Summer Serenity

Symphony of Perennials
Thursday, August 1, 2019
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The bachelor button, also known as cornflower, is an annual that reseeds itself each year. Here it frames an old watering can and a willow bench, one of many that Susan Rogers has made as an accent to her yard.

          All photos by Melody Montgomery

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Susan Rogers of Utica treasures her time outdoors and with her animals, like with her dear friend Coal, a wirehaired pointer. She also has horses and a cat.

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Susan Rogers has worked with willows for many years. Here, they provide a nice seat for geraniums.

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In addition to flowers, interesting antiques are placed throughout Susan Rogers' yard, such as this wagon and help create this serene space upriver from Utica.

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Shown here is one of many hand-woven willow creations.

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Rogers’ peonies bloom all throughout July, with flower heads nearly as large as that of the Judith Basin Press’s Assistant Editor Gram Montgomery.

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Rogers’ yard has a variety of poppies that bloom from late spring and into the summer, including Oriental poppies and Flanders poppies.

For two-time cancer survivor Susan Rogers, thousands of flowering perennials and annuals on her property provide a therapeutic retreat.

“It’s the peaceful, quiet serenity it gives that makes the care and the time involved a labor of love,” she said.

Rogers, who grew on her parents’ ranch in what the old-timers call Pig Eye Valley, lives upriver from Utica. The jagged rocky ridge of Red Hill above Sapphire Village is clear in the background.

Her magnificent yard is not visible from the road. It is entirely hidden by cottonwoods and diamond willows.

“Susan’s yard is just gorgeous,” said her friend Cindy Durfey, who visited Rogers' yard with her husband Gary in July. “She works on it all the time and just loves it. She even raised her kids outside. They’d be talking while she weeded.”

Stepping inside, blooms and plant life abound even above in a hand-woven arch arbor where Engelmann ivy greets entering visitors.

“I’ve played with willows for a lot of years,” said Rogers, who also has woven benches tucked about her property.

In her yard, which she has been working on for 30 years, Rogers has flowers for every season, running from early spring into fall. She also has blooming houseplants for the winter.

“My flower garden started in front of the porch, and then went here and there, and kept expanding,” she said. “I like to go with the flow, and that’s what my garden has done. It’s wonderfully chaotic.”

When beginning, Rogers bought some delphinium seeds and began them inside. Delphiniums are perennials with a spike-like flower.

Delphiniums form tall, gigantic spears, towering over six feet tall, and require being tied to an adjacent structure because the wind is hard on them. Most of the rest of the plants were given to her. Rogers’ greatest investment has been time, one she joyfully gives to her yard.

“I love being outside. I’m an outside girl. I walk all winter, and I have my horses, cat and dog,” she said.

For every season…

Rogers’ spring flowers include daffodils, which the deer and rabbits do not eat, tulips, which need covered from deer and rabbits, and oriental poppies, which bloom late spring.

Mid-summer blooms include red Flanders poppies, columbine, which are high-altitude flowers with spurred petals, painted daisies, which are hearty and can be split every couple three years, shasta daisies, peonies, which bloom all through July, delphinium, which opened in July, and all kinds of lilies and hollyhocks, which bloom into late summer.

Late summer and fall include sunflowers, sedum, Marguerite daisies and Russian sage, which resembles lavender.

“Perennials are a symphony,” said Rogers.