Home and Garden

Four Foot Mutant Zinnias

Four Foot Mutant Zinnias

August 22 2008 marks our one year anniversary in this house. Boyfriend stumbled on the listing last year when we were searching for a home to purchase. The lovely old apartment building we’d been in for three years was being renovated so our lease would not be renewed. There was a budget to consider which found us looking in the hood, in the extreme country, in the frightening inner city and beyond. We came to name the properties we viewed. Discussions typically revolved around sentences like, “Oh yeah. I remember that house. It was the one where someone was living in the walls right? Because the landlord didn’t want to sell, he had his brother living in the walls….” or “The house in Amelia? Oh right, the “deliverance house” with the motorcycle parked in the living room and a view of the back yard from the kitchen because there was a huge hole in the wall. ” It indeed became discouraging. Then there was the house that was supposed to be empty but when we peered in the windows it was occupied by an angry man clutching a bottle of Schlitz Malt Liquor, red eyed and squalling about how we was never going to move, that the cops would have to haul him out of “his house” (he was a renter) kicking and screaming.

At that point I was shell shocked, pretty much done with the whole thing. Resigned to finding another place to rent when one night, halleluiah, boyfriend was scouting the internet and found this lovely fifty year old beauty in a gorgeous established neighborhood. With a garage. And a workroom, And a deck. And a paved double drive. And a sunroom (hello to my dream of an outdoor office) And a swing in the tree in the front yard. And the most amazing garden, complete with stone paths, a potting shed and a fence. Shocker of shockers, it was in our price range. We jumped and have never regretted it.

We’ve unearthed the work of the master gardener, Morris Leak, who lived here for thirty-seven years. He was a retired man and spent all his time, as evidenced in the stunning array of plants and flowers and trees, in the yard and garden. He made his own concrete. He planted hibiscus, crepe myrtles, calla lilies, iris, daylilies, Lady Banks Roses, lilac, nandina, juniper, cherry trees, peony, lemon balm, pear, camelia and magnolia and this is only a tiny partial list. Everyday during the first spring here, as I took my coffee and walked the grounds, some new, miraculous, blooming thing met me. I check out library books on gardening, I read websites. I spend significant time with my hands in the dirt and have started growing things of my own. Zinnias, Cosmos, a garden of butterbeans, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, canteloupe, watermelon, kale, spinach, lettuce, dill, parsley, thyme, brussel sprouts, hot peppers.

Boyfriend has revamped the neglected front beds with mulch and fencing, installed a porch swing in the arbor, painted garden gates and hung bamboo fencing over the chain link, giving this yard extreme privacy. We’ve planted bushes and divided and sold hosta and lirope by the big batches. We marvel at our progress and make lists and plan projects for the future.

Indeed, we are blessed beyond belief to have this place to call our own, to make our own and to share in joy with each other, with friends and with family.




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