Richard and Audrey Boys’ English-Style Cottage in Wilmington
What was once a chauffeur’s apartment has been beautifully transformed into a comfortable stone dwelling. And the garden is a sight to behold.
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A Perennial Optimist
What is now an artistically plotted garden was once a utilitarian vegetable patch.
“The whole yard was a truck garden for the estate,” Boys says.
These days, most of the garden is shaded. She grows herbs, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and other veggies in a small, sunny patch by the front gate. A pear tree is espaliered on the wall by the front door.
Licorice-scented fennel is interspersed with flowers. It is so prolific Boys sometimes struggles to keep the herb in check.
“I visited a plantation in Cuba where they train fennel to grow on the wall,” she says. “That’s an idea I will try here.”
Boys is inspired by gardens wherever she travels, most recently by the exotic plantings she enjoyed in Pakistan. She also gains insights at the Delaware Center for Horticulture in Wilmington, which sponsors an annual rare plant auction.
Most of all, she loves perennials, plants that return year after year, especially bear’s breeches (Acanthus spinosus), a tall stalk with spiky leaves and showy deep purple flowers.
Other favorites include butterfly bush (Buddleia sp.); New England aster (Symphiotrichum novae-angliae); Virginia bluebells (Mertensia Virginia); and trillium (Trillium cuneatum toadshade).
The towering blue spruce was a tiny seedling when she planted it 40 years ago in memory of her grandmother.
Boys doesn’t tap the sugar maple for fear of harming the tree. But on occasion, Mother Nature offers up a treat.
“Sometimes, the syrup just runs down the tree,” she says.