For the Love of Gardening | Advertorial

Mimi Shanahan Master Gardener

The June Yard of the Month honors go to Rich and Susan Schnee, of 5005 Laurel Ct. in Sioux City. They were nominated by their grand daughter-in-law, Esfeidy Schnee.

Rich and his wife both take care of plants, although Susan manages houseplants inside while Rich takes his work outdoors in their Morningside yard. The yard has a backdrop of trees that make their yard a haven for wildlife as well as the flowers and other plants he grows.

Rich says he moved to the property 13 years ago, retiring a few years later. He was determined that his retirement years were going to be filled with projects and hobbies to keep busy. As a disabled veteran, his love for gardening grew after retirement when he had the time to give it proper time and attention.

“I tore out all the plants in the yard except two plants, a yucca and a peony,” he said. “The yard had a lot of green.” He replaced the old shrubbery and plants with his dream garden. “Every plant, shrub, and tree in the yard was planted by me except the two I saved from the original yard,” says Schnee.

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There are over 150 species of plants in the yard. His favorites include King Tut and Prince Tut, annual grasses in Iowa that can grow up to 6 feet tall (in the case of King Tut), and 3 feet tall (Prince Tut). Both plants are aptly named as they are relatives of the papyrus plant which is famous for making the first known paper in Egypt. They are a good plant for boggy areas, ponds, or pots.

Schnee is excited this year to have found a new plant that he has been excited to see grow and begin to thrive this season. He found a couple of plants that he thought seemed a little sad, and they, “Just called my name, so I bought all three.” This Coffee Cup plant is an Elephant Ear, a bulb plant with large heart shaped leaves that curl up into a coffee cup shape. A shade and moisture loving plant, this variety also seems to be ignored by deer.

He loves decorating the house for patriotic holidays, and the porch includes several ferns in hanging pots. In the winter, the trees and house are lit up with thousands of Christmas lights.

Other plants that fall into the category of “favorites,” include petunias, Karl Foerster feather reed grass, wildflowers, daylilies, and cannas. He also purchased three large rocks weighing in at over a ton to add landscape interest, as well as a sitting bench to enjoy the summer evenings.

“But the one plant I can’t live without,” says Schnee, “is a cactus that was six inches tall eight or ten years ago and has now grown to over six feet tall.”

He cares for his own lawn and yard, mowing twice a week when needed along with weeding, and watching for insects and weeds.

As is true with many gardeners, the Schnees also enjoy the wildlife in their yard. There are hummingbird and oriole feeders, and other birds, counting over 50 different bird species that visit regularly. “The orioles that visit,” he said, “are not only the Baltimore Oriole, but also the Orchard Oriole.” He also likes to keep the squirrels that come to the yard fed. With the woods behind the house, there can be deer that visit, and a woodchuck they have named Charles.

“Rabbits can be an issue,” he says, “but rabbit repellant products from the lawn center help to keep their damage under control.

The City of Sioux City and the Sioux City Journal sponsor the Yard of the Month. Applications are accepted June through September and must be sent in by the 15th day of each month to be considered for that month. Applications can be found on the city’s website at: sioux-city.org/community/yard-of-the-month.

Nominees must be a resident of Sioux City, and can be nominated by family, friends, or even passers-by.

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