By Adrienne McGee Sterrett
Ruthie Laue works hard on her flower garden.
And she has a cast on her arm to prove it.
Laue, drawn equally to beauty and hard labor, was bothered by a “tree weed” in one of her flowerbeds near the house. The rains this summer surely loosened it, she thought, so she climbed upon the tall landscaping edging and gave that thick weed a good yank. Out it popped, and backwards she tumbled onto the neighbor’s asphalt driveway. She broke her wrist, and badly.
But still, she laughs at the story and jokes at how expensive that weed turned out to be.
“I love gardening. I love flowers and butterflies. Home becomes your paradise,” she said. “A neighborhood can be pretty. I’m just for that, I think.”
Her positivity is as contagious as her home improvements, which have inspired others on their block in Lima to beautify their yards.
And to think, when the Laues first moved in, there wasn’t even grass in the backyard.
Laue and her husband, Christopher, and their three daughters and a son come from South Africa. The Laues — now U.S. citizens — wanted to give their children a better life, even though that meant stepping down in social status. They were sponsored by a local church, and they taught school for about eight years. While her husband now works at Lima Senior, Laue has found herself at home — and immediately set to work letting her personality shine.
They rented their current home for three years, when the church next door decided it didn’t really need a parsonage and sold it to them. It was built in 1915 and features thick woodwork and character throughout.
They loved the light in the house, thanks to the many windows, and the thick moldings, which she painted white.
“The selling point was the porch,” she said. “I love a porch.”
The solid, two-story square house worked fine for them with some remodeling projects along the way and the furniture they shipped from South Africa. (Everything made it, without a scratch, which still astonishes her.) But outdoors …
“I saw potential in the garden because the garden was a mess. There was nothing. So I just started digging,” Laue said.
One day, she spotted a tree removal crew working just down the street. She popped down there, made herself a deal, and that same day, the workers took down two half-dead trees from the Laue yard.
Her husband came home from work that day to a different landscape.
Immediately, he bemoaned the lack of shade, Laue remembers, but trusted her vision. She has since planted 25 trees in her garden, so she feels she has made up for it.
“Every year we have done something,” she said. “The more I worked on it and the more I expanded it, the bigger the garden got.”
The space is rather petite, but she has so carefully drawn out and planned flowerbeds and plantings — and the effect is such that the space feels larger.
In front, hostas greet visitors. Bonsai (her husband’s favorite) sprouts from its perch on a birdbath. A plastic flamingo guards a small pond. A rose garden in back honors her mother, who raised roses. One corner is given over to her granddaughter’s fairy garden. To the side, blackberries and grapes mingle. A white arch divides the back into two outdoor rooms. All of this shows Laue’s personality. She even tends to the church next door’s landscaping.
“This is our little heaven on earth,” she said, explaining her joy.
ADRIENNE MCGEE STERRETT
Adrienne is the lifestyle/special sections editor for The Lima News. She believes everyone has a life story worth sharing. Reach her at 567-242-0510 or [email protected]