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Honoring decades of hard work

There is a special quality to the gardens at 164 Sixth St., the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for May. It’s not just that children are so welcome and comfortable here and that plants seem always to be blooming, but that they are such interesting combinations of plants and hardscape. This is Karen Loop’s garden, where she has lived for 25 years, raised her two children — now adults — and has run a preschool, Sunflower Cottage, for 18 years.

Over the years, Karen planted everything on the property except the street tree, and created every pathway, planting bed, deck and fence. Ten truckloads of soil were brought in. She collects heart-shaped stones that are displayed throughout. With both help and hindrance from young children, Karen maintains the garden with three-to-four hours a week of work, on average. The bare spot on the right side of the front yard is destined to be a tiny patio when Karen has recovered from a back injury.

This is a magical space where children are encouraged to explore. Right now, the dogwoods are in bloom, along with redbud, daphne, lilac and viburnum. Among Karen’s favorite plants are peonies, feverfew and foxglove. Camellias, Rose of Sharon, pieris, hellebore, hydrangea and rhododendrons abound. There are beds for vegetables, blueberries and raspberries toward the back, and play equipment is in its own area.

The Ashland Garden Club has been selecting Gardens of the Month, from April through September, since 2000. Nominations are gratefully received at aogardenclub@gmail.com. Check out the Club’s website at ashlandorgardenclub.wordpress.com or come to the meetings at 12:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, October through May, at Pioneer Hall on Winburn Way.

Ruth Sloan is a member of the Ashland Garden Club.

Photo by Karen Loop
Photo by Larry Rosengren.