The Messenger-Inquirer/Don Wilkins
Black-eyed Susans are in bloom inside the front-yard flower garden of Mary Beth and Terry Durham in Owensboro, Ky. 
The Messenger-Inquirer/Don Wilkins

Black-eyed Susans are in bloom inside the front-yard flower garden of Mary Beth and Terry Durham in Owensboro, Ky. 

By DON WILKINS Messenger-Inquirer undefined

OWENSBORO, Ky. — When Mary Beth Durham started planting flowers in her Cedar Street front yard seven years ago, she wasn’t trying to create her own English garden.

But now with the black-eyed susans in full bloom mixed with an array of other flowers that consume the front yard, it more than stands out among her neighbors’ manicured grass lawns.

“Seven years ago, it started out as a (flower) border just like normal people have,” Durham said. “... But these black-eyed susans are invasive.”

And along with attracting butterflies and bumblebees, it also brings curious onlookers to the home — occurrences Mary Beth Durham and her husband, Terry, have become accustomed to, whether for a photo op or a bride-to-be seeking flowers for her wedding bouquet.

“When there’s a knock on the door, I’m not sure if it’s someone liking it or complaining about it,” Mary Beth Durham said. “I have probably equal numbers.”

Mary Beth Durham was influenced by her mother who had a passion for flower gardens.

She said her mother, however, maintained her flower gardens in the backyard but having dogs made that more difficult for her.

“My mother would’ve loved it but my father would’ve been stressed by it,” said Mary Beth Durham, who lives in the home she grew up in. “... My mother died 35 years ago and it’s still a connection with her.”

Although the English-style garden wasn’t by design, it contains many of the aspects by featuring a series of garden areas connected by paths to create a natural-looking landscape. Decorating the spaces include zinnias, hydrangeas, Queen Anne’s lace, cosmos, sunflowers, daisies and other perennials and annuals.

The perennial black-eyed susans are prominent now but something new will bloom depending on the season.

“Once April hits, there’s something blooming until late October,” she said. “I’ll have people drive by just to see what’s blooming.”

For Terry Durham, the front-yard garden does keep him from having to mow it but he’s not exempt from all of its maintenance.

“The only thing I’ll do is water when Mary Beth tells me and that’s usually when she’s out of town with the grandkids,” he said. “I will pull out (the black-eyed susans) every year or as many as I can. I always think I get them all but as you can see, I haven’t.”

Maintaining her front-yard garden has become a little more challenging between her grandmother duties and returning to her teaching job at Owensboro Middle School.

She, however, still considers her gardening a sanctuary and where she goes to relieve any stresses in her life.

“I enjoy it but it has gotten a little big with everything else I have going on in my life,” she said. “... But I do kind of like the wild look to it.”