Archived Story

A beautiful yard just happens sometimes

Published 12:11am Sunday, October 6, 2013

I have close relatives who work in Washington, D.C., and live in the surrounding Virginia suburbs. They come here for family reunions.

As I was looking around town for one last yard nomination for the season, I was reminded of a comment a Virginia niece made as we took a walk through Ironton’s residential south side. She was taken by the variety of homes here and commented that she enjoyed the fact that there are rarely even two alike.

Our properties do indeed show our individualities. On a short Sunday walk this weekend I saw young parents’ yards with blow-up pumpkins and ghosts newly displayed; others with arrangements of brightly colored mums,gourds and cornstalks.

In my neighborhood one resident has given over his entire front lawn to growing a huge pumpkin vine, allowing the whole neighborhood to enjoy its big yellow blossoms mid-summer and the pumpkins that are maturing nicely now, right outside the owner’s front window.

Another has used the majority of her yard to install a swimming pool with a cemented parking space big enough for five cars. Not a lot of grass left, but all summer those parking spaces have been full, and shouts of laughter from happy splashing children adds a positive note to my walks.

No, my neighborhood won’t win any awards for overall design, but it’s mine, and I like it.

No matter how big or how small the property, most Irontonians take definite pride in theirs, and put serious work into making it uniquely their own. And there’s always a story behind each yard. This is true of September’s yard winner, Wilma Martin of 2207 N. First St.

Her husband built their home almost 50 years ago and though Wilma, now in her mid-80s, has stuck a plant or two in the ground someone gifted her with over the years, she says she has never dug in the ground and created a flower bed.

Until this year.

It all started by accident when she was given two Knock-Out rose bushes. After trimming them back one day, she took 10 of the thorny cuttings and casually stuck them in the ground behind her house. All 10 took root and began shooting out new leaves. No one with Wilma’s waste-not-want-not nature could stop there.

So, well into her eighth decade, she began digging a flower bed for the roses. She says it is one of the best things she has ever done in her life, that she had never imagined the act of growing things could bring such pleasure the entire summer.

She has added an eye-pleasing group of annuals in front of her roses and a Japanese maple (another gift), and plans to start a bed on the other side of the yard come spring.

People ask what our yard judging committee looks for when choosing a winner. I think it largely boils down to looking at a place, a place like Wilma’s, and thinking, “I wouldn’t mind living there!”

Sometimes it’s as simple as that.


Judy Sanders is an Ironton resident and a volunteer with the Ironton In Bloom organization.

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