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The Lake News Online
  • Gardening a family affair for Wonderlys

  • Lake Bloomers Garden Club gives its first Yard Recognition Award of the 2014 season to the Wonderly family of Sunrise Beach.
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  • Lake Bloomers Garden Club gives its first Yard Recognition Award of the 2014 season to the Wonderly family of Sunrise Beach. Parents Ed and Helen Wonderly are originally from the Gladstone area of Kansas City, Mo. They bought their lake property in 1970 using it seasonally and then as their full-time residence. Helen was a teacher at Hurricane Deck school from 1992 to 2003 and Ed worked in the computer lab as a paraprofessional. Their son, Mike has been a teacher at the same school since 2000. The tradition continues with Mike’s son, Liam, who will be in kindergarten there next year.
    The educationally minded family not only works in the same career, but spends their leisure time together gardening. As Ed says, “It’s a family thing.”
    Like many lake lots, the landscape first had to be tamed and amended. The Wonderlys terraced their steep lot with massive walls — mostly native rock and a concrete one here and there. Mike recalls the hours, days and months that the family spent gathering rocks from the surrounding area to complete the retaining walls and the impressive stone fireplace in the living room of the house. While this was going on, Ed and the boys built the house, expansive decks and their own septic system while camping out in tents and a small camper.
    Then the real fun began―beautifying the grounds with landscaping. Again the entire family pitched in.
    Ed dug holes, planted roses and installed a top-watering and base-watering irrigation system. Some plants do not like to be watered from the top so he matched the appropriate system to the type of plant that was in that bed. He also designed the borders on each side of the entry to the house. A 1966 International Harvester helps Ed move “things” from one area of the yard to another.
    Since proper soil is not native to this area, Mike conducts a large composting operation. It really isn’t anything fancy — an isolated area where leaves, grass, yard debris and 200-400 pounds of Styrofoam pellets are dumped and allowed to percolate over an 8-10 month period.
    The beds are filled or amended with this soil. Helen selects plants and then maintains them after Ed and Mike do the planting. She chooses mainly perennials that are successful here, and fills in with annuals for variety and color. In spring there is phlox on the hillside. In summer, large rose bushes bloom along the retaining walls. Mike raises marigolds whose seeds came from a friend in Austria.
    In addition to all of this, Helen and Mike are both artists. Helen likes to paint, while Mike has numerous woodworking projects going. He is currently making a four-poster bed out of local cedar.
    Page 2 of 2 - It’s a good thing the summer days are long, this family needs plenty of time to pursue their love of the outdoors.
    Lake Bloomers Garden Club meets the second Wednesday of the month (except January and February). For more information, contact Katie Sturtridge at katiesturt@gmail.com.

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