A Natural Approach to Gardening

My garden is not like a living room,” says Dennis Fitzpatrick of Milford. “It’s always changing.”

Fitzpatrick moved to Milford (Pike County) 16 years ago. Although there were originally some flowerbeds around his home, they were much smaller and the owner had let them go. Since then, Fitzpatrick has expanded his garden, cultivating flowers and shrubs to bring out the beauty in each season. Straying away from traditional “manicured” lawns, Fitzpatrick allows the garden to change throughout the year. “I stay away from creating a static picture,” he says. “I don’t want it so manicured that you can’t see the changes.”

Because he is a weekend gardener, Fitzpatrick has fashioned his gardens to have a comfortable, cottage-like feel. Vines wind their way around the sides of his home. Metal archways greet visitors at the front and rear of his yard. Instead of using woodchips, he puts in groundcover and tends to a variety of ivy, shrubs and bushes. Along with a variety of flowers, Fitzpatrick’s garden is dotted with stone figures and pots. Flowerbeds encircle the home, and a stone path winds its way through the backyard. In the summertime, the garden’s overgrowth only further highlights its charm.

The biggest challenge for Fitzpatrick is transitioning from spring to summer while ensuring that all areas of the garden look good. To remedy this problem, he adopted a new policy. “Spring looks good for spring,” he says.

“The borders show; people will see the stones.” In contrast, the borders are overgrown when summer flowers bloom. This shift mimics the shift of the weather, and to Fitzpatrick it feels more authentic than simply maintaining one design. Instead of making sure every plant remains in place throughout the year, he adapts to fit the climate of Northeast PA’s varied seasons.

Last summer, Fitzpatrick’s garden was featured on the Milford Garden Tour. This spring, he will be back at work in the garden, and plans to continue expanding his ever-changing landscape. “With my garden, I’m going for a different effect,” he explains. “The natural effect.” –Megan Kane

Photos by Megan Kane