It’s all about filling a blank space, visualizing what can be, moving words or plants around, just shoving the familiar, the conscious mind out of the way and allowing instinct and creativity to take over. Let the words, the plants, the existing landscape tell you what they want to say.

Good friend, neighbor and gardener Susan Loya is very good at that. Not long ago she was looking at our fenced-in area with fountain we named “Janet’s Garden,” a more quiet place centered in our acres of madness. (Janet Hill, Bob’s wife,  has always been a calming effect. They will celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary next month.)

Susan offered a suggestion: “It needs a little more design, some literal uplifting, maybe some landscape blocks laid in triangular design to complete the picture.”

Susan Loya goes to work

Good idea

A raised bed garden. We could “see” it. Out came the tape measure. About 40 feet of blocks required. Off to Menards to watch a couple kids carefully load heavy blocks on a battered wooden pallet into truck.

Back home. Heavy blocks unloaded. Susan begins to lay them out. Small level and trowel required. She’s got this. Loves it.

Soil required. Our compost bed not up to task. Off to Earth First in Sellersburg. Return with ton of pretty good dirt. Way too much as it turns out, but who can’t use pretty good dirt in other places.

Then there was dirt

By then Susan has all the blocks nicely laid out

We decided to call it a day. Dirt to go in new garden bed the following morning. We sleep a little late. Honest. We get up and Susan is working on her eighth wheelbarrow of dirt. Hand-pitched out of the back of the truck. The job almost done. A few landscaping details, like big ornamental boots to be added.

Boots and new roots

Then the plants. Keeping it all local we already had some fine one-gallon, pink dianthus purchased on sale for $2.75 each at – God help me – Rural King.

We got an even better deal from good friend Cheryl Gilbert at Olde Thyme Log House Gardens up in Otisco, Indiana on some pretty yellow Mecardonia ‘Gold Dust,’ the perfect low-growing annual spreader.

Susan placed the plants. Mulch added. Another good neighbor, Justin Knecht, got the fountain going. Again.

The work done in about a day. Good friends and neighbors. Fine design. Bubbling fountain. Happy plants. Thanks all.


“Always Moving Forward,” a book Bob Hill helped write with and about Louisville native and Humana co- founder David A. Jones, was awarded first place gold in the Memoir category last month at the Independent Press Award conference in Newark N.J.