Karla and Pete Etten moved to Brambleton in 2006, and just a year later, they were greeted with their son, Evan. It’s always nice to see a family grow, but you’ve probably never seen a family “grow” quite like this. To call Karla Etten a gardening enthusiast is an understatement, to say the least. Over the years, she has turned their home into a botanical showplace that has been praised by local gardeners, designers and horticulturists near and far.
“When we moved to Brambleton I was already an avid gardener and was in search of a garden club,” Karla explains. “I met Brambletonian John White who was interested in starting a bluebird trail, and through his advocacy I learned about our community bluebird and native cavity nesting bird population and their need for a sustainable habitat. Thus in 2008 the Brambleton Bluebird and Garden Club was established. I wanted to do my part to attract bluebirds to my yard, and through my research I became a strong proponent of sustainable and native landscaping practices. Wow! Now I have all sorts of wildlife.”
Today, Karla’s garden is certified by the Audubon at Home program as a wildlife habitat, and is recognized by the Loudoun County Master Gardeners’ “My Backyard” program for implementing the principles of environmental landscape management. The Ettens’ home boasts extensive plantings throughout the property, including around their patio and on the upper deck. It even has a koi pond! And just as fish gotta swim, inquisitive local wildlife gotta visit.
“Turtles, frogs, birds, beneficial bugs, skinks, raccoons, chipmunks…foxes have been around, also…lots of critters!” says Karla. Many accolades and official certifications have visited upon the Etten home over the years, too. Karla is a Virginia Master Naturalist and Extension Master Gardener for Loudoun County, and she is a board member of the Foundation of the State Arboretum of Virginia at Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce.
Karla encourages everyone to get into gardening for the relaxation, creativity, sense of accomplishment and connection to nature that it brings, just as she has enjoyed for so long. “Gardening is a calming labor of love that provides a distraction from the stresses of life and allows me to create using plants as a visual medium. It’s wonderful to spend time outside surrounded by the beauty I’ve imagined, and to look forward to all the possibilities in the coming seasons.”
Karla is always happy to give a tour of her garden, and she has provided us with several resources for other Brambletonians and Northern Virginians who may be interested in growing their range of interests. She suggests reaching out to the Loudoun County Master Gardeners and Audubon at Home program with Loudoun Wildlife. Karla also suggests taking at hike at nearby Banshee Reeks, or an afternoon trip out to Boyce, VA to visit Blandy Arboretum. By taking these first steps, anyone can learn that Kermit the Frog didn’t have it quite right – it actually is easy being green.