One can only imagine how bountiful and beautiful Jean Henry’s gardens were at the height of their growth. Not many of us could say we have a garden that has been nurtured for nearly 50 years, but Jean Henry of Frankfort can though she muses, “I’m much older than that.”
Her large, bounteous garden is on the grounds of her home on Ridge Drive where she and her husband have lived since 1974. The garden began as a hobby for them as they enjoyed sharing the work and developing ideas on what to do next.
Their first project was a vegetable garden, where they built a small potting shed and a privacy fence for the backyard. As the years passed, those initial projects served them well and they continued to enjoy the garden while also coping with the problems that go with green and growing things.
Many trees had to be taken out in the back yard. A pine tree that had gotten too big for the property and then three others after an ice storm that did massive damage. A large maple tree came down on the house after a brief windstorm. An ash tree at the front of the house began dying and dropping branches in the street, so it had to come down.
A huge pin oak in the front yard succumbed to bacterial wilt and it had to come down. A remaining pin oak is being treated regularly in hopes to prevent it developing the disease. With so many trees gone, some rethinking had to be done for areas that had been shady that were now sunny.
Being obsessed with daylilies with all this additional sun gave them a chance to indulge in their obsession. “Daylilies offer greater variety and are trouble free except to keep the blooms trimmed off,” Jean said and says she likes to do this. “It’s my time to stop and smell the roses even if it’s not roses,” she added.
Wanting more of a cottage look, shrubs were pulled from the front yard and azaleas and inkberries were put in. Artwork dots the gardens and her front porch from she and her husband’s travels and taste for fine and fun arts.
As the years progressed and their interest somewhat waning, the Henrys discovered the farmers market when they decided to stop with the vegetable gardening, choosing to purchase their vegetables instead of growing them. “We ended up turning it into a daylily garden,” she said.
As Jean and her husband neared retirement, they started looking at ways to try to make the gardens easier to maintain. And, unfortunately, Jean’s husband became ill and unable to help, so she began to strategize how to cut back on the gardening. Since his death, Jean said she decided to keep the basic flowering perennials that make the backbone of the garden, such as daylilies, Shasta daisies, tall garden phlox and obedient plant.
Now retired, Jean joined the Garden Club of Frankfort, which reignited her enthusiasm for gardening. “It was so much fun getting to know other people who enjoyed gardening,” Jean said. She also cited the many workshops, monthly programs, and other activities and events that gave her ample opportunities to volunteer.
“There’s so many things the Garden Club does to benefit the community,” she added, citing the community gardens, the annual Home and Garden Tour and the flower show. Despite her “cutting back,” the Henry’s garden is beautiful and plentiful.
“The plants and flowers I now have are all easy and trouble free,” she said. “But, there’s still lots to landscape for one that can be maintained in my golden years.” But she added, “I would never discourage a young beginning gardener for jumping in and trying everything. It’s given me the greatest pleasure.”