• Tim and Barbara’s carefree artist garden

    by  • July 30, 2012 • Garden art, landscaping

    A nearly native drought tolerant garden

    Tim and Barbara Fruehe

    Tim and Barbara Fruehe

    Tim and Barbara Fruehe came into the True Value Garden Center with a list of needed plants that we could really work with!  Their ambitious whole house-whole yard renovation was winding down and they were at the point where the outdoor hardscape was done and the soil was amended.  This is a garden lover’s dream and the real fun part,..choosing plants and finishing the garden. The House before:

    Tim and Barbara's house before

    Tim and Barbara’s house before

    Before and After

    Tim and Barbara bought a pink house with good bones.  The location was excellent, on a golf course with a view to the south of Deadwood Mountain. The home’s layout was good and the aggregate driveway was in good shape. Other than that, there is no surface in the house and yard that was untouched by their improvements. They started out by painting the home a soft sage green. When the house was done and the deck cover built they could then begin on the garden.

    The house started out pink

    The house started out pink


    New front garden landscape. No pink!

    New front garden landscape. No pink!

    All Tim’s choices for plants were already stocked at the garden center so we ordered a few things on the list and when the day came to pick up the plants, we gave the Fruehes free rein to use our big cart to gather up as many plants as were on their wish list. They assembled all the trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials into the back area for easy loading into Tim’s pick-up. Genell and I, with JR’s help, worked most all afternoon to mark, count and load up the plants and trees.

    A two story deck is added

    The garden before. One major project was the two story deck.

    Tim loads plants as Genell prepares them

    Tim loads plants as Genell prepares them

    J R loads the truck

    J R loads Tim’s truck at the True Value gate

    Once they got the plants back to their home on a golf course, they and one helper installed all the plants within a week.  Then it was Barbara’s turn to give some attention to the details.  She filled pots and more pots with roses, lavender and annuals and arranged her garden treasures around the seating area which includes seven Adirondack chairs surrounding a fire pit. Both Tim and Barbara like garden antiques, ironwork and bird houses. They made room for nine birdbaths and planted many butterfly attractors to encourage the nearby wildlife.

    Shrubs, trees, soil, everything you need

    Shrubs, trees, soil, everything you need, are unloaded from the truck.

    Tim's landscape plan

    Tim’s landscape plan

    The blank slate

    The blank slate. Flagstone paths divide the garden into graceful planting beds, lined with river rock.

    Experience counts! Tim and Barbara were smart about planning their garden.  First of all, they made a plan, a drawing, which included spaces for the seating area on a gravel patio and paths leading through an iron arbor.  Second, they acquired much of the hardscape material through craigslist and other ‘secondhand’ sources. Fourteen loads of slate flagstone were found for $300. River rock and gravel were saved from the previous landscape. Drainage was designed into the sloping site and disguised with river rock planted with blue fescue.  River rock edges the paths and makes a transition from the aggregate driveway and the mulched beds.

    A path leads down from the golf course where the couple play often.

    A path leads down from the golf course where the couple plays often.

    This was not the couple’s first large landscaping project in our foothills and they chose the plants they knew to do the best in hot summers and cold winters. Tim says, “Between the last project and our former homes, you get to know what does well, what the deer stay away from and all. We wanted plants that we didn’t need to prune and fertilize.” They both like a meadowy wildflower look of the penstemon, lavender and coreopsis. The oaks, a deodar cedar and a Sequoia, the rockrose and lavender will be evergreen in the winter. Tim owns Simply Smashing, a promotional T-shirt company in Oakhurst and Barbara is a graphic designer there. In their free time, they like to BBQ hotdogs around the fire pit with their kids or share a glass of wine with their neighbor, Nancy and her family.

    Barbara by the ornate side arbor, perfect for the spot

    Barbara by the ornate side arbor, perfect for the spot

    A second arbor beckons the visitor around the side yard to the back past three large raised beds for future vegetable and flower gardens. On each side of the yard are ‘neighbor gates’ so they can pass through easily to visit. The garden extends past established rockrose bushes to the golf course beyond, shaded by mature oaks.

    Drip waters the center garden bed

    Drip waters the center garden bed planted with penstemon, salvia, daylily and gaura.

    The propane tank is totally disguised

    The propane tank is totally disguised

    The backyard previously had no sprinklers, so Tim designed an extensive drip system to conserve water. I found that he pre-assembles his drip sprayers just like I do!  The propane tank was an eyesore at the side, so they constructed a short fence from wide planks that matched the existing fence. Barbara saw this as a blank canvas for her artistic wall hangings and plant baskets.

    A gravel patio features Adirondack chairs and a fire pit.

    A gravel patio features a friendly circle of Adirondack chairs and a fire pit.

    Iron arbor will soon be covered in jasmine

    Another iron arbor, with built in benches will soon be covered in jasmine.

    Tim and Barbara now have plans for a party to share their artistic strolling garden with friends and family.

    See all of the photos of the Fruehe’s garden project:


     See More:

    Tim and Barbara’s carefree artist garden   Barbara and Tim’s garden redo

    Tim and Barbara’s ‘ideal’ Foothill garden: One year later   One year later

    An ideal plant list for a new Sierra foothill garden    Drought tolerant plant list for the West

    Barbara’s hand-crafted garden Barbara’s Flea market garden touches


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.