Certified by the National Wildlife Federation, Myrtle Glen is a Certified Wildlife Habitat. But unlike most wildlife habitats, this one doubles as the backyard behind Evelyn and Todd Peterson’s house in Avalon Park. The garden is more than mere beautification for their yard, for them the habitat serves as a hobby and sanctuary complete with sustainable gardening, a website and a blog dedicated to their ventures.
The Peterson’s began the project in 2003, a joint effort where Evelyn did most of the designing and Todd completed most of the heavy labor.
“At the time we bought our property in Avalon Park the area was all wilderness. I realized what it meant for the wildlife was that we were ‘moving in,’” says Evelyn. “I watched the Sandhill Cranes wander around between the houses under construction, the turtles getting lost trying to find their way, etc. I realized I wanted to do something, and if just a little, to make up for it.”
This idea coupled with Evelyn’s innate love of gardening and the result is Myrtle Glen, now a mix of native and tropical plants. There are fruiting trees such as lemon, orange, nectarine and avocado that bloom in conjunction with ornamental plants like antique roses and bromeliads. All of which are strategically laid out.
“The landscaping and flower beds enhance the hardscape features, such as goldfish and koi ponds, porches, a sunken terrace, pergolas and a garden path,” she says. The goal was to divide the garden into different “garden rooms.” For example, they have placed a “meditation corner” by the koi pond, with wind chimes and a statue of Buddha. Plants are strategically positioned to hide what’s next as you keep walking along the garden path and find what surprises await.
With so much sustenance available to local critters, it’s little wonder why Myrtle Glen is home to much wildlife such as Red Cardinals, Ruby throated Hummingbirds, blue tailed skinks and more.
Todd describes this as the most rewarding part of maintaining Myrtle Glen. He says, “…It’s amazing watching things grow and all of the interesting plants and wildlife. Every morning Evelyn does a garden walk and I join her on the weekends, on any given morning you never know what you may see.”
As far as the future of Myrtle Glen is concerned, the couple is considering adding a picket fence to their front yard, an addition Todd says will add for more planting since space is limited.
The couple also offers garden tours of Myrtle Glen in addition to classes, workshops, and fundraisers, such as one coming in May as a collaborative effort with a friend to raise money for cancer. The “Tea in the Garden” event had a great turn out last year, and Evelyn hopes for even greater success this year.
Additional information for all of these events is posted on Myrtle Glen’s website and blog which can be found at www.MyrtleGlen.com. The user friendly site has an entire page dedicated exclusively to gardening in Avalon Park, a result of neighbors seeking advice in combination with Avalon Park’s unique soil.
The blog is rich with photographs from Evelyn and Todd’s backyard as well as additional information for the intrigued gardener.
By Jessica Inman