Well, we finally got some heat and then more rain and cold. It seems lately that all the weather is coming in extremes. You don’t know whether to turn on the heat or open the windows. Oh well, welcome to Maine.

On one recent cold and rainy day, I ventured down to Lewiston to visit a garden. Now visiting gardens is a great treat for me. I always find some new plant, or new way of planting something or see a creative divergence I haven’t thought of before. This was the case at Jeanne Pacheco’s garden on Harold Street.

I discovered that my hills and rock outcroppings were no more difficult to overcome than what the Pachecos battled when they moved in during the early ’70s.

Pictures from those times show a back yard filled with puddles, willow trees and messy turf.

“We had some big water problems,” Jeanne explained. “There was a gully that filled with water, and the kids used to ice skate on it.”

More than 30 years later, dozens of loads of loam, drainage systems and thousands of hours of work have transformed the swamp into a lovely secluded garden with brick walkways, interesting garden plots and plants from everywhere.

“I tend to bring plants home from places,” Jeanne says as she points out a lovely seaside rose from Rhode Island. Her children and grandchildren bring her plants from Connecticut and Texas, and her garden is graced with a wide assortment of handmade stepping stones, whimsical creatures and fun “critters” from family members.

Jeanne began gardening and then took a class. That’s when, she says, serious stuff began. In 1986, loads of loam arrived; and in 1989, she planted her first planned perennial garden.

“I laid out paths and brick walkways and carefully chose plants,” she laughs. Now, with all those years of gardening under her belt, Jeanne is more relaxed about the process. She moves plants around a lot as trees grow taller and shade takes over where sun used to be. She has planted more beds and doesn’t plant nearly as many annuals as she used to. She also saves seeds and brings them out each spring for the new season’s garden. Unfortunately, the seeds she collected from a pink lupine she liked at my house didn’t take. But many seeds from many other places have grown in her backyard sanctuary.

She and other members of the Woman’s Literary Union also share plants. “It is fun,” she exclaims. “You end up with some really different things.” One of those shared plants is pictured because neither Jeanne nor I could identify it, although Jeanne is quite sure it is an herb. Maybe some readers can help us out.

Jeanne takes care of her grandson, Sam, two days each week. “He grew up in the dirt,” she says with a smile, “and he loves to dig worms.” She also explained, with an indulgent smile, that he enjoys changing the plant labels around. That can make gardening very interesting.

I would like to thank Jeanne for sharing her garden with me and therefore with you. I hope you enjoy the pictures that allow you to take a little peek inside her gardening world.

Until next time, hope for some moderation in the weather, watch for the lupines, daisies and Oriental poppies that are here, and don’t forget to take a moment and celebrate the wonderful place you live. It is almost the Fourth of July so a bit of gratitude may be in order. Thank the Founding Fathers for the marvelous documents that provide the basis of your liberty and thank a soldier that you still enjoy that liberty more than 200 years after those documents were written.

Happy gardening!

Jody Goodwin has been gardening for more than 20 years. She lives in Turner with her husband, Ike, her two dogs and two cats. She can be reached by writing to her in care of the Sun Journal, 104 Park St., Lewiston, Maine, 04243-4400 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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