Monday, March 24, 2014

Our yard is our sanctuary ~ My column from Sunday's paper

You won’t see our yard featured in Southern Living magazine, nor will you see a beautification award posted by the drive, but through the years, the yard has evolved and seems to have taken on the quirky personalities of Jilda and me. It suits us.

We don’t use poisons in our yard on things that attack our trees and shrubs. We pull the critters off and stomp them with a tennis shoe. 

I like to think it sends a message to the other bugs cowering among the leaves and branches, but with their limited communications skills, I doubt they get the message.

I’ve found that birds, squirrels, chipmunk and other critters seem to like the poison-free zone we maintain.

One of the “features” of our yard is a bottle tree filled with colorful bottles. Sometimes in late evening when the sun filters through the oak and pine and finds the bottles, it casts off colors that don’t have a name, but they are beautiful.

Many of the plants and flowers in our yard came from the yards of Jilda’s mother and grandmother. Some of them are over 50 years old.

When I built the flowerbed around the giant water oak in our front yard, the rocks were stonemason straight. But oak roots have shifted the stones through the years and now they dip and weave like an Irish limerick. 

One thing that’s consistent in our landscape is our fruit trees. When we moved here in the early 1980s, we lived in a 12 x 65 foot trailer that had cracks around the windows big enough to toss a small dog through, but even though we couldn’t easily afford them, we bought and planted fruit trees.

One of the first was a Stark Brothers apple tree that now looks as old as time itself, but the apples are still sugar sweet in October. 

Through the years, we’ve bought peach, pear, pecan and a ton of blueberry bushes. We also have a persimmon tree in our front yard that was barely head high when we moved here but now stands 50 feet tall.

The peach tree and blueberry bushes ignored the wacky weather and bloomed this week.

Jilda’s birthday is this month and her sister Nell loves gardening as much as we do, so her birthday gifts came with root balls.

She brought Jilda an English walnut tree, a plum tree, a tame blackberry bush and a fruit cocktail tree. The fruit cocktail tree is supposed to bear apples, pears and peaches on the same tree. I’m not sure if she’s pulling our leg or not, so I’ll write more about this one later.

But one of the most interesting trees that she gave us was a Hawthorn, and I knew little about them. 

When we started researching the Hawthorne, we found that it has a colorful history. Folklorists call it a fairy tree, but others call it the tree of hope. Tree of hope has a nice ring to it.

Some people find a sense of pride in having a yard that looks like a living magazine picture. I think they’re beautiful too, but our yard is more like a sanctuary for us. 

It’s a peaceful place with birds and bees and a Hawthorne tree.
Hipstamatic Sunset


  1. I think our yards should represent us... it definitely makes it much more personal :)

    I love the picture Rick :)

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  3. Hi Rick, Happy to have you stop has been awhile since I have been to your blog and jeepers...I have missed a lot. I will stop by more often....Dee

  4. Your yard sounds wonderful and a happy place to be.
    I love the idea of the bottle tree and think I might do that myself. : )

  5. Your yard sounds wonderful and absolutely beautiful! All those fruit trees...I would love to have a fruit tree, but where we are, we have to submit a plan to plant anything...suburbs in Chicago. The association needs to make sure we keep the neighborhood beautiful...whatever!


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