How does your garden grow?

Earlier this year, the annual Fuquay-Varina Garden Tour, hosted by the Fuquay-Varina Garden Club, showcased eight homes to nearly 400 guests.

Cary Magazine got an inside look at two of them.

Kim, left, and Linda Anderson

Since moving into their downtown Fuquay-Varina home more than 15 years ago, sisters Linda and Kim Anderson have worked to eliminate their grassy lawn and replace it with winding pathways through dense vegetation and fun garden art.

“Gardening is addicting once you get started,” said Kim Anderson.

“Plants are surprising,” her sister added. “They’ll disappear for two years, then come back.”

Start with Soil.

A horticulturalist by trade, Linda Anderson emphasizes the importance of preparing soil with compost and good-quality mulch. Lay out bed lines with a hose or rope to gauge shape and size.

Find Your Formula.

The majority of plantings should be native, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for experimentation. The Anderson sisters’ model is: 50% native species, 25% near-native and 25% exotic plants, including an eye-catching pineapple guava tree with edible petals.

Surprise and Delight.

Alligator sculptures hide among the underbrush, handcrafted mushrooms and garden globes dot swaths of green, and there’s even a painting hung outdoors accenting a stoneware planter.

“All of our garden art is from local artists or we make it,” said Kim Anderson, who welds whimsical metal accents and creates mushroom sculptures with concrete.

Haylie-Jo Wiltshire

Haylie-Jo Wiltshire’s typical suburban home is located in a typical Fuquay-Varina subdivision on a typical neighborhood street. The drive in reveals little of the whimsical wonderland of flowers that awaits.

Wiltshire never had a garden before this one, but admits to liking “junky stuff” — vintage and repurposed objects — which became the centerpiece of her backyard metamorphosis. Vintage toolboxes house container gardens, painted bicycle wheels form a focal sculpture and other found objects mix with colorful plants to create decorative vignettes throughout the yard.

An unexpected surprise looms at the edge of Wiltshire’s grassy lawn — she’s transformed a steeply sloping hill into a near-vertical garden, turning what would be a scraggly natural area into a lively refuge.

Begin Anywhere, Anytime.

“I never planted a plant before I came here,” Wiltshire said. Her home office window looks into her backyard, so she decided to make over the blank-slate new-construction yard with color and whimsy.

Pots are Tops.

Container gardens make easy training wheels for gardening beginners. Then, scatter those containers amongst in-ground beds for a layered look. Get creative when sourcing pots — Wiltshire uses old watering cans, galvanized tubs, tool boxes and rustic urns.

Have Fun.

I haven’t got a clue what plants are called,” Wiltshire said. “I buy it and stick it in the yard.” To emphasize her casual approach, Wiltshire displayed shovels with lighthearted messages such as, “No idea,” “Did I plant that,” and “Pretty,” in lieu of botanical labels during the garden tour.

Follow The Fuquay-Varina Garden Club on Facebook for updates about next year’s tour

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