Liz Copeland is a retired nurse and cancer survivor whose passion for gardening keeps her healthy and happy.
"My therapy is my garden," she said.
She and her husband have lived in their Fayetteville, Ga., home for 22 years. Their 5-acre yard is woodsy, with a small creek, but also boasts a small vegetable garden and a feast of flowers. Azaleas border the property. Lilac bushes lend their scent in the springtime. There are dahlias, black-eyed Susans, butterfly bushes, tulips, daffodils and old-fashioned four o'clocks. Copeland is particularly proud of her hydrangeas, roses and gardenias. And don't forget the peonies.
In fact, her yard has so many types of flowers and trees that it attracts visitors, human and animal alike. "The deer love us dearly," Copeland said.
Her human neighbors can often be found out front, admiring a new planting or leaning over to smell whatever is in bloom that week. "Everyone says they enjoy our garden," she said. "It would cost us a fortune to put in a grassy lawn, and that doesn't appeal to me anyway."
Maybe it's the clematis around the mailbox pole that draws people, or the crocuses in the spring. Copeland and her husband enjoy their yard, even from inside the house. They can look out at the hollyhocks and daisies, the dogwoods, rose of Sharon, and spirea, and many other plants that Copeland can't name but cherishes just the same.
"I love pretty things," she said. "I love flowers, and realizing some accomplishment. When I was a little tiny girl I remember walking two or three miles to pick bouquets of flowers."
Copeland's daughter, who lives 40 minutes away, will often stop by on her day off to garden with her mother. But first she'll visit a garden center to pick up a new plant for her mom. "She heard me say one day that I liked to see flowers and she's determined to fill our yard with them," Copeland said.
As a Georgia gardener, Liz enjoys a long growing season and can grow a lush and beautiful garden. But southern gardeners also face a challenge in terms of drought and heat. "Sometimes we have a very dry winter," Copeland said. "Last year we had to water right through November."
Copeland tries to plant drought-tolerant varieties whenever possible. She and her husband keep their leaves on the ground as mulch, and over the years have enriched the soil to create a healthy growing environment for all kinds of plants. But the real key to Copeland's success is root-zone watering, thanks to Aqua Cones.
"I think I now have 126 of them," she said. "I ask everyone at church to save their soda bottles for me so I'll have enough."
Since retiring from her career as a hospital nurse, Copeland has put in countless hours to create a blooming oasis. But she tries not to spend too much time outdoors in the sun, so relies upon Aqua Cones to help keep her plants watered.
"Every time I had an azalea or rose or another plant that obviously needed more water to survive, I just ordered more Aqua Cones," she said. "They have been our salvation."
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