Archive for Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Payne nabs yard prize

August 9, 2000

This week's "Yard of the Week" belongs to Ruth Payne, 820 Lincoln. The main reason Danny and I chose Payne's yard is because it is well planned for year round beauty. Last winter on a cold, blustery day, we were out for our daily walk and noticed some beautiful bushes with bright, cheery berries in front of this home.

It was a welcome touch of beauty on a dreary, gray day. Several weeks passed and each day we enjoyed walking by and seeing the bright color. One day the berries were gone. The birds had discovered this winter delicacy. I called Ruth later to ask her the name of the bushes. She told me they are called Red Winterberry. A male bush and two female bushes had been planted in order to produce the berries.

Ruth moved to Baldwin City from St. Louis, Mo., in the fall of 1996. Attractive flowerbeds begin with soil preparation and planning, sometimes as early as a year ahead. Her flowerbeds were prepared that fall for the next spring's planting. Bushes and trees were planted so they would begin to establish themselves throughout the fall and winter. Ruth's post rock in the corner of her front yard had been a gift from her son. It, too, made the move from St. Louis in the moving van.

One day, over the phone, Ruth tried to explain to former Baldwin City resident friends, Neal and Margie Malicky, where her new home was being built. Neal Malicky exclaimed, "Oh, you're building in Homer's garden!" So began the first flower bed, "Homer's Garden," named for Homer and Henrietta Schoepflin, Ruth's next door neighbors. Homer had planted a bountiful vegetable garden on this lot for many years.

Ruth planted some daisies and a pink day lily, from Bob and Jean Lawson's garden, around the post rock. It seemed only appropriate when Homer's tiger lilies began to grow around the post on their own.

In Ruth's kitchen, overlooking the front yard, she chose a border of brightly colored vegetable seed packets all around the top of the wall just like Homer would have grown in his garden. One morning, after all her flowerbeds had been planted, Ruth was having coffee at the Schoepflin's house. Ruth looked out the window toward her home and realized she had nothing along the east side of her house that faced their house. Ruth decided to plant tulips and crocus for spring and added daisies, a mum and pink impatiens for summer and fall.

In the front and side yards are several young maple trees whose leaves should turn beautiful colors this fall. Ruth checks The Signal for the weekly rain amounts. If we get less than an inch of rain, she faithfully puts the hose on a slow drip for six hours on each of the new trees. There is also a flowering crab tree in the front yard that has clusters of deep wine berries.

The bushes surrounding the front of the house are a variety of colors and textures. Beginning next to the garage are Arnold's dwarf forsythia bushes, flowering quince, a royal star stellata magnolia, summer blooming spirea, a Miss Kim lilac, weigelea, barberry bushes, two compact Inkberry Holly and several nandina bushes whose leaves turn red and stay colorful throughout the winter. The bushes are an interesting background for the perennial and annual flowers planted along the curved sidewalk.

In the early spring a planting of bearded iris named Gallant Moment, an unusual deep cinnamon color, is one of the first flowers to bloom. Montrose Ruby coral bells, moonbeam coreopsis, Japanese iris, paprika achillea, purple verbena, goblin gaillardia, a golden gaillardia and poppies of red and pink are among the flowers that bloom each in its own season throughout the summer. Right now the rudbeckia "Goldstrum" command the center ring with their colorful blooms throughout the hottest part of our summer. An attractive silvery cat mint with tiny blue flowers borders the rudbeckia.

The alcove to the front door has a small wrought iron table and chairs. On the door is a wooden welcome sign painted with sunflowers. A statue of a small girl kneeling with a bird in her hand and on her shoulder sits in the corner of the alcove. There is a bird feeding station in the front yard just outside Ruth's kitchen window. Rebecca, a charming visiting granddaughter, was busy filling the feeder and scattering birdseed along the walk.

The Red Winterberry bushes are on the other side of the sidewalk under the front windows. Blue Mist spirea, peony bushes and a mixture of daisies are also planted in this area. A Canary Glow day lily still has a few blooms and an attractive Disco belle white hibiscus is blooming its last huge blooms of the season. A red chockberry bush grows behind the hibiscus. A variety of day lilies have provided colorful blooms through July. This year Ruth had 3,200 blooms. She kept a tally in her garage as she dead headed the spent blooms. A grouping of big blue lilyturf (Liriope Muscari) border this flower area. All of the flowerbeds are bordered with native lime stone and stair step down toward the side yard in tiers.

Along the west side of the house are plantings of burning bushes, Miss Kim lilac and several Butterfly bushes. The fragrance of the butterfly bushes, Dark Night bluebeard, one of a light lavender and another of white, were attracting their share of bees and butterflies as we walked around the yard. There is a colorful mixture, in a planter by the west door, of petunias, cosmos, millions-of-chimes petunias, ivy, red geraniums and snowstorm bacopa.

The back deck area of the house has a large dogwood beginning to shade one corner. Several rhododendron are grouped around the dogwood. The fragrance from the white blooms of Clethera filled the air and was competing with the buddleia for attracting butterflies. Pots of a colorful mixture of flowers sit on the table and railing of the deck. Ruth's choice of colors tend to be warm, bright and cheery. Even her table and chairs are a bright yellow. Once again I'm struck with how flower gardens reflect the personality of the gardener.

Ruth claims not to be much of a gardener. She explained that her late husband had been the gardener in the family. But after this yard was landscaped, Ruth made it her own. Dead heading, a time consuming job, is only done to maintain the well-groomed look of her flowerbed. Ruth has discovered flower heads on some plants add character and texture to her flowerbed. She may leave the grooming until fall when the weather is cooler. Flower heads and pods can add beauty to a winter day. The choice is up to the gardener.

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  • Watering does not seem to be a choice. These hot summer days require watering. I tend to water just enough to get a plant established in the spring. I then restrict the water to force its roots to go deeper into the ground later in the season. A thorough watering less often will usually keep a plant growing throughout our hottest weather. Containers of flowers require more constant watering and fertilizing.

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My gardening quote of the week is from a sign in Ruth's garden. Her grandchildren have repainted it for her:

The kiss of the sun for pardon,

The song of the birds for mirth,

One is nearer God's heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth.

Dorothy Frances Gurney (1858-1932)

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