Hostas are a main component of Marian Edwards Swissvale home garden.
Marian Edwards stands next to a German white rose bush at her home in Swissvale.
Marian Edwards has a variety of annuals, evergreens and other low-maintenance plants in her backyard.
By Kitoko Chargois Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Marian Edwards' garden cannot be contained to one area of her yard. It takes up most of her front yard, lines the path beside her house and dominates the backyard.
"It's a jungle out here," she said excitedly as she led the way to her backyard.
Far from a jungle, it is an impressive lush landscape of green. Ms. Edwards' garden will be one of 16 featured on the Regent Square Garden Tour on June 30. The tour will begin at 10 a.m. with a light brunch and mimosas.
Regent Square Garden Tour
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 30.
Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 on day of the tour. Buy at www.wsccpgh.org or mail a check to WSCC, 7604 Charleston Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15218.
Gardening is not just a hobby for Ms. Edwards. It is a lifelong interest that developed when she discovered Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden" as a young girl.
"The idea of taking something and making it beautiful really appealed to me," she said.
Approximately 25 years in the making, Ms. Edwards' garden served as a stress reliever when she was an elementary school principal in Wilkinsburg, but it really began to grow when she retired in 1987.
After retirement, she got married and kept on planting. But it wasn't flowers or vegetables she focused most of her energy on -- it was foliage.
"While my husband wasn't very big on flowers, he loved foliage, and that's partly how I came to like it. The more I learned about it, I just became extremely fond of it," Ms. Edwards said.
Her first plant grown mainly for its foliage was a hosta planted by her neighbor in the front yard. While its large leaves are plain compared with some of the other 20 other varieties that came later, this one produces large, white flowers in August and September.
Most hostas flowers aren't very impressive, she said, "but these are gorgeous and very very fragrant."
In the shade beds, jack-in-the-pulpits share space with Japanese painted ferns, hellebores, heucheras, azaleas, Solomon's seal and hydrangeas whose flowers change color from pink to blue. This season, there is a new dark-leafed ninebark tree among the greenery.
Ms. Edwards' current favorites are evergreens and Japanese maples. "The leaves are beautiful, and they're really delicate."
There are at least five varieties of the Japanese maple trees interspersed throughout the garden. Evergreens dot the side beds but really make their presence known in the backyard.
The Hinoki cypress in one corner of the backyard has grown larger than Ms. Edwards expected. When she bought it, it was only a few inches high and was advertised as a dwarf cypress. At several feet, "it certainly isn't a dwarf," she noted. "But it's gorgeous. I love the play of light on these branches. I think it's a real beauty."
Along with foliage, the backyard has a variety of flowering perennials in the main bed off to the right of the house. When the flowers bloom in spring, the area is a loud riot of colors. Yellow, reds, whites, purples and pinks cluster together.
There are also a couple of rose bushes in the front yard, one of which is a 90-year-old German white rose bush planted by Ms. Edwards' father.
To reduce the amount of work, Ms. Edwards is introducing more perennials, conifers and low-maintenance shrubs. In the past month, she has spent two to three hours a day working in the garden, and now she's ready to sit back and enjoy the fruits of her labor.
"I think that after a while gardening becomes an addiction because even though you don't have room, you still have to buy some more."
Correction, June 23, 2013: The price of the garden tour on the day of the show has been updated. An earlier version of the story had an incorrect price.