'Claire de Lune' peony blooms beside paperbark maple (Acer griseum).
Her early interests were perennials, but she developed a strong love for shrubs and trees. "Being a gardener," she says, "is going outside and looking. Once you realize what grows in this climate, the next challenge is to try things." That philosophy led her to put in plants like Iigiri tree (Idesia polycarpa), which is seldom grown here.
Neff tries to do most of her planting in fall, continuing into winter. By the following summer, the plants have begun to fill in, weaving themselves into a three-dimensional tapestry.
Like Grinstead before her, Neff brings an arboretum connection to her garden. As editor of the Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin, she is in close touch with plants and the people who love them.