Recently, I had the privilege of visiting the garden of Emily Larson in Warrenville, IL. As soon as I pulled in Emily’s driveway I knew this was a true “gardener’s home.” Large pine trees dripped over the drive; their arms ready to embrace any visitors. Her drive is lined in the summer with flowering perennials and birdhouses. As I stepped out of my car I was greeted warmly by Emily and two little flurries of fur – her ever-faithful doggy companions, Missy and Sassy – who adore fish food more than the fish.
Emily’s garden represents a lifetime story of love and family unity. While Emily has lived in her home over 40 years, her in-laws lived in the home prior to that. Bernice and Louis Larson loved Warrenville. Louis gardened and had animals including a small vegetable garden, fruit trees, as well as a chickens, pigs and rabbits. It set the foundation for a young, energetic couple, Emily and Peter Larson, to move in, build their own garden and start their own family. They raised four children together in the 900 square foot house. Emily’s dear husband, Peter, passed away in 1989, but Emily remains in the family home.
Emily always loved gardening and has worked magic on the small property. When they moved out tot he suburbs from Chicago 40 years ago, her children were so excited to see grass and trees, they wanted to play outside every day. They continue to help her on her projects. With their help, she has built two large and very beautiful fish ponds complete with goldfish who are now almost 16 years old. There are waterlilies, a bog garden, a waterfall and a host of gorgeous perennial flowering gardens surrounding the site as well.
The garden attracts many beneficial animals and insects including birds, dragonflies and butterflies. While I was sitting in Emily’s sunroom, two brightly colored Baltimore Orioles flew up to Emily’s window and chirped at us. She also has many Chickadees, Doves, and Robins. One year Emily had six pairs of nesting Cardinals. Along with the positive, there sometimes comes the negative: she’s fought invasive plants like Garlic Mustard and Maple Trees and has an on-going issue with a Blue Heron who stands over her ponds during dinner hour.
When asked what her favorite garden flower is she says it’s a night-blooming Moonflower that has consistently reseeded since before her mother-in-law lived at the home 40 years ago. The gorgeous white bloom opens only at night and is surpassed only by the delicious scent which wafts through the living room window all summer long.
It was a delight to visit Emily’s garden; her two ponds are simply astounding. She’s a great example in creating beauty and inspiration in her yard which all the neighborhood can share. Congratulations Emily on your persistence in bringing such joy to your community!
Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!