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Photos: Rock Spring Garden Club’s ‘Gardens of the Year’

The three winners out of 16 entries to Rock Spring Garden Club’s  2014″Garden of the Year” were announced last week. The winners, pictured above, mix natural beauty with sustainability in their backyard gardens.

“We are so thrilled to win!” first place gardener Mary Jennings told ARLnow.com. “I love that the garden gets some exposure and might encourage others to think of big ways to transform our Arlington outdoor living spaces to be enjoyable and conservation-minded.”

Jennings, a gardener for 20 years and art teacher at Salamander Resort in Middleburg, has an underground rain water collector in her garden. She said her husband installed the rain garden because it catches overflow from their koi pond and keeps water away from their home with a series of buried downspouts.

Susan Murnane, the second place winner and director of training for the AIG’s environmental division, also re-purposed items to create a greener garden. Murnane said she reused bulbs and stone slabs found in the lot undergoing construction behind her house.

“I remember as a little kid making clover tiaras or crowns and now we live in a world where you can’t step in the grass,” said Murnane, who plans to certify her garden as a monarch waystation.

Although none of the three winners are official Rock Spring Garden Club members, each said they appreciated the recognition and camaraderie.

“I might take one Thursday off a month and go to a meeting for people whose finger nails look like mine,” joked Murnane.

Judy and Raoul Wientzen, the third place winners, utilize rain water in their garden as well. The rain water collects in a re-purposed barrel from when Raoul made his own wine, and they use it to water their plants and vegetables, according to Judy.

“We were delighted to win third place,” Judy Wientzen told ARLnow.com in an email. Wientzen, an interior designer for Bevacqua/Wientzen Associates, said she enjoys the seclusion of her garden created by the mature azaleas and oak trees. But she has more avant-garde plant life in mind for future competitions.

“All the plantings, while pretty, are pretty standard items,” said Wientzen of her garden. “We hope to add in some specimens that are a bit more unusual in the future.”

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