Growing Memories

1023 0

A place for all to find peace, beauty, and inspiration, Jayne Stone’s sprawling garden is an ever-growing gift she loves sharing with others. 

Story by Jeanne de Lathouder     |     Photography by Matthew Anderson

Known as the “house with the beautiful landscape,” Jayne and Shelby Stone’s lavish Olathe property in Brighton’s Landing has been a beloved work in progress since the couple built their home in 2010. So it’s not at all surprising that Jayne, a Seattle native, grew up playing in the soil and helping her mother plant pansies when she was a little girl. As a teenager, she was responsible for doing the yardwork — mowing the lawn, tending the flower beds, and planting flower seeds. Her mother took care of the veggies. When Jayne married, she planted flowers in pots on her tiny apartment decks and grew vegetables in community gardens until she and her husband moved to Kansas, where they had a garden plot.

“I had never seen clay soil before,” Jayne laughs. “So, in 1987, I called the Johnson County Extension Master Gardener hotline and spoke with them about this unusual soil. They helped me, so I made many other calls. I admired the people there who answered my questions,” she adds.

A few years down the road, with a couple of kids off to college and a couple still at home, Jayne decided it was time to explore community service — and the Extension Master Gardener program seemed like a dream to her. She applied, was accepted, and has loved her associations with the other gifted and talented master gardeners and the fantastic service this group provides for the community.

When she and her husband decided to build their Olathe home near their two daughters in 2010, Jayne realized this was her opportunity to make people happy with their landscape. Her first obstacle was a  row of hedge apples just feet from their back door. But because it was too costly to remove and replace them with the required two-inch caliper trees, she simply trimmed them up, allowing them to provide light shade and background texture.

In April 2011, landscape designer Todd Higgins built a beautiful patio with a seating wall that accommodates all 18 of the Stones’ extended family members. Nancy Branum, an Extension Master Gardener who also designed many of the area’s community gardens, helped Jayne brainstorm ideas for a unique landscape. 

“With Nancy’s vision and Todd’s brilliance, we ended up with a creative and beautiful landscape,” tells Jayne. “Berms and swaths of grass soften the stiff lines of the farm fence, which borders our property. In 2010, we hauled loads of mulch to build up the back and help tame the wilderness. The different mulches add texture, color, and movement — and a semi-circle sweep into the mulch gives depth to our narrow yard,” she adds. 

A stroll through the gardens reveals a lush layering of Jayne’s plantings, including hydrangea, columnar white pines, and serpentine blue atlas cedars, one of which she has on a trellis with macramé rings to train the branches. There is at least one Japanese maple on each side of the house, and in one area, she has two trained Japanese maples flat against a wall. A row of blueberry hedges and an espalier apple tree adorn one of the berms. 

“I wanted a place to grow vegetables in butt-high raised beds for when I was old,” laughs Jayne. “So, Todd built six Belgium walls with crushed granite paths tucked into the berms, which were initially built to minimize mowing. The grass ends up as a path to tease you around the yard. While excavating, a huge flat tabletop rock was unearthed, and Todd suggested making a table out of it — and so he did,” she sums. “We made a sand play area underneath and later bordered it with liriope. Colorful kid-sized Adirondack chairs complete the look — and the grandchildren love it!” 

Memorable events in Jayne’s garden include the 2014 EMG Garden Tour when it was just three years young. Even though it had snowed three days before the tour, she was amazed to share her garden with more than 1200 people. At Christmas in 2020, she hosted a luminary walk for the ladies at her church. It was a frigid night, and Jayne tarped her garage so they could enjoy wassail and holiday treats after looking at the lights. 

“One of my favorite traditions is to share my garden with neighbors and strangers,” Jayne reveals. “I will offer a gift from the garden — flowers, herbs, veggies, plants — and sometimes send out a neighborhood email inviting everyone to come for make-and-take bouquets. I love watching the flowers disappear from the buckets and the petals covering the sidewalk, much like Hansel and Gretel,” she laughs. “If you have a dream, go for it. If you can’t have it on the scale you want, do what you can afford.” 

About The Author