Garden Photo of the Day

An urban garden featuring a circle of grass

This sunny corner is filled with Russian sage, sea holly, shasta daisies, a Korean spice viburnum and preying mantises.

Do you know how to calculate the area in a circle of grass? Beth Bennett's 8th grade math students can! Her urban garden in Columbus, Ohio is both lovely, and educational! 

"My garden, Bruck Border, began in the early spring of 2014. My previous gardens tended to be informal with organic shaped borders in spacious lots. But my new 113-year-old house in an urban neighborhood challenged my previous way of thinking. I removed nearly everything from my tiny lot and created geometric beds (as a math teacher I totally nerded out with the calculations) filled with informal plantings. My boyfriend thought I was nuts when I insisted on a "circle grass" but he is pleased with the result. I look forward to observing this garden as it matures and to its continual tweaking. I have included a picture immediately after the creation of the "circle grass," 15 months ago. I enjoy the glimpse into others' gardens every morning!

You can follow her garden on Instagram at @bruckborder

I love the see through quality of Verbena bonariensis and even though it didn't over winter last year I couldn't imagine Bruck Border without it. The drumstick allium are peaking and Lavender 'Phenomenal' is happy in its second growing season. The silver fuzziness of the lamb's ear is fun and adds to my favorite color combo-purple and silver.

This side of the circle grass is shaded by the neighbor's river birch and is filled with oakleaf hydrangeas, hostas, hellebores, heucheras, ferns, astilbe, boxwood, and a Cornus kousa. I feel so fortunate that this lovely brick pathway was here when I moved into this home. Keeping the weeds out of the cracks, that's another story.

The main colors in Bruck Border are purple and silver with a splash of orange and gold.

15 months ago, and yes I made my 8th graders calculate the area of the "circle grass" and the area of the planting beds. I only got a few eye rolls.

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  1. Nurserynotnordstroms 07/02/2015

    Beth what a wonderful idea making a circle bed surrounded by your lovely plantings and if you put baking soda on once a year in the cracks it will help keep the weeds out. In my case it was the gravel path area where I sprinkled it and I have done this for about three years and I don't have to weed that area anymore. This was one of the best tips I read somewhere. You are really enjoying your gardening and when I see that or hear other gardeners talk about there gardens with so much love it makes me happy.

    1. VikkiVA 07/02/2015

      Thanks for the "baking soda" tip! Vikki in VA

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 07/02/2015

        I just sprinkle it on and water it in or better yet do in on a rainy day.

        1. Sheila_Schultz 07/02/2015

          You are brilliant, my friend! This is a ' big money' winning tip :) Love it!!!

          1. Nurserynotnordstroms 07/02/2015

            I try to do all organic products in my gardens and so far so good,it took me forever to get all of the Corsican mint out of the rocks but I have been able to keep it and the weeds in check using the baking soda, we keep large boxes of it handy.

    2. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/02/2015

      Yes, Glenda. Thanks for the tip. I am forever weeding out Oakleaf Hydrangea seedlings from one of my brick walkways. I'm going to give that a try!

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 07/02/2015

        Sounds like you could be a popular guy at a plant swap if you potted up those hydrangea seedlings. I was surprised at how free seeding oak leaf hydrangeas can be. I expect it from things like verbena bonariensis but something that ends up a real bush? Well, so far, I keep finding a place for my volunteers.

        1. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/02/2015

          It really surprised me when I first noticed them. Hundreds and hundreds of them. I could start a mail order business - but all of them wind up pulled and tossed to go back into the soil. With my small garden, I'm moving toward removing all vigorous self-seeders to cut down on the weeding: columbine, river oats, and rudbeckia, to name a few. But there are some I tolerate, like the hydrangea, coneflower and Viola walteri 'silver gem'. Love them too much!

          1. User avater
            meander_michaele 07/02/2015

            I am often somewhat tolerant of some vigorous reseeders (a favorite is zinnia angustifolia in white, yellow and gold) but, holy crow, one that tested my patience hugely was river time and never again!! Oh, yes, garden magazine writers always rhapsodize over the magical rustling sound of the seed heads but then those blasted seeds drop and find the most inconvenient places to germinate. I felt so relieved once I finally eradicated it.

