Salted with Sharks

A Garden for Young Girls in Flower

In Calendar, Green Elbertians, Open Season on July 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Sue King’s husband, Bob King, bought the lot on the corner of Bigley and Glen about 15 years ago. He eventually decided, as a gift to Sue, to put in a spur off the water main and give her a section to grow a garden in.

The other day when this reporter came walking down from the bluff, after having gotten a bit lost collecting garlic mustard for my rabbits, I came upon Sue and her friend Kari in the garden finishing up after a session of weeding and cutting blooms. I had been wondering who was responsible for the beautiful, neatly kept stands of roses, daisies, lilies, and peonies. We chatted a bit and it came to light that the bouquets Sue creates here have a special purpose.

Sue King in her flower garden on Bigley and Glen

“Ron got a little frisky with the edging, see that?” said King as she showed me around the neatly mowed expanse with its curved sections of orderly plantings. In the northeast corner of the lot is a small vegetable garden tended by the Stapleton family. The peppers, tomatoes, squash, and rhubarb are thriving. Sue praised their efforts, especially compared with last year when, Kelli Stapleton avows, she had no idea what a weed was.

Last year Sue, a retired nurse, raised a total of $1,200 through flower sales to donate to a friend with cancer. This year’s bouquets will go toward hospital and transportation bills for 15-year-old Zoe Bone, who recently underwent brain surgery. Another portion will help defray care costs for Issy Stapleton, who has autism. “There’s a lot of heart in this kind of fundraising,” Sue says. “It’s a just dollar here and there but then, it’s not just a dollar.” She showed me some of the jars and vases ready to be filled with roses and astilbe. One couple she knows orders three bouquets a week for three weeks. Another arrangement was set to go to Paul Oliver, and one to the Coho Café.

Sue started selling peonies for charity from a cart while she was working as a nurse in Traverse. At one point she made over $800. A supervisor was in the middle of scolding her for this sideline effort when the hospital director came by and enthusiastically purchased a bouquet.

Sue lives in Frankfort but loves her Elberta garden home, especially all her neighbors—even the kids who used to run in and play ball in the yard as soon as she would leave. “We’re renegades here,” she says, “but we look out for each other.”

Later on that day on 168 I ran into Kelli Stapleton, who was on her way to Kilwin’s with her kids. “I heard you need weeds for your bunnies! I just dropped off a bucket full of them!” Sure enough, when I got back home, a pile of tasty mystery plants, certainly weeds, was waiting there.—Emily Votruba

A fundraiser will be held for Zoe Bone’s medical and travel expenses this Tuesday, July 12, at Mineral Springs Park from 6 pm to 9 pm. Brats, popcorn, cotton candy, and other refreshments will be available for a $5 donation. A silent auction will be held from 6 pm to 8 pm. Music will be provided by the Trinity Lutheran Praise Band. For more information on volunteering and details, contact Kennedy MacGirr at 231-651-0808, Mariah Hull at 231-651-0014, or Rick Stieve at 231-944-8499.

  1. Gosh I have to say, it is amazing what people can and will do for others. I have always admired Sue King for her spirit under some very difficult circumstances. She is very special!

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