Doug Oster and his neighbor Rob

Garden media personality, Doug Oster pontificates on his private garden while a group of gardeners on the Master Gardener Society trip two weeks ago listen up

 Two weeks ago I lead a trip to Pittsburgh (that is why there are many blogs on Pittsburgh)…and we were privileged to visit the private garden of Doug Oster, a well-known garden personality in Pittsburgh. He began by telling us he doesn’t have much time to spend in the garden anymore, so he tries to make the garden as easy as possible to take care of. I need that…no matter what anyone says, gardening is work…but, it is rewarding.

There is no way to purposely create this wonderful kind of shabby chic just happens naturally in Doug's garden!

Now THIS is a care free garden...and it puts golf clubs to a great use in my book...

Now we proceeded UP…way up…the hill to Doug’s neighbor Rob Joswiak’s Japanese garden.

 What a treat!

Everything in this garden was hand built by Rob Joswiak!

This Japanese tea house built by Rob gets a lot of isn't just for show

One of the fascinating substitutions that everyone raved about…Rob faux painted PVC pipe instead of using bamboo…it was much cheaper and lasts longer…especially since he used it all over the garden! You can see a little of it in this photo…it is a yellowish color.

A Japanese garden must have a pond...

Rob’s entire lot, hillside and front yard…every tiny bit of space is landscaped with pergolas, sitting areas, bridges, paths and many Japanese Maples and interesting plant combinations.

One Japanese Maple in his front yard has curly leaves. If anyone knows the name of this tree, please write back! Yes, it is supposed to curl like that.

If you know the variety name for this Japanese Maple, please let me know...

Rob claims he changes the garden and plantings if he doesn’t like where things are placed. See the photo with the plant combinations demonstrating the differences in leaf texture…

This arrangement of plants shows Rob's keen eye for texture and form in leaf shapes and sizes

 The creator of this hillside Japanese garden and his wife, Mary of many years…

Imagine a big bus arriving in your neighborhood with 50 people walking through a private home garden (Doug’s) and up the hill to Rob’s…what would happen in your neighborhood?

Well in this neighborhood…Rob’s wife, Mary came out and started giving us food to take on the bus and garden books to give away. Then a few gardeners noticed a nice home a few doors down from Rob’s (the bus driver had meanwhile driven the bus up to Rob’s house). They started looking at the new garden and the owners came out. One of the owners was Jon Gregory Colburn…earlier of MSU! Wow, what a small world. We were not only were treated like neighbors, but we found a former Michigander in the neighborhood. Everyone could not have been more friendly! His small garden was lovely also…

Doug Oster sold and signed his new book, “Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil…then lead us down the hill in his truck to the highway….and gave us a wave as he took off. Did I mention that we arrived just after 7 AM in the morning!

Tomatoes Garlic Basil: The Simple Pleasures of Growing and Cooking Your Garden's Most Versatile Veggies

I hope we would be this friendly and helpful if a visiting group came to Michigan.

I’ll bet Doug knows a few more of his neighbors now…!


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3 Responses to Doug Oster and his neighbor Rob

  1. Rhonda Law says:

    Nice article. I am Rob and Mary’s oldest daughter of their 6 children.

    • Rhonda,

      Thanks so much! Rob and Mary are the sweetest people…and Rob has built a fantastic Japanese garden. You are lucky to have them as parents. The group of Master Gardeners LOVED his garden. I had trouble getting them back on the bus. Mary was so sweet…giving us food and gifts! They are really special people!

      Have a great weekend…!

      Sandie Parrott

  2. a big acomplishment, I used to pull the weed down there in the vegtable garden back in the sixstys. robert h joswiak sr son

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