Acres of summer color, without irrigation

Union Leader Correspondent
July 21. 2014 8:08PM
Real Fallu shows off some of the daylilies providing a blaze of midsummer color in his Goffstown perennial garden. (CASSIDY M. SWANSON/Union Leader Correspondent)

GOFFSTOWN -- Tucked away from the winding street at 425 Tibbetts Hill Road is the home of Real and Leslie Fallu — a property filled with brilliant, fiery color in the second half of July each year, courtesy of Real Fallu’s massive perennial gardens.

“I basically designed it with low-maintenance plants, featuring day lilies,” Fallu said. Indeed, lilies of all types and colors dominate the landscape of the lower half of the Fallus’ sloping yard. But the flowerbeds also hold daisies, Echinacea, Liatris, catmints, Artemesia, impatiens, bee balm and more — all chosen for their ability to thrive in his irrigation-free garden.

“I want no-fuss plants, and the customer does, too,” Fallu added. “Low-maintenance plants are the trick.”

Fallu has been a landscaper since 1976 and runs his own business, Perennial Design Landscaping. He and his wife have been living on Tibbetts Hill Road for 15 years and started cultivating their gardens 10 years ago. For the past six years, every July, the Fallus welcome the public onto their property on weekends to enjoy and purchase their flowers.

The property was previously a farm, so most of the rocks have been removed from the soil.

“This is primo land (for growing flowers),” Fallu said. “We bought the property, and I didn’t even see the house. I just saw the land. Leslie saw the house. But, yeah, I knew the land would be good.”

Because the property’s water comes from a well, Fallu had to design his gardens without the use of irrigation. In addition to choosing hardy flower varieties that don’t require constant watering, he also uses peat moss, which absorbs and holds large amounts of rainwater, which helps keep the plants hydrated.

But, he said, “There’s no such thing as no-maintenance plants.”

Being able to maintain a garden of this size takes a lot of effort and knowledge. In addition to his years of experience gardening and landscaping, Fallu said he learns a lot “hanging around with people that know more than I do.”

Fallu credits Frank Wolfe, owner of Lake Street Garden Center in Salem, where he used to work, as one of his best mentors, as well as the late Robert Deane of Nottingham. He also said he’s learned a lot simply from trial and error.

“The bottom line is, with landscaping, you want to look good, so you choose plants that make you look good,” Fallu said. “You choose plants that don’t need staking, that aren’t bothered by pests, that are drought tolerant.”

During the school year, Fallu, who studied sociology at St. Anselm College and spent several years working with inner-city children in Manchester, works as a substitute teacher (a career path that, like gardening, he said, requires a lot of nurturing). But once the summer comes, his focus is on his garden. It’s a lot of work, but he’s used to it.

An active member of the Goffstown Garden Club, Fallu has also done work for the town. His work at the Grasmere rotary, bursting with day lilies, has attracted a lot of attention.

Someone, he said, described the roundabout plantings as “fireworks in slow motion.”

While Fallu takes care of the flowers, his wife handles the business.

“Leslie takes care of the math stuff, the bookkeeping, and also the organizing,” he said. “She’s the ultimate organizer, and I’m not, so she’s been a great help.”

As for what he enjoys most about growing flowers, Fallu said it’s the parts of the process he has no control over.“When I put in a garden, I’m never satisfied,” he said. “But two or three years down the road, the garden takes on a life of its own, and it has nothing to do with what I did, except for putting in the seed. But it’s got a life of its own, full of surprises, something that I wasn’t expecting, and that gives me great pleasure.”

For information about Perennial Design and the Fallus’ July weekend flower sales, call 497-4060.


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