A Heights resident shares the joy of her home garden

Early blooming lenten roses add color in early spring.

In Joan Mallek’s verdant home garden, one can see the results of a 40-year labor of love—growing beautiful plants.

A self-educated and self-trained gardener, Mallek designed her landscape through her own inspiration and ideas, experimenting over time. She spends three full weeks each spring preparing her yard, deadheading, amending the soil,and deciding if she wants to make any changes. After the harvest in the fall, she takes just as much time and care putting her garden to rest for the winter.

Mallek’s garden is one stop on this summer’s inaugural GardenWalk Cleveland Heights, planned for Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, noon to 5 p.m., The free tour will comprise multiple private yards and public gardens in Cleveland Heights.

When Mallek and her husband moved to Cleveland Heights, their home’s existing landscaping required them to use their imaginations. ”We started by removing a walkway that cut through the middle of our front yard. From there, I would see plants that I thought were interesting and I’d plant them, doing a little at a time,” said Mallek.

Full of shrubs, bushes, small trees, grasses, ground covers and flowering perennials and stonewalls, Mallek’s garden offers something of interest around every corner, and for every season. Front-yard borders contain a mix of early blooming Lenten roses, and later blooming forget-me-nots, alyssum, chrysanthemums, alliums and day lilies. Colorful ground covers, like Ajuga, draw the eye when early bloomers are spent.

The backyard is a tranquil space with areas devoted to specific colors. One patch contains white-blossoming plants, like trillium, while another has yellow flowering violets. Yet another features primarily pink flowers such as bee balm, autumn argemone and more forget-me-nots. A water fountain with a statue and pump provides even more visual appeal, and makes for a peaceful outdoor haven.

During the growing season, Mallek harvests cuttings from her flowers and brings them into her home or gives them as gifts.

Nature gets a gift, too, as Joan’s yards are organically tended. Pollinators seem to love Joan’s all organic garden; numerous honeybees can be seen flitting about.

It is well known that gardeners love to share, whether it is plant cuttings, seeds, a bountiful harvest, or gardening information. Asked why she is participating in GardenWalk Cleveland Heights this summer, Mallek replied, Because I love to show people my garden! I spend a lot of time on it and l love to share it.”

Mallek offers these gardening tips:

  • Don’t be intimidated by gardening. Plants bought in stores or garden centers look beautiful because they were grown in greenhouses with perfect conditions. 
  • Live by the rule of “3.” If you don’t like the way a plant looks in one place, or if it is not thriving, move it up to three times. If it still doesn’t grow as expected, give it to a friend, or compost it.
  • Nobody is going to have a beautiful garden overnight, unless you pay a professional a lot of money to do it for you. And then, it may be more their vision than yours. Don’t be afraid or too impatient to let the beauty unfold bit by bit over time.

For more information about GardenWalk Cleveland Heights, visit its Facebook page. If you are interested in having your garden on the tour, contact Jan Kious at 216-534-6172 or janetkious@sbcglobal.net.

Judith Elaine Walker Miles

Judith Elaine Walker Miles is a former FutureHeights board member and current Future Heights Grant Committee member. She is a 23-year resident of Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 1:59 PM, 05.08.2019