Cynthia Chase enjoys the spring flowers and color in the backyard of her Topsham home on Thursday afternoon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

TOPSHAM — Cynthia Chase has a 30-year-old palm tree that brushes the ceiling of her sunroom.

It’s kind of the flagship of the gardens that fill her half-acre yard on Western Avenue.

Mostly flowers. Lots of red.

“Oh, gosh, it’s such a thing of beauty,” she said in a phone interview last week.

“It’s just a very sort of sensual kind of feeling, seeing all the color and watching things grow,” she said. “It gives me serenity. It’s meditative.”

Chase, 73, is a semiretired therapist. She sees five clients a week, via telehealth. And she spends two to three hours a day among her blooms. Recently, that has meant raking, mulching, composting, deadheading and planting.

She says 80% of her plants are flowers. The rest are salad veggies: cucumbers, tomatoes, baby kale, swiss chard, arugula.

Cynthia Chase enjoys the spring flowers and color in the backyard of her Topsham home on Thursday afternoon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Most of the flowers are perennials, but she likes to add something new every year, including annuals. Her favorite colors are reds and purples. Roses, guinea impatiens, echinacea, heliotrope, woodland phlox.

And “some very unusual plants called wax bells, tall with little waxy flowers,” she said.

She also has a witch hazel tree that blooms twice, from October to December and again in February. They grow wild, she said, and are more commonly seen in Massachusetts.

“It has little yellow spikes that give off a wonderful fragrance,” Chase said. “When the leaves drop off the trees, you see a wonderful display of yellow.”

Tending half an acre of plants can get crazy, overwhelming, but it’s worth the effort, she said.

“It’s kind of like giving birth,” she said. “Some things need healing, some need to be helped along. It’s always in progress, always a wave of color, from March into November.”

Her passion is obvious, and she likes to share it.

“So many friends have bits and pieces of my garden,” she said. “It’s a nice way to propagate passion and create passion in others.”

That’s how she got started. A neighbor gave her some plants.

“I started the front in 1988 when I first moved here,” she said. “Fortunately, the third of the backyard had a natural woodland center section full of various ferns, mature trees and shade-loving wildflowers.”

She continues to maintain that, she said, adding that the other two-thirds took 20 years from planting to maturity.

“It is still a work in progress and a delight,” she said.

As for that palm tree, Chase bought it for her office when she was director of sales for Hilton 30 years ago. She installed the 3-foot palm, but it was getting cooked by the heating system, so her supervisor said she could take it home.

“It now touches the ceiling,” she said. “It’s a conversation piece, for sure.”

Silver Linings is a monthly feature focusing on senior citizens. You can email ideas to [email protected]

Cynthia Chase enjoys the spring flowers and color in the backyard of her Topsham home on Thursday afternoon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

 


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