Photos by Hillary Ehlen
It’s not every day we’re lucky enough to see curb appeal featuring a river of perennials leading up to the front door of a 1928 home. If you think the front of this house is gorgeous, just wait until you see the backyard. For the invitation to explore the outdoor spaces on this private property, we can thank architect Julie Rokke whose passion for gardening has blossomed over the years.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Rokke’s passion for gardening has strong roots. “My mother was in the National Horticultural Society. She was a national flower show judge,” Rokke said. When Rokke was a little girl, her mother had a huge garden and would often ask her to pull weeds. Naturally, Rokke began to think of gardening as a chore. It wasn’t until she grew up that Rokke started to see things differently. “After I got my own house, I realized that I really liked it,” she said.
Though her mother passed away before Rokke and her husband moved into the house, gardening allows Rokke to feel her presence. “When I’m in the garden, I always feel like she’s here,” Rokke said.
the front Yard
In front of her 1928 home, Rokke created a curved flower bed, which she wanted to look like a river. The plants in this flower bed change throughout the year. “I try to get it so there’s always color in the garden,” Rokke said. Right now, she has everything from day lilies to angel trumpet growing in front of her house.
The front yard is charming upon arrival, but the backyard is even more bewitching. A mature tree shades the area between the house and the detached garage, which Rokke designed to reflect the period of her historic home. “I designed the garage. When we moved in, there was just a single stall garage attached and there was no place in the house that you could see the garden.” However, that is not the case at all anymore.
A Big Little Threat
This summer, rabbits have been wreaking havoc on Rokke’s garden. To deter them from feeding on her plants, she and a neighbor have placed chicken wire around the bottom of their shared fence that her husband built. Rokke also uses cages around specific plants to help protect them from unwelcome wild creatures and varmints.