In the home of Igor and Tatiana Bidikov, the dining room table is conspicuously missing a centerpiece. It doesn’t need a centerpiece, says Tatiana; the gardens seen through the window are centerpiece enough. She’s right. The landscape outside is a glorious panorama of perennials, shrubs, trees and artwork.
The Bidikovs moved into their Anniston home in 1997; at that point Tatiana began her in-depth study of what makes a successful garden design. Although her mother was an avid gardener, Tatiana had not really been interested in having a yard. Her new home in Alabama was the inspiration for an enduring passion – landscape design. Choosing plants based on their size and color and finding the right place to plant them became a learning project.
Her interest in garden design began with the influence of Frederick Law Olmstead, considered to be the founder of American landscape design. Tatiana read books and magazines, visited nurseries here and in other states as well as beautiful public and private gardens to see what worked and what did not.
She became a regular customer at Calhoun County Master Gardeners plant sales, buying the most beautiful and most interesting plants available. She is a fixture at Master Gardeners Lunch and Learn sessions, ever eager to know more about her hobby.
Tatiana is a pediatrician and spends her days in the chaos of newborn babies, sick toddlers and children, and concerned and frantic parents. Her garden, on the other hand, is an oasis of beauty, calm and serenity. The tranquil sound of water bubbling in a fountain resonates lyrically throughout the yard, setting the stage for this very special place.
Her garden has been designed with two ideas in mind: It is “path-like,” with a winding trail of stepping stones to carry visitors through the gardens, and it is “lawn-like,” with a wide expanse of gently sloping grass to set off the plantings.
Tatiana’s love of perennials – including hostas, ferns and heucheras – stems from the lesson that perennials teach the gardener: patience. She waits for them to grow, and watches them mature. She enjoys observing how the blooms on plants change as they mature – as hydrangeas do.
She spends the winter and early spring getting her garden ready and then spends the hot months enjoying the results of her labors – or as she calls it, “the show.”
Tatiana takes great pleasure in caring for her green charges. She tends the gardens herself: planting, weeding, pruning and fertilizing.
On the day we visited, she had spent the morning running a 5K and visiting her patients in the hospital. Touring the gardens that afternoon, she called the name of every plant in her yard, a feat many gardeners can only dream of doing.
The winding path is lined with Japanese maples, hydrangeas, ferns, hostas, gingers and dwarf camellias, among others. The lawn is framed by old trees surrounded by lush green plantings. During the winter, the garden glows with dozens of daffodils and tulips.
Each plant is chosen for a reason – the color, growth pattern or texture it will bring to the garden. Plants are repeated throughout the landscape. “Repetition calms the garden,” she said.
Ever mindful that good landscape design has to do with “managing the viewer’s eye,” she also uses repetition of plants, colors and shapes to lead visitors through the garden. She loves the color blue in the garden, and has strategically placed pieces of art in blue among the plants.
Every day, Tatiana can be found walking though her garden, enjoying the peace and watching “the show.” This show always has a happy ending.
This story originally appeared in Northeast Alabama Living magazine.