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Local gardeners enjoying beauty and abundance [West Friendship]

By Lisa Peklo, 410-531-3516 lpeklo@cs.com

10:05 AM EDT, August 19, 2014

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Local gardeners declare no complaints about the summer of 2014 weather. It has been a banner year for flourishing flowers and vegetables, say area green thumbs.

Take Betsy Grater, who has created a patchwork quilt of annual flowers, including old fashioned velvety cockscombs, blue ageratum, white begonias and orange zinnias.

Grater, who is a Master Gardener and a member of the Dig Gardening Club, was inspired by the garden quilts she observed in Indiana when she and her two daughters traveled to Elkhart County in the summer of 2013. Grater and her daughters toured the Heritage Trail in northern Indiana where, in 2013, there were more than 19 quilt garden displays.

Betsy began preparing the ground for her quilt garden in the fall of 2013. She layered newspaper and mounded mulch in anticipation of the May 2014 planting of what has turned out to be a total of 1,200 plants. The plants are filled in by now and form a log cabin quilt design.

"I thought the log cabin design was the best for a beginner quilt garden," said Grater.

Beginner garden, indeed. The result of her efforts, which include almost daily weeding, is a lush and colorful sight. If you would like to see Betsy's amazing garden, drive by and feel free to stop and take a look. The Grater home is at 3538 Lakeway Drive, just off of Triadelphia Rd.

Jennifer Blizzard Sisk has a perennial bed to match any herbaceous border in England's Cotswold country. Her flowering hydrangeas, miniature sunflowers, roses and daisies have been so prolific and lush that she's taken to doling out bouquets to area businesses for all to enjoy.

Sally and Don Stone have a vegetable patch so abundant that they were giving away cucumbers in late July. "Irrigation. That's made all the difference," said Sally Stone.

Stone's husband Don rigged up a watering system that has resulted in a prolific harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and more.

Even our perennial garden has shown the classic Stella D'oro daylilies, originals from my beloved late mother-in-law Betty Peklo's 1960 Connecticut gardens, more splashy than in any other year.

John and Corinne Gorzo's lavish impatiens border has never shown more vibrant than in this season. And Kenny and Kathy Drake's frothy fern edgings have been magnificent.

The weather this summer has been kind to West Friendship gardens.

Don't forget the West Friendship Elementary Kindergarten Parent Orientation on Aug. 21, 3-4 p.m. Principal Aaron Tark and Assistant Principal Ann Steger will also greet students during an Open House on Aug. 22, 2:45 to 3:30 p.m.

West Friendship Elementary will open its doors for the new school year on Aug. 25. Some 275 students are expected to begin classes on this the first day of school. School hours are 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

The West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary yard sale is set for Sept. 6, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Interested in participating as a vendor? Call 410-442-1471 to sign up for a vendor space.

If fall spruce up projects are on your mind, come out to the Howard County Fairgrounds this weekend for the annual Peak Building Materials Auction. Aug. 23 at 9 a.m. is when the auction gavel first comes down. Tractor trailer trucks filled to the brim with building materials from shutters, to lumber, to windows, plumbing, cabinets, doors and more are for sale. For a list of items for the auction block, go to http://www.peakauction.com.

Just a reminder. The West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary is collecting pantry supplies for local food banks as part of the organization's Community Outreach Program. The greatest needs include paper towels, toilet paper and small-sized liquid laundry detergent. Items may be dropped off at the front entrance of Station 3, Routes 32 and 99, up until Sept. 10. The supplies will be delivered to West Liberty United Methodist Church for distribution in September.