Garden Club recognizes flowering achievements

Wednesday, June 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:35 a.m. CDT, Saturday, June 28, 2008

When the Columbia Garden Club declares someone’s lawn the Yard of the Month, there’s no trophy, there’s no cash prize — nobody even contacts the media.

There’s not even a plaque — just a yard sign.

The real prize isn’t tangible; it’s the glory that lives in roots in the ground and in the gardening community.

When Joe Roesch and Gary Shaw’s home at 908 W. Ash St. was awarded the May Yard of the Month, Roesch and Shaw found it a privilege to receive the honor.

“It’s just nice to get acknowledged,” Roesch said. “It’s nice to know that people are aware of your efforts.”

The club’s newsletter describes Roesch and Shaw’s garden as an extraordinary showplace. The yard is filled with beds of lily of the valley and hosta, Roesch’s favorite plant. The front porch displays an array of hanging ferns and urns of shade-loving annuals, such as begonia. The back yard is equally ornate with an enormous oak tree and an archway decorated with white climbing floribunda roses, pink variegated weigelas and twin soulangiana or saucer magnolias.

Beyond the arch is a bed of catmint and yellow potentilla that circles a sundial.

Roesch and Shaw’s yard was not the only one honored in May. Patti Hoddinott’s yard on West Boulevard and Prospect Street was also recognized by the three-person Yard of the Month Committee. There is not a strict process for how the Yard of the Month is awarded. The committee members, Barbara Devine, Emily Bonwich and Carolyn Swope make note of yards they see during the day and let the other committee members know to check it out. After meeting together the group makes the selection.

Garden Club members are not eligible for the honor, but members and nonmembers alike are welcome to suggest a garden for consideration.

According to the club’s Web site at, criteria for Yard of the Month selection are “good design with overall appeal; effective use of flowers; pleasing use of trees, shrubs, hedges, grass and ground cover; garden accents, such as walls, paths, seating or water interest; and the yard must be visible from the street.”

Swope, chairwoman of the Yard of the Month Committee, said that design isn’t everything.

“The main thing is a nice mix of perennials and shrubs,” Swope said. “We also look for something that indicates a love of gardening.”

Roesch said he became interested in gardening once he became a home owner and finally had his own yard. He said he and Shaw initially obtained landscaping ideas from home and garden magazines. They learned through trial and error which plants worked with the climate and their lifestyles.

He said he also receives gardening tips and aid from neighbors who are also gardening enthusiasts.

“Gardeners are fun people,” Roesch said. “They have a neat sense of humor and they always have something they’re interested in; even amateurs and pros connect on a certain level.”

Swope, too, said she began gardening through trial and error, before she joined the club. In the club, she said, she found a community of people who provided her with plenty of helpful information about gardening.

“What I do notice is that when you see one outstanding yard, other yards in the vicinity get better and better,” she said.

She said that after she began a more thriving garden, her neighbor became interested in landscaping and asked if they could share a plot of land between their yards to work on together.

“My neighbor never touched soil before seeing the results of my efforts,” Swope said.

Yard of the Month honors are presented during May through September. The June Yard of the Month honorees are Jim Spradling at 209 N. Garth Ave. and Jennifer Sanders at the corner of Woodridge Drive and Cedar Lane.

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