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Green Thumb : Her Garden's a Place for Living

November 13, 1994|LAURA F. OCHOA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Laura Ochoa lives in Rosemead. and

Our garden is more than a nice landscaped area. It is more than a tree planted here or there and more than beds of annuals and perennials neatly planted.

Our garden is an extension of ourselves, an extension of me. A place of solace and peace.

I spend much time in my garden hoping, dreaming and coming to grips with reality. And when life gets too big for me I head to my gardens to vent my frustrations on the weeds and quietly dig and pull my anger away.

As I work in my kitchen, which faces the patio, more times than I care to admit, I abandon my chores and go outside to water a pot or to touch a blossom or just sit and take in its calmness.

The patio is filled with a variety of potted plants. My favorites being begonias, azaleas, impatiens, vincas, whatever I fancy at the nursery.

A fountain with a broken top tier sits in the back of the patio but it has become the focal point. The soft soothing sound of falling water attracts the birds and they splash and drink from its water all day.

My husband and I share many happy moments together as we watch the funny antics of these feathered creatures.

A pair of spotted doves once made their home in our yard and they too were drawn to the fountain. They were always together until one died. I wrote a short story about them for my grandchildren. Of course, it helps to encourage the birds with bread crumbs and all this is an educational tool for the children and constant source of delight for me.

I sit at my kitchen desk and gaze out into the patio and it seems to give me not only rest for my body and spirit but also give me a bust of energy. Our patio has witnessed many happy events shared with family and friends. Bridal showers, baby showers, birthday parties, barbecues, all celebrated outdoors. Crepe paper and balloons with streamers floating in the air mingling with the laughter and love the guests.

The front yard is at its best in the spring. The sight is a quiet spectacle as the roses open their buds to their first bloom. The colors are dazzling, bright and true. I go from one flower to another smelling each one deeply. Soon the tall stem irises join in and they show off their beautiful splendor with their deep blue almost violet petals or "falls." Their fragrance competing with the scent of the roses.

The picture becomes complete when the bougainvillea also wakes up and joins the celebration of a new beginning. Because an odd-looking olive tree, always in need of correct pruning, stands next to the wall where the bougainvillea grows, not too much sun falls on the tropical vine so it does not flower as long as it should. I can't bear to remove the olive tree and it does shade the impatiens the grows beneath it in a planter.

We divided our front yard and created a somewhat private, courtyard. My husband paved the ground with common brick and did the same for the patio. It was a labor of love.

We often sit at our umbrella-covered table in our courtyard and eat breakfast or lunch there. The morning paper is always read there. An old lawn swing still stands there and we still sit and rock on it.

I often rocked and sang my grandchildren to sleep in the same old swing and sometimes I still hear their laughter in the air around me.

There has been so much living in our home and gardens that I believe when we are gone our spirits will come back to visit and wander the gardens, especially mine.

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