Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Elders win weekly yard honors

June 27, 2001

Kenneth and Rosann Elder's yard at 720 First Street is the Yard of the Week and even though several people have nominated it, Danny and I have admired this yard week after week because it is well maintained year round .

As one comes into Baldwin City from High Street it has been a yard of beauty for many years. The maple, ash, elm and pin oak trees tower over the yard with majesty. The name Elder is carved into a rock post in the corner of the yard. Black-eyed Susans are blooming behind the rock.

The curved drive way leads to a brick front porch that has several pots of red geraniums and asparagus fern sitting between the swings and chairs. There is a "welcome" stepping stone by the front step decorated with wild flowers and a butterfly. A container of petunias are planted in the middle of a decorative bicycle. Several houseplants are thriving in the summer air. There is a pot of pink geraniums with a spike in the center at the end of a white fence next to the garage entrance.

Boxwood and euonymus bushes line the porch with a mugho pine accenting each end. The south side of the porch has barberry bushes and red roses. Jackmanii clematis, a Blaze climbing rose and fire bushes are growing on a wooden fence. Pampas grass and shrub roses anchor the corner.

Stepping-stones lead to the fenced in area in the back beside a screened in porch. Here to our surprise is a beautiful bird sanctuary. We could see the purple martin houses from High Street but we had no idea what a treat it would be to tour the Elder's back yard. Mr. Lincoln roses line the porch. They often eat in the screened porch and they enjoy the strong fragrance from the roses as it drifts through the air. With a plum tree for shade on the other side of the walk, bright red impatiens fill the corner of the fence. Next as we followed the path, there is an island of flowers, some in pots and others growing in the ground. In this area is a low concrete bird feeder, live-for-ever, a pot of bacopa, seashells and rocks from a trip to Oregon, mint, red salvia and pink petunias cascading from a planter.

An antique fire engine red water pump has water flowing through a stock tank "quick disconnect" pipe that lead into a whiskey barrel and recycles back into the pump. Kenneth and Rosann told about a pair of chickadees that raised a family inside the pump this spring. The hole is very small and the male would stand guard at the top while the mother would go inside to tend her young. Another fence section was the background for yellow and gold marigolds, miniature cockscomb, vinca vine and a dill plant as host plant for butterflies. A wooden sign states that there are "grandparents at play" in this area.

Along the back of the screened in porch are two large pots of begonias in pink and white, and pots of impatiens of red and salmon. A back deck had a long planter of Bingo Deep Purple pansies, a pot of bright red New Guinea impatiens and several pots of Happy Dream petunias. They remind me of a favorite older variety of petunia called Sugar Plum. In front of the petunias is pot of pink polka dot plant, which compliments the lavender in the petunia.

An iron candle stand with a butterfly motif hangs in the corner, a recent birthday gift from Rosann's son.

The deck overlooks a small rock-lined water pool. Many bird feeders hang throughout the back area. From a huge sycamore tree hangs an old fashioned tire swing for their grandchildren. Halley, a six-year-old neighbor, likes to come over and helps clean the leaves from the pool and rearrange the many decorative "critters" around the pool such as frogs, turtles and bright yellow rubber ducks. The rocks around the pool were gathered from Rosann's farm.

Another island flowerbed has peonies, holly bushes, hosta and daisies, iris and yucca that lead to the pool area. Rosann has moved the iris from several locations including her aunt's farm and finally to this location before learning they had originally been her own mother's irises.

Next to the back of the house is a rhododendron, lily of the valley from Rosann's first mother-in-law and a Japanese maple tree.

Along the small shed is a pot of red petunias. A section of fence has three honeysuckle vines growing the newer kind that is not as invasive. A sweet potato morning glory vine from her mom, who collects morning glory seeds from gardening friends, grows on this fence, too. Many daylilies and lilacs grow on a mound along the side of their lot.

Just beyond the pool area is a morning glory covered arbor leading to a mulch path down to a quiet spot beneath a grove of smaller trees. Here sits two benches, one adult and one child size. A picnic bench is near by.

A painted milk can is a reminder of Rosann's days on the dairy farm. Day lilies and lilacs grow on a mound within view of the benches.

A large bird feeder has a small cylinder hanging from it, which says "Wind Song." This is like a baby monitor except for the birds! The sounds of the birds, the wind, even dogs and people talking can be heard from the kitchen where the sound transmits from this monitor. What a wonderful gift for birders. I love the sounds of birds and hate to close the windows even when it's too hot or cold. A Wind Song has just been added to my Christmas list.

Around the bird feeder is a large tree guard to help catch the many shells from the birdseed. What a good idea! The woodpeckers have gone through so many bird cakes Rosann has begun making up mixtures of rolled oats and crunchy peanut butter to put in the feeders. The blue birds have a house where they have already raised a family this summer. The wrens, too, have raised families in a gourd and several trees.

Sunflowers, peanuts, raisins and other dried fruit are fed year round to attract the many birds to this back yard. The water pool, the water pump recycling water and the many birdbaths attract the birds too. As we sat on the porch drinking iced tea, a Baltimore oriole flew down from its nest to the perch on the rope attached from the tire swing and sings its song.

Another pot of red petunias and dusty miller are sitting behind the fence. A row of blue spruce has been planted for each of Kenneth's grandchildren. The purple Martin houses in this area have a noisy, but cheerful group of residents. One house is made from gourds; the other a manufactured type martin house. The Elders say the gourd house is the most popular with the martins. The martins have returned each year for at least seven years.

Throughout the yard are stepping-stones made by each grandchild when they come to visit. Bits of colored glass are used to decorate with their own original designs. Some write their names or a verse.

There is a large productive vegetable garden at the back of this acre yard. It is planted with all the good foods of spring and summer such as green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, asparagus and more. There is iris planted along the one end.

The side front yard has a red bud and a large Austrian pine tree. Friends and neighbors of Kenneth's daughter, Diane, gave a Maple tree in memory of her mother Carolyn, which is planted in the front. It is across from the stadium where Carolyn spent many happy times as a one of the Bulldog's most ardent fans.

Kenneth and Rosann have been married to each other for six years. They each had lost their spouses. Rosann calls the yard their family album of friends, families and those they have loved and lost through the years. Many of the plants, trees and decorative garden pieces have been given to them because they share the love of their garden, birds and being together with their families. It is a peaceful yard to visit. It is a sanctuary for not only the birds, but also all those who visit.

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  • Gardening quote of the week:

A garden is to a place to meditate, to contemplate,

perchance to pray and then tote you a bit of heaven away. (author unknown)

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