          2. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/02/2015

            River oats makes me sad. Lorraine loves it and honestly, I love the foliage and those gorgeous seed heads, too, but I will be relieved when I don't find any more seedlings. Thousands of them that seem to germinate over years. Oy! Another one that caught me unawares is the big Nicotiana sylvestris. I swear I never let any plant go to seed for the past ten years and I *still* find seedlings popping up now and again!

          3. User avater
            meander_michaele 07/02/2015

            The river oats earned my eternal hostility when they sprouted in multitude at the bases of some 'Crimson Pygmy' language was not fit for a lady as I reached in and hand delivered my eviction notices...ouch, ouch, ouch!

      2. Nurserynotnordstroms 07/02/2015

        I'm not to sure if the seedlings will think acid is a bad thing might work,who knows?i keep the weeds out of my rock areas and keep the Corsican mint in check with it though because who likes weeding in rocks?

        1. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/02/2015

          I guess I should have known, but I was quite surprised that the best place for seed germination in my yard is either in gravel or in between bricks!

    3. user-7007686 07/02/2015

      I'm on my way to the store to buy some baking soda! Thanks.

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 07/02/2015

        It won't kill weeds that are already there but it will keep new weed seeds from germinating unless I suppose it's a weed that loves acid.

  2. VikkiVA 07/02/2015

    My goodness what a lovely, restful garden you have created. Lambs Ear is one of my favorites for it's frosted grey/green color and it's a perfect combo with the Verbena on a stick (what we call it in Virginia). Vikki in VA

    1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

      Thank you, Vikki. The lamb's ear always gets noticed first when friends visit!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/02/2015

    Hmm, Beth, I think I have to indulge in a little "new math" and declare that 1+1= 3 ...a passionate gardener plus some interesting creativity equals a beautiful garden space that looks much larger than it is. Congratulations on a wonderful finished project! I love the purity of your circle (plus its always easier to mow curves rather than right angle) and I certainly agree with Diane about how lush and mature your plantings look. Your brick walkway is stunning and you're right to consider it a treasure worth keeping.

    1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

      Thank you so much for your comments. You're so right about the mowing bit, too.

  4. Chefin1950 07/02/2015

    I especially like how the colors of the walkway bricks (and what lovely bricks they are indeed!) perfectly match those of the silver/purple heucheras – or I guess the other way around, as the bricks were there first ;o)

    1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

      Thanks for noticing the brick / heuchera combo!

  5. davsav 07/02/2015

    Your new garden is beautiful! I too especially love the old brick walkway and your beautiful plantings. Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

      Thank you, Avis.

  6. Annek 07/02/2015

    Lovely concept worthy of a math teacher. Your garden is perfectly wonderful!

    1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

      Thank you so much, Annek.

  7. ClareRocky 07/02/2015

    Just beautiful! Thanks for including the "before" picture -- it really shows how much work went into making this wonderful garden you've created.

    1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

      Thank you, Clare. My neighbor recently told me when we first created the circle grass he thought we were making a helicopter landing.

  8. NWAgardener 07/02/2015

    Your garden is an urban oasis! I love your plant choices and agree with the others that it's so mature looking for a mere 15 months. I'll bet you love to relax on your deck after a day of teaching and enjoy the beauty you have created.

    1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

      Thank you! I spent the previous 6 years before this house in a row home with no yard so there's a ton of pent up gardening energy.

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/02/2015

    Beth! We're practically neighbors and we both love circles. How cool is that? What a great design for your back yard and some very nice plant choices. Purple and silver is a great color combo. Your glazed brick walkway inheritance is a gold mine. Have you priced out those bricks at the local antique shops? You might want to add a special brick coverage endorsement on your homeowner's insurance! :) Love it.

    1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

      Thanks Tim! Where do you like to plant shop?

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/02/2015

        I'm an addicted mail-order kind of guy. Locally I hang out at the main Oakland Nursery near me, not too from me in Clintonville. I have started making a once-a-year trek with some friends to Baker's Acres out in Alexandria because they have such great plants and breed some of their own coleus. I'd go more often if I had more time! How about you?

        1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

          Yup--Clintonville Oakland and Baker's Acres once a year. I lived in Clark County before I moved to Columbus and loved Meadow View in New Carlisle. If you ever make a trip to Springfield or Dayton you should check it out. It's Baker's Acres times five.

