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About the Author
Photos: The Early Garden
Photos: The Garden Today
Photos: The Garden Today

Photos of nature, edible landscaping and perennial gardening on the Sylvia homestead in this modern Garden of Eden, 27 years after planting the first tree.
The kids are grown and gone now, but the place continues to evolve and delight.

Photos of nature, edible landscaping and perennial gardening on the Sylvia homestead in this modern Garden of Eden, 27 years after planting the first tree.

The view of the empty soybean field now seen from the front porch of the house, includes this amazing orange rhododenron and, in the distance, a white dogwood, native to this region. The deer still visit regularly along with many other species of wildlife and birds. They find enough fallen fruit and nuts in the orchard that they never bother the ornamental plantings.

What was once an open space looking toward the lake is now a peaceful view under a canopy of maturing trees. It is filled with serene spots to pause and reflect on the love and wisdom that can be found everywhere in God's world.

The trees and shrubs that were once so small now provide sheltering deep shade for the abundant wildlife that shares this place. This Chinese dogwood is a favorite hiding place for the fireflies.

The fruit trees in the orchard now need to be heavily pruned each year and produce more fruit than we can use. The neighbors happily share our bounty and gift us with fresh eggs from their chickens.

Even though the orchard is filled with fruit and nut trees, Ed's original plan to improve the clay soil that had been farmed for so many years included the planting of trees like this golden locust, whose roots helped fix nitrogen into the soil. They also provide wonderful shade and beautiful views. For additional winter interest and wildlife shelter, he included evergreens.

As the soil improved over the years, other beneficial plants also volunteered  to live here. Ed has encouraged the wild edibles on the property, like this elderberry, whose lacy little flowers will eventually transform into dark, juicy berries that are great for making jelly or wine.

Not all the plants feed our bodies—some are here simply to feed our souls. A favorite heirloom plant are these peonies, which came originally from Sue's grandfather's yard in southern Illinois and have been transplanted to our place here, with an interim stop at our first house in suburban St. Louis. It's nice to maintain your family's horticultural heirlooms when you can. This fall, we'll share some plants with son Adam for his first house. We also grow Tiger Lilies from Ed's grandmother's farm in Long Island, NY. And son Edward nurtures a productive heirloom fig tree from the Azores at his home in New York.


Your own back yard (or the city park) is a perfect place to pause and reflect on the wonder of the changing seasons and the many miracles God provides for us each day. This brilliant little abstract is an intimate view of the stately white oak that now graces our front yard where there was once just open space. Take time to look closely at your surroundings and behold the miracles.