Stark Serenity In Pine

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Jim and Rosemary Stark have christened their Pine property Serenity Pines.

The once relatively barren grounds around their home have been transformed into a living piece of art in Japanese garden form. The lush greenery and the wind in the pines make "serenity" an apt description.

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Rosemary Stark

That art will be open to the public for viewing during the Mogollon Garden Tour Saturday, June 7.

The couple changed their back yard when construction materials for an addition to their home destroyed about half of their previous landscaping. They had boulders brought onto the property before the addition was started. A trip to the Chicago Botanical Gardens made Jim enthusiastic about Japanese gardens and Rosemary said she could make one for them in their back yard. She had worked for several years as a landscape designer and has gardened from the time she was 8, she said.

"I'd never seen Jim get so adamant about anything," Rosemary said.

Although she had a background in landscape design and a long history gardening, she had never created a Japanese garden before.

"I bought a book at Plant Fair and studied it. Most of my plants have come from Plant Fair, too," she said.

When tour participants purchase their $5 ticket, they will get a map to the six gardens and there will be plant lists provided as well.

The Starks' plant list is extensive and includes a variety of groundcovers, several different kinds of bamboo and plants that Rosemary has found the wildlife will generally leave alone.

In the hills on the west side of Pine, plenty of wildlife visits appetizing gardens. Rosemary has hosted quite a few deer, elk and javelina over the years. Using plants that the animals don't like and putting up a few barriers has made it possible for her landscape to mature only mildly molested in the past three years.

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Japanese inspired serenity will greet visitors to the Stark residence in Pine as part of the Mogollon Garden Tour Saturday, June 7.

She admits coming upon the right combination of plants was hit-and-miss, but now everybody leaves them alone.

The animals represented one of the biggest challenges to successful gardening in the Rim Country. Another big challenge is the water and the restrictions put on its use during the summer.

To keep within the restrictions, Rosemary has used quite a few Xeriscape plants in her garden design. She said they also do a lot of top dressing with mulch, using 20 to 40 bags, two or three times a year to help retain moisture and then turn into the soil to build it up.

"I have lots of worms and that's a sign you have good soil," she said.

The Starks' Japanese garden features a dry riverbed with wooden bridges, stone and metal statuary and benches.

"I like to have benches placed around the garden so if I want to sit down, I don't have far to go, and each one gives a different view."

There will be lots to view when garden tour participants visit the Stark home. Take a moment to enjoy the view from each of the benches and you will take away a piece of the garden's serenity.

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