random_wiedwald_02

Alice Wiedwald sits in the backyard of her home along Linden Avenue in Johnstown.

Moxham resident Alice Wiedwald thinks she has a green thumb.

Judging by the elaborate garden display in the backyard of her Linden Avenue home, she’s probably right.

The 69-year-old said she got her interest in gardening 20 years ago when living on Coleman Avenue, a few block from where she lives now.

“I used to have a tree in the backyard, and when it was removed I just started planting,” Wiedwald said. “It was a small yard, but I got some flowers and got started.”

From there, the gardening bug got a hold of her and hasn’t let go since.

After moving to her current residence six years ago, Wiedwald was appalled by the condition of her yard.

“There were weeds and tall grass everywhere. It was sad,” she said. “I’ve worked at it and it’s blossomed into what I have now.”

One look around and you’ll see all types of perennials and annuals, mostly irises, which she calls the regal plant of her garden.

They range in size and line a wooden fence that separates her home from another property.

At night, the flower bed is illuminated by solar lights.

Also on the fence are numerous feeders and hanging baskets that attract a variety of birds, especially hummingbirds.

“They’ll start at the bottom of the fence and hit each flower,” Wiedwald said.

On the back of the property, up against the garage, is another spectacular display of flowers, ranging from a tall patch of zebra grass on one corner to pink hibiscus on the other.

“I like to add decorations and change things up,” she said.

“Anything to make it more pleasing.”

But the focal point of her yard is the island that is filled with a variety of wildflowers.

“I dug the hole out myself,” she said. “The rocks that are around the circle I picked and carried them to this place.”

Wiedwald got creative and broke a few terra cotta pots and arranged the pieces inside the island to add an extra touch.

“Ideas like this just come to me,” she said.

She said her backyard has become her sanctuary and a place to unwind and relax, although when she is working on the flowers she is extremely meticulous.

“I can spend five or six hours a day working in here,” she said. “Sometimes I even forget to eat dinner.”

She said her neighbors ask her about her flowers and when she’ll be planting what and comment on how fragrant the flowers are.

“I’ve even had someone tell me they’d like to copy the island,” she said. “That’s the highest compliment.”

And it’s not uncommon for Wiedwald to give her neighbors a fresh cut bouquet.

Wiedwald said she finds flowers pretty much anywhere and everywhere, and isn’t all that picky with what she grows.

“It’s like trash to treasure,” she said. “You never know what is going to work, and you just build from that. Sometimes God sends me little treasures and it’s a surprise to see what comes up.”

Her passion for gardening seems to have rubbed off on two of her four children.

“I tell my daughters their yard is their canvas, and put whatever you want into it,” Wiedwald said.

She also offers a tip for wanna-be gardeners.

“Start off simple and go with the basics and add to it every year,” Wiedwald said. “Maybe start with irises or shasta daisies.”

Although her garden has cost her quite a bit of money through the years, she said it’s worth it when a plant blooms.

“I’m thrilled when April comes around and I can get out there and start,” she said. “I even start coming up with ideas in January and ask myself what I can change this year.”

Recommended for you