Painting a Garden
This young couple uses plants and flowers as their multihued, artistic palette.
By Julie Dvornicky, Broadview Heights, Ohio
Impatiens add vibrant color to their backyard.
You don't have to work with paint to be a painter. My husband, Greg, is one of the best artists I know. You won't find his work hanging on a wall or in a gallery, though. Instead, his masterpieces grace the outdoors.
It's been nearly 10 years since I first met Greg. It was a chilly November evening when our friends orchestrated a blind date between us. Our relationship quickly blossomed, and now we've been married for 7 years.
Prior to meeting Greg, I rarely took an interest in gardening—at least not anything beyond a pot of begonias on my shady apartment patio. We moved into our modest (and slightly tattered) bungalow shortly after we tied the knot. The home belonged to a long-time family friend, and we got an offer we couldn't refuse.
Mold It into Shape
Greg always admired the home because of its sprawling yard, and he couldn't wait to dig in. I didn't quite share his enthusiasm. To me, the house looked more like a throwback to the 1960s. Greg tried to convince me that the entire setup would be like molding clay in our naive hands. I had my doubts, but didn't stop him.
When we first moved in, the lawn was up to the foundation, and it contained more weeds than grass. There were no beds or etched rings around the trees, and though the former owner kept things neat and tidy, the yard lacked the pizzazz that comes when flowers, shrubs and trees join forces.
Greg and Julie Dvornicky enjoy the beauty of their backyard.
Keeping Critters Away
In true "painter" fashion, Greg took control and started to work his magic. He has a phenomenal way of placing color, shape, size and height together to form a grand canvas of petals and foliage. It wasn't long before our yard glowed with color and personality.
Our yard's shape resembles a bowling alley, so we wanted to break it up while adding color at the same time. Our beds are not perfectly straight in any way. In fact, they deliberately curve and wander to add interest to the large space. Most of our flower beds contain varieties that are resistant to deer and rabbits. We found that out the hard way, but now we have a pretty good system.
After most of the plantings were complete, Greg added decorative rocks, wooden American flags and little wire fences. These extras not only look cute, but they also help keep Mother Nature in all her glory contained and off the grass and driveway.
Greg turned their long, boring yard into a beautiful retreat.
Greg starts most of his "palette" from seed. Beginning in peat pots under lights in our basement, he hardens them off. Then he moves them to our sunporch and waits for frost-free days so he can add them to his "gallery." We save seeds from our standouts each year and plant them in the basement in late winter. We've had lots of success, as our friends and neighbors who receive bouquets and bounties will attest. We have blooms from early spring to the first heavy frost.
Greg's plants are an extension of his personality. He even has bird friends, too. We have three birdbaths, two suet cages and three tube feeders with nyjer, black-oil sunflower and safflower seeds.
One spring, while putting out our solar landscape lights, Greg lost one of the batteries. I assured him we would find it while weeding or raking. Two days later, a blue jay—a regular dweller in our yard—chirped and hollered until Greg finally took notice of it.
As soon as Greg looked up into the tree, the jay opened its bill, and down fell the missing battery. It was just as new and shiny as the day we lost it. Some may call this amazing, but I call it a connection. In this busy world of cell phones, GPS and text messaging, Greg has meshed with the most simple and rewarding thing—nature.
Greg loves his feathered friends.
A Natural Lifestyle
Our love of nature has taken us down many wonderful avenues. We garden organically and utilize a vermicomposter year-round, which turns our kitchen scraps into worm castings to fertilize our yard.
This naturalistic approach in our yard has helped educate us to change the way we do things in other aspects of our lives as well. We create and produce our own line of natural skin care products, called Nature Zone Gardens.
So now, we're taking gardening to a whole new level. We still maintain the beauty in our backyard, but we also grow plants for a cosmetic beauty as well. As we celebrate another year of living in our hand-painted oasis, I am more proud and in love with Greg than I have ever been. He is a visionary of God's beautiful, rainbow-colored Earth.
I've never had so much appreciation for the scent of a flower or the sound of a bird singing. Greg once told me that God has provided him with so many blessings, and in turn, he wants to make Him proud. I certainly go through each day admiring Greg's perseverance and the beautiful world. I can only imagine the view of our yard from Heaven!