Dorothy Shockley still remembers summer suppers at her grandparents’ farm. “Of course, the homemade tomatoes were the highlight, but also, black-eyed peas, squash, fresh onions and strawberry shortcake,” she says. “I’m sure meat was served, but I don’t think I ate anything but vegetables.” In the Depression, her grandfather supported his family with a truck farm. “So my dad grew up working that farm.”
In the 1970s, you’d find Dorothy and Tommy at the end of their driveway selling corn they had raised on a one-acre plot on his family’s farm. To supplement his income at Central Power and Light, Tommy would bring their produce to the office to sell.
Dorothy’s garden reflects her love of fresh vegetables. It’s no wonder that to this day she would rather have a perfect summer tomato than a bouquet of flowers.
She concedes some space to drought-resistant perennials around the front drive. A large sugar barrel fountain is placed in ‘Coral Beauty’ cotoneaster, Italian cypress, ‘Kaleidoscope’ abelia, daylilies, skullcap and ‘Feed Back’ bearded iris. She is intrigued by wire vine, a groundcover that spreads with a mat of wiry stems and tiny round leaves along a dry creek bed of river rock. The front door plantings in purple and orange include ‘Lance Leaf’ coreopsis, Angelonia, coneflower and dwarf ruella.
But the side and backyard gardens are reserved for vegetables, herbs and compost. “Our landscape was designed to give as much space as possible to attractive edible gardening,” she says. When the Shockleys moved to their new house four years ago, they removed almost all the builder’s landscaping, including 12 trees.
The Cedar Post garden, punctuated by a bottle tree and cannas, is filled with five compost and shepherd’s bins. In the backyard, visitors shouldn’t miss a darling fairy garden made by Dorothy and her granddaughter. The adjacent “pinwheel” garden is chockfull of eggplant, ‘Celebrity’ and heirloom tomatoes, peppers and strawberries. Dorothy’s latest project in the three year old garden is a large east bed of okra, cantaloupe, thyme, sage and Mexican mint marigolds.
“Welcome to Dory’s Garden” says a sign in the backyard. Indeed, visitors might be treated to a perfect summer tomato.
Click here for full garden tour information. The Dallas County Master Gardener Tour is this weekend!