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Published: Saturday, 7/21/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Pamela Scales: sees the cycle of life when gardening

BY TAHREE LANE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Pamela and Dwight Scales of West Toledo. Pamela and Dwight Scales of West Toledo.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Name: Pamela Scales, office manager, with Dwight Scales, karate teacher, living in West Toledo.

Garden specs: A sunny one-third acre with beds surrounding the house and the largest area in the back. A shade garden, about 15-by-25-feet, is anchored by a river birch on the north side. Curvilinear beds bordered by soft paths of black hardwood mulch surround the back yard. Deepest bed is 25-feet. It was all grass when we moved in 12 years ago, and when we started removing the grass, a young man on a bicycle rode by and asked, "Is this going to be a golf course?"

When did you start gardening? When I was a young, my mother had a small garden space in the yard and helping her felt like play. As my five brothers and sisters became older, she and a friend rented a large plot from a farmer; "out Crissey Road," we called it and we'd all go there. Loved the garden, hated the bugs. As years went on, she purchased a home with a large yard and had pear, apple, plum, and apricot trees, and of course, a large vegetable garden. I enjoy growing vegetables but my fondest memories are of the flowers: four o'clocks, balsam, moss roses, and petunias, all grown from seed.

Dwight: I started when we got married in 1992.

PHOTO GALLERY: Pamela and Dwight Scales garden

What do you grow? It's a four-season garden that looks good all year. We began by planting the "bones:" trees, evergreens, and shrubs. I drew up a plan. There are also the grasses, of which I have 16 varieties (favorites are strictus, variegated cosmopolitan, and hamlin grass), perennials, and I fill in with annuals. I'm a low-maintenance gardener and select plants that have more than one season of interest and are not high maintenance. Some require only one touch a year, such as sedums (I have 10 varieties), perennial hibiscus, and grasses. Plants with "issues" go to a new home or hit the compost pile. In a raised bed, we have a salsa garden with hot and mild peppers and tomatoes. We have lots of flower-filled pots and a new dry riverbed with gravel and stone that we're beginning to plant.

A pair of moths find a spot in the garden. A pair of moths find a spot in the garden.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Favorite plant: I like the green ones (many), and the burgundy ones (Japanese maple), the gold leafed (angela sedum), the black ones (sweet potato vine), skinny ones (grasses), fat ones (hostas), round leafed (weeping redbud tree), and flat ones.

Give us a gardening tip: Focus on contrasting the texture of a plant's leaf shape with sizes and colors and your garden will be beautiful in all four seasons. Our winter beauties include grasses, evergreens, boxwoods, emerald arborvitae, hydrangeas, along with seed heads on viburnums and perennials (which the birds eat).

Hours spent gardening per week: I'm a fair-weather gardener. In spring, the time of rebirth and pleasant temperatures, I try to take at least a week off work in early May, and spend all my spare time playing in the dirt. As the dog days of summer approach, I pray that all of the important tasks are done because I certainly am.

Annual expense: About $600. We spread six yards of mulch for the paths for two years and the third we spread 12 yards. I do clearance shopping at local greenhouses. I worked for 10 years for Ben Sell Greenhouse and am aware of the challenges local growers face. I also divide and move perennials and what I can't use, I give to friends by the truckload.

Challenges: Not enough time. Life gets in the way! There is work, home, family, church, exercise, and hobbies.

I'm proud of: My husband and I planted every tree, shrub, and perennial; we built the shed, made the paths, and he installed the fountain. We enjoy doing projects together.

What I get out of gardening: When I am gardening, I feel closest to God. I see the cycle of life from compost to seed, and how perfectly he made everything work together. God is awesome.

Dwight: I love seeing things grow, especially the transition from winter to spring when things gradually green up. And seeing the work we've done and thinking "That's pretty good!" One thing that tickles us both is when hummingbirds come to the feeder and occasionally just sit and rest.



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