Where Love Is Continually in Bloom

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This relaxing shade garden encourages a leisurely walk to take in all the sights.

Story by Ann Butenas      |      Photography by Matthew Anderson

Perhaps there is no greater use of the expression “labor of love” than when it comes to describing this enchanted garden spot in Cedar Creek. While most home gardens are created from a foundation of aesthetics and functionality, this one has the added element of being created from the heart.

Married for 57 years, owners Lou and Ruth Rephlo have lived the world over, making this home their 14th domicile. Having lived in so many places throughout the years, they have learned an appreciable amount about home gardens because of having to purchase residences in a variety of locations and climates.

“We developed preferences, and through it all my wife never complained,” expressed the owner. “When we purchased this home, which was built in 1995, it was my gift to my sweetie, so she could have the home she loved.”

In addition to the stunning home, the exterior grounds offered a wonderful palette from which to further cultivate Lou’s gift to his wife. Lou began work on this garden in 2015, and dutifully cares for it in order to provide Ruth, who has suffered a series of strokes since 2003, an abundance of beauty to admire. As her primary caretaker, Lou pays strict attention to detail on all counts and does not skimp when it comes to this particular love, either.

“The engineer in me decided to just do it up right,” he expressed. “I had a dry creek bed installed, half of which drains to the street and half to the backyard. I hired a landscape company to assist in choosing various shade plants so something would be in bloom throughout the entire growing season.”

Although not a Master Gardener, Lou does maintain the entire area himself and considers this shade garden a terrific mood booster.

“If you don’t rush through it and just appreciate the surroundings, you feel a sense of inner peace and repose from your daily life,” he reflected.

Because their yard abuts two of their neighbors’ yards, the entire contiguous space presents much like a park. Among the many highlights of the Relpho’s grounds include a butterfly garden, a variety of blooming flowers, boxwood, glacial boulders, statuaries, a stone bench, flagstone stepping stones, and the regular appearance of hummingbirds, which delight in the specifically-selected Columbine plants, a personal favorite of Ruth’s which remind her of family vacations to Colorado in the past.  

“Over the years Ruth brought home Columbine seeds from our visits to the Rockies and planted them wherever we lived,” smiled Lou. “She just fell in love with them, so those are her favorite parts of the garden.”

As for Lou, he just wanted to ensure something was always a highlight in the garden for his love to enjoy.

“I’ll just hold her hand and walk through the garden with her,” smiled Lou.

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