Chuck Jakubchak | Special to The Gazette
Shortly after Gisela Mattingly, along with her husband, Paul, moved to Chippewa Lake in 1986, she decided to do a little gardening at her new home.
She liked the idea of working with the soil and hoped to make her yard a little more appealing. But without formal training, Gisela’s early years were trial and error and not every planting was a success.
In addition to her hands-on learning experience, she studied books, read magazines, talked to other gardeners and quickly developed a pair of green thumbs. As her confidence and success grew, so did her flower beds and plant collection.
Today, Mattingly’s yard resembles a well-manicured botanical garden. The array of color and her diverse assortment of perennials, annuals and roses are meticulously arranged throughout her yard with a koi pond that serves as the focal point.
Every week different species of plants bloom, providing fresh colors to replace ones that have faded, and her strategy for color progression is well thought out.
Thousands of plants adorn the Mattingly property. Asked about her favorite, Mattingly was quick to reply: “Tulips are my absolute favorite. Nothing is prettier, especially in the spring after a long winter when I am ready to see inspiration flowers and signs of warmer weather.”
The Ohio Association of Garden Clubs selects one residential property each year to receive its “Best Garden in the State of Ohio” and Mattingly is expected to be a strong candidate for the 2014 award.
The association will announce its winner in mid-August and Medina County might be able to claim it is home to the best backyard garden in the state.
Mattingly plants about 900 new tulip bulbs each year and carefully peruses catalogs to locate the specific variety she wants and purchases in quantity to get the best value.
But zinnias were Mattingly’s first love.
“I started with a plant that I was comfortable with and progressed from there,” she said. “If I were to give advice to a new gardener today, I would tell them to start with daylilies.
“They are relatively easy and add a lot of color to any landscape.”
Mattingly shares her passion for gardening with her community. She is president of the Briarwood Beach Garden Club in Chippewa Lake. The club recently received a grant from the Willard Stephenson Foundation in Medina and together with the Pride Committee, landscaped a common area in Chippewa Lake.
A bench donated by the Briarwood Garden Club soon will join the new plants, shrubs and fresh mulch in an area of Chippewa Lake that previously had been overgrown.
Under Mattingly’s leadership, the Briarwood Beach Garden Club also created a community garden in 2010 so local residents could grow their own vegetables.
Paul Mattingly volunteered to lay out the plots. Garden club members along with their spouses tilled the soil after it had been enriched with local compost.
A garden club member living in nearby Westfield Township donated aged alpaca manure and the organic fertilizer seemed to work magically because plants quickly matured and residents enjoyed home- grown veggies.
Paul Mattingly is the quiet helper behind much of his wife’s work. Whether he is dropping off organic plant materials at the composting facility in Westfield Township during the summer or picking up supplies for the garden, he is always there to help.
“My pickup truck is always in use and we don’t know what we would do without it,” he said.
Maintaining flower beds that resemble a botanical garden is not easy.
Gisela Mattingly said she spends at least six hours a day, seven days a week in the garden from mid-April through early July. She resumes a similar schedule during September and October when the growing season comes to an end.
In winter, the Mattinglys still devote time to their garden — hanging decorative lights to brighten the holiday season. The last time they counted, 12,000 lights illuminated their yard.
Gisela Mattingly said the rewards of having a beautiful garden and green thumbs are many. Neighbors often bring their visiting relatives by to see the yard and other garden clubs routinely stop by the Mattingly residence to admire their work.
The garden also attracts songbirds and hummingbirds and a variety of insects.
But more important than visitors, Gisela Mattingly said, is the personal satisfaction of seeing the results of their hard work and the sense of tranquility the garden brings to their home.
Contact Chuck Jakubchak at areanews@medina-gazette.