34 roomJUNE 2012 oGr winGPers nalityoosome gardens are planned as works of art, only to be admired. some are planted for useful reasons - practical, no frills, strictly utilitarian, with tidy rows of vegetables and herbs. yet others combine all of these things and also represent the personality of the gardener.Lee Ann Koch has tended to her back yard garden in Iowa City for the last 40 years.
roomJUNE 2012 35LLee Ann Koch has a backyard that, some would say, fits her personality perfectly.It is calm, serene, lovely, dignified; yet efficient, well organized, and creative.Lee Ann and her husband, John, have lived in the same house in Iowa City since 1965. Once the back yard contained a playhouse, made by John, complete with electricity. It served as a wonderful hangout for their kids and their neighborhood friends. But with the children grown, the yard was free for Lee Ann to create.She enlisted a friend to help her draw up a plan. Looking down at the yard from the couple's second story deck, it seems to have a double "U" shape with grass paths just wide enough for a clean sweep of the mower, leading to and surrounding the roses, iris, hostas, small trees and a host of colorful and bright perennials and annuals.On each side, Lee Ann has her vegetable gardens. Tomatoes, kale, beets, Swiss chard, okra and parsnips are neatly planted, already growing and ready for whatever this summer brings.If the summer is a scorcher, her plants won't thirst because Lee Ann has a 120-gallon barrel that collects rainwater. It sits next to the drainpipe on a slight embankment, which allows gravity to send the water down the hose closer to her plants.Roses have always been one of Lee Ann's favorites and, through the years, she admits to having many, some that took lots of care and diligent maintenance.Now she has roses she loves, but that require much less care. One is the popular Knockout rose, another is David Austin, an English rose with some fragrance and large flowers. She has Buck roses, which grow so well in an Iowa climate, and Easy Elegance, another low-maintenance rose. ?By JUDY TERRYPhotos by BENJAMIN ROBERTS