Q&A with a lifelong gardener

Story by M.J. Van Deventer  Photos courtesy of Larry Hoffman

M.J. had a short Q&A session with Larry Hoffman, Retired State Farm Insurance Agent, President of the Muskogee, Oklahoma Garden Club and Civic Volunteer. He lives in the Zone 7 garden area.

How long have you been gardening?
Not including my childhood or college years, I have been gardening most of my married life, which is more than 50 years. 

What prompted your interest in gardening?
I was the oldest of four children raised on a farm. We were nearly 100 percent self-sufficient. My parents always allowed me to have a small – maybe a 10 x 10 space – to grow anything I wanted. I always tried different things I found in catalogs. I never regretted a moment of helping them with their large garden or taking care of my little garden space.  

How would you describe your garden today?
Mostly flowerbeds edged with concrete to keep everything looking neat with flowering perennials and annuals. I have a place for bird feeders and water, a raised bed for tomatoes, and a large round flowerbed featuring seasonal flowers in the front lawn [installed to] replaced a diseased elm tree. 

What flowers and shrubs thrive in your garden?
Canna, daylilies (Hemerocallis), Hosta, banana trees (Musa spp.), and a variety of summer-flowering annuals. Hollies (Ilex spp.) are planted around two sides of our home where they thrive. Azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) are behind the pond and in front of our home. They’re also doing very well. 

What are the most unusual features in your lawn?
The round bed in front of the house; I built a large koi pond in the backyard about 25 years ago. It is approximately 16 feet long with a jagged edge and lined with rock. There is a 4-foot-tall waterfall behind it. The pond holds about 1,600 gallons of water. 

How does gardening enhance your life?
Gardening brings peace and fulfillment. It reduces stress and brings smiles to visitors and passersby. 

If you could plan your garden all over again, what would you change?
Absolutely nothing!

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