BY JENNIFER CROWLEY
Spend some time in Scottsville around this time of year and if you aren’t intrigued by the historical architecture so visible on Rochester Street, or lulled by the lush green canopy overhead on Browns Avenue, then possibly the sheer number of well-tended gardens may catch your eye. They certainly did mine when I first moved to the village in 2011. As someone who lacks a green thumb and any interest in obtaining one, I find pleasure in other peoples’ labors of garden love.
Given the variety of local gardens within walking distance of my own home, I decided a spring/summer series on these beauties was in order. But where to begin? To answer that question I turned to Richard King Leroy and Jim Lesch. These longtime Scottsville gadabouts happen to have magnificent green thumbs as evidenced by the closest thing to a Victorian garden I’ve seen. After some consideration, the gentlemen literally pointed me in the direction of Kathleen Rick (she lives just doors down from me).
Many around town know Kathleen as a yoga instructor – she teaches a class geared towards elders to help maintain their strength and mobility. I first met Kathleen earlier this year when I toured the Wheatland Senior Center where she works. She’s an energetic and bubbly 64-year-old and frankly now it all makes perfect sense she is the caretaker of a garden I’ve admired all these years.
Earlier this week Kathleen was gracious enough to talk to me about her hobby and why it brings her such joy.
JC: So, what’s in your garden this year?
KR: Lots of perennials, a few annuals, Redbud trees, a Lilac bush, lots of other shrubs, a fountain (and hopefully another one soon), some conifers, lots of Hostas. I’m hopeful to plant some vegetables if it ever dries out!
JC: How has the wet weather affected plants this season?
KR: Well, everything is getting a much slower start than normal, but on the bright side, the spring flowers have lasted way longer than usual and it’s amazingly green everywhere that I look!
JC: What is a safe bet to plant around here?
KR: Hostas do really well in our clay soil but honestly I haven’t really had problems with anything.
JC: So, how did you get your green thumb?
KR: Inherited. I grew up on a farm in Branchport. We grew many crops, including grapes. My mother tended a one+ acre veggie garden, along with lots of flowers.
JC: What are your favorite flowers and plants?
KR: Hmmm, that’s a tough question! I’m never ceased to be amazed by the variety of flowers, their growing habits, what happens when they self-seed, and so forth. I guess my favorites would include Solomon’s Seal (a perennial), and I love Beebalm for all the critters that it attracts, and then Bleeding Heart for its intricacy.
JC: What do you do when you aren’t teaching yoga, at the Senior Center, or in your garden?
KR: I’m a Master Gardener with Monroe County Cooperative Extension. We are affiliated with Cornell and do our best to beautify and educate our community. I am also active with the Henrietta Garden Club. I served as its president for six years but now I coordinate the annual plant sale and manage publicity. I’m thrilled to say the sale was last week and our club netted $3,060 in 5 hours!
JC: Who has a garden that you envy?
KR: Gardens always fascinate me because each one is so individual and personal. I always tend to enjoy those planted and managed by homeowners over those maintained by a service or a gardener. Anyone can hire someone! My favorite anywhere is on Winton Road North, owned by Jerry Kral. He has done all of the work himself and it’s on a completely different level than anything that I’ve ever seen. More locally, you can’t beat the serenity you feel touring the oasis that Jim (Lesch) and Richard (LeRoy) have created.
Know a garden or a green thumb worthy of a visit? Give me a shout!