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The Weatherly Garden, 1984-1988; 1993-1994

Garden designer, former owner:
Weatherly, Virginia
Weatherly, Sarah
Former owner:
Rufenacht, John
Westport Garden Club
Physical description:
1 folder+ 13 35mm slides (photographs)
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, Missouri, Kansas City
Kansas City
The Weatherly Garden (Kansas City, Missouri)
1984-1988 1993-1994
The Weatherly Garden was the work of two generations of self-taught horticulturalists, mother and two daughters, who turned a quarter-acre city lot filled with elm trees into nine garden rooms filled with color, scent and supplies for gourmet cooks. Their earliest efforts considered the shade and drainage patterns on the property; later the lot opened up when the trees succumbed to Dutch Elm disease. Meticulous records were kept for each plant: the source and cost, the date of planting, and notes on its growth pattern. The original plan called for nine different garden rooms: a Sweet Herb knot garden with 12 small beds; a Grass Walk bordered with perennials on one side and Exbury azaleas on the other; an orderly Vegetable Garden planted in rows with a bee skep feature; a formal Perennial Garden with Korean boxwood borders; a Culinary Herb Garden next to a brick terrace; a Daylily bed later replanted with shrubbery requiring less maintenance; Shrubbery Borders at the perimeter of the property; an Orchard; and an Old Rose Hedge featuring damask, moss and David Austin roses. The sisters constructed walks and raised beds from salvaged bricks and built a lattice-sided garden shed.
Lavender was used to edge garden beds, and self-sown sprouts were dug out of the walkways and transplanted. Two varieties of lavender were planted -- munsted and hidcote that eventually crossed to create a new variety, named Weatherly after the garden. Cuttings from the Korean boxwood also took root and were transplanted. Self-sowing varieties were allowed to spread so long as they did not crowd out another desired plant. Scent and compact growth habits were important in choosing flower varieties, and a tapestry of colors and shapes was the desired effect. Trellises were used in the vegetable garden to maximize the small space but flowers requiring staking were not planted since their supports would have been hard to disguise. Taller, blowsy herbs and perennials were planted under the shrub borders. Creeping thyme was allowed to invade the brick walks, with a semi-circular patch of thyme at the side of the culinary herb garden intended as a seat, a practice in medieval gardens.
The Weatherly Garden was routinely cultivated rather than mulched. The loose soil acted as mulch and weeds were not a problem after many years of cultivation. A sonic pest eradicator kept squirrels away from the orchard.
Persons associated with the garden include: Virginia and Sarah Weatherly (garden designers and former owners, 1943-1995); and John Rufenacht (former owner, 1995 - 2007).
The folder includes worksheets and photocopies of articles.
This property is featured in The American Woman's Garden by Ellen Samuels and Rosemary (Verey, Little, Brown, 1984); Gardening in the Heartland by Rachel Snyder, University of Kansas Press, 1992; "Gardening in Small Spaces" by Douglas A. Jimerson, published in Better Homes and Gardens, February 1987, pp. 92 - 95; "Sisters' Garden" by Allison Engel, published in Country Gardens, summer 1994, pp. 100-110; "The City Eden of Sarah and Virginia Weatherly" by Ruth Rhode Haskell, published in Flower and Garden Magazine, February 1989, pp. 44-48; "The Dooryard Garden" by A. Cort Sinnes, published in Flower and Garden Magazine, October 1989, p. 40; "Virginia and Sarah Weatherly, the World is Their Garden" by A. Cort Sinnes, published in Kansas City Live!, July 19990, pp. 44-46; "Theirs is a Garden of Delight" by George H. Gurley Jr., published in "The Kansas City Star" March 28, 1987; "In the Garden a Long, Long Time" by Anne Raver, published in "The New York Times", September 30, 1993; "Herbs in a Small City Garden" by Virginia and Sarah Weatherly, published in American Cottage Gardens, Brooklyn Botanic Garden Record, 1990
Local number:
Data Source:
Archives of American Gardens

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