Photo by Tine Schmidt
Jim and Pearl Gray stroll through their Seventh Street yard.
By ESTHER SMITH
News staff writer
July 16, 2005
Jim and Pearl Gray have lived in their home on 922 Seventh St. for 56 years — since the time it was newly built — and during that time they have transformed the two-lot yard from a treeless dirt patch to the award-winning yard and garden it is today.
The Grays were recently chosen to receive the Mid Columbia Association of Realtors’ Beautification Award for July.
Each month from April through September, one home is chosen by the Association to receive the award. The property must not be a business property, cannot be for sale, and must not have professional landscaping.
The honor was a surprise for the couple.
“The realtor stopped in and asked if we objected to having our yard featured,” Pearl says. “At first we didn’t know what it was all about, but when we found out we said it would be all right.”
The Grays have always done all their own planting and yard care, but in the last few years they’ve increasingly had to depend on their children and grandchildren to do the more physical work.
“Our kids come in the spring and do a big cleanup, thatch and bring bark in, and from then on we take care of it ourselves,” Pearl says. “Our great-grandson does the mowing for us.”
There is still plenty of work for the couple to do. The covered patio has potted plants to care for, and the extra lot to the north of the house has been landscaped with shade trees, shrubs, flowering plants and the lawn. There are plants on every side of the house to care for — roses, lilies, hydrangeas, iris — something to bloom every season of the year.
“I wish you could have seen it in April,” Pearl says, somewhat apologetically. “It’s been so dry, and we haven’t been watering as much as we should, probably.” Given the current advice from the water districts, that’s probably a good thing.
Pearl’s favorite part of the yard is “wherever the weeds are!” She and Jim enjoy watching the squirrels, birds and butterflies that visit their home and garden.
Pearl has always been the flower person, while Jim took care of the mowing and heavier work. Now he mostly supervises.
“She does it all now!” he laughs.
Pearl has an herb garden from which fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme — and oregano — are regularly plucked for use in cooking.
“I use it quite a bit,” she says. “It gives a lot better flavor than the ones you get out of a bottle.”
The Grays’ landscaping has been a work in progress; they have done improvements as time and money allowed.
“I’ve decided maybe I’ve planted too much!” Pearl laughs. “It’s a lot to take care of.”