SHADY. SUNNY. SERENE
This mature garden is an oasis of greenery and blooms that three generations enjoy.
By Carol Brock
Kristin and George Karakehian are avid gardeners. One look at their lush, colorful landscape is evidence of this couple’s passion for plants. But getting their garden to that point was challenging, as graceful, mature trees bathed their Mapleton Hill lot in shadows.
“We wanted to have spring-to-fall color,” George says. So when they added a patio to the backyard 20 years ago, they decided to redo the landscape, too. “We had somebody come in and literally scrape out the whole yard,” recalls George, a former Boulder City Councilmember and the owner of Art Source International on Pearl Street Mall. “Then they added about 8 inches of topsoil everywhere in the yard.”
And though George’s shop sells, among other things, vintage maps, the couple didn’t have a particular map in mind for their garden. So they hired someone who did: landscape designer Dee Gustke. She hand-drew maps of the Karakehians’ proposed paradise. “They were exceptional; they looked like little works of art,” George recalls.
Starting with a clean slate allowed Gustke to design the stonework, a 12-zone irrigation system, the planting beds, and plant selections. But the lack of full sun made it difficult to find places for Kristin’s favorite flower: roses. “Many of the current plantings were a part of the original ‘English garden’ design,” Kristin says, which the couple added to and revised over the years.
After a mature ash tree fell victim to disease and another ailing tree had to be removed, the couple was “really not unhappy,” George says. The ash’s demise allowed sunlight to flood flower beds in the front yard, where Kristin, a retired occupational therapist, planted her beloved ‘Winnipeg Parks’ roses. On the east side, the other tree’s removal paved the way for more rosebushes, hydrangeas and a small trial area to test new plants.
Now that their yard is fully mature, the couple’s freshest challenge is finding new spots for plants. “If we put something in, at this point, something has to go to get it in,” George says, although he and Kristin can’t resist visiting local nurseries in spring “to see if there’s something new and different out there.”
Nowadays, George spends his gardening time mulching, weeding and “hacking things back.” “I get up in the morning quite early, have my coffee, read my newspapers, and then go out in the yard weeding and trimming for a half hour or so,” George says. “It’s a great way to start the day.”
Kristin plants multiple pots to ensure bright colors from spring to fall. “It’s a delight,” she says.
And they both enjoy sharing the garden with their adult daughters, Jessie and Katie, their four grandkids who range in age from a baby to twin 9-year-olds, and visitors to their garden, which has twice been on the Whittier-Mapleton Garden Tour. “It’s fun,” George says, “because we like to talk plants with folks.”
“Our garden is constantly evolving,” Kristin adds, “and we’re glad to share our love of it with others.”
See below for some of Kristin Karakehian’s favorite plants for sun and shade.