Hope sprouts eternal along Glenview street
Tracey Duda designed her Victory Garden to be a little spot of beauty in these hard times
It's not a vegetable garden like those that cropped up during World Wars I-II. Tracey Duda installed her garden figuring we've got our own battles.
Her decorative Victory Garden for the Soul, on Pleasant Lane in Glenview, is literally centered around hope in these hard times.
"I felt that I needed to do something given the crazy shape our world is in right now," said the retired sales manager, wife, and mother of two adult sons.
She started to build her front-yard garden plot in March and April, when the COVID-19 pandemic had most everyone and everything in lockdown. Crucial to her efforts, home improvement stores were deemed essential businesses.
Dominating the 8-by-24-foot garden are capital letters spelling "HOPE." The "O" is in red New Guinea impatiens and shaped like a heart. The other letters are done in white impatiens.
The lettering is slightly raised and angled for easier viewing from the street. To Duda it symbolizes, in part, the hope for an end to the pandemic.
"It's such a simple word, and we're not aware of how often in everyday life we use that word," she said.
She used low-growing creeping thyme to fill in the bed, Irish and Scottish moss around the red impatiens, and yellow calibrachoa -- like mini-petunias, Duda said -- to line the garden's borders.
In addition, she and her husband, George, and sons George (not a junior) and Joby researched and ordered small flags of every member of the United Nations. They attached those flags on top of the salmon-colored wall that contains the garden.
"This just dawned on me," Tracey Duda thought to herself as she drove down empty streets this spring, "that this is not just the United States, it's the entire world."
That added poignancy as she watched a man search long and hard for his nation's flag. When he found the flag of Belarus, he got "choked up," Duda said.
The interactive aspect of the garden is part of the point.
"We've had many moments like that with the people who have immigrated in recent years looking for their home flag," she said.
Other moments they'll look back on and laugh. A truck delivering 10 yards of rich soil got stuck in damp grass and had to be pulled out by a tow truck. George Duda and the boys ended up shoveling the dirt into the garden plot, and the deep tire ruts needed repair.
"That was a disaster," Tracey Duda said.
Though the garden has matured, she called it a work in progress. She's considering lights for Halloween and Christmas. She ordered small, white flags for people to write the names of loved ones lost, and post them in the garden.
Many neighbors have left appreciative notes there, too, or in the Dudas' mail box.
She continues to tend her garden for the soul, using scissors when needed to trim things back. She will adjust as the weather turns.
"Cold weather's going to hit, we still have the COVID, so I think about what I can do for the different seasons," Duda said. "I intend to try and do something to keep the theme going."
Current events -- "the sadness and the division and the racism," she said -- provide plenty of inspiration.
"At this point," Duda said, "it's not just about COVID."