Living Country in the City

WRITTEN BY MEGIN POTTER PHOTOS BY BLACKBURN PORTRAIT DESIGN

JUST AROUND THE BEND FROM High Rock Park, a homey garden tucked behind an unassuming family home provides an enjoyable outdoor retreat
in the midst of the city.

A stone retaining wall levels the front of
the property while red and blue annual plantings line the walkway to the white door of Carol Godette’s childhood home. She now lives there with her husband, Dave whose diligence has molded their 3⁄4 acre lot into a space that seems much larger.

“When people see it, they say, ‘Oh, I had no idea!’ It’s like our own piece of the country back here,” said Carol.

Life by the Foot

In early March, Dave fires up the furnace in their backyard greenhouse. Originally built in 1984, it was remodeled approximately six years later. Shelving in the narrow space optimizes usable growing and storage areas for the nearly 3,000 plants that Dave raises there from cuttings and plugs each year.

The greenhouse’s wall of sloping glass looks out over the in-ground pool positioned in the center of the small lawn.

On one side of the pool, a large entertainment area is sheltered by a new pergola being built this year. A comfortable fireplace, outdoor kitchen and dining area serve to heighten the experience of family and friends in this backyard that has long functioned as a pleasurable place to relax.

“We’re out here pretty much all day long,” said Dave.

In addition to visits from their daughter, they often host dinner parties and out-of- town guests poolside. A dense planting of brightly blooming perennials encircle the swimming area, enhancing the country feel of the space.

A small strip of lawn separates the pool from the plantings along the entire perimeter fence. A bench sits in amongst the forget- me-nots in their memorial garden, built to honor their dog Ben, a golden retriever who died in 2000 when he was seven years old. His memorial marker is accompanied by one for their golden retriever, Belle who was 14-years-old when she passed. The Godettes also hosted their son’s wedding ceremony here when he returned from Prague, where he now lives with his family.

 

A Bountiful Feat

Carol, a retired Lake Avenue Elementary School teacher, is co-owner of Ben & Jerry's on Putnam Street. Taking on the job of maintaining their brick street-side beds, she said the high-traffic area must be filled with “tried-and-true” plants that can withstand the sometimes punishing conditions often inherent in a public space. New wave petunias, coleus and begonias work well here, she said.

Dave, owner of Dave’s Painting, is the caretaker of their home gardens.

“My job is much smaller than his,” said Carol.

Dave has developed a layer of “permadirt” on his hands because they are always busy in the dirt, he said. In addition to rows
of flowers and foliage, he also builds lush container plantings and cultivates 10 raised beds for vegetables.

Growing everything from arugula to Brussels sprouts and eggplant, Dave said it feels a bit luxurious to be able to weed raised beds from the comfort of a stool.

He also enjoys cooking up the bounty of his harvest. Comfort foods including eggplant parmesan and grilled zucchini are joined on his menu of options by a crisp kale and beet salad or a “mean” Swiss chard.

Small-Town Spirit

One of Dave’s favorite summertime staples is a simple tomato sandwich.

“One year he had 36 tomato plants and I teased him that he should start up a farm stand,” said Carol.

 

They came close the year they were overrun by hostas, inviting customers into the yard to point at the plant they wanted and then digging it up out of the ground for them to take home.

Most of what the Godettes grow in their garden they use themselves or give to neighbors.

The freshness and convenience of being able to go into the backyard for ingredients they run short on while making dinner outweighs even the plethora of farm goods available just around the bend at the Saratoga Springs Famers’ Market in High Rock Park during the summer months, agreed the Godettes.

“It’s just really nice,” said Carol.

Interested in the community created by neighborhood stores since frequenting Rowland’s as a child, these small businesses are disappearing from the American landscape. You can look for a series of Carol’s articles chronicling these beloved mom-and- pop shops in Simply Saratoga magazine.

“In a way, this garden recreates what Saratoga used to be like. It has a small- town feel that takes you back to a life that was simpler.” SS


Simply Saratoga

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