Passersby may believe the Rolla Floriculture Club chose its August Yard of the Month for resting and looking, but the gardner-in-charge knows better. Mary Ann Brinkley at 1602 McCutchen Drive works diligently to bring a smile to your face.

Passersby may believe the Rolla Floriculture Club chose its August Yard of the Month for resting and looking, but the gardner-in-charge knows better.  Mary Ann Brinkley at 1602 McCutchen Drive works diligently to bring a smile to your face.

Starting with a bare plot of land 15 years ago, Mrs. Brinkley has exercised a lot of ‘dirt therapy.’ She now does all the selecting, the planting, the mowing, and the pruning for her yard. Maybe she inherited her Grandma’s green thumb. 

A visitor is welcomed by a brick pillar sporting a metal “B” with a hanging basket chock-full of petunias and verbena.  Purple coneflowers and their yellow flowering cousins are clustered at the base.  A large light purple crepe myrtle rushes to full bloom near the front door. Two wicker rockers flank the door and invite you to rest your weary bones—but they also obscure a fern hiding from the sun.

Mrs. Brinkley chooses her plantings mainly for color and profusion of blooms looking for those that compliment and tolerate each other as they glide through the seasons.  But she also wants to know what to do for those plants that don’t meet her expectations. For instance, she’s learned that hydrangea must be cut back “almost all the way” because they bloom on new growth each year. (Look for these on the left side of the house.)  She also alternates azaleas with rhododendron and hosta to keep the color flowing along the side of the house. She prefers to alternate the plants rather than to plant several of the same species in a row.

A sizeable planting in the backyard sports a flowering cherry tree accented by rainbow grass and time-saving red lava rocks.  An overturned wooden barrel features coleus and striped petunias.  Again, there’s a dash of purple cone flowers. Often, in her plantings she’ll also use an overturned flower pot to grab attention for interesting annuals. Nearby is a “sink” she saw on Facebook.  It lures annoying horseflies to their watery graves along with Japanese beetles. 

In the front left corner of the yard are a couple of metal chairs and a large pot of flowering mandevilla.  The visitor will see its large, lipstick-red flowers nodding away in the summer breeze.  

Always popping up throughout the garden are metal and concrete decorations such as birds, butterflies, and frogs.  They sparkle in the sun, slumber in the shade, and guarantee a smile.  But the bones of the garden remain the pin oaks, the red maple, the boxwoods and yews, and a well-fertilized grassy lawn. 

August’s garden lesson is that weeds have a difficult time surviving Mrs. Brinkley’s “dirt therapy.”