In more ways than one, a pair of decades-old pin oak trees were the reason why Dorothy Widler chose to put a rock garden in front of her home in Marion early this spring.
“The ground was bare because the trees sucked all the water out of the ground,” Widler said.
Her daughter, Jeannie Wildin, said she also wanted to reduce the work needed to maintain the yard because of health concerns.
Every time a friend would mow the yard for her, dust would blow everywhere, she said. But she wasn’t about to take out the trees for the sake of a green lawn. She said the trees were planted when Wildin was about 10 years old, and it wouldn’t be home without them.
“I remember when they were planted,” Wildin said. “I was just a little girl. And the trees looked like sticks coming out of the ground.”
“They’re part of the family,” Widler said.
She recalled when a hail storm broke several tree limbs, which required trimming the trees, and how emotional that made her.
“I just stood there and bawled,” Widler said.
But the bare ground and dust was getting to be too much. A rock garden with a few plants that don’t need too much moisture seemed like a good idea.
“I just wanted something nice out there that would cover up the bare ground, so I just left it up to the landscaper,” Widler said.
The landscaper asked her what colors she likes, and it was an easy answer for the devoted Kansas State University fan.
“Purple, purple, purple,” she said.
Widler said she is very happy with the work the landscaper did, especially a stone patio. The rock garden doesn’t cover the entire yard; there is still grass where the trees’ roots don’t reach. The friend that mows for Widler told her he was relieved to not have as much to mow.
“It is different than anything else that is in Marion,” Wildin said.
Widler also said the landscaper did a good job choosing plants able to withstand a hot, dry summer. One bush died during the drought, but the rest of the plants thrived.
“I’ve had a lot of comments about how nice it looks,” Widler said. “Some of them said, ‘Now that’s what I need to have.’”