This steep hillside is Nancy’s front yard. She used evergreens to set the bones of the garden and add winter color. The ‘Grey Owl’ juniper was the first to go in and then the gold mops, thunderhead pine, dwarf blue spruce, yuccas, and ground hugging ‘Wiltonii’ juniper, which turns a purplish color in winter. Seen from the house, this bank is spectacular not only in winter, but all year long.

Nancy Martemucci’s first words about her garden are color. She wanted year-round, and especially, winter color in the garden. And, she wanted it on the very steep bank that was now her front yard. Moving to Western North Carolina from Concord, Massachusetts, the most challenging thing about her new garden was the slope. She had an overall vision for the garden and that vision, thankfully, was not a “wall of juniper.” She included diversity into her garden, adding trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals to achieve her goal of color on a steep incline in full-sun (Zone 7a). Her garden is inspiration for those of us facing that same slope (and in WNC most of us are).

Looking at the house from street view gives an idea of just how steep the bank is. That’s a ‘Sango-kaku’ Japanese maple at the top of the bank (pushing it leaves into the picture). It provides stunning fall leaf color, and winter color with its reddish-pink trunk and branches, hence the common name, coral bark maple. Japanese maples are a great plant combination with evergreens.

Nancy considers the whole landscape when determining what plants to add. Plant combinations and foliage color are what she majors on, and trees and shrubs are included in that creative process. That’s a good reminder, if we live in an established garden remember to look up when deciding what goes into the garden. It isn’t just about the perennials and shrubs. The color, shape, texture (don’t forget bloom and bark) of the trees is also part of the plant combination. Borrowed landscapes, if what’s in your neighbor’s yard is visible and interesting, can be factored in, as well as the surrounding architecture and natural environment. All of this plays a part in achieving what Nancy has accomplished; a beautiful, year-round garden, full of the color she wanted.

Emelia (common name Tasselflower), an annual that makes a great display with the texture and color of the ‘Angelina’ sedum, ‘Blue Spruce’ sedum and the evergreens below.

One of the best elements in Nancy’s garden are the fun annuals she adds year to year for interest and color. “I’ve added so much to the garden, there isn’t a lot of room left, so annuals are a good way to incorporate new plants each year,” she says. Many of us shy away from annuals due to the time or expense. We don’t like planting again and again, or we only want to pay for the plants once. Nancy sows annual seeds and gets a lot of bang for her buck.

Nancy’s meticulous choices of color, shown in her garden pictures below, reveal the creativity that a gardener can enjoy and express in nature. We hope you gain inspiration with each picture and enjoy Nancy’s colorful vision. Thank you Nancy for sharing your garden with us and for the pictures (taken by Nancy). 

Click on each picture (above and below) for a description of the plants. If you have a question or want to share some of your garden pictures, please do so in the comment section below. To see the other gardens featured click on these Cynthia Gilloly, Barney Bryant, Becky Ewing, and Jan Cantrell

AAP, Cinthia

Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach, outside sales associate, and blog writer.

BB Barns serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.