Unique Garden that Grows Plants, Families & Friendships

On morning runs through the neighborhood I began noticing a unique home garden. It encompassed a large part of the backyard and it seemed like a new bed or structure was always popping up. I wanted a closer look. I had planned to ring the doorbell to meet the gardeners and learn more about this intriguing garden. Instead, I had the good luck to meet Sy Ahmad while he was in his garden and I was jogging by. I made two subsequent visits and left awe-struck each time by the lovely and thoughtful integration of spaces for gardening, cooking, eating, and relaxing.

This captivating garden is always changing and wherever you look there is some interesting feature to capture your eye and fire your imagination. I am amazed that the garden is only four years in the making and that Sy and his family are not seasoned gardeners or builders. They learned much of what they’ve created from web content, especially videos. Sy kindly agreed to this interview to share his family’s experience and inspiring garden!

Elevated wood containers and raised beds.
Looking down from garden entrance. The new, elevated wood containers on the left will be filled next spring with climbing and vining plants. Photo credit: Sy Ahmad
Photo of horizontal planter
Vertical plants and horizontal planters intersect throughout the garden. Polypropylene netting excludes deer. Photo credit: Sy Ahmad

Q: Why and when did you start your garden? What did you envision?

We started about 4 years ago in 2014, and we always wanted to build something big on our own; our own creation.

Q: Is it a family endeavor?

It actually started as a father and son project then turned into a 3 generation father, son, and grandson project.

Photo showing Malabar spinach climbing vertical structure
Malabar spinach climbs one of the vertical structures that includes a narrow horizontal bed half-way up. Photo credit: Jon Traunfeld, UME
Photo of garden gathering spot.
Gathering spot with terraced beds creates a flowing design that best utilizes sloped land.
Photo credit: Sy Ahmad

Q: Your garden is visible from a major road and is striking in its size and appearance. What responses have you had from community members?

Some friends actually thought we were building a chicken coop when we started. Our neighbors do admire it and come by often to pick up veggies, but others driving by don’t normally stop by.

Q: What advice do you have for gardeners who are just starting out?

Start small of course, and put up a fence that will keep out deer and last for the long term. Then grow and add on as time goes by.

Photo of rainwater collector.
Plastic cistern collects rainwater from roof for use in garden. Photo credit: Jon Traunfeld, UME

Q: What type of growing media do you fill your raised beds with?

We use a mixture of materials which consist of 1 part compost, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part vermiculite.

Q: Tell us about some of the crops you especially like to grow and think other gardeners should know about.

We grow many herbs, which can be quite useful in the kitchen, such as, mint, cilantro, basil, rosemary, parsley and more. Vegetables such as butternut squash, various types of tomatoes, Swiss chard, and even flowers such as zinnia.

Photo of brick oven.
Home-built brick oven fired up for guests. Photo credit: Sy Ahmad
Photo of pizza.
Home-made brick oven pizza with home-grown arugula. Does it get any better than that? Photo credit: Sy Ahmad
Photo of evening in the garden.
Night lights turn the garden into a special evening social space
Photo credit: Sy Ahmad


By Jon Traunfeld, Extension Specialist


4 thoughts on “Unique Garden that Grows Plants, Families & Friendships

  1. Sue Joyce October 18, 2019 / 10:46 am

    Wow, The most unique garden space I’ve ever seen.

  2. Robert Stiefel October 18, 2019 / 1:25 pm

    One of the most interesting and intriguing articles to date. Congratulations to Sy Ahmad on a job well done and thanks for sharing the story of your success.

  3. Robertacook October 18, 2019 / 5:12 pm


  4. Lauren October 26, 2019 / 9:37 pm

    So beautiful and inspiring! Thank you Mr. Ahmad for letting us see the beauty your family has created!

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