For Manfred and Linda Driesner, their yard has become a haven.
“I love everything about gardening. Deciding which plants to buy, planting them in the spring, getting my hands in the soil, pruning, weeding, enjoying the beauty of the flowers once they are in full bloom… In short, everything that goes with having a flower garden makes me happy,” Linda said of her home at 1301 Poplar St. in Highland, the latest spot to be named Yard of the Month by the Highland Garden Club.
While Linda is tending her flowers, Manfred, keeps the grass, trees, and shrubs well trimmed and tended.
When they bought their property in late spring of 1973, the Driesners’ quarter-acre “garden” consisted only of grass and four trees, one of which is a magnolia that is surely among the oldest magnolia trees in Highland, having been planted around 1930. Every spring, passing cars slow down so the drivers can admire that tree, which is magnificent when in full bloom. The other three trees — two lindens and a wild cherry — have long since died and been removed, replaced with a huge ash tree, a sunset maple, a tulip poplar, and a flowering crab apple tree.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
In addition, they have planted about 40 yews — globe-shaped ones — along both sides of their driveway and columnar yews on the northern and western sides of their back yard. A large variety of flowers — both annuals and perennials — adorn their garden, some planted in the ground in front of their yew hedge or along the side of their carport, others in standing pots or hanging planters.
In front of the yew hedge in their backyard, you will find shrubs such as Japanese barberry and holly mixed with an assortment of annuals and perennials — hostas, daylilies, calla lilies, coneflowers, roses, vincas, sedum, columbine, and dianthus, among others. A large planter containing pink geraniums and yellow marigolds graces their patio area, and pink and red begonias are everywhere — in planters, around the back porch, near the carport, and in the front yard, a location chosen specifically to help attract hummingbirds to their two large feeders.
Along the north side of their carport, there are irises, peonies, daisies, hen-and-chicks, fountain grass, sparkler plants, boxwood shrubs, columbine, vincas, dianthus, and more begonias. Even the far end of their driveway has not escaped the gardener’s touch, containing a lilac bush, mounds of tiger grass, sedum, roses, and daylilies.
The Driesners collect water in three 50-gallon rain barrels to water all these plants.
“City water just has too many chemicals that the plants don’t like,” Linda said, “so we water all the container flowers exclusively with rainwater. Mother Nature generally takes care of the ones planted in the ground.”
If the barrels go dry, as they sometimes do, Manfred uses well water to fill them up, but that water has to be given some time to warm up before it is used.
“The plants don’t like it if you pour cold water on them either,” Linda said.
Having a large garden of any kind is a big investment in time, energy, and money, but to the Driesners, it is all worth it.
“To be able to sit outside on our swing or on a lawn chair, surrounded by all these beautiful plants and flowers, watching the birds come to our feeders, feeling the breeze on our faces and just relaxing in the midst of God’s beautiful creation — that’s all the reward we ask for or need.”
The Driesners are very grateful to the Highland Garden Club for the honor of being named Yard of the Month and only hope that neighbors and passers-by get as much enjoyment from the results of their gardening labors as they do.
About the Yard of the Month
September was the final Yard of the Month for 2016. But the award will resume again next spring.
All residences, including houses, apartments, townhouses, villas and condominiums, within Helvetia and Saline townships are eligible. Yard of the Month winners may win the contest only one time per two-year period. Residents may nominate either a neighbor’s yard or their own yard for Yard of the Month.
One entry per household will suffice for the whole season. Nominations should be submitted by calling the Chamber of Commerce, 654-3721, with the name, address and phone number of the nominee.
Winners will receive a Yard of the Month sign from the city to display in their yard for one month, a certificate signed by the mayor of Highland, a $25 gift certificate from the Highland Chamber of Commerce and a membership in the Highland Garden Club for the season.