By Karin Glendenning
Community News Writer
Shirley and Steve Gay moved from Illinois to Signal Mountain just two and a half years ago, and in the ensuing months have totally transformed their yard into a strikingly beautiful area. What was once an impossibly steep slope now is softened by terraces, winding paths, bands of grass and heavily mulched beds lush with hundreds of different plants.
Banks of hydrangeas, both Endless Summer and Annabelle varieties, flank the left hand side of the garden. Near them are several large boulders that the Gays had positioned to provide a good spot for taking a break from what has been a tremendous amount of yard work.
“I’ve always been a gardener, but not to this extent,” said Mrs. Gay of the ambitious task she undertook. Her husband even gave up some of his golfing to help her out. “This is the first year I’ve really worked in the garden,” Mr. Gay said. He recognized his wife needed help and said he has enjoyed helping her establish their yard.
“We do all the work ourselves, and I find it a joy,” Mrs. Gay said.
Spread throughout the gardens are many hostas, from miniature specimens to extra-large plants. “My love is hosta,” Mrs. Gay said. She brought about 100 hostas and perennials with her when she moved here, and they and about 300 more now flourish in her yard.
She’s even managed to find hostas that share names with her family members. They grow in what she calls “my family garden.”
In addition to the many hostas and hydrangeas, there are plantings of hellebores, iris, geraniums, verbena, gaura, lavender, coneflowers, Knockout roses, clethera, oak leaf hydrangeas, French hollyhock, Victoria salvia, lamb’s ear, columbine, day lilies, impatiens, heuchera, azaleas, foxglove, Mexican daisies, begonias, petunias, ageratum, Shasta daisies and rue, a tall lavender flower.
“Planting in mass gives the best impact,” said Mrs. Gay, although she admits that “I’ve said all my life that I wanted one of everything.”
One of Mrs. Gay’s successful ideas is to integrate many different ground covers in the yard. Pachysandra thrives in the front yard, as do blue star and white star creeper, which grow around stepping stones. In the backyard creeping thyme is planted between the mountain stones of the patio.
The Gays are happy they moved to Signal. “My favorite thing is to drive up Shoal Creek Road,” Mrs. Gay said.
“My garden truly is my passion,” she said. “It’s a delight.”
E-mail Karin Glendenning at firstname.lastname@example.org