Strolling the stone walkways at 1820 Briarcommon Drive in Lake Saint Louis, Easter egg-hued flowers bloom in Sheri Menscher’s spring garden.
Tulips, pansies and hybrid columbines burst with cheer, while Spanish Bluebells, Wild Sweet William and Foxglove are reminiscent of a Monet painting.
President of the 47 member Jardin du Lac Garden Club, Menscher is smitten with gardening, and says there’s nothing better than rising in the morning and spending the first hour of the day deadheading and weeding flowers. She loves relaxing in her gazebo reading the newspaper and appreciating the surrounding beauty.
Menscher was actually a late bloomer to gardening.
She helped her mom plant beautiful flowers growing up on a grain farm off Highway N as a child. Toiling in her parent’s vegetable garden for many hours, she actually disliked working with the soil and swore gardening bore no part of her future plans.
In the mid-nineties, Sheri dreamt of her own garden. Trips to England stirred up visions of picturesque cottage garden displays. As her mom once said to her, “gardening is in your genetics.”
She did a bit of gardening while working long hours for the St. Louis Special School District in 2005. Retired the same year, she found more time on her hands.
Menscher purposely thought of a place for growing things. In 2008, a serious flower garden came to fruition.
Every winter she browses gardening catalogs and magazines and prepares a wish list of flowers to buy and ways to expand her garden. Other factors come into play—flowers requiring relocation, division and color schemes of certain areas.
“The garden of my dreams, doesn’t quite match the garden of reality,” Menscher said. She tries to work with nature to acquire a happy compromise.
In spring, tulips and daffodils are her favorites. As the seasons progress, her affinity lies with the woodland wildflowers, roses and coneflowers. “Whatever is in bloom is what I love,” she said.
A unique shade-loving perennial found in her garden is the Lenten Rose, which starts blooming around Christmas. This particular beauty holds its blooms for four or five months. The burgundy, pale pink and white rose varieties were flowering in April.
A purple and white iris mix holds a special place in Menscher's heart. Her Aunt Doris surprised her with a rhizome (underground plant stem) at her first home in 1993. The iris has been with her ever since. At her new home, she found a nice spot for the flower in the back yard, as well as a lilac bush from her grandmother’s house.
Menscher enjoys the horticultural aspects of gardening, and figuring out good growing conditions. Her secret ingredient is adding purchased compost to her flowers beds—a regular staple for the last three years. Sheri believes if you feed the soil, you will feed your plants.
She doesn’t use fertilizing products, but instead sprinkles Scotts Bulb Continuous Release Plant Food when plants first emerge, and once again after finished blooming.
Last May, at her first flower show (Mother Know’s Best) Sheri walked away with thirteen ribbons—eleven of which were first place—pretty impressive for a ‘late bloomer.’
Jardin du Lac Garden Club gives back by maintaining two community gardens: Blue Star Memorial in Boulevard Park and Lake St. Louis Community Garden. Every Arbor Day, the club plants a tree in one of the local parks. In addition, Garden View Care Center residents participate in a hands-on activity regularly presented by the club.
The group’s fundraiser at Lake Saint Louis Community Association Clubhouse will benefit garden projects, library donations, scholarships, and tornado victims of Joplin, Bridgeton and Maryland Heights. It's scheduled for May 5, 2012.
Menscher believes gardening is a creative outlet and a stress reducer.
“There’s always something new to discover, almost like being at the ocean—you never know what shells will wash up on the beach,” she said.