By Ginger DeShaney

“All gardening is landscape painting.” 

– Alexander Pope

This rings true at Virginia Kropas’ Hardy Street house.

Virginia is an artist and her garden is her palette of color, shape, and texture … and her serenity. 

“I can shut out most of the sounds,” she said. “It’s very peaceful. I can rest my eyes on green stuff.”

Virginia gets a great view of the back yard from her second-floor deck, where her cat, Abigail, likes to hang out, too. 

“I come out when I get up,” Virginia said, noting she may be in the garden working, or looking at it, for up to two hours in the morning. “I may just be staring and contemplating.”

She also comes out in the evening.

Her front yard, side yards, and back yard are stunning,

But to the retired Boston Public Schools art teacher, her landscape painting is a work in progress. 

“I’ve moved one shrub at least 15 times,” she said. “Things need to be moved.” 

She’s considering removing a paperbark maple because it’s too dense for its location. She’s always thinking of ways to upgrade, change, or redesign her garden.

Virginia bought the house on Hardy Street from her aunt and uncle in 2004. When she moved in, the flower beds were quite narrow. At a certain point, she began expanding all the way around the edges and adding plants. 

She is a wealth of information on plants. How does she know so much? “I’m interested to know; that’s why I remember.”

Virginia, who grew up in South Boston, always wanted to live in the woods. Her family had one of the bigger yards in the neighborhood “but it looked like the surface of the moon because we were allowed to do everything. We made forts out of dirt. It was a neighborhood place.”

Virginia, who will be 70 in August, was always curious. Her mother liked looking at nature as well. 

“I started doing a little bit … oh, that looks pretty, and that looks pretty. Oh, I want that, too.”

Virginia has more than 125 species of plants in her yard, many of which attract bees and butterflies. 

Her yard includes: feverfew, purple larkspur, pink clovers, sedum, blanket flowers, autumn joy, black-eyed susans, milkweed, bee balm, tarragon, fragrant English lavender (strategically placed at the bottom of her deck stairs so that it rubs against her clothes when she comes out or goes in the house), dill, goldenrod, plantain-leaved pussytoes, mint, arugula, ceanothus, lots of groundcover, steeple bush, chives, obedience plants, Russian sage, Joe Pye weed, hydrangeas, a sculpture she created, and so much more. 

Virginia’s landscape painting will continue to evolve, much to the delight of the neighborhood.