Weed It & Reap goes dormant with this, our final article for the 2012 growing season. For the past 24 weeks, we've introduced a variety of people enriched by planting, nurturing, and harvesting. To read their stories and see their gardens, go to toledoblade.com and in the search box, type Weed It & Reap. — Tahree Lane
Name: Catherine Gruenwald, retired registered nurse, living in Maumee.
Garden specs: The back yard is 6,900 square feet.
When did you start gardening? I was 21, newly married, and living in a small, country home. I made a little vegetable garden along the side of the fence. At every house I've had since then, I've increased the size and variety of the garden.
What do you grow? When I moved here four years ago, I wanted all-season beauty and minimal work. I planted many conifers (Mother Nature's sculptures): weeping Norway spruce, emerald arborvitae, weeping white pine, blue star junipers, and pumila spruce, to name a few. A weeping Japanese maple, river birches, and a pink kousa dogwood. For texture and color, I have six types of coral bells, hostas, and creeping phlox. Geraniums and potted annuals provide spots of color.
Hardscape is a major feature. I had three truckloads of local rocks and boulders delivered and moved to different areas, some of which are mounded and landscaped. They provide beautiful views from the house and the stone patio. One side of the yard is defined by a tall, curved pergola that's tiered at two heights: even that was designed to be a sculpture. I enjoy looking at the boulders and pergola as much as I do the "living" garden.
Favorite plant: Five different kinds of grasses that sway with the wind and create rustling sounds. In winter, they dry and bleach out, providing interesting contrast against the snow.
Give us a gardening tip: Keep it simple and low maintenance: you'll spend less time working and more time enjoying the surrounding views.
Hours spent gardening per week: Eight hours, maybe less, mostly mowing the grass and tending to the borders.
Annual expense: I invested a small fortune initially. I chose trees, bushes, and perennials that were not only beautiful but were deer- and disease-resistant. Now I spend about $100 a year for annuals in the back and pots at the front entrance.
Challenges: Chipmunks. And sometimes the wind is so strong that it's difficult to work outside.
I'm proud of: Maintaining the yard work by myself.
What I've learned: To think outside the box. Just because the backyard is a rectangle or square doesn't mean the gardens have to follow that pattern. And adding outdoor lighting gives the gardens a romantic feel at night. To see my vision realized, I worked with experienced, talented landscapers and designers whose skills and artistic ideas I trusted.