LAYTON — Playing in the dirt is how Ann Dare spends a good portion of her summer.
There are flowers to plant and then flower beds to weed, vegetables to plant and vegetables to weed. It’s plenty of work, but also plenty of pleasure.
“I just like doing it — it’s therapeutic,” says Dare. “You just go out there and you’re alone and you can dig in the dirt and plant things and make it look nice.”
The backyard of Dare’s Layton home was pretty much empty when she and husband Jesse first moved in years ago. Step by step, it’s come to be filled with an herb garden, brick pathways that loop through the yard, trellises covered in climbing honeysuckle and roses, and a potting shed with a comfy wicker chair for a weary gardener to rest in.
“It just kind of goes on and on,” Dare says, adding, “It seems like every year we think of something else to do.”
Photographs of the Layton garden were submitted by a neighbor of Dare’s in response to the Standard-Examiner’s request for pictures of outstanding flower gardens. This is a cottage-style garden, complete with white picket fences and a variety of colorful flowers, from cosmos to petunias to zinnias.
The foxgloves, deep pink bell-like flowers growing on tall stalks, are her favorites, Dare says.
“They’re really pretty — I love them,” she says. “My grandma used to grow them.”
Dare says she also enjoys her circular herb garden, filled with the scents of lemon thyme, pineapple sage, basil, chives and lavender. Sitting among the herbs are two decorative dome-like baskets that Dare says are actually a type of old-fashioned beehive.
No, she doesn’t have any bees — yet — but one corner of her yard is home to a rabbit and some chickens, which Dare likes to tell folks are the secret to her garden’s success.
“Chicken manure and rabbit manure — it helps a lot,” she says.
Dare, who took a master gardening course at her former home in Washington, says she didn’t discover her green thumb until her children were older.
“I just got the bug one day,” she says. And, she adds, “My dad’s a gardener — I think I got it from him.”
Neighbor Sheryl Starkey says all of Dare’s labors are proof that even a small yard can boast a beautiful garden.
“It is so interesting to go in her yard — there’s such a variety,” says Starkey, who lives next door. “There are so many different things to look at.”
She says Dare’s garden even catches the attention of passersby on the walking path that runs behind the neighbors’ houses.
“Everybody stops to look over into Ann’s yard,” Starkey says. The neighbor adds, “I’ve been in the golf industry since 1981; I’m used to seeing well-manicured lawns and things like this. They don’t compare to her yard.”
No sitting still
The summer is still young, and Dare says her garden won’t look its best until July, when everything is full grown. Every year, the gardener may try some new flowers along with her standbys, but she says that if the new plants don’t work out, she doesn’t hesitate to take action.
“If it starts to die, I don’t want to nurse it back to health so I yank it up — which is not very nice. I should give them a chance,” she quips.
Despite inviting benches and chairs scattered about her yard, Dare admits she doesn’t rest on her laurels very often among all of the blossoms.
“I can’t stop working in it,” she says. “If I sit here, then I look at it and I think ‘I need to fix that’ or ‘I need to cut that.’ ”
Even so, her reward for her work is simple, Dare says: “I just like looking at it when I get done."
SHOW US YOUR FLOWERS
Do you have a stunning flower garden that attracts neighbors and passersby like bees to a blossom?
We’d love to see photos of your flower garden, and learn about what makes it such a standout. Your responses may be included in an upcoming photo package or feature.
Email your photos, and a brief description of the garden, to email@example.com, with “Flower Garden” in the subject line. (Or mail to Becky Wright, Standard-Examiner, P.O. Box 12790, Ogden, UT 84112-2790; or deliver in person to our offices at 332 Standard Way, Ogden.)
Digital images should be in jpg format and high resolution, meaning at least 300 dpi and 10 inches at its largest dimension.
Please include your name, address and a daytime phone number where we can contact you.