Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cooperating with Nature Rewards This Gardener

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cooperating with Nature Rewards This Gardener

Article excerpt

"Summertime is good," says a smiling Chuck Morrison as he looks over the garden from a comfortable chair on his porch.

The sound of a gurgling fountain is soothing in the background as the former teacher talks about trading his old beloved job for a new one, gardening.

When asked why he devotes his days to working in the garden, Mr. Morrison, has a simple answer: "Just for the love of the earth." He wonders out loud how he kept up with it when he was teaching history in the Union School District near New Castle.

"Well, you just worked until dark. Now, about 4 o'clock, I'm just about used up," he said.

Mr. Morrison, 64, tells the familiar story of a kid who hated cutting grass and pulling weeds in his father's extensive garden. His refuge was a place he didn"t have to work, an old pine grove where he fell in love with nature. That's where the seed of inspiration was planted that evolved into a passion for gardening.

Nearly 40 years ago, after building this house, he planted a few marigolds, then a few more flowers and some vegetables. He made the usual mistakes early on -tall flowers in the front of beds, small ones in the back, and his vegetable garden more often fed groundhogs and deer than his family. But as the years progressed, the self-taught gardener found his way.

"You just evolve and learn as you go. You get better at things you do over and over again."

The results are obvious in his pristine garden. It's filled with interesting annuals, perennials and lots of plants that self-sow freely.

"I am a big fan of volunteers," he says. "I like what nature does with them next year. I have larkspur where I never had them before." That"s also true of the pretty red poppies that complement those blue and white larkspur blooms swaying the breeze behind them. The ruffled poppies, he was told, were a Victorian favorite and are prolific. One handful of seeds is all it takes to create a colony of flowers.

"Cooperating with nature, not trying to dominate nature, seems to serve me the best."

In one bed, hot pink rose campion is backed by chartreuse hostas. In the shade garden, pink astilbe shares space with bright yellow Missouri primrose. …

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