Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

House Changes, Garden Remains Crowning Glory

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

House Changes, Garden Remains Crowning Glory

Article excerpt

Some gardeners start from scratch, literally scratching in soil that has never been planted in flowers, sometimes even peeling back the newly laid sod around a new home and trying to amend the mix of clay and builder's debris they find there. Others have to renovate a garden that was once pretty but has been long neglected and taken over by the survivors of the plant world. And then some of us are lucky enough to acquire a house and garden, and our only goal is to live up to our predecessor's skill.

Edith James is one of those lucky ones. The owner of a specialty shoe business, her hobby is gardening. When she bought a house in the south part of Webster Groves, she felt that the small house was adequate for her needs; but what really attracted her was the garden. "I felt something was drawing me to it," she recalls. "It was the garden I bought, as much as the house."

The former owner was Alice Schreiner, who had lived there for many years with her husband, Albert. The house, built in 1894, was L-shaped, with one bedroom and 910 square feet. Those who go on the Webster Groves Historical Society house tour on June 14 and see the present structure, two stories with 2,700 square feet in a style reminiscent of the 1890s, will find it difficult to believe it hasn't been there for years. Only its foundation is a century old. It was the garden, not the house, that I visited two months ago. My great-niece Denny Ferrenbach called with those familiar words: "A friend of mine has a garden you must see." The St. Louis area was in its first blush of spring then, and Edith's garden was a pastel dream - pink tulips and blue hyacinths and flowering trees. I took pictures and show them in my slide shows, adding that they were taken on a beautiful April day. "And this was the next day," I continue, raising my voice over the laughter as the next slide shows a garden hidden by white fluffy snow. Remember? I went back after the snow, which hadn't done any appreciable damage, and by this time a tree peony was in bloom. Edith believes that a tree peony should be a garden's center attraction, and hers was a gorgeous one. …

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