A Garden Full of Personality

Margarete Johnson is one of the most creative gardeners I know. Her Lawrence, Kansas garden is characterized with fun and originality. This distressed bird protecting her egg warrants a chuckle every time I walk through the garden.

Combing flea markets, antique shops and antique stores, Margarete has found whimsical elements she has placed throughout her garden. Who can resist grinning back at that face?

These crows are always welcome to her garden giving background interest to the patio area.

A bed of snails is not what you usually want to see in your garden. But, the only harm created by this pair is that they may be stealing the show from the tropical milkweed (A. Curassavica). They do appear frightened by the comical creature eating nearby.

A cloverleaf tree ring crafted from grain grinders introduces a fun shape to this space.

Margarete’s rusty creatures echo the palette of the surrounding plant choices, energizing the space.

Even Margarete’s plant choices are fun. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) always gets noticed.

landscape view

Margarete’s earliest garden memories are working beside her artistic godmother. On Sunday walks they collected manure for her raised beds to create an amazing garden Margarete hoped to recreate for herself one day. This dream was not realized until she moved to her current home in zone 6 Lawrence, Kansas. As seen above, her garden is packed with plants (she does not like to see soil). While she plants with abandon, her garden tip is to create order by defining beds with rocks and stone walls.

Margarete is an avid advocate for the monarchs, planting her garden to feed both the caterpillars and butterflies and using no herbicides. This dedication has earned her garden recognition as a designated monarch waystation. But, the plantings are not just for the butterflies, she has favorites that are essential for her as well including tulips, tree peonies, and penstemon.

As in any design, consistency and repetition are important principles in the garden to pull the space together. If you are going to add several elements into your garden, follow Margarete’s lead. Here she has included several rusty, recycled elements that spoke to her and give her space its uniqueness but is still cohesive because she has adhered to a theme.

Have fun in your garden and make it your own!