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Mountain Gardening – A feast for the eyes and the taste buds

It's late springtime in Johnson County, and the hot, summer months are upon us. From all corners of the county, gardeners have already been busy planting, weeding and mulching both floral and vegetable gardens. We have been on a mission to find some of the prettiest gardens in the county, and The Tomahawk will showcase some of these magnificent displays in the next few months.
Joe and Kathy Hill have lived on Harbin Drive since 1985. Little by little, the Hills continue to add to their spectacular garden, keeping Joe very busy since he retired. Throughout the beautiful and well-maintained garden, visitors will feast their eyes upon forsythia bushes, hostas galore, ferns, peonies, day lilies, black-eyed susans, large rose bushes and a spreading ground cover known as snow on the mountain.
Hill spends time in the nearby wooded area around his home, dividing, splitting and potting more plants to add to his meticulously landscaped property. Since Hill retired, he has been able to spend countless hours perfecting his floral gardens. “Since I retired, I wanted to concentrate on my flower beds,” Hill said. Saying that his tomato plants have reached close to eight feet tall, Hill advises using Miracle Gro and compost material. He plants both his vegetables and flowers in this mixture, and the results are sensational. Hill offered some advice on keeping the many deer, raccoons, squirrels and other wild animals at bay; purchase some hot cayenne pepper and shake it on the leaves. According to Hill, one bite and the animals will scamper off.
A friendly competition has begun between the Hills and their new neighbor, Barbara Freyermuth. Freyermuth, who moved into her new home during the winter months, was not quite sure what surprises lay in store for her in her new yard. It turns out the previous owners had spent time making their yard into a lovely garden, with beautiful hostas at every turn. Soon the many day lilies and other bulbs will be in bloom. If you drive down Harbin Drive, you'll soon find the two neighbors working in their yards, side by side, egging each other on as to who will have the prettiest yard.
Joel and Margaret Icenhour have lived in their home on Hospital Road for approximately 55 years. Mature plants, bushes and trees line the perimeter of the large and lush yard. Some of these magnificent bushes have been there more than 25 years. Rhododendrons with large purple flowers line the driveway, surrounded by hollyhock, hostas and rocket lilies. Periwinkle covers the ground, providing a lush area for the many day lilies to pop up that have spread throughout the property.
Margaret gives her husband, Joel, credit for both their beautiful floral and vegetable gardens. “He loves to work in the garden,” said Margaret. The Icenhours maintain separate areas for their large variety of vegetable plants. This year they have planted cabbage, beans, corn, lettuce, potatoes and tomatoes. Last year, Margaret canned 32 pints of tomatoes. Joel also uses Miracle Gro on his crops.
One of the highlights of the Icenhours’ garden is a beautiful waterfall that Joel made, along with a bridge that crosses a creek in their front yard. That bridge, surrounded by beautiful bushes, has been the backdrop for many pictures, including prom events for the Icenhours’ children and grandchildren.
Keep your eyes open for the next set of featured gardens in the near future. If you would like to recommend a garden, be it vegetable or floral, to be showcased, please contact the Tomahawk editor, Angie Gambill, at 727-6121 extension 23.