In The Family: A heritage garden

Published on: February 4th, 2012

To passers-by, this house with a big yard in Old Lafayette is a wonderland of colors and textures—countless blossoms unfolding like jazz hands, green waxy leaves fluttering in the wind, stone walkways, pergolas, trellises, water features and a koi pond.

But the owners and operators of the home and garden call it a full-time job. Darren Green and Shawn Roehler have spent countless hours over the last decade and a half transforming the large corner lot from a grass-covered lawn to a green thumb’s Shangri-la with seeds of sentiment and soul.

“It’s becoming less and less grass. We are slowly expanding, and soon there won’t be any grass left,” Roehler laughed. “We just keep adding to it.”

Green grew up in the 1892-built bungalow (his family is only the third to live in the home), but never really focused on a garden, except for his grandmother’s roses. When Roehler moved in 15 years ago, they slowly cleaned up the backyard, leveled it out and started planting annuals by seed; Roehler works at Lafayette Florist as an accountant. They added a pond with kois, which has gone through several iterations before the current 4,500-gallon, 5-foot-deep pond. They started working on the front years later, and they planted the hell-strip last year.

The gardens continue to evolve: The back has a “haphazard” quality with layers of arrangements, while the front is intentional and planned with colors playing off the house. Throughout it all, they’ve added in plants and flowers that remind them of people and places: a tulip poplar for Roehler’s home state of Indiana, a “Heaven on Earth” rose for Green’s grandma, and tons of Roehler’s favorite:
annabelle hydrangea.

But it doesn’t come easy. The fellas spend their entire weekends working on the garden:

“For the garden tour, I spent three hours just weeding the hell strip,” Roehler said. Despite the time commitment—or maybe because of it—they see it as a de-stressor, a way to socialize with friends and a means of keeping up a sense of neighborly competition.

“We get to share it with friends,” Green said. “When people come by, we sit out here and talk and relax. It’s good for us. And everyone leaves with
a smile.”

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