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Making her garden grow

Velma Turner has a plan - and her eyes light up when she's talking about it.

Though it might surprise some people to see the 52-year old Turner sketching out the landscaping changes that she's going to make to her home by herself, the vision and the labor seem to flow out of her.

Like an artist adding color to an imaginary canvas, Turner points in the air towards the places where new transformations will occur.

She waves a paint-covered hand at the side of her trailer home near Orion and describes the upcoming changes to her yard. Fences, latticework and new bushes here, hanging pots filled with flowers there.

And she plans to do it all herself.

While out painting some cider blocks which hold pots of blooming flowers, she explains her attraction to making her yard more attractive.

"I really just like flowers and I think more color will liven things up," she said.

She points out a rose bush she's trying to save and describes the shrubs that she intends to plant alongside the road. Her young puppy, Shiva, looks on with pride at the changes going on around the house.

Turner said she had lived in the trailer for 16 years, but decided last year to begin some major renovations to the front yard. After illness sidelined her a year ago, she began the work in earnest two weeks ago. The results of those 14 days are astonishing.

She constructed plant holders, latticework for vines and flowers and set up numerous pots and flowerbeds throughout the yard. She's constantly on the lookout for new ornaments and materials with which to improve her yard.

"I find most of this stuff by the side of the road. People just throw stuff out: pots, wood, everything," she said.

As the oldest of 14 children, Tucker is used to taking charge and getting things done. She owns her own saws, drills and other tools and she knows how to use them. She also has a network of friends who keep her supplied with raw materials for her projects. Whether it's finding a good piece of lumber by the road or scavenging an old chicken yard for parts, Tucker stays stocked with the items she needs to make her home more beautiful.

She's fond of improving the items she finds, as well. She points out a metal butterfly decorating a flowerbed full of blooming buds and explains how she added a few touch of silver spray paint to bring out the highlights.

With 10 children and 15 grandchildren, she is inspired to keep her home looking good for family get-togethers. She cites her oldest grandchild, Denka, 14, as an inspiration to her.

She's planning a crop of turnips, collards, tomatoes, cucumbers, string beans and cabbage.

The greens and veggies will come in handy when the grandchildren come over for cook-outs in the back yard and, of course, playing games in the front yard that looks better and better as every day goes by.