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Gardener seeks balance between shade and sun

Wayne Lapinski shows off his Red Dragon plants. Photo by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010 - With a canopy of trees in the backyard Wayne and Linda Lapinski must balance between shade and partial sun plants for their garden.

"It's very tough because even though a plant says it wants part shade, some want a real wet heavy soil that we don't have and than others say they want a dryer soil, so then you have that dichotomy you have judge," Wayne said. "A lot of the flowers we put in originally didn't get enough sun. They were maybe getting two to three hours at the most and they needed five to six hours. They survived one season and maybe half the next one."

Their garden will be featured in this year's Clarkston Garden Walk put on by the Clarkston Farm and Garden club on July 14.

Some of the plants and flowers in their garden include: hostas, bleeding hearts, lilies, columbine flowers, astilbes, blood root, wild ginger, golden alexander, zig zag goldenrod, prairie sunset, and clematis.

"We're trying to replace the ornamental and non-native plants with native plants to help feed the birds and all the wild life now," Linda said. "We've learned through the Master Gardener program and the composting programs how we're not feeding our birds and insects by putting in non-native, so when a plant dies we're replacing it with natives."

"Not only do we have to watch out for shade versus sun loving plants, but native now versus ornamentals," added Wayne with laugh. "We're really boxing ourselves into a corner of the market that is unique but also very limited, so we have to be careful of what we pick and choose."

He said they learn by trial and error. Linda said she has noticed more butterflies, dragonflies, and humming birds. She noted Trish Henning has been a great resource for getting a lot of their plants.

Wayne said they have always liked gardening and Linda is a good "expert with color," but color comes with sun plants, so they're learning to color with shades of green.

"We've always had plants and gardens wherever we've been. Here we also have the time, he said. "If we didn't have the time we wouldn't be able to do this."

When Wayne retired six years ago there were piles of shrubs and small trees in five different locations spread across the property, which were cleared from the area where their house was built. With his shredder and chipper, he began to clean up the piles, thus creating pathways and sections.

"Once I initiated the overall width. Everything else was going to be done within those boundaries," he said. "Then I took a section at a time and worked on it until it was planted and done."

Wayne said they've sectioned different parts of the garden with "yard art" and made signs such identifying each garden as they felt it properly represented, such as Deer Garden, Humming Bird Garden, St. Francis Garden, Big Bird Garden, shade Garden, and Patio Garden.

"Some of our grandchildren have picked out a garden or two and got their name on a stake," Wayne said. "Everyone has a piece of the land."

Linda said they also host a Sukkot party every year, which is a traditional Jewish Harvest Festival, but they do it "Polish style" with Brots and Cabbage because they're Polish and German.

"We've enjoyed the garden a lot and certainly do like sharing it with everybody, it's really become a nice network for us because we've met so many people through the different groups, and it's kind of fulfilled our life," Linda said. "With retirement you didn't know what you were going to do now we're busier, couldn't imagine having to be able to work and do this at the same time."

The garden walk will be from noon-7 p.m. on July 14. The walk begins at Independence Township Library. Venders will also be a the library starting at 11 a.m.

Tickets in advance are $15 or $18 day of. Advanced tickets can be purchased at Bordines Nursery 8600 Dixie Hwy, Clarkston Country Store, 21 North Main Street, Chamber of Commerce, 5856 South Main Street, The Birdfeeder, 7150 North Main, KH Home, and 6 North Main Street.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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