Yard a pleasure for Mocksville woman

Published 9:48 am Thursday, September 29, 2016

From the whimsical place-setting wind chime to the little boy statue her grandson named Sammy, Ann Barnhardt’s garden has a quality that makes visitors want to just sit and visit for a bit.

It’s also where she spends almost all her free time.

“I spend every minute I can out here,” she said, surrounded by flowers. “I thrive on the outside.”

And her plants thrive on the care she gives them.

Ann’s yard features huge elephant ears, gardenia, hosta, hydrangea, zinnias, salvia, phlox, vinca and camellia, and those are just the ones that are still hanging on for fall.

Many of her spring and summer plants have already died, but she plants in layers so when those plants are gone, seasonal ones take their place. She shows the bed where her tulips were and shares that although she has squirrels in her yard, they don’t eat her tulip bulbs because they seem to not like the red ones, but will eat the yellow ones.

Ann has lived in her Wilkesboro Street home for about six years, and her daughter, Vickie, lives in the home behind hers. They share a patio and an obvious green thumb, as Vickie’s yard is also full of flowers and plants.

Motorists passing by enjoy Vickie’s flowers so much that, according to Ann, one stopped one day while Vickie was in the yard.

“She said to Vickie, ‘I’m going to get some of those flowers.’ She didn’t ask, just said she was going to get them. And then she said, ‘I stopped by last week. You weren’t out here but I got some anyway.’”

Ann’s gardening secrets are pretty simple.

She mulches in the fall, uses a 10-10-10 fertilizer more than once a year, and, especially when it comes to the elephant ears, “water, water, water.” She said people stop by just to see the elephant ears, which stand about six-feet tall and are deep green colored. Ann said they are the “least work” of any of her plants, coming back each year and requiring little care outside of water.

Any plants that don’t look healthy or that she just doesn’t care for, she simply pulls out of the ground and throws away. When asked if she overwinters her potted citronella plant, she said, “Oh no, that’s too much trouble. I just throw it out and buy a new one every summer.”

As for many of her flowers, she doesn’t buy plants or seeds; she pulls seed heads off existing flowers and sows them by hand, saying it makes no sense to buy them when the future flowers are contained in the seeds of her existing flowers.

At the front of her home are white vinca (she pulls out any pink ones that bloom because she only likes the white ones), pencil trees, potted plants, mums, and two large potato vines. Last year, she said, when she pulled them up, she actually had potatoes growing underneath.

Moving about nimbly despite the use a cane, Ann points to the two metal roosters that have also been known to entice strangers to her garden and says she hopes her six children will buy her a larger one for her birthday or Mother’s Day, not that she’s dropping any hints.