Since moving into a home on Moreau Drive, Alan Wheat and Chase Batye have spent three years renovating the historic house and spending countless hours perfecting front and back gardens, along with other landscaping.
The result is an eye-catching home, now with a sign in the front yard designating it as the winner of the Bittersweet Garden Club's Garden of the Month.
Wheat and Batye both spend plenty of time in the gardens, with Batye noting that both men have families with a long history of gardening. It's always gratifying work, Wheat said. In planting the gardens, they said they try to focus on perennials, though they do mix in some annuals. Mostly, they really enjoy the plants and flowers that return every year.
"We prefer things to be blooming constantly," Batye said. "It is a challenge."
Heather Brown, with the Bittersweet Garden Club, said the Moreau Drive house has been nominated by several people over the last couple of years, and the club has noticed the tremendous work done in the few short years since Wheat and Batye moved in.
"We chose this yard because of how beautiful it is and how it flows all around the property with blooming beauties," Brown said. "There is so much to see that you see something new every time you go that you missed the last time. They always have something blooming and always have future garden plans, so you never know what new addition you might find there. It is a treat to see all their hard work turned into something so pretty!"
To be recognized by the Bittersweet Garden Club is a huge honor, both Wheat and Batye said, noting how good it feels to be recognized for the work they put in to their garden.
The house is 103 years old, and the only landscaping it had when Wheat and Batye moved in were some boxwood shrubs and holly bushes. (They did keep a couple of boxwoods in the overall landscaping theme and one holly bush.) In the front yard, the landscaping even includes a couple of stones from the old Capitol building that was destroyed in a fire in 1911. The stones were already inside the home when the couple purchased it, and they like being able to incorporate a piece of local history into the landscaping design.
The stones used in construction of the home itself actually came from a quarry at McClung Park, Wheat said. Batye added that some of the rocks used even came from Civil War barracks.
"Owning a little piece of history is kind of cool," Batye said, with Wheat quickly adding they found a Civil War bullet in the yard not long after moving in.
Wheat said they visit a lot of different greenhouses all over the state to get new, unique and even odd items for their garden. One such feature in both the front garden and in the back is the allium millenium, or ornamental onion, which typically blooms in mid-summer with large globes of purplish flowers.
"We like to have things that most people aren't just going to have in their garden," Batye said.
In addition to providing a beautiful pop of color, Batye said the allium millenium is great to have as deer do not touch it, and that's been an issue. Wheat said the couple has had to do a lot of trial and error to find plants that will give them what they're looking for in the garden but are not attractive to deer.
"Deer are a huge problem," Wheat said.
Another less common plant found in their garden is the baptisia or false indigo, but unlike its usual blue-purple color, this one is yellow.
"I've never seen a yellow before," Batye said, noting it is a spring bloomer and typically provides the first pop of color when the weather starts to warm.
As Brown noted, Wheat and Batye really haven't finished with their garden, though it's unlikely they'll ever be finished. Batye said the list of future projects is really never ending and they are always coming up with new plants to include and new designs to try.
"You always find new things that you want to put in or replace," Batye said. "Or you get tired of something, and you want to put something new in there."
For anyone wanting to try gardening at their home, Batye advised to be aware of your planting zone, which references the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map that is used to help define what plants grow best in what areas. Wheat said to not be afraid to try new things.