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My backyard oasis

Published July 21. 2012 10:55AM


About 10-12 years ago, my husband asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day. It didn't take long for me to answer.

I looked at the area behind our screened-in porch spotty patches of grass and dirt, surrounded by a chain-link fence.

I wanted a garden. We have a lot of trees and rocks, and the area doesn't get a lot of sun, so I knew a vegetable garden was out of the question. But flowers I figured we could grow some shade-loving varieties and get a little color back there.

Jim rented a rototiller and went to work. Instead of turning over the barren hardscrabble that filled the enclosure, he turned up rocks. Lots and lots of rocks.

Not deterred, he used the rocks to create walkways in the garden and created different planting beds for the flowers I longed to grow.

I started with purple coneflowers, which had been dug up and transferred three times, originating at our first home in Pennsylvania. They are still thriving, and as their numbers have increased, they have been spread about the garden.

As I added plants, I selected those that would do well in partial sun, and also attract butterflies. I even added milkweed, pulled from the roadside around us. Milkweed attracts Monarch butterflies, who lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. The caterpillars hatch from the eggs and feed on the milkweed until they are ready to form a chrysalis and become butterflies.

My husband added a small pond in the corner of the garden and over the years, he has increased its size and the power of the pumps, and now I can even hear it trickling from upstairs in my bedroom.

This year my garden is full and lush and colorful.

With little to do there, Jim began branching out and created a stone patio and fire pit beyond the garden, with additional planting areas, where we have dared to attempt to grow "deer-resistant" plants, like colorful impatiens. The deer haven't touched them yet, but by the end of the summer, I realize I will wake up one day and there will be nothing but stems. That's OK.

About a week or so ago, while sitting on the deck and looking out over the garden and the landscaping beyond it, I relished the peace and quiet. The only sound was the buzzing of bees, darting from flower to flower, competing with a host of butterflies so many I can't even name them anymore. The gurgling of the pond was the only other sound.

I realized how lucky I was that my husband created this beautiful oasis. As we live in the woods, in addition to the birds, bees and butterflies, we are often visited by other creatures.

If you sit still and quiet long enough, a doe will pass through with a couple fawns scampering behind her. Sometimes a buck will stop along the way, and nibble on some leaves before a noise scares him off.

A fat raccoon seems to have taken up residence in our neighbor's yard, or at least is using it as a path from one place to another. There are also bears on occasion. While I would love to feed the birds (and they do love using the bird bath in the garden), I don't because the bears also enjoy the bird food, and would think nothing of blundering through our little haven to get to a handful of seeds.

Wednesday was my birthday. One of the nicest benefits we have working here at the TIMES NEWS, is that we don't work on our birthdays.

I spent the day very simply, no party, no cake just peace and quiet, sipping a cup of coffee and thanking God for all the blessings in my life, including a little patch of land, created lovingly just for me.

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