Garden Photo of the Day

Gardening Around a Historic Home

Mass plantings set off a beautiful old home

Purple irises in front of a grey house

Today we’re visiting with Sid Raisch.

We garden at the historic Dawson House in Hillsboro, Ohio. Our family moved to this 1890s home eleven years ago. There was really no historically significant landscape here then. There were some overgrown badly placed yews (Taxus sp., Zones 5–9), some rather poor white lilacs (Syringa vularis, Zones 3–7), and a half-dozen aged sugar maples (Acer saccharum, Zones 3–8) from the original landscape that had been poorly pruned and were suffering wounds and aged condition. Previous owners made some efforts with new plantings that became part of the current garden whether transplanted or encouraged to flourish in place. Over our time we’ve lost several of the original big maples and have planted many new futures with scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea, Zones 4–9), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum, Zones 4–9), copper beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’, Zones 4–7), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua, Zones 5–9), and more.

Mass of purple irises in front of a grey houseThe showcase planting of Siberian iris ‘Caesar’s Brother’ (Iris siberica ‘Caesar’s Brother’, Zones 3–8) was divided from six mature clumps previous owners had placed in a bed in the dead center of the backyard, where we wished to reclaim play space for our young boys.

Purple irises in front of a grey houseAnother view of the big sweep of Iris Caesar’s Brother’ includes the historic house behind.

Looking out a window surrouded by stained glass to show a mass planting of lavender plantsA big planting of lavender (Lavandula × intermedia ‘Phenomenal’, Zones 5–9) has replaced an unused, sloped side lawn.

Mass planting of lavender next to a grey houseAnother view of the mass lavender planting.

A grey urn with a stack of orange and black squash in itWe are constantly updating the Urn Garden, always striving for a spectacular showing! Here it features a stack of fall squash, with ornamental red-leaved cotton (Gossypium hirsutum, annual).

A plant with very large dark green leaves growing in an urnAnd here is the urn featuring a large Philodendron (tropical or as a houseplant) for a dramatic tropical feel.


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View Comments


  1. Jay_Sifford 06/24/2021

    Wow, Sid, what a beautiful home. I'm so glad you're giving it the beautiful love it deserves. Happy gardening!

  2. nwphilagardener 06/24/2021

    I'd love Sid to tell us what's planted in between the Siberian Iris and Lavender banks? Does the iris foliage get floppy after the bloom is over in your Ohio setting?

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/24/2021

    Oh, my, love those irises!

  4. sheila_schultz 06/24/2021

    What a huge undertaking, Sid! Your home is magnificent and your property is showing the thoughtfulness that will become its' future. I'm eager to see future installments of the progress.

  5. btucker9675 06/24/2021

    I believe that your house and garden are happy to have you as their caretakers now. Everything is just lovely and that swathe of irises is fabulous. That lavender planting must smell like heaven when in full bloom - I have a few planted in my garden and can't pass by without rubbing my hands through them, same with my rosemary plants. Yum!

  6. User avater
    simplesue 06/24/2021

    Oh I love your historic house and garden!
    So fun to see the view of the garden from inside the house looking out of the window with the stained glass- to see all the golden orange color out in the garden too- just spectacular!
    The urn with the autumn squash is clever and beautiful, and the pot with the tropical houseplant is so elegant...just love everything you've all done with the house and garden.
    What an impressive mass planting of ‘Caesar’s Brother’ Iris, I have about 3 of them LOL! Now I know how beautiful mine could be if treated a bit better!
    I'm so inspired by your garden!

  7. darylsavage 06/24/2021

    I'd love to see more photos, especially of all your new trees. I love the shot of the maple and stained glass. That is inspired. I copied the squash cairns from a local florist here, and they looked great. I hate mums, so it was a good alternative. I miss Meander. Where are you, Meander?

    1. CTpat 06/25/2021

      I miss Meander, too. I tried to find some way to get in touch with her directly but was unsuccessful.
      The garden is wonderful, and I admire the self-discipline it takes to not let a lot of "other things" creep in.

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