Archive for Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Watkins gains award for ‘Yard of the Week’

June 21, 2000

Lila Watkins, 105 Santa Fe, is this week's winner of the "Yard of the Week." The large corner lot has mature trees and bushes and is an example of Midwest living at its best.

When Danny and I drove in Watkins' driveway, we could see the mums around the mailbox had just been pruned for fall blooms. The attractive curving driveway leads to three antique gray colored planters of impatiens planted in tiers. As the impatiens grow throughout the summer, they cascade down the planters appearing to be a large bush as one drives by. Two large containers of pink geraniums are in each corner of the driveway. Beside one of the containers is a statue of a young boy reading a book.

When Watkins and her late husband, Arlis, moved to Baldwin almost 30 years ago, they both agreed they would like to have a nice lawn. Arlis' father had mowed their grass at home with an old sickle bar type mower that didn't make a very nice lawn. Watkins said her mother never had time to plant many flowers because she spent the summers cooking for hay crews. Watkins remembered her grandmother planted pretty sultanas in her yard. (She said sultanas were sort of like overgrown impatiens.) Over the years their yard became a lush carpet. Watkins continues to aerate it twice a year as well as fertilize it.

The Watkinses planted a sweet gum and maple tree. Both trees matured into large trees that shade the front of the house. Yews were planted in front and along the sidewalk. As the yews needed trimming, Watkins has put white planters of impatiens in between the bushes. Each year Watkins plants impatiens in front of the bushes, just like her grandmother.

The brick on the front of the house is an attractive background for many colors of flowers. Sometimes she plants red flowers, but this year she planted Impulse rose and a variegated version of the rose color. There is a painted birdhouse on a stake in one of the planters. Near the front door there is a pretty wreath of rose, blue and white silk flowers. A little house finch has been trying to make her nest there recently. A wooden welcome sign in the shape of a watering can greets visitors to her front door. Watkins says this doesn't include the opossum that seems to want to sleep under the front bushes.

There are pink geraniums planted near the sidewalk. The flowerbed leading to the front of the house is filled with pink begonias, impatiens and Fantasy pink petunias. A statue of a Dutch boy and girl stand in front of mature yew bushes.

The side yard winds gracefully around the house where there is a wooden picnic table sitting underneath an attractively shaped Lindenberry tree. It looked inviting. There was a cool morning breeze although the promise of hotter weather was in the air. We sat down around the picnic table while Watkins told us about the rest of her flowers. In her side yard, there is a small circle flowerbed with a birdbath in the center. A statue of a little girl shyly holding onto her skirt stands in the middle. Large yellow marigolds are surrounded with vincas, petunias and red salvia.

Next to the side of the house, Mexican heather, yellow marigolds, petunias, pink geraniums and rose impatiens have been planted in front of a row of live-for-ever, a perennial that will bloom in the fall. Annuals continue along the back of the deck with a few roses in between. Little Buddy gomphena, salvia and begonias are beginning to bloom nicely and a new Dream rose has been planted this spring. A Jayhawk wooden wind cutout jauntily hangs on the deck depicting Watkins' basketball loyalty.

Watkins retired from Kansas Geological Survey at Kansas University after working there for 36 years. A small concrete frog with a bass fiddle sits next to a pot of geraniums and spike grass. The backyard and deck are shaded by a large sycamore tree.

To our surprise the backyard seems to expand into a neighborhood park. The way the yards meet, flowers along neighbors Larry and Pam Colson's driveway is a lovely background for Watkins' yard. There are beautiful clematis, lilies, peonies, snapdragons and lavender planted along a rail fence that can be seen from Watkins' deck and picnic table.

The next surprise was three-year old neighbor girl, Corey Valentine, daughter of Jeff and Marilee Valentine strolling across the yard to say "Hi" to Watkins and us. The Valentines' back yard is a beautiful well cared for lawn. There is a wooden swing hanging from one of the many large mature trees. The beauty of these yards is the fact that they are not fenced in and it appears to be one big back yard.

Jeff and Larry have both been good neighbors to Watkins. Larry maintained her yard the summer her husband died and she then had a car accident several weeks later. Many times since, people have asked Watkins who she hires to mow and do her yard. "Why I hire myself," she answers with pride and spunk.

The back yard had one additional ornament we were curious about. On the base of a birdbath sits an unusual "gazing" ball.

"Oh, that is my old bowling ball," laughs Watkins. "I used to be a regular weekly bowler. Some people say they'll be buried with their bowling ball but I put mine out for yard art instead. This is my second one. The first one was red, white and blue but it finally faded and I replaced it with this marbled one."

That is definitely a first for these "Yard of the Week" judges!

Watkins commented that she couldn't believe we would pick her yard for the "Yard of the Week." She said the annuals will be blooming better as the summer goes along. Danny replied that it looks pretty to him right now and that we have had several nominations for her yard to be picked. It is consistently well maintained and a delight to drive by her home. We have admired its beauty for many years.

Many of our "winners" have mentioned that their flowers are newly planted and will look prettier as the summer continues. This is true, if it doesn't get too hot, windy and dry! We hope people will continue to drive by the homes we have picked for the "Yard of the Week" this summer and enjoy their beauty. Especially pretty this week in Baldwin City are the hollyhocks and Asiatic hybrid lilies. Day lilies are also beginning to bloom as well as June daisies.

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  • Gardening quote of the week: "A good gardener always plants three seeds one for the grubs, one for the weather, one for himself." C. Collins.

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