The garden that Jacob Gouge has created around the home he shares with his wife and daughter at 240 North First St. reflects both his creativity and his respect for living things. It is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for August. Over the 17 years they have lived there, Gougé has salvaged and bartered the materials to create terracing in the back, define garden beds, build a fire pit, display interesting artifacts, and more on this small lot. It was bare dirt when they moved in. He is very resourceful.
But Jacob has a generous spirit as well that prompts him to offer lilacs to passersby, share cuttings of his many succulents with those who ask, and invite admiring strangers inside the gate to see the whole garden.
Along with two smaller lilacs elsewhere in front, there is a huge lilac bush in the northwest corner of the fenced area. Many of the branches of this lilac are five or more inches in diameter and have an unusual shredded bark. This lilac bush is strong enough to support one end of two hammocks!
There are extraordinary ceramic pieces throughout the property, most of them created by Gougé. He also pursues all manner of artistic expression via painting, sewing, beading, and other media. In addition, Jacob makes interesting planters for succulents out of stones or gnarled wood in which he drills holes to plant materials and for drainage.
Food crops are concentrated in the back yard, that Jacob calls his “in town farm.” This garden is 100 percent organic. He grows lettuce all year, protecting the yield from the blazing sun at this time of year with a colorful umbrella. He also grows asparagus, squash, carrots, snap peas, herbs of many varieties, and much more, often in recycled containers. He starts most plants from seeds in a hot box. The family has three healthy chickens that provide eggs as well as droppings for compost.
The Ashland Garden Club has been selecting Gardens of the Month, from April through September, since 2000. Nominations are gratefully received at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the club’s website at ashlandorgardenclub.wordpress.com or come to the meetings at 12:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, October through May, at the Community Center on Winburn Way.