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Then there are the slugs. Thatcher battles them with beer, pouring a little into the bottoms of cut-up plastic cups that she sets near plants she wants to protect. “The slugs fall in and drown,” she said.
As for stronger measures, Thatcher mostly avoids them. “If I use a lot of pesticides, the butterflies and bees don’t want to come,” she said. “One year, I had 150 monarchs. They were migrating and stopped in my garden. I want ’em to keep coming.”
Her garden also attracts a lot of birds: “cardinals, finches … even an eagle who hangs out … owls in the trees at night, and lots of nests with babies.”
Their presence makes up for the visitors she’d rather live without, such as the Japanese beetles that ravage her roses.
When Thatcher gets annoyed at creature-caused destruction, she reminds herself what someone once told her at a garden store: a garden that attracts wildlife is a healthy garden. “That’s one way of looking at it,” she said. “If I was an insect, I’d hang out here. I have a big enough garden that I can share a little with nature.”
With so many flowering plants, the garden produces enough blooms to stock a florist’s shop, but Thatcher has resisted making it a cutting garden. “I like to keep them out here,” she said of her flowers. “But I have started cutting a little.”
Last year, she made some bouquets for friends. “I should bring them into my home more,” she said. “Just like the garden, I’m changing and evolving.”
She’s also dabbling in other artistic pursuits, including creating her own garden art. “I have a stained-glass studio in the house. That’s my winter thing. Now that I don’t have little kids, I want to get more into artwork. When you have a family, it’s so time-consuming.”
But gardening is still her favorite form of artistic expression. “I like the spiritual part,” she said. “You can relax and be thankful. Gardening can be so frustrating, but the reward is so awesome. It reminds you of how blessed we are, surrounded by such beauty.”
Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784