BAXTER -- Water sparkles from the fountain and flows down a tiny waterfall before resting in a garden surrounded by stones and flowers at a Baxter home.
Ray and LaVerna Johnston both enjoy the view of water garden, manicured rich green lawns and flower plants. And they enjoy the outdoor work required to keep the landscaped look. LaVerna Johnston retired from St. Joseph's Medical Center. Ray Johnston retired from Potlatch.
She works with the flowers. He keeps up the yard.
"It's really pretty in the morning," LaVerna Johnston said of gardens along the front of the home.
A green expanse of trees shields the home from the nearby street. Cantaloupe-sized hydrangea blossoms resemble snowballs in a field of green.
Yellow day lilies, pink petunias and roses add color and fragrance to the Johnstons' backyard water garden. The manicured lawn stretches in a wide expanse behind the home. To the left comes a view of Baxter Lake. Lights on the water garden illuminate the upper and lower pool in the evening. Little crappie minnows swim in the lower pool. Water gardens typically recycle their own water from pool to fountain. (Dispatch Photos by Renee Richardson)
LaVerna Johnston credits her son, Brad Norwood, with beginning the landscape work about seven years ago. Norwood is a professional landscaper and tree remover. He installed the beds that border the home and the water garden.
When LaVerna and Ray Johnston married about six years ago he took on the challenge of upkeep. While rocks look easy enough to take care of, he said they are a bit of work to keep clean. But a leaf blower helps.
"If it isn't fishing, it's keeping the yard up," he said and smiled.
The couple estimated it takes a couple of hours per day to keep the yard looking its best. But they gain satisfaction not only in the final appearance but in the effort to get there.
Rose bugs plagued those fragrant flowers this season and have the Johnstons considering putting in other plants.
Each season is part of a learning curve for gardeners and the Johnstons have tried various annuals and flower combinations. Next year they may add more perennials. Nearby soft silver mounds act as a nice contrast to the rock bed.
"We enjoy the outdoors so much," LaVerna Johnston said. She also uses the scenery as inspiration for photography.
A fountain splashes in the upper pool in a Baxter water garden. The garden incorporates stone, flowers and water in a display that begins just feet from the screened porch.
They described the backyard atmosphere as soothing, but not so formal to deter children at play.
The Johnstons often have lunch and coffee in the screen porch attached to the home. Tables are moved out into the lawn for larger gatherings. They can play board games, entertain family and friends and enjoy the garden from the porch.
And they have plans to remodel the dining room windows to allow a better view of the back yard and the water garden.
The dining room has rich dark wood and a crystal chandelier. Sheer drapes and scalloped cream-colored window treatments frame the view of the front yard from the living room. In the fall, the family does much of its gathering downstairs by the gas fireplace and amid family heirlooms and collectibles.
The home is so comfortable, a 10-year-old grandson already has thought about what might be in the home's future when Grandma and Grandpa are ready for a change.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.