A Shady Garden Landscape of Treasures!
The secluded garden of Mike and Kay Maitner lies on a one-acre wooded parcel in the northeast suburbs of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Located on a cul-de-sac street among a subdivision, the home was purchased by the Maitners in 1998 and the garden was established shortly thereafter.
Both Mike and Kay enjoy gardening. Mike got his gardening bug from his mother, along with his creativity. As a fine artist who works in oil on canvas, Mike has paintings of landscapes which are on exhibit at the J. Petter Galleries in Saugatuck, Michigan, where he has shown for over 20 years. The local countryside is a wonderful inspiration for his work.
Kay, who is a licensed realtor, originally showed the home to her husband and it was love at first sight. They had never had such a beautiful rolling, wooded lot before!
Filled with enthusiasm, they began gardening right after moving in. “After we were empty nesters,” Kay explained, “I finally had the time I needed to learn about plants.” She balances her gardening hobby with her real estate career.
The small courtyard in the front yard was their first project. They had created a courtyard at their previous home and it added a lot of charm.
The following year, Mike and Kay began to lay out a plan for the hillside in back. The first step was to clear the scrub brush and small trees which carpeted the entire area. Slowly, the forest was pushed back, which exposed the fertile soil for planting.
Kay remarks, “We have always loved hostas. Then at some point, I came across an ad in the newspaper about a hosta tour, so we went and were instantly hooked! We joined the West Michigan Hosta Society and began to attend the meetings. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Through the years, the Maitners have expanded the garden by adding new areas each summer. “We don’t plan to, but it just seems to happen,” Kay admits. One year, Mike built a tea house at the back of the garden, which is a peaceful retreat after a long day at work. Another year, he installed a small pond. They planted astilbe, heuchera, spirea, conifers, viburnum, ninebark, hydrangea, and so on… and all the while, added hostas and more hostas. While the garden is anchored by mature hardwoods which surround the home, the Maitners have enhanced it with a diverse selection of Japanese maples, dogwoods, redbuds, and Canadian hemlocks.