One Man’s Trash…
Story and photos by JJ Kaplan
You can’t help but notice a collection of eclectic doors, window panes and plants as you are drawn into Laurie Smith’s wonderful garden in her back yard. You may THINK that you will simply walk past her yard in the village. But many a person has wandered on into her back yard unaware, as her collection of plates, gnomes, stained glass, bowling balls and assorted artwork entices you to take another, and then another, step into her garden. More than one person has ended up, quite by accident, at her doorstep.
Laurie and her husband, Jay, have lived on Main Street for 20 years. They started out with an average-looking yard, graced with a couple of large trees and grass that needed mowing. Eventually, the large trees died and needed to be cut down. Their absence left two enormous holes in the yard after the roots were ground out. What’s a girl to do?
Laurie decided to fill in the gap by erecting a door to replace a tree. She wanted something with height. She wanted something unique. So the door fit the bill. Savvy gardeners seemed to see her vision … some of her neighbors did not. Laurie quickly decided to fill in the gaps with a stone sidewalk and pergola, courtesy of Jay’s support and hard work. Eighty percent of her plants have been donated.
When Laurie and Jay drilled holes into an old telephone pole, erected it in the yard, and placed a few colorful bottles into the base, she noticed that more bottles mysteriously appeared, courtesy of her neighbors. The bottle tree is now completely adorned with colorful bottles that catch the morning rays peeking through the trees.
Laurie eagerly anticipates Zionsville’s annual Heavy Trash Day, usually held in May. She scours the town looking for unique pieces that were once one man’s trash. They soon become her treasure. She has added window panes, mirrored tables, sculptures and a wide variety to plants to create her sanctuary of happiness. She is delighted that things that were overlooked elsewhere, have brought her immense joy and passion.
After taking a Master Gardener class through Purdue Extension in Lebanon, her passion was even more fueled. She also met a lot of fellow gardeners who continued her education of how to design her personal Eden.
This garden — while still a work in progress — warmly invites you in to stay for quite a while and take a rest. She continues to look for ways to recreate beauty and purpose. She may add a water feature to the mix. It constantly brings a smile to her face, often in unexpected ways. She recalls one summer evening when she looked out to the back yard and noticed people sitting at her mirrored table by the back door. When she approached them, they asked to see the menu!
With so much interest in her heartwarming garden, Laurie started her own business, Lucky Me Gardening. Her company’s symbol is a four-leaf clover.
Gardening has brought peace, relaxation, purpose, and joy to Laurie and Jay, as well as others in the community. She hopes her story will inspire others to find their path to joy and fulfillment. She believes that if she can do it, anyone can. Go out and dig into your passion, too!