Sharon Allen visits her garden every time she wants to visit her late mother. Her mother is buried in another state, but her spirit is in alive and well in the Allen yard, she said.
"It sounds crazy, I know," she said. On the contrary, Sharon gardens so she won't be crazy. She says it keeps her balanced, happy and in tune with the world.
Allen works hard to make her Pine garden a place where she, her husband, Frank, and their many visitors can enjoy nature. This past weekend, she had more visitors than usual.
The Allen home was part of the Rim Area Gardeners' Mogollon Garden Tour. The tour highlights some of the area's outstanding gardens.
Allen works consistently on her garden, her husband said. "I really don't do any of it. I just get to enjoy it," he said.
Allen recruits her husband to dig holes for her every morning at 6 a.m. "We love to see how everything grows and changes," she said. "It's really a lot like human growth. The seasons come and bring about new experiences for everything.
"I feel a little lonely when I don't garden," she said. "Kind of incomplete."
Allen, a real estate agent, has gardened all her adult life. When her mother died, she and Frank planted a tree on the side of their home that reminds them of her."You just don't want to forget the people you love," she said.
Hers was one of six area gardens open to the public this weekend. Club president Mary Nolan said the tour was smaller than most year's, but worth seeing.
The club finds out where the area's best gardens are, and then asks the owners to be part of the tour. It's a big honor for most, said Marcia Phillips, whose garden was featured this year.
Phillips is handicapped but still works on her garden as much as she can, with help of hired gardeners and friends.
She has almost two dozen bird houses in her yard's many trees and bushes. Coupled with her long, wooden porch and many potted plants, her small backyard feels like a sanctuary.
"It's very peaceful back here," Phillips said. "I like to meditate in my garden, or play with my dogs here. They love it."