          1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

            Also, Seely's in Hilliard for Hosta.

          2. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/02/2015

            Never heard of them. Thanks for the tip!

        2. user-7007140 07/02/2015

          Baker's Acres is a lovely drive out, too. Worth going.

    2. user-7007140 07/02/2015

      Well Tim, another keen gardener on GPOD who lives close - what fun. You are quite right about those bricks, they are both valuable and very pretty. Nobody ever left us anything like that!
      Another tip for natural weed killer is a mixture of white vinegar and either Epsom or table salt. I try to stick to paths and stonework, too, although since I live in the country we have masses of poison ivy which I do spray with killer, but promise that is all its used for! And I'm selective with the product.
      A study by the University of Pennsylvania proved that soil is affected by vinegar/salt mixtures, so try to avoid its use elsewhere.
      Happy gardening.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/02/2015

        So fun, right? My problem with the path is two-fold: I get moss between some of the bricks (that I actually like and try to keep) and I leave some self-sowers on the edges of the path. Plus I am sure there are roots spreading out under the bricks from the garden beds. I pulled out big ostrich ferns and milkweeds that were actually pushing up the bricks this spring. I garden with abandon and not always wisely!! Unwanted plant editing may need to be done the old fashioned way!

        1. user-7007140 07/03/2015

          I know that happens here. I have lily of the valley making its way under and across from its alloted area. I really love the plant but in this instance I would rather keep it in bounds.

  10. ILfarmersdaughter 07/02/2015

    Just lovely and so lush. Like the circle grass idea too. Wow so nice. Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-7007686 07/02/2015

      Thank you, retired gal. Your name has a nice ring to it!

  11. user-7007686 07/02/2015

    Thank you so much for all of the positive reinforcement, everyone! I really appreciate your kind and specific feedback. I recently started an Instagram account @bruckborder if any of you would like to see daily-ish updates (until school starts, anyway).

  12. thevioletfern 07/02/2015

    I LOVE it! I love the circle of grass. It's grass as it should be.

  13. Cenepk10 07/02/2015

    Love it !!!! So clever, your design. And yes ! I do know how to calculate ! ( Use that everyday in my work ) Very pretty garden.

  14. user-7007686 07/02/2015

    Thank you so much, Diane! I am surprised at how much it has filled in during its second season as well. I had an acre-sized lot for 6 years, then spent 6 years without a yard. By the time I got my hands on this place, I was chomping at the bit!

  15. GrannyMay 07/02/2015

    Terrific idea! That circle grass adds the perfect touch to a difficult area that could be just ho-hum. Lucky you, the old bricks are wonderful! It all looks lush and inviting already, congratulations on getting the formula right!

  16. Sheila_Schultz 07/02/2015

    What a wonderful new garden... and I LOVE that you are using your gardening passion to create fun assignments for your students! The bricks in the path are amazing, you are so incredibly lucky... plus they also carry out the 'circle grass' theme with their imprints. How cool is that? You must be having so much fun, Beth, and to be surrounded by neighbors that also love gardening is a very lucky bonus! A great 'new' home, gardening space, and good neighbors... I think you lucked out!

  17. user-7007140 07/02/2015

    Hello Beth - I can just imagine walking through your side entry into this heavenly garden you have created, so private, lush and full of color. I'm north of the zoo so a bit colder than the sheltering city and I haven't managed to overwinter the verbena at all Grrr! If you are lucky enough to have it popping up all over then you will be truly fortunate. I saw a garden in England where this happened and those airy spots of lavender captivated me and made that garden even more beautiful.
    In my dream/future garden I am planning a circular area but not yet sure whether paving or grass.
    You are clearly loving where you live and I wish you great happiness in your new home and garden.

  18. User avater
    HelloFromMD 07/04/2015

    Hi Beth, hope Discus sends this to you. Silver and purple are awesome together. I have had good luck with the allium Star of Persia, it has seeded about and looks awesome with lamb's ears. A new one for me last year was Allium Millennium, very long lasting blooms. I envy you that you can grow drumstick allium, my yard is too shady and it lays on the ground. Awesome design on your garden!

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