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Winter Garden – Picture Perfect In February

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The Fesslers winter garden and home

Gardens can be attractive and appealing in the winter. The perfect example of this is a gloriously decorated white home which always has the most beautiful gardens; year round. The home is in Warrenville, Illinois. The property is owned by Bill and Betty Fessler.

Many travelers in Warrenville enjoy Betty’s front porch decorations. They change seasonally dependent upon the holiday and are filled with whimsy and interest. Bill and Betty have been married for 42 years and have raised two children on the elegant property. Bill is the “Chief Gardener”, but both Bill and Betty work regularly in the garden. As we walked through the garden, I noted Bill’s pride in gardening and planting perennials, bushes and trees which can be enjoyed year round. He has a very special ivy which stays green most of the year and has spread all over his property. I found it climbing trees and spreading across the ground like a river. Bill got the ivy in the 1970’s from Christ Church Cemetery in Washington, DC. While Bill toured the cemetery, there was an old caretaker who was tending the ivy and singing spirituals to wile away the time. Bill struck up a friendship with the old caretaker and he encouraged Bill to take the ivy home with him. It has spread happily.

There is so much of his garden which came from his friendships within the community – both family and neighbors. Bill still has his grandmother’s rose, which is an older variety and holds nice memories of his family. The tall ferns he has came from a neighbor and seem to have completely taken over a large bed. The view from his back porch includes a pool and a deck house smothered in flowering perennial beds during the summer. Bill has moss roses running rampant through sections of the beds. While they are supposed to be “annuals”, they have taken up residence and come back every year in his zone 5b garden.

As we walked around to the front of the garden I was impressed by our conversation as much as the plantings. Bill believes that gardening is very therapeutic and suggests that keeping active in a garden makes good health sense. Proof is my enjoying the fruits of his exercise – the front yard is filled with hosta, bluebells, ivy, privet, petunias and mums during the summer. In the winter, one can see snow captured in still life on the privet, the pine trees, and the beds.

I asked Bill if he has a secret to his gardening success. “Compost is the secret – I do not use mulch! I use compost to smother unwanted weeds and help hold moisture in the ground for both trees and perennials. There’s nothing fancy to it – I pull every weed by hand and keep the compost coming yearly.”

Taking the snow covered picture above, I was touched by the still, coldness that rested over the property. Cardinals flitted in the branches of pines. While crunching through the snow, I realize this winter-garden is filled with more than wildlife, plants and trees…it is filled with love.

Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!

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