Archive for Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Dickinson’s yard wins weekly prize

July 12, 2000

The "Yard of the Week" belongs to the Rev. Cal and Ruth Dickinson at 814 King. Mature maple and ash trees shade the front of this lovely summer yard. It was nominated by a neighbor who appreciates the hard work this couple has done to create this tranquil scene.

We have noticed the beauty of this yard each time we drive by this well kept home. We appreciated the homey simplicity of two attractive containers of fuchsia geraniums sitting on the front stoop. One container is a unique stone basket. Yew bushes surround the home and lead to a corner garden next to the side fence. There are two young dogwood trees growing in this space with a large Colorado rock for accent.

We like the way the fence is sloped downward allowing a peek into the backyard. From the street one can see an arbor and various flowers. That is why we enjoy getting a nomination for a yard. It is like receiving a special invitation to see the rest of the yard.

The Dickinsons, when we stopped to visit their yard, said, "Oh, our yard is a work in progress. The corner by the fence is only the beginning of what we have planned for that spot. We have been working on our yard for a number of years and feel as if next year we will have it the way we want it." I have never known a true gardener who is satisfied with their work.

As one enters the back yard, there is another corner garden with a Serviceberry tree in the center. Ruth said it was beautiful when it bloomed this spring. Under the tree are hosta and fern. There is a hanging basket of green and white caladium, a pink begonia, a pink impatien and a variegated ivy, an unusually attractive combination. This basket hangs above a giant elephant hosta. Its leaves really do remind us of an elephant's magnificent ears. Ruth mentions that she turns the basket every few days when she waters it so that it doesn't reach out in one direction searching for the sunlight in this shady area. Autumn clematis is the background for this corner garden and will have a delightful fragrance when it blooms this fall.

The new bed this year for the Dickinsons is a lovely collection of roses along the fence. Familiar names such as Angel Face, Chicago Peace, Rio Samba, America and New Blaze (climbers) Oregon, Brandy, Medallion, Oklahoma and the Fiery rose make a beautiful picture. The new buds were forming for continued enjoyment. Ruth cut a rose bloom for me that still had a delicate dewdrop clinging to the petal. It was from the rose Brandy, a rich, apricot color. We are still enjoying its beauty on our kitchen table.

An arbor next to the rose garden was the original rose garden. But the trees planted 10 years ago, two Autumn Ash, an oak and an October Glory Maple, have grown and put too much shade for roses over the arbor. It is now a lovely shade garden. A new grandbaby this spring brought moving a few more roses quickly to a halt. They will get moved from the arbor area after they have bloomed this year. Baskets of various kinds of ivy hang from the arbor. Large interesting stones surround the arbor. The stones had been part of a terracing by previous owners. When the arbor was built, the workers offered to take the stones.

"Oh no, we'll find a use for them!" exclaimed the Dickinsons. They could see the beauty in their texture, shapes and color and planned to use them around the arbor. I was introduced to several plants in this shady area I have now grown. There was a plant with interesting leaves called viola, (not the cousin to the pansy), a bloody cranesbill geranium, (where do they get these names?), a bergenia with large green leaves that turn a coppery color in the fall. There were two plants of pulmonaria, "Raspberry Splash," that Ruth mentioned bloomed with pink flowers in the spring. There were several mini hostas that are suppose to stay quite small. I recognized the Crystal Palace heuchera with its dramatic dark leaves. A lacy-leafed Japanese Maple gave additional texture to this serene spot. A Dr. Ruppel and Star of India clematis climb up the arbor.

The back of the yard is along the alley. Night-scaping makes this an interesting view. Night-scaping is placing small lights in the trees in the back and high in the front yard trees that shine down like moonlight in the yard. There are thornless raspberry bushes, gooseberry bushes and a row of burning bushes as a border along the back of the yard. In one corner there is a Prairie Blue Eye day lily in bloom. It is as pretty as its name. Additional Autumn clematis climbs along the fence. The far back corner along the other side of the yard has a stone bench under the trees. There is a Japanese maple, hosta, yellow yarrow and a ground cover of vinca. The detached garage on the east side of the back yard provides a background for a row of chrysanthemums that will be in full bloom this fall.

There is a sunroom attached to the house that has flowerbeds bordering it on all sides. There are plants of an Autumn fern, that turns copper in the fall, begonias, pansies, hostas and monkey grass. Around the corner are brightly colored rudbeckias, bee balm, live-for-ever and lambs ear with maiden grass as a background.

Around the other side of the garage is a vegetable garden. This small space provides a taste of fresh produce for the Dickinsons to enjoy. There are Early Girl tomatoes, green peppers, beans, squash and cucumbers. It is amazing how much can be grown in a small space with the right planning and good soil.

Tucked in a corner along the driveway and the side of the sunroom is a delightful patio spot to sit and enjoy being outside. There is Mexican heather in a clay pot sitting on a green metal table with surrounding chairs. Two adirondack chairs and an enormous wicker basket of pink New Guinea impatiens grace the corner of the patio area. On each side of the garage door are large tropicals. One plant is a bright red hibiscus and the other a buttery yellow mandevilla. It almost doesn't look real but, yes, with our heat, Kansas is a good place to grow tropicals for a summer! The plants need to be wintered over inside but they will grow even more beautiful each year.

A hanging basket of a lavender vining geranium and "snow storm" bacopa cascades near the side door. As we walk down the driveway there are pastel impatiens and volunteer alyssum along the side of the house. The Dickinson's daughter, Laura, stopped by just before we left. She has a degree in horticulture therapy from K-State and is a wonderful source of not only information but has been helpful planting many of the flowers. With her obvious humor, spunk and enthusiasm, it was easy to identify her as a daughter of the Dickinsons.

We were invited inside to see from the inside out of the sunroom. Danny says I haven't quit talking about it yet! The view is simply an extension of their lovely flower beds. It is a place for both to read and relax. It is a place for Cal to work on his Sunday's sermon. It is also the place where Ruth does what she calls her head work when she is directing a play for the community. The atmosphere of this room provides the peacefulness and energy to be the creative people they are.

"It is a small room," laughed Ruth, "but we didn't want it to be too big. Our home is small. We didn't want it to look like the tail wagging the dog!"

The rewards of being judges are getting to know people like the Dickinsons. People who like flowers are just more earthy!

The Dickinsons will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this fall.

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  • Gardening quote for the week:

The tiniest dewdrop hanging from a grass blade in the morning is big enough to reflect the sunshine and the blue of the sky.

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