On the Garden Path

Woman overhauls landscape after ice storm destroys yard

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BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE: Gloria Howard planted petunias in hanging baskets to add interest to her landscape.

Bernadine F. Wells

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Not even an Oklahoma ice storm can keep 86-year-old Gloria Howard from gardening.

In 2002, an ice storm that surprised central and western Oklahoma left trees and fences broken, and limbs scattered everywhere. The persimmon trees in Gloria's backyard, which had been there for more than 50 years, broke under the weight of several inches of ice, and some of them fell on electric wires and fences. So, she had all 14 of them removed.

An experienced gardener, Gloria looked at her barren yard, wondering where to begin. There was sun now, where there had been shade before. She looked through catalogs, and she began browsing through nurseries and greenhouses, as they began receiving shipments of plants, shrubs and seed. Roses had always been her favorite flower, and her father had grown them in Wales when they lived there. Most of her rose bushes had escaped the wrath of the storm and were showing new growth.

As soon as the ground was warm enough, Gloria planted some spring bulbs and rose bushes. Then she began planting seed - sunflower, morning glory and marigold. She filled containers with potting soil and plants, and she planted impatiens and petunias in hanging baskets.

The soil where the trees had been was very fertile, and the sunflower seeds she planted grew to 10 feet tall, with blooms the size of dinner plates.

She looks forward to each spring, when she sees the beginning of new life for her beloved roses, mile-high sunflowers and many other annuals to mingle with her many perennials.

'It's a lot of work,' Gloria says about keeping up with her landscape, 'but I love it.'