To those driving and walking past the residence on the corner of Roosevelt and Hudson streets in Marion, they see a colorful array of flowers, bushes, and vegetables.
But to Shirley Bowers, each flower and bush holds a memory.
Most came from the family farm when Shirley and her husband, David, moved to Marion in 1992. David helped with the tending of the gardens until his health began to fail and he was moved to St. Luke Living Center in 2005. David died in September.
“I have a special memorial garden for him,” Shirley said.
In the front yard, next to the house, she has an assortment of jonquils, tulips, and her favorite, chrysanthemums.
Shirley tried something different: She placed a black, fabric mat around the flowers, which allows rain to nourish the plants but discourages weeds.
Also along the house are hollyhocks and baskets of geraniums.
“Hens and chick” plants are nestled along the south side of the residence.
Vines of clematis are in the backyard and along Hudson Street, blooming with purple flowers throughout spring and summer.
A blackberry bush is ready to bloom.
“I better cover it with a curtain to keep the birds away,” Shirley said.
On an average, she spends two hours per day tending to her gardens — watering, weeding, and overall nurturing.
By a garage, there are mini-holly hocks.
“They bloom and bloom and bloom,” Shirley said. “I have to keep an eye on them or they’ll get away from me.”
Similar to the larger variety, this flower easily reproduces.
A bed of lamb’s ear, named for its soft leaves, has evidence that an animal used the soft vegetation as a bed the night before.
Iris and more hollyhocks and chrysanthemums line the garage.
At the back of the house, a perennial hibiscus doesn’t have to be taken indoors in the fall.
A garden plot boasts large, lush plants of rhubarb, asparagus, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, and two huge cabbages.
“They’re called ‘20-pound cabbages’,” Shirley said. “I’m not going to let them get that big.”
Bachelor buttons, peonies, poppies, iris, and clematis fill the north side of the yard.
“I have people stop, particularly in the spring, and comment on my flowers,” Shirley said, referring to the row near Hudson Street.
In addition to the plants, the Bowers also brought soil from the family farm — soil that was from a cattle pen.
“I don’t need any fertilizer,” Shirley said with a laugh.
There are many memories in Shirley’s yard — memories that bring her joy.
Tending to such a large yard and garden would be difficult for most at any age. It is easy to forget that Shirley is 78 years young.
“I like to keep busy,” she said, and busy she is — playing piano at church and for Marion Kiwanis Club, quilting three hours a day at Marion Senior Center, and volunteering whenever an extra hand is needed.
“My folks put us together right,” she said. “I still have my original parts.”