The ultimate joy for an old lady, says 82-year-old Jackie Buster, is a La-Z-Boy in front of the sliding glass doors of what was once a dining area looking out over her garden. The view is green all year, she says of the hostas, yews, trees and assorted ground covers framing the pond of her backyard garden.
The ultimate joy for an old lady, says 82-year-old Jackie Buster, is a La-Z-Boy in front of the sliding glass doors of what was once a dining area looking out over her garden.
The view is green all year, she says of the hostas, yews, trees and assorted ground covers framing the pond of her backyard garden.
"It's really nice, me and my cat, here in my comfortable chair with my feet up, watching the leaves grow."
Her family built the house in 1953. It's small compared to houses nowadays, only 1,200 square feet, not including the enclosed porch. But it was the latest thing then - low, ranch-style, all the rooms on the same floor and large enough for a family of four.
"It's a perfect house for me," she says. "I've shrunk."
But the house looks like it's gotten larger. Over the years, Buster has used mirrors and glass to give the illusion of more space and to open space to the outdoors, specifically to the garden she began creating after she sold her art gallery in 1989.
The green gardens, front and back, are the focal point of the house, inside and out.
She had the kitchen window enlarged three times its original size for a view of the front garden. She had a wall knocked out and sliding glass doors installed in the living/dining area to give a view of the back garden. She placed an 8-foot-tall mirror on the wall adjacent to the glass doors for a constant reflection of the garden. Finally, she enclosed the old, unused screened-in back porch. Of course, the side facing the back garden became glass doors for yet a fuller view of the back garden.
The garden is always green and various shades of green throughout the house repeat the green theme.
"Color is my life, my love. I think about color a lot," she says. "Color and design and shape is everything." A friend tries to engage her in science- or math-related topics. "My eyes glaze over."
But she has gone to technically-challenging lengths to make sure everything in and around the house blends or highlights her beloved green. When she decided she wanted blue carpeting in the living area, she used green paint samples to help her coordinate color shades because "most blues don't go well with this shade of green," she says, pointing to green walls, which, to her discerning eye has a lot of brown in it.
Artwork is as much a presence in the house as the color green. Buster points to one painting, then another. The blue in one painting, she notes, has a bit of yellow in it, the blue of another has a bit of red.
She believes she inherited her love of color and art from her father, a frustrated amateur artist.
"We'd be driving along, all of a sudden the car would screech to a stop and we'd have to get out and look at this shade of red on a barn."
Before the children, before opening the art gallery, she remembers how she'd get lost in painting. "All I wanted to do was paint. I didn't know whether it was day or night, and I didn't care."
After the children, after the art gallery, the garden and the pond became her canvas. "I consider gardening an art form," she says.
She had two men, on strike from Caterpillar Inc. at the time, dig out the pond. Then she moved all of the dirt herself, in a wheelbarrow. After that, she moved about seven tons of gravel to lay stone paths throughout the back garden.
The placement of the pond was the only "coldly calculated" part of her plan. "I wanted to be sure I could see it from the living room. The rest of the yard kind of evolved."
As in her early painting days, she now gets lost in her garden.
"Sometimes, I'll go outside thinking I'm going to make the grand tour with my morning cup of coffee. I'll have stayed out there five hours but to me it seems like it was only two minutes."
She's hyper, she says. She thinks that's why she loves the color green. After she relaxes in the cool greens of her garden, she goes to her La-Z-Boy and relaxes in the warm greens of her home.
Pam Adams can be reached at (309) 686-3245 or email@example.com.