Gardening for life

“Kitty and Marvin Waldrop have a home and yard that would be the envy of any neighborhood,” said Billy Stubbs, a lifelong resident of the Village of Bensley. “I would say that both of them could qualify as master gardeners. I have never seen a garden so well-maintained and the flowers were in full bloom. Kitty handles the flowers and Marvin the vegetables.” Stubbs lives across the highway from the Waldrops but considers them close and lifelong neighbors.

The Waldrops live off Jefferson Davis Highway on the east side of Sherbourne Road.  The tall Oaks that line the street were planted in the early 1900s by R. C. Bensley and his brother A.W. Bensley, developers of this first suburb in Chesterfield County. Kitty was six-months old when her parents had a home built on Sherbournre next to her grandparents, Neal and Annie Hitt. Twenty years ago, Kitty and Marvin, moved in to her grandparent’s home to live next door to her father.  She also has a sister that lives down the street.  “I know this area well,” she said. “Mr. Bensley had a big brick house up on the corner where the little store is today and a big farm on the river.  Marvin and I use to go down there when we first started dating and walked by the river.”

The Waldrops have spent a lifetime gardening. Twenty-two years on Wentworth Street, where they raised their three children, Chuck, Sherill and Rick, and over 20 years on Sherbourne.  “I grew mostly Dahlias, Irises and Daylilies over there,” she said. “Daylilies are my favorite.”

Kitty has always gardened and loved flowers. “My grandmother has a lot of flowers,” she said, “But not like what we have here.” Marvin has constructed a white picket fence to enclose the whole area in the back of the house and continues his work to the side area to eventually surround all the gardens. The white fence serves as a perfect backdrop for the hundreds of perennials in bloom. The Bee Balm is especially striking against the fence. Gates open to every section of the yard and neighbors are always welcome.

Daylilies are an important part of Kitty’s garden. She has lots of varieties and they are abundant in the beds surrounding the perimeter of the rear yard, and her favorite perennial also has a dedicated six-foot by 40-foot space by the vegetable garden. But you can tell she loves all her flowers and names them as she passes them  “Hot weather got to the daylilies,” she said. “Black and Blue Salvia – it surrounds the obelisk,” she said.  “Marvin built that.  He is such a good carpenter. Hummingbirds and bees love it [the Salvia]. Summer Flock. They smell so good. I love to smell them. Some have more odor than others.  The sunflowers are gorgeous. The birds seed them and they come up every year. The birds will bypass the feeders and come to them.”

The 14-foot high sunflowers are in the vegetable garden area.  Beautifully maintained and managed, most of the vegetables grow in raised beds. Cucumbers are trained to grow vertical on a trellis; beans, tomatoes and corn are grown in short rows to allow for a double harvest. Watermelon and sugar melons have volunteered themselves this year and the asparagus bed is showing its feathery foliage, kept to keep the ground cool and prepare for a fall harvest.

Every section of the yard has been dedicated to gardening. Marvin has a blueberry patch.  The trees provide an opportunity for a great shade garden and the east side of their home allows for a smaller garden with a path serving sun and shade plants.

The Waldrops have created a garden for every season. “We love to try everything,” said Kitty. “I think sharing is the most fun.”

“She is the designer and I am the digger and the weeder,” laughed Marvin.  The Waldrops celebrated their 56th anniversary a few months ago – on Marvin’s birthday. “She was smart to marry me on my birthday so I won’t forget it,” he said.

“We have a good life,” said Kitty. “Mother Nature and family. Six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.”

Kitty also belongs to the Green Acres Garden Club that meets the first Tuesday for each month at Beulah United Methodist Church at 6:30 p.m. “Everyone is welcome to join,” she said.

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