Mary Dillon & Jon Hafker’s Garden

1717 E 1100 Road

This hidden woodland oasis was once one and a half acres of cedar trees in the midst of virgin woods. The area had been used for grazing or farming and redcedars eventually moved in. Mary Dillon and Jon Hafker were careful to leave most of the virgin woods that made up the remainder of their five acres when they got rid of the redcedars and built their home and surrounding gardens.

The garden style might be described as “cottage garden; in that it is a bit messy,” Dillon said. Neat and tidy is not their goal. Each plant is chosen for its attractiveness to native wildlife –  pollinators, birds, and especially hummingbirds. While each plant choice is intentional, they don’t necessarily plant with a plan, just an idea to attract those creatures. They purchased the property because of the woodlands, and because it is bordered by two city parks that can’t be developed, which means that the home will always have woodlands to the east and west. 

The garden has been designed to bloom April through October. Favorite flowers that might be in bloom when visitors arrive in early June include a blue flower (maybe a bell flower) beneath the tree on the south berm, peonies, and water lilies. Other favorite flowering plants include Pinky Winky Hydrangea (blooms July – Fall), Crape Myrtles (July- August), and PowWow Coneflowers (June – August). Favorite trees on the property include Bracken’s Brown Magnolia, Mimosa (both a chocolate Mimosa and a regular one), and Autumn Blaze Maples.

Next to the house is a large patio, and a water garden that Dillon designed. Mike P. with Anything Aquatic took the design and made it happen. The water garden is central to the view from the patio, the kitchen windows, and the master bedroom. 

A second water feature outside of the fenced area was built with local wildlife in mind. The theory was that a bubbling rock outside of the fenced area would provide wildlife with easy access to water, and keep them from trying to get to the water garden inside the yard.  For the most part, the concept has worked. 

Dillon’s cousin, a landscape architect, helped with the basic design for the front and backyard areas. Dillon and Hafker have taken those plans and added, reshaped, and developed the yard over the past seven years. They are slowly adding more garden areas and taking out grass to make it less dependent on water and chemicals.    

Dillon loves colorful flowers (both annual and perennial), water gardens, fish (they have three fish tanks indoors, as well as fish in the water garden), native wildlife, and all the birds, especially hummingbirds. Two to three feeders remain up all summer for the hummingbirds. 

The garden is testament to the fact that one can have dogs and a beautiful garden, as they designed the yard to be dog friendly. Special fencing allows the home and garden to feel like part of the woods and nature, but still have a large, protected yard for the dogs, and for the plants that neighborhood deer might find delicious. The wildlife –  pack rats, herons, racoons, possums – always pose a challenge.   They try to exist with them as best they can. However, one year a pack rat ate all of the vegetable plants multiple times despite the fact that the garden perimeter was covered with cayenne pepper.

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