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A Small Floral Canvas



Some people see a front yard no bigger than a child's hopscotch grid chalked on pavement and think: No way can I make a garden here. It's rocky, on a hill and desert dry. Other people, like Joan Grubert, see the same patch of earth and think, What a bountiful bevy of blossoms I can grow in this dirt.

"It was a challenge, a big challenge," admits Joan of her tiny lot in Riverside. "When I saw it for the first time five years ago," she and her husband, Duane, had just moved here from California, "I said the lawn had to go. It was too difficult to mow. I never said I couldn't grow flowers."

Flowers she got. When the dozens of Fairy and shrub roses and the climbing 'New Dawn' simultaneously burst into bloom in early June, the Grubert yard looks as if a giant veil of pink and white has been draped over the landscape. The rather carefree roses hug the slopes facing the street and the driveway, and the climbing bushes all but obscure the rails bookending the stone slab steps leading upward toward her front door. The air is pregnant with their sweet perfume. A swath of lavender pivots up and around one corner leading into a botanical diorama of carpet campanulas, Shasta daisies grown from seed, coral bells, hellebores, rudbeckia, echinacea, peonies, nepetas, scabiosa and heavenly scented daphne (a rarity in these parts because deer consider these shrubs their decadent dessert). Low-growing blueberry bushes tumble down the slopes, and strawberry plants play peekaboo with every perennial and annual in their path.

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