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Gardener’s delight

Outdoor pursuits take hold at Highland Springs

Created date

May 30th, 2017
Larry Little checks on his strawberry, blackberry, and tomato plants in his garden at Highland Springs.

Larry Little checks on his strawberry, blackberry, and tomato plants in his garden at Highland Springs.

When Larry Little and his wife Diane moved to Highland Springs two years ago, one of Larry’s first priorities was applying for a garden bed at the North Dallas community.

“We lived about two miles from Highland Springs and had a zero-lot-line home, but I put a fish pond in the backyard and had hanging baskets and plants out there,” says Larry, a retired aviation and satellite underwriter. “I’ve always liked to putter in the garden.”

Highland Springs provides ample opportunities for gardeners to continue their outdoor pursuits. The community offers garden beds for any interested community member who wants to grow fruit, vegetables, or flowers. Residents can also apply for space in the community’s greenhouse.

“The greenhouse is a unique feature of Highland Springs,” says Executive Director Matt Neville. “We’re pleased to offer both outdoor and greenhouse space for our gardeners to enjoy.”

Sharing a common interest

The community’s Garden Club, open to all residents, was founded shortly after Highland Springs opened in 2006. The club meets monthly from September through May. Its threefold mission is to bring together people with a common interest in gardening, to establish and maintain efficient practices for utilizing the garden beds and greenhouse, and to promote meaningful exercise and healthy outdoor living.

Bob Derryberry moved to Highland Springs in 2009 and was elected president of the Garden Club shortly thereafter.

“My mother was a gardener, and I took after her,” says Bob, who graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in agriculture and spent his professional career in that field.

Currently, Bob serves as the resident liaison to the general services committee at Highland Springs, which oversees the community’s outdoor landscaping.

“This is where my interest lies,” says Bob. “I like to be outside.” 

Branching out

For Larry, moving to Highland Springs gave him the opportunity to branch out and try new ideas in the garden.

“My son Chris lives in Stagecoach [near Houston] and has a 20- by 40-foot garden where he grows food for his family,” says Larry. “Chris gave me some strawberry and blackberry plants that I planted in my garden bed at Highland Springs.”

Blackberry plants need to be established for a year before they yield fruit. Larry planted the blackberry bushes in 2016 and is harvesting his first crop this year.

Thanks to a mild winter, Larry’s strawberries started ripening in March. 

“It’s fun to try something new,” says Larry. “The Garden Club maintains a shed with tools and fertilizer next to the garden beds, so we have everything we need to work in the garden. I’ll walk over once a day from our apartment and check on my plants.”

Growing exotics

Larry also stops by the greenhouse to check on his other endeavor, also inspired by his son.

“Chris and I used to go hiking in the Florida Everglades in search of orchids,” says Larry. “We’d search Google Maps for big green spots, indicative of low spots where water collects year-round. That’s the perfect growing environment for orchids.”

Larry finds the Highland Springs greenhouse to be another perfect environment for orchids. He’s currently growing the exotic beauties on pieces of wood, suspended from the greenhouse ceiling.

“In the wild, orchids grow on trees,” he says. “It’s fascinating to see their roots take hold around the bark.”