Gardeners grow vegetables and flowers galore

Created date

June 30th, 2010

If you drive through the main entrance of Tallgrass Creek and look northward, you will notice a charmingly fenced, cottage-like area. If you peek behind the fence on a sunny Kansas day, you will see several of the community s residents planting, weeding, or harvesting in plentiful, beautifully-maintained gardens. Among them will most likely be the community s Garden Club President Paul Doering.

[caption id="attachment_12383" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Loretta Miller, who is a master gardener, shows some of the flowers from her Tallgrass Creek garden."][/caption] Doering has headed up the club since October 2007 but has been a gardener since boyhood. I grew up in Vandalia, Ill., and my family had a half-acre vegetable garden in the 1930s Depression years, he explains. It provided a lot of our food, and we also sold some. Maintaining it was just part of our daily life. Now Doering gets his hands dirty at one of the 48 garden sitesTallgrass Creekprovides for people who live there. The individual areas are 10 feet by 10 feet and became available soon after the community opened its doors in 2007.Tallgrass Creekprovides water, soil, and rototilling, while residents take care of the planting and maintenance of their individual gardens. Doering says it is surprising how much a garden that size can produce. I grow lettuce, radishes, onions, spinach, chard, beans, potatoes, squash, broccoli, kohlrabi, peppers, and cantaloupe, says Doering. We enjoy all the fresh food and always have plenty to give away.

Growing through the seasons

For the 25Tallgrass Creekresidents who use the gardens, it is a year-round activity. Resident gardener Lila Martin capturedTallgrass Creek s continually changing gardens last year with images that she put to music. The video begins in January with snow on the ground, continues through spring planting, summer growth, and finally summer and fall harvest. It is shown on TVs around the commmunity s gathering spots and also to interested residents in early winter. It makes a wonderful show on a cold November evening, says Doering.

Masters of the art

Tallgrass Creek s gardens are as varied as the unique people who live there. The community s only rock gardener is Mary Miller. She moved from toTallgrass Creekfrom a rural, lake area about 40 miles south of the community and has been an avid rock gardener for years. She creates an organic look by growing plants among rocks she brought from her former home. Last year s garden also included a weather vane with a moose who wore a scarf during the cold winter months. Resident Loretta Miller has been a master gardener since 1980 and atTallgrass Creekgrows sugar crisp cucumbers, eggplant, yellow crookneck squash, tomatoes and chard. But her real claim to fame is her zinnias. I planted about 120 plants last year and grew the most spectacularly-colored large zinnias, says Miller. We had bouquets all over the community. This year, she planted more than 200 zinnias. Her advice to gardeners? It all starts with the soil, says Miller. In the past, I made my own soil with compost. I still save peelings from bananas or carrots for several days and then bury them in the soil. It makes a huge difference. Miller finds gardening to be totally stress-free and says she can lose herself among the leaves, buds, roots, and colors. It never gets old. She adds, I m always amazed by what comes from a seed.