The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

July 28, 2013

Garden of the Month

Gus and Carrie Powell create extraordinary outside living area

ASHTABULA — Walk by a little side garden of some nice specimens: mophead hydrangea, daylilies, perennials (even rhubarb) and container plantings, then go through a fence with a grapevine railing into the Gardens of Babylon.

Wow! A big above-ground pool, various levels of a vegetable garden — all very nice plants and quite lovely — lead up to an extraordinary outside living area. This is a multi-generational setting to be enjoyed by everyone.

Gus and Carrie Powell’s backyard is so stunning that it’s hard to believe that this landscape is in the middle of a city setting.

The  Powells, 607 W. 44th St., are the winners of the Garden Trails Garden Club’s July Garden of the Month Award.

“These folks have been working on this for some 20 years and it shows,” said Cheryl Sheer, chairwoman of the Garden of the Month Committee. “It’s beautiful.”

Gus Powell beams as he shows the garden.

“We really enjoy it,” he said. “We sit out here and look up at the stars. That’s part of the enjoyment.”

The front yard landscape is very nice, traditional, a good blend of heights, shapes, texture and color, including a very large rhododendron.

“The hardscaping is beautiful,” the judges said in their notes. “The logs built into walls and stepping stones and benches and tables are beautiful. The plantings are beautiful.”

 Old trees, new trees, shrubs, hundred of perennials and annuals, lots of container plantings, some of them with established tender perennials (a few of them tropical beauties like hibiscus), that the owners hand truck down to their basement and keep under grow lights in the winter.

 A small meadow-type planting of annuals not yet blooming, that promises to be a riot of color next month. The highest level has a small grassy area where the grandchildren like to sleep in a tent; the rocky rise to it has been lovingly interplanted with moneywort and ivy.

Add to this tranquil scene dining areas, meditation areas, playground areas, reading areas (with a hammock and cup holder built into a tree) and an enjoy-the-moonlight-area.

 Squirrels and birds are just as happy as can be in this oasis. There are several bird feeders way up in the trees, refilled by plucking them from hooks with a long pole.

“I haven't seen anything like this in Ashtabula since the Topky gardens back in the 50s,” one judge remarked in her notes. “If no one in this family has studied landscape architecture formally, then they've done an awful lot of study on their own. Wow.”

It’s obvious the Powells worked hard for a number of years to create this little piece of paradise.

 Carrie Powell said her husband is an “opportunist” gathering flowers and plants from all sorts of places to add to their yard. For example, a recent addition, a large rhododendron came from the old Ashtabula High School property.

“They were throwing it out,” Gus Powell said.

Another bush came from McKinsey School on Bunker Hill Road.

“Same thing,” Gus Powell said. “The demolition workers were throwing it out.”

Visitors soon will discover Powell has many interesting and humorous stories to share. So, take the Garden Trails Garden Club up on its invitation and “stop and smell the roses” at the Powell’s piece of paradise in Ashtabula.

While you’re at it, nominate a city resident for the August (flower) Garden of the Month Award. A winner will be chosen and that gardener will receive $50 prize money, a photo, a certificate of achievement, and a story in the Star Beacon.

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