Purples and reds are evident in this floral bed on the Schoenborn property.

ing ideas from magazines and books.

“I was learning as I was doing it,” she said. “I always wanted to try different things.”

Good weather would find her outside working the ground, preparing the beds for the flowers. And then, when it rained, she’d spend her time at the nursery, always a special event.

Buys flowers locally

Sue likes to buy locally rather than order her plants from catalogues. Buying plants through the mail just isn’t the same as spending a day actually seeing the flowers lined up before her eyes with all their beautiful colors.

“It’s a fun day,” she said. “You see new things and talk to other people, too.”

“What do you like,” she’d ask another shopper. Or, “Have you ever tried this?”

Sometimes it was fun just to see what they had in their cart.

“You’re always learning,” she said.

And though she’d go shopping equipped with a list, she’d want to try something new, too. Keep an open mind. Read about it and see if it would work for her.

When Sue chooses flowers, she has to think about the bed it will be going in. Will there be shade or sun? Will there be a way to get water there? Or will she have to choose a plant that likes drier soil?

“There are plants for everything,” she said.

Having made those decisions, she also considers the plant height, lower ones in front and taller in back, if the bed runs along a fence or against the house. If the

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flower bed is an island, she’ll put the tall ones in the middle.

Sue likes to plant a lot of the same flowers together so they make a statement, so they’ll get noticed. But she also considers texture.

Another thing to think about is when each plant will bloom during the spring, summer or fall. Perennials have their own time frame.

“But there are so many different kinds, you can time it perfectly, if you want,” Sue said. “There’s a trick to time it all, but it definitely can be done.”

Sue likes to supplement her perennials by adding annuals to give her garden color all season. She also finds patience an important quality because perennials take time to reach their full potential.

“You need to have at least two or three seasons to see what they’re going to do,” she said. “The second year, they’ll do much better, but the third year is when they really thrive.”

Ideas from multiple sources

Besides books, magazines, and what she picks up at the nursery, Sue also spots ideas from other people’s gardens.

“I don’t know if you’re ever really satisfi ed,” she said. “I see something somewhere else, and I’ll say, ‘Oh, that was beautiful. I want to create that here.’”

In addition to garden beds, the Schoenborns have tackled other projects as well, like the 3,000 evergreen trees they planted in 1988.

“I remember how little they were,” Sue said. “I thought, is that ever going to take a long time!” Yet today they tower along one side of their driveway providing a beautiful evergreen forest—another reward for patience.

Then in the ‘90s—Sue doesn’t remember the exact year—the couple talked to a landscape designer who suggested putting in a prairie full of native grasses and wildflowers in back of the house.

“It’s beautiful in about June and July,” she said.

Of course, again, the project took a couple of years to really get going. Now, though, all they have to do to maintain it is to mow it down once a year, and it comes back again year after year. It’s especially nice for birds and insects, good for ecology. And the wildlife...

Sue says she enjoys fox that frequent their property. One year, a female had babies, and she and her husband enjoyed watching them grow. Just recently, she saw a fox in her flower bed and was able to capture the moment with a photograph.

They’ve also had raccoons, turkeys, and deer. In fact, she suspects one deer lives in their evergreen grove.

Sometimes, when life gets busy, Sue feels they take their yard for granted, but when she really sits back and thinks about how the property has changed since 1984 when it was just an undeveloped field, it is gratifying to think that it started out a dream and over the years, just a little at a time, they’ve created something to be proud of, to enjoy and to watch come alive every spring.

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