the help of her husband, Gerry, and mom, Margaret Spots, as well as several other spots of greenery around town. She tends to the Adopt-a-Spot garden in front of the Drug Mart near the library, works on the Lakewood Garden Club's Pocket Park next to The Place to Be Deli, and donated the planters and plants that are in front of the businesses on Madison Ave. between Wyandotte and Bunts.

That is a lot of gardening. That is also a lot of love for the people of Lakewood. Although her work provides personal satisfaction, Silvia understands that by planting and caring for these gardens, she is giving others some beauty where there would only be concrete. She says that a beautiful, well maintained green space is a gift to the neighborhood and the peace and beauty of it can affect people in profound ways. She is often touched by the gratitude of a neighbor who walks by her house and has his or her spirits lifted or someone who uses the pocket park to unwind.

It took a great deal of preparation to achieve a lush landscape in the Weber's yard. Before they began planting, they removed a layer of our notoriously bad clay soil from the top of the yard and replaced with good topsoil. This was a critical step.

Silvia included a fountain in her garden because it reminded her of one she had seen in New Orleans. The side yard is filled with hostas, hydrangea, astilbe, clematis vines and other various plantings.

A section of the backyard is a potager, a French term meaning "kitchen garden." Sylvia was inspired by a contest the Cleveland Botanical Garden sponsored in 2002 to create hers. There are, however, big differences between a potager and a standard vegetable garden. The potager is meant to provide herbs, vegetables and flowers for the table all year round rather than an abundance of vegetables for canning during the summer. A potager is also laid out with style rather than in straight rows of plantings.

Other garden areas in the backyard include a pond, complete with many water plants, frogs and gold fish. Beyond the pond, further back in the yard, irises are the dominant plant. To the right of the pond is a grove of lilacs that have survived for many years.

Silvia is kind enough to share advice on how to get the most out of your plants. She uses a mixture of cow manure, peat moss, sand, leaf humus, topsoil and Osmocote in plant containers. The Osmocote helps retain moisture in the soil. The fertilizers she uses are organic.

Silvia also composts. In fact, the neighbor keep three compost bins; one for fresh scraps, one to cook and one from which to take soil out. When she puts a plant into the ground, it goes in with a mixture of Osmocote and compost.

Our biggest challenge in Northeast Ohio is the soil. Silvia has worked hard to introduce rich organic material into the soil and reduce the amount of clay with which the plants have to deal. It has certainly paid off.

Take a drive down Madison and admire the lovely planters in front of Weber Architecture, Angelo's Pizza, V&S Die & Mold and Wink's Barber Shop - all provided by Silvia.

The offices of Weber Architecture were formerly in the building across the street from Drug Mart. The city was neglecting the plot and Silvia could not bear to look at this eyesore, so she took it upon herself to transform the eyesore into a new garden.

Lakewood is certainly richer and more beautiful for having a good neighbor and loving citizen like Silvia Weber. Remember to stop and admire the gardens and planters when you are out and about, and thank Silvia if you see her.

For additional information about the Weber's home garden, check out the Fall 2004 edition of Garden, Deck & Landscape, a special interest publication from Better Homes and Gardens.
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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 10.46 AM / 14th November 2005.