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Competition shows off county gardens


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In backyards, side plots and meticulously tended beds, local self-made horticulturists are showing off their green thumbs.

From the earliest daffodil blooms to the final burst of mums in the fall, they work hard to ensure their home gardens provide color and beauty to any yard.

Some are prim with carefully planned arrangements and tending. Others are more wild and free-flowing, an organized version of Indiana’s meadows and forests.

All over Johnson County, gardeners have spent the spring crafting impeccable plots, coaxing the most radiant blooms from the soil and keeping their gardens healthy. Now, in the thick of summer, they can enjoy the aesthetic beauty of what they’ve done.

Some are even competing to prove it.

Restore Old Town Greenwood, a nonprofit civic organization working to maintain the city’s central neighborhoods, is sponsoring a best yard contest. People are encouraged to show off their landscaping, green grass and unique garden plots, organizer John Jones said.

He’s partnered with local homeowners, as well as with Gary Ward, owner of McCammon’s Irish Market, to help promote those who take special care of their properties.

Ward has offered a 10 percent discount on flowers or other products to anyone signed up for the contest. He also has provided tips on how to improve specific spaces.

With the contest in full swing, and landscapers all over the county showing off their yards, the Daily Journal has spoken with some of Johnson County’s most skilled gardeners.

Take a tour of their flowers, plants, shrubs and trees, and possibly get some ideas about starting a garden of your own.

Home

379 W. Broadway St.,

Greenwood

Gardeners

Chuck and Carolyn Landon

Notable features

A variety of hostas and lilies, towering maple and tulip trees, native Indiana perennials.

Underneath towering maple and tulip trees, a whimsical English garden has popped up in Old Town Greenwood.

Stone pathways weave through big-leafed hostas. Flowers such as foxglove and lilies poke up toward the dappled sunlight.

Chuck and Carolyn Landon knew they wanted to create a special space in their yard. Working with the conditions their property presents, they’ve cultivated a soothing area where they can relax.

“We wanted it to look like a place in Brown County. And if you’re sitting in our backyard, that’s what it feels like,” Carolyn Landon said. “You can hear the birds all around you, see the squirrels. We love it.”

The Landons started working on their garden when they moved to Old Town Greenwood 25 years ago. At the time, the yard was almost entirely grass, with only a few plants growing along the house.

Slowly, they began to transform it.

Because their yard is shaded for most of the day, the Landons had to choose perennial species that could thrive without much sunlight. Their property is also one of the lowest in the neighborhood, meaning that water often pools in their yard.

“Ours is more natural. We can’t do a lot of annuals because they can’t handle the wet or the shade,” Chuck Landon said.

Near the front corner of the property, the Landons had planted a butterfly garden. But the combination of shade and tall growth of some of the plants forced them to reconsider how to arrange it with more perennials.

Crabapple, magnolia and dogwood trees grow underneath the big hardwoods, adding midlevel shade to the garden.

Each has favorite aspects of the garden. Chuck Landon is partial to the different varieties of ferns, while Carolyn Landon likes the new lavender wisteria that they planted this year. Its pale purple blooms have just started to branch out along their front fence.

“But it’ll overtake the whole thing,” Carolyn Landon said.

They have one special plant, an elephant ear hosta, that grows massive flat leaves.

“I think it’s the most beautiful plant,” Chuck Landon said. “We put a lot of love into this yard.”

Home

4070 Serenity Way Court, Greenwood

Gardener

Doris Roemer

Notable features

Backyard waterfall surrounded by Japanese maple, daylilies and salvia.

In the hot early summer sun, an oasis has emerged in the Center Grove area.

Doris Roemer has carved out a shady corner of her yard to create a soothing escape from the heat. A gurgling waterfall trickles in the back, among Japanese maple and tulip trees.

Through the stone garden, a stream passes daylilies and salvia.

The feature is the centerpiece of Roemer’s landscaping work, which she puts hours into every day to keep tidy and in bloom.

“It’s a pastime. It’s always something I’ve done, even when I was younger. My parents always had a garden,” she said. “You have to think when you plant when these things will bloom and what’s going to look good all summer long.”

The opportunity for her waterfall garden was created by a freak windstorm.

The back border of her yard, just above a small stream, had been planted with sycamore trees. Though they provided shade, they limited what she could do in terms of landscaping, Roemer said.

During a storm, straight-line winds knocked all of the trees over.

“So I put the waterfall up here to cover up the stumps,” she said.

When Roemer moved into her home in the Center Grove area 30 years ago, the yard was in disarray.

Families that had lived there previously hadn’t done much work with the gardens, and Roemer had to all but tear everything out and start over.

The only thing she kept were a series of bushes at the front of the house.

“I bonsai-ed them because they were so hard to dig up. Everything else had to go,” she said. “It’s a lot of work to keep it up, but I like doing it as long as I can.”

Home

688 Brook Drive, Greenwood

Gardener

Ruth Hemeier

Notable features

Pink and white mandevillas, Gerber daisies and a variety of lilies

When it comes to caring for the yard and garden, Ruth Hemeier doesn’t rely on anyone else for help.

