Mary Kay Boudewyns and husband, Bob Sadlemire moved to Western North Carolina from New London, New Hampshire recently. In New Hampshire, they had a full-sun DIY garden atop a small mountain. As with most gardens, and probably every DIY effort, there was a lot of trial and error and of course, fun.  

For reference, New Hampshire divides their state into six zones: 3a to 6a. Western North Carolina divides our mountainous area into zones 5b-7a. Mary Kay and Bob’s NH home fell into zones 5a-5b. Their growing season began the end of May and finished up mid-September. They moved into zone 7a, with a growing season extended several weeks and into what so many WNC gardeners face–shade. 

The question quickly became, what to plant in a new zone with a lot of shade. After approaching BB Barns Garden Center (we were so happy to help!), Mary Kay is now learning her shade plants and combining new-found plant knowledge with her love of antiques. Below are pictures from her almost year-old garden. Still needed are more perennials, green mulch, and plantings for the back space (undergoing construction for a garage), but she’s off to a big start in a small garden. 

Ashed what her favorite part of the new garden is (don’t you hate that question), her answer is severalfold. She says, “For me, not having worked in a shaded area before I am enjoying the impact of foliage, texture, and colors, without focusing on the flowers. And there’s my succulent area, which makes me happy every time I walk past it.”

The very best part for Mary Kay? The garden is small, manageable and right there. It isn’t off to one side of the property or another, you walk out the front door, and there’s the garden. Reminiscent of gardens of Charleston where the luxury of a big yard surrounded by shrubbery and perennial beds isn’t a reality, the front yard became Mary Kay and Bob’s garden.

There is still much to do in the garden (isn’t there always?), because gardens aren’t installed like kitchen cabinets—one and done. They evolve as our space, time and creativity evolve, but as the pictures below attest, these new-to-WNC-folks are off to good start! Enjoy! 

Click on each picture, and it will pop up. Hold your cursor over the picture for a description.


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

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