Archive for Wednesday, June 7, 2000

Gurleys bring prairie to Baldwin with yard

June 7, 2000

To experience the feeling of the Kansas prairie, drive by the Yard of the Week located at 117 Wesley Street, the home of Sam and Alice Gurley.

This landscaping idea has been created by filling an old wagon with flowers, native stone and grasses, yucca, and a rocking chair sitting in the middle of the wild spring flowers. This whimsical and fun-filled yard has been well maintained. It is constantly changing with something new blooming each week. The McMillens received several nominations for this yard from the community.

When the road work detour took traffic to Wesley Street this past year, people began to notice the house on 117 Wesley. First of all there was an empty wagon in the adjoining yard. Mrs. Alice Gurley told Danny McMillen, who chooses the yard of the week with me, how it became part of their landscaping.

"I wanted an old buckboard wagon for flowers. One day a friend brought one by and left it in the yard," said Alice Gurley. "Sam wasn't too happy when he saw it. It wasn't in the best of shape. When I started working on it, he got interested and rebuilt it for me. Filled with red and white geraniums, even Sam likes our wagon now."

The front yard bloomed early with iris and peonies. Next came buttercups, lavender and lilies. A Kansas fence post stone with the family name carved in it and grasses are in the immediate front. Yuccas are beginning to bloom along the driveway adding to the Kansas prairie feeling. Near the front porch is a mailbox painted hunter green with ivy climbing the post. There is a birdhouse next to the mailbox. Beside and in front of the front porch are salmon-pink geraniums and impatiens surrounded by native rock.

The planters are nestled in among wild violets, hen and chicks, buttercups and sedums. Hostas are planted along the front north corner of the house leading to a large lilac bush. Johnny Jump Up violas are in several planters. A welcome wreath and hanger of flowers grace both door entries. A discarded rocking chair, found on Mrs. Gurley's Avon route, was brought home and tole painted with wild flowers. It has a new home in the middle of the violets and buttercups beside the porch.

The many birdhouses around the yard have been made by Mrs. Gurley's dad and Alice herself. She has painted some of the houses, others are left rustic. Several wind chimes blow gently in the wind on the front porch. One chime says "Home Sweet Home" in iron letters.

Large old trees shade the property but the Gurleys have planted new dogwoods and several other trees. The yard work is always in progress. One of those who nominated this yard commented that it is fun to watch for the seasonal changes throughout the year in this yard. Not only do the flowers change but the decor of the front porch and the doors change also.

There is the beauty of the annuals such as geraniums, impatiens and petunias and the lasting beauty of perennials such as bachelor buttons, daisies, lavender, iris, peonies and buttercups. Birdfeeders, birdhouses, wreaths and flowers welcome people and birds to Baldwin City at the Gurleys. When we stopped by, a robin was sitting on a well house near the old wagon singing its cheery song. The sounds of other birds filled the evening air. Even though the detour no longer leads past Wesley Street, this yard still makes one want to drive that way.

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