Octogenarians 'Too Lazy To Retire'

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Driving south on McLane Road, the sweet, little garden spot travelers see at the entrance of Alpine Heights shows an example of the work of Iris Garden Services.

Client Su Connell has Tom and Iris Shaw take care of the spot, even though it is not her responsibility. Connell also uses the couple to help her maintain her own yard.

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Tom and Iris Shaw are still going strong. Although both are in their 80s, the couple continues to operate Iris Garden Services, providing gardening and yard maintenance for residents of the Rim country.

"We can't retire," Iris said. "We keep getting more and more calls and more houses are being built."

"We don't want to retire," Tom said. "We're too lazy to retire. If we weren't doing thing, we'd be doing something else."

She said many of their clients, probably about 50 percent, are elderly or disabled who can't get out or bend to take care of their yards the way they'd like to.

"In the summer we also have a lot of out-of-towners who ask us to take care of their property," Iris said. "We'll be working on someone's place and people will drive by and hail us down and ask about having us take care of their yard too."

She said the company's busiest season is from late February and March through November.

"I close my books in November and we take the holidays off," Iris said.

"Sometimes," Tom added -- this winter they had people who hired them to put up their outside decorations for the holidays.

The heaviest work load the couple and their crew sees is after big rains have washed things out and caused a big burst of growth in the weeds, Tom said.

"We don't really do landscaping, it's more maintenance," Iris said. But they will put in vegetable and flower gardens for people, plus small bushes and do tree trimming. They can also refurbish sprinkler systems, but installing is left to professionals like C&J Landscaping, run by Iris' son, Charlie Buckpitt.

Another speciality of Iris Garden Services is to remove landscaping for new owners of homes in the area and help with problems, such as elk eating young aspen trees.

"One of our clients called and said he needed something to keep the elk from his new aspen trees," Iris said. "We didn't have the stuff you usually wrap around the trees, so Tom improvised and put together a couple of tomato cages to keep the elk away. We also tied bright orange ribbons on the cages to spook the elk."

She said when they are dealing with garden and landscape pests, they will always try the most humane method of treating the problem, but sometimes it is necessary to make use of chemicals.

Iris Garden Service was started in 1978. To find out more, call (928) 474-5932 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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