In the mobile home community Sedgefield, there is a quaint home surrounded by rose bushes, small sunflowers, marigolds and apple trees.
Yellow finches, butterflies and hummingbirds come and go as 72-year-old Louise “Lou” Jones looks around her garden content and with a smile.
Everyone has a vision of what “paradise” is – a private beach, villa in France or a cabin in the Rocky Mountains. But for Lou and her husband James “Henry” Jones, also 72, their perfect place is right outside.
“It’s our paradise,” Lou said.
The Joneses’ garden started out as a hobby for the couple, but it has since taken on a larger meaning.
About 14 years ago Henry was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and started having heart problems. Breathing can be a chore for him, especially within the past three years, Henry said.
When he got sick, Lou retired from her job at Ukrops where she worked as a cashier for 20 years and became well known among her co-workers and customers. Henry’s illness also prompted their move into the Sedgefield community, Lou said.
Lou’s main job these days, besides tending the garden and the house, is taking care of Henry, whose illness worsened this year.
Up until earlier this year, Henry said working in the garden was not a problem, but today, he can’t walk a few feet without losing his breath.
Although they’re limited in how far away they can go from home, Henry and Lou are beyond content and living life in the moment, despite health issues.
“I don’t dwell on what I can’t do,” Henry said.
For now, Lou keeps the garden going, working outside at least two or three times a week, she said.
Even if things are tough, the married couple, for 27 years now, makes the most of their time.
Most days, Henry occupies his time and mind with activities. Henry enjoys painting and playing music. He often re-creates and paints various flags when the duo is not off at doctor appointments.
“I never get bored,” Henry said. “Life is too short to get bored.”
When the couple first started getting into gardening around 1998, the garden consisted of only a few trees. Henry said they learned everything they could about gardening from older friends who were expert gardeners or just others who shared an interest in gardens.
“We didn’t know one plant from another,” Lou said.
That has drastically changed. Lou can name every single plant in their full and colorful garden.
The garden started out small but it grew as their love for planting grew. Lou said she nicknamed her garden “the friendship garden” at one point because of how many plants blossomed from mere cuttings of friends’ plants. For instance, Henry grew roses from rose plant trimmings a neighbor gave him and Lou.
But the hard work isn’t just for their enjoyment, Lou said. When the garden is at its best in June and early July, passersby consistently stop by and ask questions or compliment the garden, she added.
“They’re just a conversation piece,” Lou said. “We plant for other people.”