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  • Cosmann's Garden Paradise

  • The black, iron gates at the entrance of Annette and Brian Cosmann's home outside Talent open to a garden paradise.
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  • The black, iron gates at the entrance of Annette and Brian Cosmann's home outside Talent open to a garden paradise.
    From the moment one drives in, it's apparent this is a place where the plants are well-loved. This benevolence shows in the lush growth and serenity.
    With two acres of landscaping, Annette and Brian are in the garden "every spare minute." While most gardeners must be content with a trio of one plant variety, the Cosmanns have the space to utilize mass plantings and trees to full advantage. Swaths of lady's mantle, snapdragons, crane's bill and brightly colored pansies sit around and under groves of trees: evergreens, ornamentals and fruit trees. One of the most spectacular mass plantings is evident even before entering the main garden.
    The circular drive is surrounded by trees, but in fact surrounds a large garden, hidden from view. Swaths of gunnera, a tropical plant with leaves about 2 feet wide, command attention. It's not until you enter a long, narrow arbor with roses and clematis climbing the sides that you catch a glimpse of the surprisingly spacious lawn in the interior. In this hidden space, yarrow, pansies, daisies and scattered roses add spots of color to the greenery. A large, tiered fountain provides comforting water sounds.
    "It's so peaceful," says Annette. "I come here with a book and forget everything else around me."
    Even without a book, there are many places to get lost in this garden, which stretches out behind the house like islands in a sea of grass. A long porch provides plenty of comfortable seating and views into the garden. A mixed border includes perennials, annuals and small shrubs: purple and white echinacea, roses, daisies, rudbeckia, helianthemum, azalea, veronica, columbine, blue salvia and wall flower. These plantings flow into wider border plantings of roses and shrubs along the east side of the house.
    An island garden on the home's east side is sited under a large sequoia, which provides deep, comfortable shade. A pair of chairs under its branches delivers another opportunity to enjoy the garden, with a view of an old stable and its border of snapdragons. In the distance, a Japanese garden beckons invitingly. But other sites have to wait as we gaze at nearby butterflies and nasturtium blooms close at hand. The sequoia is underplanted with a variety of blooming plants, most grown by Brian.
    "He has a natural ability for this kind of thing," says Annette.
    A lattice nursery nearby is full of seedlings and starts, ably demonstrating the truth of her comment. He's started the annuals, such as snapdragons and nasturtium, from seed, as well as propagating others from cuttings taken from the garden.
    The Cosmanns like daily living in their garden, which includes taking dinner on the porch off the free-standing studio behind the house. A simple wooden table is surrounded by chairs and a cedar bench, now loaded with geraniums. The studio shares a view of the plantings and a small pond just behind the house. Adjacent to a grove of evergreens, three ancient wisteria vines with trunks as wide as 15 inches wend up the south side of a cedar tree. The vines provide color in the early summer and pleasure year-round with their spiraling.
    "I love how it twists," says Annette, ducking under its contorted branches. "I love what nature does."
    Most of the gardens center on trees planted by previous owners Bill Coleman and Dale Wessels of Medford. These, along with the outbuildings, provide the bones of the garden, and the Cosmanns added plants that provide its glorious color.
    Their planting sprees are easily inspired. Once, a birdbath Annette gave Brian for his birthday provided the motivation. She sweeps her arm around a 30-foot planting area. "All this," she says.
    Despite the amount of maintenance, the Cosmanns generally don't use chemical controls, even cutting the blackberries down by hand until the roots die.
    "Nature is there. Something is there to eat what we don't want on our flowers," says Annette. She takes pleasure in most of her garden visitors — butterflies, birds and bees — but not in the gophers that eat plant roots.
    The solution was to install barn-owl nests, four of them, and neighbors followed suit. Barn owls are reputed to eat 1,000 gophers a year.
    "We have seen a decrease in the gopher population," she says. "It's noticeable."
    Does this paradise ever become too much to handle?
    "The garden gives us a lot of pleasure," says Annette. "It doesn't seem a chore."
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