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Markleville woman follows her own path to beautiful gardens

MARKLEVILLE — When it comes to gardening, Sue Keglovits has always been a rule breaker.

“Around 2000, I just decided I wanted to be a master gardener,” she said. “The first thing they tell you is don’t plant a garden away from the house, so that’s the first thing I had to do.”

Keglovits started with a rustic fenced-in flower garden filled with perennials such as black-eyed Susans, blackberry lilies and coneflowers.

As she added more flower beds around her house, she broke yet another rule.

“They tell you not to overplant, but I overpack my gardens and I know that,” she said with a chuckle. “I can stand on the deck when they’re all blooming, and it’s unbelievable all the colors that are packed in here.”

Marked with a green Hoosier Homestead sign, her property has been in her family since 1832.

“My third great-grandfather bought the first 40 acres at $1.50 an acre,” she said.

Although she didn’t grow up on the property, she remembers visiting the house as a child. The house, which was built in 1899, became hers in 1986 and needed extensive work because it had been a rental property for several years.

“This place when I moved in was unbelievable,” Keglovits recalled. “There were holes in the floors, holes in the walls, indoor/outdoor carpet glued to the floor, and the previous occupants had left eight dogs here when they left and left the doors open.”

She had her work cut out for her, both on inside and outside the house.

“I probably moved in here six months after I got the house. I was alone so I learned plumbing and flooring and wall patching,” she said. “When I moved here there were so many weeds, I didn’t even know that tree was in the yard.”

These days, Sue and her boyfriend, Jerry Fisher, scour flea markets and auctions looking for unique items to include in the landscaping.

One of the most unusual pieces on display is the front of an antique Model T, which has been mounted to the side of an outbuilding and includes a fountain that spills out of the grill area into a small pond.

Sue admits she’s the idea person while Jerry’s the one who implements her plans.

“I think it, and he does it,” she said.

Among Jerry’s other creations is a rustic wagon fashioned out of reclaimed wood from the original carriage house on the property, a planter made from a wagon and a sewing machine base, and a birdhouse created from a gas can.

While Sue’s landscaping may be busy with eye-catching antiques and bursting with blossoms, she enjoys the quiet, unhurried pace of living in the country.

“It’s just so peaceful and so roomy and no neighbors,” she said. “I like the old house and the old milk house and the old buildings. I wouldn’t trade it for a brand new place.”

Sue’s advice to beginning gardeners is to keep things simple.

“If you’re somewhere where you know you’re going to stay, use perennials,” she advised. “Use things that you know are going to grow here, like your coneflowers and black-eyed Susans.”

And don’t forget to enjoy your garden and to share with others, she said.

“I like all the colors and the smells and watching it grow. The fascination of putting something in the ground and seeing what comes up. And then I like giving them away. I love giving them away.”

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