"All gardening is landscape painting." William Kent
Mary has a Bachelors in Education /Major-Secretarial Business and Accounting Minor-Social Studies from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL and a Masters degree in Adult Education /Instructional Design from Troy University in Troy, Alabama.
Landscaping Design--I have been gardening since I was a child. I planted annuals each year with my Mother and my Dad directed the planting of the vegetable garden, but gave my brother and I ownership. He used that time as teaching moments and we did more and more of the work as we got older. I loved to tend garden even then. In the mid 1980's the gardening bug bit me and two of my dear friends, Diana Lading and Kaye Janvrin, and we have all be been seriously gardening ever since.
Teaching high school allowed me to work in the yard evenings, week-ends and summers as well.
Gardening with perineals fruits and vegetables like irises, lilies, roses, daisies, peonies, hostas, raspberries, gooseberries, asparagus, grapes, and many other perennials, annuals, and vegetables kept me very busy. Among the trees that we had on the property included three Apple trees, two Purple Plum trees and two English Walnut trees. I loved working in that fertile Central Illinois black soil.
A family move to Georgia in 1996 brought us a second yard that was an acre and a third. The soil and landscape were very different, I had to amend the red clay soil for gardening but learned to grow some different plants. We had a lot of pine trees. Under them I grew azaleas, lilies, and lirope. I still had my irises and hostas and daisies. New things for us were Azaleas, Camellias and Crepe Myrtle. We also had a couple of beautiful flowering cherry trees.
After the turn of the Century we moved to near Memphis, Tennessee. We were there for three years. The yard at the house was problematic with too much moisture. Most things died after getting their feet too wet in that Mississippi Valley wet heavy clay soil. I learned that you have to build up the soil there and plant in raised beds. I had to leave all of my flowers behind, when we moved in the dead of Winter.
In 2004 we moved to Troy, Alabama where we lived until Memorial Day 2006. We really loved living in South Alabama. The soil in our yard was pure sand so for the first time we had a sprinkler system. We had five Live Oak trees in the yard of varying ages. We had various plantings around each of those Oaks. Our yard backed up on woods and we lived on the backside of Crow Hill. Our property faced out on a lovely small lake. Landscaping that lot was delightful. I place a row of Natchez (White Crape Myrtles spaced about 15 feet apart on the side next to neighbors. I trimmed them to be trees. I used Mexican petunias on the side of the house by the air conditioner, which bloomed all season. Two of the Oaks were in the front yard. I used azaleas around one and the other (older with deeper shade)I put purple Tradescantia. In front of the house we used dwarf gardenias, Houtenia, and variegated ginger. I always wanted agapanthus and I first had it next to the driveway at this house. We had a swale coming around the house at the garage that I put a dry creek bed in that location for bringing the rainwater around the house without creating big washed out areas in the yard from fast moving water. On the back side of the house we landscaped with climbing roses , amaryllises and lilies. We had vegetable garden next to the woods, really convenient for wildlife. I loved landscaping and gardening this yard.
Memorial Day of 2006 we moved back to Illinois for me to get five move years of teaching for retirement. We lived in Chatham, Illinois and I loved that house and yard as well. I really worked hard to landscape that yard and it was beautiful. I donated plants to the garden club, the South Winds Park, Capital Area Career Center and the Illinois Governors Mansion while living there. We had the best little vegetable garden in the neighborhood and had wonderful tomatoes every year we were there. The yard was a clean slate to work with. I started from scratch. I have lots of pictures of that yard and I will share them in the gallery.
I am retired from teaching school now and we are back in Alabama. Now we are in Baldwin County which borders on the Gulf of Mexico on the South side, next to Florida on the East side, and Mobile Bay on the West side of the county. It is very mild in the Winter and we have six seasons here. Three of the seasons are the Summer. These are the seasons for the entire Gulf of Mexico region of the United States: Winter is December 15 to February 15; Spring is February 15 to April 15; Summer is April 15 to June 15; Gulf Summer is June 15 to August 15; Hurricane Summer is August 15 to October 15; and Fall is October 15 to December 15. My landscape blog will feature pictures from my own yard as well as others that I help out with, and other gardening friends that allow me to share pictures of their great landscape and gardening ideas.
Decorating/Interior Design--My history for decorating also goes back to my childhood reading and looking at decorating ideas in my Mother's magazines. Later on I began to save magazines that had great ideas and clip pictures from newspapers and magazines of good ideas. Now I have books and three ring binders full of ideas.
I worked in the furniture industry several times in my career, but about 10 years in total and in two different states. I did a number of things within the scope of my duties. I spoke to groups for the company, I decorated rooms for churches, homes, businesses and display homes. I decorated store windows and showroom floors. I worked with company representatives and business and individual clients as well as committees.
One of the hardest things that I ever did was completely redecorate my own home after loosing it to a fire in 1997. I also redesigned that home working with the floor that was left and developing my own plan. I redesigned it from the basement to the roof. It was difficult but it was great fun to see everything come back together and be even better. For us, it was a case of God taken a bad thing and bringing some good out of it.
I decorated homes in Illinois, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. Decorating in Illinois is different from decorating in the South. Decorating in coastal areas is also different. I advise studying magazines and clipping ideas that you really like as really a great way for planning your own decorating. Remember that you purchase the furniture for the house and not the house for the furniture. Also, remember the kiss principle is to keep things simple.