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Monday, Apr. 15th 2013

Garden Tour Preview II

GT13Hogan6Chef’s Delight:  Looking at the garden from a chef’s point of view

By Terry Blair Michel, Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City

When Cody Hogan, Chef de Cuisines at Lidia’s Kansas City, moved into his 1922 bungalow in 2001, the yard was basically a blank slate with zoysia lawns, an overgrown yew hedge that partially obscured the front of the house, and a back yard with an elevated deck, a few boxwoods and a huge walnut tree.  His vision was very different:  a European-style kitchen garden with all types of vegetables, both edible and ornamental, herbs, and flowers, with a structure of boxwoods and espaliered fruit trees.

As with most European gardens, structure is important to the overall, year-round appeal of this garden.  In the front garden a low fence, a knot hedge, a River Birch berm, rock walls, and an arborvitae hedge create a welcoming entrance.  The back garden is dominated by herbs and vegetables that vary by season, divided by hand-laid pathways.  Lining the central garden area are espaliered fruit trees, boxwood hedges, and wattling –a low woven fence provided by branches from the many fruit trees and also seen throughout the gardens.  An ornamental pear privacy fence and another fence of bamboo line the back side of the property.  Behind the garage are tiered beds of more vegetables.

As a working kitchen garden and a test garden for vegetables and plants Hogan might want to use at the restaurant, the garden is kept completely organic.  But Hogan admits to fudging a little when it comes to his roses.

The backyard provides more structural and relaxing elements for peaceful living and entertaining.  A long, narrow fish pond designed and built by Peter Crump of Urban Stone, and full of numerous aquatic plants, lies at the back of the central garden in front of the bamboo fence and an arbor covered with grape vines.  Other concrete structures by Crump include a water feature, a dining table, a sun chaise, and a faux bois planter.  Water from the pond, is used to fertilize some of the plants.

Another aspect of this garden is the use of materials that have personal relevance.  In addition to the concrete works created by Crump, many of the building materials come from Hogan’s family ranch in Arkansas.  A number of the plantings also have personal connections.  Many of the hostas come from Crump’s grandmother via his mother, and most of the iris come from Hogan’s grandmother’s yard.

This garden is the epitome of do-it-yourself.  It showcases many techniques for maximizing limited space through the use of vertical elements and dense plantings, both of which provide visual interest and structure.  Visitors can see how they can, with a few basic building materials, plants, sunlight and determination, transform a lawn into a secret getaway that produces more than enough food for a small family, as well as provide a comfortable retreat from a hectic world.

Visit “Chef’s Delight” June 7 and 8, during the Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City 2013 Garden Tour, “Unique Gardens of South Kansas City”.

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University of Missouri Extension Master Gardener Program