When a large Alberta spruce died in the heat and drought last year in Bill and Kathy Ethridge’s front yard, they replaced it with a Horstmann Atlas blue cedar – one of the evergreens that still makes the recommended list for Kansas.
The Ethridges are on the master gardeners’ garden tour that continues Saturday and Sunday. Their house at 5709 N. Sullivan sits on two acres leading down to the river, two-thirds of it in soothing green fescue.
“It’s so exciting not to be flat for Wichita,” Kathy says.
Island garden beds have been cut into the grass under towering trees, including a “monster” pecan. The landscape has 230 hostas and other plants including colorful-leafed heuchera (coral bells). Sum & Substance hostas look like giant heads of leaf lettuce unfurling under a native locust.
Kathy pointed out that people can get ideas for their own gardens from theirs. Both Ethridges are master gardeners and belong to the hosta, orchid and pond societies, and both are representatives on the Wichita Area Garden Council, he from the master gardeners and she from the orchid society.
They sing the praises of the ground cover lamiastrum, which edges both sides of the long backyard. “It grows like crazy,” Bill said. “It’ll fill in,” but it’s not invasive in that it doesn’t grow into the lawn. Bill mows along the edge, and it stays put.
Beds under two neighboring trees are filled in with liriope, and when the liriope comes into purple bloom in the fall, the two beds mirror each other beautifully, Kathy said.
A vegetable garden is planted near the bottom of the yard, where the grass transitions to Bermuda. The same area contains also a nursery bed, an herb garden, daylilies and peonies interplanted with Asiatic lilies. Kathy said she learned that technique from Botanica: The lilies grow up through the peonies. And gladiolus. “I love cut flowers” for bouquets in the house, she said.