923 Rhode Island
When viewing this eclectic garden, visitors may not think that it began as a plain, grassy lawn twenty-five years ago. That grass lawn required an immense investment of tending, cutting, fertilizing, and watering. Rather than putting all that work into plain grass, Rosa Salazar-Peterson began removing it one section at a time. Now, instead of grass, portions of the garden are a flower garden, a vegetable garden, and an herb garden, creating a mix of function and aesthetics.
One important dimension of the garden, Salazar-Peterson said, is that it is designed to require relatively little water and care. The biggest challenge has been that of managing water. While getting rid of the grass helped, the garden still needs water. Different solutions were tried, such as a rainwater system that did not work well because the lot is very flat. After many years of time-consuming watering by hand, most of the garden is watered by two programmable automated systems. Watering occurs during the night, so the water evaporates less and is not wasted. The automated system also saves a lot of time.
In keeping with the ideal of saving water, Salazar-Peterson has a large collection of cacti, euphorbs, and other succulents and arid-adapted plants in pots at the back of the driveway. Visitors will find some water-hungry plants in the garden, such as roses. However, Salazar-Peterson considers those a little bit of luxury.
Other than the cacti, Salazar-Peterson’s favorite plants include peonies, a plant, she says, that never stops fascinating her. “The huge, aromatic blooms are magical,” she said. Plus, she enjoys contemplating the relationship that the plant has with the local ants. “Clearly, the plant puts out sugar for the ants,” she said, “and I guess that the ants do something in return.” Most of the peonies are in the northwest part of the yard. Some of them came from a nearby yard where the gardens were being demolished. The plants are estimated to be at least 70 or 80 years old.
Another favorite in this garden is bee balm, because of how it attracts butterflies, moths, and bees. Whatever kinds of such insects are present in the yard are generally concentrated on this plant, so it is a favorite part of the garden to spend time in.
Salazar-Peterson said her favorite part of gardening in general is watching flowers appear in different parts of the garden at different times of the year.
Because she works at home, Salazar-Peterson focuses on her surroundings, and so the garden is an extension of the house. All is part of the space where she lives. Her interest in gardening came directly from her father, who always had a garden with an abundance of flowers, and an incredibly productive vegetable garden. When she and her husband bought the house, her father came several times to help with the garden, so several parts of the garden are the direct results of his work.