Camodeca has created grassless yards in both the front and back of her home at 360 N. 4th St., which she shared on the garden walk during the Lewiston GardenFest on June 23 and 24.
Her tip for choosing plants is to go to a garden center throughout the growing season and buy things that are in bloom. That way, you’ll have flowers blooming in your garden throughout the year.
Another tip she shared was to plant flowers with lovely fragrances, such as lilacs, near your windows so you can enjoy them even when you’re in the house.
The back became a grassless yard early this spring. She doesn’t use herbicides, so to kill the grass, she lay down black tarps. The tarps held in the heat and “cooked” the grass, she said. Then they mixed humus into the soil.
After laying down a six-inch layer of mulch, they set stones in place to create paths. Camodeca said the stones will eventually sink into the mulch just enough to be level and won’t get hidden.
“It’s easier than digging them in,” she said.
Next year she will plant perennials in the backyard, but this year she is using mostly annuals for a showy look for her wedding to fiance Aaron Menczynski in August. Above right is a stone patio where they will exchange vows.
“Some gardens look great with showy flowers, but you can’t sit in them because they’re too hot,” she said. “I love these trees. It doesn’t ever get too hot out here. You can go in the hot tub even on an 80-degree day.”
She has bleeding hearts, about 20 different kinds of hostas, and coral bells or heuchera, which grow well even in deep shade.
Herbs actually do well in the shade because they tend to grow more slowly and don’t get leggy. Plus, herbs like oregano that might take over a garden when planted in the sun will remain more confined. Thyme can make a nice ground cover, she pointed out.
While it’s mostly shady in the backyard, she watches for pockets of sun. Any spot that gets more than six hours of sun is planted with vegetables. In the photo below, the area to the right of the fort is a vegetable patch.
The fort was built by Camodeca’s father for her sons, Bruno, now 14, and Calvin, 12. Steps inside the house lead to the lookout area. They also have an area for archery.
Hint: Camodeca plants marigolds near the tomatoes to keep the aphids off the tomatoes. She also uses diatamatious earth to keep the slugs away.
“It’s just sand, really,” she said.
Camodeca spends about a half hour each morning weeding.
“I find it kind of meditative,” she said. Some of the flowers, such as bachelor’s buttons, seed themselves, so she might find them in new areas of the garden.
“I’m not uptight about where things grow,” Camodeca said. “If something migrates across the yard, that’s okay. I don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Camodeca grows plants in one more area: her roof.
She has what is called a living roof, and the plants aren’t so much on her roof as they are her roof. Instead of shingles, the roof is covered with plants living in a four-inch-deep growing medium.
Camodeca believes she has the only green roof in Lewiston. She made it with the assistance of a company that makes straw bale houses. In addition to the plants, there are stone slabs the size of a yoga mat on the roof, and she occasionally conducts yoga classes there.
In addition to the garden walk, the Lewiston GardenFest also included vendors, speakers and a container garden contest. The public cast votes for their favorite container gardens, and Sally Knize of Lewiston won for her boat, seen at right.
All photos by Connie Oswald Stofko