“You can keep all the flowers in my flower garden,” said the former owner of Ginger Johnson’s home when she and her husband moved to Marengo in 1993. The “flowers” Johnson inherited were Creeping Charlie and Blackberry Lilies.

“I promptly killed the Lilies, and I’m still battling the Creeping Charlie,” laughed Johnson. She calls herself a “haphazard gardener,” trying something here, moving it there, digging and pruning throughout the year. Johnson visits Hub’s Nursery to look at the Plant of the Week. “That way I can make sure I have something blooming throughout the growing seasons,” she explained. She pointed to a yellow flower approximately seven feet tall. “Some people call this a native plant, some people call it a weed,” she laughed. “If you buy it in a nursery, it’s a cultivated plant.”

Johnson told her students that she planted a bridge. It’s a timber walkway meandering through a corner of the garden that she calls her “Peace Garden.” In another corner is a compost bin that she shares with her neighbor. Johnson converted her children’s outgrown tree fort to a reading nook, complete with a rocking chair. She considered installing a small water garden, but opted for a fountain instead.

Although Johnson grows a variety of flowers, her favorite is the Siberian Iris. “It’s so stately and proud looking,” she explained. “I just love it.” On the other hand, she holds a grudge against Creeping Charlie, her biggest intruder.

Vegetable gardening is something Johnson leaves to others. “I can’t grow vegetables to save my life,” she confessed. “Once I bought a patio tomato plant. I got only one cherry tomato for my efforts,” she laughed.

“Everyone do what you like and what makes you smile,” said Johnson about gardening. “Some people do formal gardens.” She prefers to focus on varying heights, colors, and blooms. “Everybody should do what makes them happy walking out the door in the morning. If it doesn’t work out, ha, it’s just a plant. You can always start over."


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