My search for a "Welcome to My Garden, Patch" contender in Cary had me making a few double-takes as I drove along West Main Street recently in Cary.
First, a charming yellow house with a natural garden in the front caught my eye. The homemade "God Bless the U.S.A." sign cinched it as the perfect garden feature for 4th of July week.
Then, as I continued along Main, another house stood out - big green hostas in the front. Ivy climbing giant, years-old trees. Quaint handmade bird houses strung from the roof with a small handwritten sign, "Bird houses for sale." Large silhouette cutouts of children running hung from the fence. And then there was another "God Bless the U.S.A." sign hanging on the fence near the driveway.
I instantly suspected something "relative" was going on. And I was right.
Family Members at Home on Main Street
Jerrie and Mitchell Harvey own the yellow charmer at 444 W. Main St.
Jerrie's parents, Tom and Penny Hanus, own the historic home at 539 W. Main St. As a result, much of what is planted or hanging in both yards is the result of much sharing and exchanging between the families.
"My husband, Mitch, makes the signs and the silhouettes," said Jerrie Harvey. "If you look down the street, you can see some the neighbors bought. My dad builds the bird houses."
Mitch constructs a variety of garden decorations: lizards, hearts, and the like. His silhouettes are posted in the backyard near a fire pit. The silhouettes he made for his in-laws are visible to those passing by on the street. Jerrie explains there's one silhouette hung on her parents' fence representing each of their grandchildren.
Her dad's passion is building bird houses. In particular, he likes to build train-styled bird houses, and although most are for sale - according to the sign out front - most were also filled with birds nests.
"They have to pay more for the birds nests," Penny Hanus said, joking.
While both mother and daughter were very modest about their gardens, and explained how they really needed to get out and pull some weeds. For the avid gardener, both yards are a treat.
Jerrie's front and side yard are filled with a variety of unusual plants such as the "Deadly Beauties," a flower that only blooms once at night and dies when the morning sun hits it.
"You can see the plant start to shake right before it's going to bloom, they are the coolest thing," Jerrie said. "We've had people stop and knock on our door when they are in bloom and ask us, 'What is that?'"
The Harvey's yard is also full of unusually tall Easter lilies, clematis, shasta daisies, elephant ears, milkweed to attract monarch butterflies, bee balm bursting in red, purple and pink, and 30 lilac bushes in the back.
"People will stop by and drop off plants they think are dead or they're planning to throw away, and I plant it," Jerrie said. "I tell them 'It's not dead.'"
Random Garden Guests
Occasionally, the Harveys will glance out their front windows to see total strangers wandering along the front yard garden paths, collecting seeds from the wildflowers or other plants.
"People I don't know will walk through and take seeds," said Jerrie. "A lot of people come in and take seeds from my Mist of Love plants, which bloom in all different colors."
Jerrie said she doesn't water her plants. Those that survive stay, and those that don't....
"Lots of stuff I cut down because bugs will eat them," Jerrie said. "My grandpa used to say 'If I have to water a garden, it's not worth it.'"
Penny and Tom's yard is filled with many of the same tall plants and perennials. Penny also tends to a sizeable vegetable garden. The variety of birdhouse designs bring the yard to life, as do several other accents.
One, an old farm boot, is nailed to a tree and serves as a bird house. The boot belonged to Tom's father. The bird bath bubbles with water, but also emits a steady stream of colored smoke - a neat feature Penny picked up last year. There's also a iron gazebo with garden benches, and a swinging couples' chair on the side.
Anyone interested in buying a bird house from Tom can call 847-639-5768.
Is your garden worthy of being featured in the "Welcome to My Garden, Patch?" Or, if you have a neighbor or family members with an extraordinary garden that deserves to be showcased, please email email@example.com.