|In Rusty and Cora Bruch’s yard in Shreve, Ohio, their three children climb, swing, swim, and explore surrounded by flowerbeds their parents planted long ago. Claire, Joseph, and Meredith have been crawling among billowing perennials since they were babies, patting waterlily pads, picking flowers, and sniffing pungent herbs.
“Can you imagine being 5 years old and every plant is bigger than you are?” Cora says. “Wouldn’t that be great?”
The Bruches’ sophisticated garden, planted with perennials of
nearly every description, was established before the children were born. “We love to garden and we love to work with plants, and that’s where it all evolved from,” Rusty says.
Though the garden is distinctly grown-up, it incorporates plenty of kid-friendly spaces. For example, the Bruches turned a white-flowering lilac into a climbing tree. Rusty made a wooden swing set from a kit he
bought at a lumberyard. “We
wanted to make it look like it was part of the garden,” he says. When Claire and Joseph were toddlers, Rusty laid a crazy-quilt patio of sandstone scraps from a local quarry. A gracefully winding path of the same material leads into the garden. An old cistern has been converted to a lily pond, and brick-edged, raised beds are planted with annual herbs.
“We look at our backyard as a way of being creative,” Cora says. “I want [the children] to get into it and get dirty.”
Even after a day in the garden, the children don’t track mud inside. A hot-water spigot in the yard
encourages cleanup, and a small pool is rolled out of the shed and filled with warm, soapy water, just like a bathtub. “They get out and we wrap them up in a towel, and into the house they come,” Cora says.
Sheltered by a lilac, the Bruch children are growing up in a garden full of daylilies and daydreams, on a diet of mud pies, stick soup, and sandwiches served on a sun-warmed, sandstone path. “They are pretty lucky,” Cora says. “They have it pretty nice back there.”