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Sculpted shrubs, accents adorn Rodgers yard

First Posted: 3:32 am - June 3rd, 2015

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Contributed photo Artistic topiary accents the front windows of the Rodgers home on Campbell Road, which was chosen as the Four Seasons Garden Club’s Yard of the Month for June.

Contributed photo The American flag flies proudly at Harold and Loretta Rodgers’ Campbell Road home. Harold Rodgers earned a Purple Heart for his military service in Vietnam.

We all enjoy having special features on the front of our homes that attract attention to our front door. No one else can have the special features that Harold and Loretta Rodgers have for their home at 94 Campbell Road, which the Four Seasons Garden Club has named its Yard of the Month for June.

Their house and landscaping are so tidy, special sculptured shrubs enhance the front windows, nearby is a United States flag flying proudly and in the driveway is parked car with a Purple Heart tag. This is one proud family. Harold received his Purple Heart in 1967 during the Vietnam War. Thank you, Harold.

You have to really look close to appreciate the topiary artwork that Harold has created with his shrubs on the front of the house. It takes years of careful clipping and pruning to achieve such an effect. One large shrub in the middle extends underneath both of his front windows and creates a window-box effect. It looks so natural and welcoming; you never dream it took many man-hours over many years to achieve this effect.

Hidden in there somewhere is an occasional nail in the brick that helps hold up the structure, but you would never know it. A similar artistic design is on the back side of their house. They added a deck to the back a few years back and a special opening was allowed for the shrub. Now the shrub has taken on an artistic life of its own — it is like some sort of creature with a big head and six arms. I’m sure it guards the house well.

All of Harold’s manicured topiary or espaliering work has been done with Fire Hawthorne (or Pyracantha) bushes. The bushes bloom in the spring and set on orange berries in the fall for the birds. Harold keeps insect dust on the shrubs so they stay healthy.

Most gardeners and artistic people are familiar with Bishopville’s Pearl Fryar who has been creating fantastic topiary at his garden. They are astounding feats of living artistry and horticulture. Today, the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden draws visitors from around the globe. He has also created custom shrubbery for the S.C. State Museum and for the Moore Gardens and even has a documentary film. If Pearl ever had time to visit the Rodgerses’ home in his very busy schedule, he would be very proud of Harold.

On the south side of the house are three large, beautifully manicured hanging geranium baskets. I looked Harold in the eye and said, “Those certainly will not last the summer in that hot area,” and Harold sternly replied, “They most certainly will!” He gave me his specific instructions for making geraniums last in the heat.

First, water them every day. Second, always take off the spent blossoms as soon as they are finished and the stem must be broken deep inside the plant where it first comes off the plant. It is important not to leave any long stems showing on the plant. He puts liquid fertilizer on the plants once a week. He guarantees that is you follow this regimen, you too will have lush geraniums until the frost.

As you go around the house, there is a prayer garden that Harold put in five years ago when Loretta had breast cancer. This is a peaceful place she could go to when she was recovering from the treatments. When the Rogerses’ garden was featured as Yard of the Month five years ago, Loretta was going through her treatments and was using the prayer garden. Now she is still teaching and she is a five-year cancer survivor and very proud of it.

Also in this area is a dollhouse which belonged to their daughters, now 45 and 35 and successful in their fields. The old dollhouse is well preserved and serves as a little storage area for the yard. It is accented with an old mailbox that used to be used as a letter dropbox around Cheraw. When the post office was originally built in 1935, these dropboxes were put all around town and later discontinued.

Yes, now you know that this is the Harold Rodgers who walked endless miles carrying your mail around town for 29 years. He still works for the postal system in the comfort of the air-conditioning.

The backyard is a place of peace for Harold. He has composed many a sermon while puttering around and taking care of chores. His mind is clear and he can think of inspirational thoughts that would not come to him during a normal working day. In this area he likes to take cuttings and start new plants. He grew many wisteria vines and has planted them along his back fence. They will soon engulf the fence and give them a spectacular show in the springtime.

Most flower beds are just that, a flower bed, but there is a real bed in the back that someone in the family used to sleep on. It is an old metal-framed bed painted white and put directly on the ground. He fills it with shade-loving plants. I know those plants sleep well every night.

As quoted on the Wikipedia page, “Pearl Fryar’s garden is a living testament to one man’s firm belief in the results of positive thinking, hard work and perseverance, and his dedication to spreading a message of ‘love, peace and goodwill.’”

We can say the same about Harold and Loretta Rodgers.

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