Printed on: July 24, 2013

Garden Guardian

By CODY McDEVITT
cmcdevitt@postregister.com

A fierce July 16 thunderstorm peppered the flowers with rainfall at Donna Amundson's house on Springwood Lane.

"Now after this rain, we're going to have a crop of weeds," she said. "They just love the rain."

Amundson knows all about weeds -- the nemesis of her beloved garden. She is the recipient of the Idaho Falls Garden Talk Garden Club's Good Neighbor Award. She won it because her garden impressed both her neighbors and people in the club.

At 78, she has more endurance than most gardeners half her age, according to her 83-year-old husband, Paul. She spends eight hours a day in the yard.

"Long time ago, I realized she was a 'worker worker,' " Paul Amundson said. "I just call her an old German Lutheran. They're all the same. They work. She comes from a hard-working family."

Amundson repairs things his wife has trouble with in the yard, such as hoses, valves and sprinkler systems.

Donna comes from a Minnesota farm family. She and her 74-year-old sister, Sandra Kruger, who lives with the Amundsons, learned to love gardens by helping in their mother's garden when they were children. The sisters often reminisce about their mother when they're tending the yard together.

"We thought she was a grand lady, and a hard worker. I guess we inherited that," Kruger said.

There is a food garden on the right side of the house where Donna harvests raspberries, beets, gooseberries and strawberries. There are apple trees in the back. She gives the apples that fall from the tree to the food bank.

"I don't know why people go hungry because it's so easy to grow stuff," Donna said.

The rest of the yard is filled with an array of irises, simplicity roses, climbing roses, daisies and cupid's darts. Most of the flowers are perennials, which means Donna doesn't have to replant a new bed every year. Amundson plants about $50 worth of annuals a year, she said. She started from scratch, and though she couldn't put a figure on how much she had invested in her yard, she estimated it was upward of $10,000.

Amundson described her gardening style as experimental. She tries certain things, and if they don't work, she tries something new.

"She's an artist. They're never quite content," Kruger said.

The garden stands out on a street where neighbors mow one another's lawns if they're unkempt. Children in the neighborhood call her house "The Pop" because the kids think it is as good as Popsicles.

Donna's garden dazzled neighbor Sonia Adelman, who also is secretary of the Garden Talk Garden Club.

"It's a joy to walk by," Adelman said. "It's amazing to me because I can barely keep up with my stuff."

Reporter Cody McDevitt can be reached at 542-6751.