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‘The gardens needed me’

In 2004, when Barbara Lechner moved into her lakeside home, she faced a daunting task — remove a mini-backyard golf course and replace it with a thriving garden.

The previous owners of the home on Lakes Edge Drive, Newburgh, left behind a putting green, two tees and a sand trap, which Barbara and her husband, Bob, spent several months tearing up, “just the two of us and our wheel barrows,” she said. Although some artificial turf still is underneath her bird feeders, the couple moved gravel under their dock and incorporated the sand into the flower beds.

“The reason I wanted to buy this house is because the gardens needed me,” she says.

Barbara has been involved with the Southwestern Indiana Master Gardener Association since 2005, and her home was part of the Master Gardener’s Garden Walk in 2009. Her yard is filled with roses, wildflowers, day lilies, irises, liatris, milkweed, phlox, scabiosa, purple coneflowers, monarda, grasses and shrubs.

“It really is peaceful here and the lake really adds to that,” says Barbara Lechner, a former president of the Evansville Rose Society. She is also a member of the Newburgh Garden Club. Barbara and her husband, Bob, took what used to be a backyard golf course and turned it into a lovely garden around their Newburgh home.

Photo by Jason Clark, 2012 Jason Clark

“It really is peaceful here and the lake really adds to that,” says Barbara Lechner, a former president of the Evansville Rose Society. She is also a member of the Newburgh Garden Club. Barbara and her husband, Bob, took what used to be a backyard golf course and turned it into a lovely garden around their Newburgh home.


JASON CLARK / COURIER  PRESSRoses stand out in the yard of Barbara Lechner. Lechner, a former president of the Evansville Rose Society, is also a member of the Newburgh Garden Club. Lechner and her husband Bob took what used to be part of a golf course and turned it into a lovely garden space around their Newburgh home.

Photo by Jason Clark, 2012 Jason Clark

JASON CLARK / COURIER PRESS
Roses stand out in the yard of Barbara Lechner. Lechner, a former president of the Evansville Rose Society, is also a member of the Newburgh Garden Club. Lechner and her husband Bob took what used to be part of a golf course and turned it into a lovely garden space around their Newburgh home.


Barbara Lechner is a former president of the Evansville Rose Society and is also a member of the Newburgh Garden Club.

Photo by Jason Clark, 2012 Jason Clark

Barbara Lechner is a former president of the Evansville Rose Society and is also a member of the Newburgh Garden Club.


Photographs by JASON CLARK / Evansville WomanBarbara Lechner’s favorite part of the garden is the water feature, which includes a fountain and a pond with fish.

Photo by Jason Clark, 2012 Jason Clark

Photographs by JASON CLARK / Evansville Woman
Barbara Lechner’s favorite part of the garden is the water feature, which includes a fountain and a pond with fish.


Roses stand out in the yard of Barbara Lechner, who has propagated roses herself for four or five years.

Photo by Jason Clark, 2012 Jason Clark

Roses stand out in the yard of Barbara Lechner, who has propagated roses herself for four or five years.


Above: In addition to being home to flourishing flowers, Barbara’s yard is a certified wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation.Opposite page: The roses Barbara propagates now are replanted in her own yard, though sometimes she will give them to friends.

Photo by Jason Clark, 2012 Jason Clark

Above: In addition to being home to flourishing flowers, Barbara’s yard is a certified wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation.
Opposite page: The roses Barbara propagates now are replanted in her own yard, though sometimes she will give them to friends.


Her backyard looks nothing like it once did. The yard slopes downward toward the lake, and the hillside is covered with native plants and some surprises, such as ornamental peaches, which grew there with no help from her. Barbara said she had a pot of the ornamental peaches on her porch, and one day she found them growing in her yard, largely because of animal intervention.

Some of her other plants came from friends and her father-in-law’s garden. She even moved some from her previous residence in Virginia, wrapping them in wet paper towels and packing them in a suitcase.

Animals are a welcome feature in her yard, too. In fact, her garden is a certified wildlife habitat with National Wildlife Federation. This means her landscaping provides food, water, habitat and shelter. Even foxes and baby deer have found their way into her yard, she says. The lake behind her house helps attract animals, too. Besides the typical geese and ducks, she has seen osprey catch fish and once even saw a bald eagle.

“It really is peaceful here and the lake really adds to that,” she says.

Even though she welcomes animals into her yard, she still tries to keep rabbits from eating her young plants, especially because she prefers “to get smaller plants and watch them grow,” she says. When the plants are small, she will cage them with fencing material to enable proper growth.

Barbara says she designed her garden herself, often considering the view from her bay window inside the house and creating “seasonal interest.” Her favorite part of the garden is the water feature, which includes a fountain and a pond with fish, and attracts quite a few butterflies. Bob, an anesthesiologist at The Women’s Hospital, did the landscaping, which included building stairs to the deck.

Another one of Barbara’s gardening successes involves roses, which she has propagated herself for four or five years. She first learned how to do this after watching a demonstration with the Evansville Rose Society.

She decided to try it herself, and “I was surprisingly very successful with it,” she says. The roses she propagates now are replanted in her own yard, though sometimes she will give them to friends. She also has given demonstrations on rose propagation at the University of Evansville rose garden, which the Master Gardeners maintains.

Barbara, a former president of the Evansville Rose Society, is also a member of the Newburgh Garden Club.

But it’s her garden that brings her the most joy, especially the wildlife in her yard.

“There are so many different things that have come here,” she says, adding that she and her husband try to invite animals into their yard through their planting choices. They added a crabapple tree to attract the birds and planted hawthorns, which have berries that mockingbirds and robins eat during the winter. That’s also the same time when she can see how many nests are in her trees, reinforcing to her how many animals value her green thumb.

“That’s all very rewarding,” she says.

“We have a lot of ornamental grasses, and they put out seeds in the winter that the birds can eat,” she says. “It provides good cover for them, too.”

Article source: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2013/mar/31/the-gardens-needed-me/