Like rays of sunshine drenching her waterfront property, Laketa Langley showers her gardens with tender loving care.
All it takes is one glance at her Grand Lake garden and there’s little doubt this woman can really put down roots. “When you live right next to the water, you walk outside, see the lake, grass and trees; take a deep breath and what else matters?” she asks, admiring the view of her Patricia Island Estate property she shares with her husband, Tim.
After 16 years living in this lakeside community, the Langleys are no strangers to the area. “We’ve been coming here as far back as I can remember,” she says. “Actually, this is our second home. We built the first one and a doctor came along and bought it, so we decided it was time to design what is now our dream home.”
Tim, owner of Langley Quality Homes, can be credited with the construction of the 4,600-square-foot home, but it’s been Laketa’s astute attention to detail that brings this home to life.
“We always wanted a home with French Country or Old World style accented with lots of ivy. Once we settled on the design, Tim picked out the native stone and weathered brick for the facade and I did the decor, both inside and out,” she says.
Ten years later, the Langleys’ dream home is fully realized.
Laketa admits, “Initially, the house, sitting on 1.3 acres with 130 feet of waterfront, was pretty basic, except for the exceptional views toward Monkey Island.” Leave it to Laketa, however, to spruce up her property that now boasts bowers and beds of blooms that literally stop traffic.
“Everyone around here knows that I’ll nurture the scraggly, most disheveled plants. That’s just something I enjoy doing. It’s probably something I learned from both grandmothers, who were both inspired gardeners and taught me to love the outdoors,” she explains.
Come spring, you’ll hardly catch her inside, which is exactly what happened a decade ago when she was itching to get started landscaping her new home.
“At first, I bought a trailer full of azaleas and weeping Japanese maples,” she recalls.
That initial load led to red-tipped photinias that she planted along the sides of the house, plus dozens of geraniums followed by rainbows of colorful impatiens. She’ll admit the small evergreen photinia shrubs were a bargain at the time. “You should see them now — they’re nearly as tall as the house.”
Laketa and Tim installed a beautiful fountain featuring the pineapple design along the front walkway area then surrounded it with Jackson Perkins and Baby Blanket roses. Even at the front door, she’s filled a goat cart full of perky annuals.
With such a showy display of color in the front yard, the flower power had to continue into the backyard. Followed by her ever-faithful, four-legged gardening companion, Chelsea, Laketa typically can be seen hauling loads of geraniums. She routinely hosts 50 to 60 hanging baskets dripping with a palette of hot pink, white, coral and red blooms.
Amidst the oasis, Laketa and Tim decided four years ago they wanted a pool. Soon after, they followed up by building a stone fireplace. “Since we like to cook outside, the outdoor kitchen comes in handy,” Laketa says. “Also, it’s so inviting to spend time under the arbor on the patio. The west-facing exposure looks out onto the lake and is just about the perfect environment for all of the sun-loving plants, especially the geraniums that flourish in and around the patio and thrive in the heat.
“We also have petunias, hostas, 20 different types of clematis, stunning pink and white lilies, and an old oak tree that provides dappled light for our shade garden. We have four concrete urns surrounding the patio filled with asparagus fern, geranium, ivy and petunias. One of them, Tim fashioned into a fountain,” she adds.
Speaking of Tim, “You know, I do most of the watering, but I have to say, Tim is my ‘honey-do’,” she says. “Even though he doesn’t plant flowers and tend to them, he is in charge of anything I need constructed, hung or repaired. Without his help, my yard wouldn’t be nearly as pretty. The great thing is...he hardly ever says no!”
It’s not at all unusual for people to drop by the Langleys and give Laketa plants to nurture. Because she’s outside from the crack of dawn until dusk watering, pruning and weeding, people know they can count on her to tend to their castoffs.
The couple’s three sons lend helping hands, too. She thinks someday the boys will all have nice yards or gardens as well.
Looking over the entire area, Laketa mentions, “We love this spot, but the best of all are the sunsets — you just have to experience one for yourself.”
Her philosophy is simple: “Gardening is contagious. I haven’t had a neighbor yet who hasn’t caught the bug after living next to me. So do it. Leave a lasting legacy and hand down that gardening gene to your family. The worst that can happen is this world gets a little prettier, and the best that can happen is your life will be happier and peaceful. Gardening is its own therapy.”
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