The 85-year-old Greenwood resident mows the grass, trims along all of her garden beds and sweeps up any grass clippings. She plants all of the flowers and sculpts the bushes and trees into immaculate shapes.

Her husband, Earl Hemeier, offers to help. But Ruth Hemeier prefers to do the work herself.

“I won’t let him do it,” she said, laughing.

Gardening and yard work have been part of Hemeier’s life since she was 7, when she started mowing the lawn to help her mother. When the blade of the hand-driven mower got stuck, she accidentally cut off the end of a toe.

But that didn’t discourage her.

“It’s good exercise, and it’s a pleasure after you finish to look back and see the accomplishment of what you’ve done,” Ruth Hemeier said.

It takes Ruth Hemeier about two hours to mow, trim and sweep up around the yard. If the weather is nice, she tries to mow every other day.

She hand-clips around every bush and garden bed.

Those gardens have also been meticulously cared for.

About 150 begonias encircle an island-type garden in her side yard. Pink and white mandevillas climb up small trellises and lamp posts.A purple group of clematis adds a tropical feel to her deck.

Gerber daisies form a border around her birdbath. Beautiful lilies in pink and fiery scarlet adorn the side of the house.

“I enjoy it. I enjoy mowing my yard, I enjoy tending to my flowers, and I have at every place I’ve lived at,” Ruth Hemeier said.

Home

Cardinal Point Farm, 3034 S. County Road 625W,

Morgantown

Gardeners

Anne and Steve Young

Notable features

Fruit trees and bushes, native Indiana plants, a rain garden and dozens of varieties of flowers

In most cases, gardeners spend hours planting, digging, weeding and watering to beautify their homes.

But Anne and Steve Young have another goal in mind — to educate.

On their property, Cardinal Point Farms, they have common plants such as peony, lily of the valley and daffodils.

They also have unusual species such as northern pecan trees, seaberrys and American bladderwart. Fruit trees and native bushes are planted in every available plot.

And each one is labeled.

“We want people to come and learn about plants they’ve never seen before,” Anne Young said. “For a gardener, it’s heaven because we have a lot of unusual things.”

The Youngs started their garden 40 years ago, when they brought one of their rose plants with them from Kentucky when they moved to Indiana. They started Cardinal Point Farm to raise heritage livestock, vegetables and fruit.

Most of her plantings are perennials, such as 40 varieties of daylilies and seven types of clematis.

“It is low maintenance. We try to make sure that anything we plant doesn’t need anything — not sprays, not pruning, not anything,” Anne Young said.

Almost every plant has a tag, which tells the plant, the variety and when it was planted.

“That’s what people usually want to know — if it was planted a certain time and how it’s grown since then,” Anne Young said.

Fruit trees line their small pond, as do native Indiana shrubs. A rain garden helps filter and hold rain running from their pasture to the pond.

An arch, made up entirely of edible plants such as honeyberries, horseradish and hardy kiwi, serves as a gateway into the backyard.

“It’s basically what you want to see and how much you want to take away,” Anne Young said. “We can talk to people about what they’re looking for and then go find it.”

Home

525 Carefree Lane,

Greenwood

Gardener

Linda Long

Notable features

Garden path through perennials and annuals, pergola and swing set among climbing vines

Like a kaleidoscope shifting shapes and colors, Linda Long’s garden is designed to change every couple of weeks.

Among the daylilies, poppies and foxglove, she has packed in dozens of varieties of garden plants. Spring-blooming flowers are besides plants that flower in the summer or the autumn. It ensures that no two visits to her home will be the same.

“Every two weeks, if you come to see my garden, it looks different. There’s something that’s stopped blooming and something else is starting to bloom,” she said. “I planted things for long enough, I can plan it to bloom at different times.”

For the past 20 years, Long has been gardening and beautifying her yard.

“In February and March, it’s so ugly out there. Everything is so dead. There’s nothing out there. It’s so brown,” Long said. “Then, when you start getting into March, things start popping out of the ground. It’s amazing the things that come out of the ground, and it gets fuller and fuller.”

Many of the plants have simply spread on their own. She controls the outward reach of these plants but lets the garden itself grow in a natural way.

“I did not plant all of those plants. They just kind of did their own thing,” Long said. “A lot of them, I’ve had for a long time, and they’ll come up.”

One of those surprise additions is her bee balm plant, a summer-blooming plant that looks like the tendrils of a Fourth of July fireworks blast.

Long’s has deep purple and burgundy blooms. When it popped up this year, she had no idea that it was there.

“I must have planted it last year and just forgot about it. It’s so tall, and I never remembered having one there. So it’s fun when things like that happen,” she said.

But she’s conscious about keeping a hardy stock of annuals in her yard. Tucked within the gardens around her patio and pool are blooms that will stay out throughout the warmer months.

It ensures bright color when perennials such as black-eyed Susans and butterfly bushes have lost their flowers.

“It’s a staple. If you have that, you know it will be there the whole summer,” she said.

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