Dennis and Mildred Carpenter’s backyard is a veritable buffet just waiting to be picked and eaten.
The Oakwood couple keeps several raised garden beds just outside of their backdoor planted with row after row of tomatoes, green beans, corn, strawberries, peppers, eggplants, squash and okra. An air-conditioned outdoor family room and a cook house provide a perfect, sunny place for canning, cooking and feasting on all of the fresh produce. Lining the gardens, walkways and two fountains are Georgia native rocks Dennis found while hunting deer. The fountains serve as a border between the hearty vegetable garden and a decorative flower garden and lawn. Making use of space, a long row of corn grows along the top of a 15-to-20 foot tall retaining wall.
Family members and neighbors often remark on how beautiful the home and garden is with its maze-like edible side and serene grass lawn flanked by grapevines.
Dennis said he and his wife enjoy entertaining at their home. They occasionally host church events in their 13-acre yard, complete with baseball field and basketball goal.
The couple has lived in the home for the past 18 years, and Dennis said it has taken almost as long to make his home and gardens so beautiful.
"It’s just a lot of work," he said. "It takes a lot of time to make things pretty the way you want it to look."
The acres surrounding their home and the workshop for their business, are used for the couple’s gardening hobby. A large field holds several scuppernong vines, blueberry bushes, a second "late" vegetable garden and a half-acre of sunflowers that boarder a watermelon patch. Dennis explains the thick boarder of sunflowers serve as protection from deer for the watermelon and a source of pollen for his many bee hives.
As three large bees buzz around a few flowering green bean vines, Dennis remarks on how beneficial the bees are to pollinating the prolific garden. While the bees are busy pollinating, they’re also making honey. Last year, the hives produced 350 pints of honey. With so much honey and produce, the couple often give away bags full of food to the friends and neighbors.
"Anybody (who) wants any beans or anything, we’ll give it to them," Dennis Carpenter said laughing. "We’ll give ‘em beans."
Dennis and Mildred have been gardening all their lives. Mildred laughed and said because of her maiden name she grew up on "Old McDonald’s farm" on McEver Road.
"I’ve been gardening for 50 years," Dennis said reaching up to a vine to check on some green beans. "I grew up doing it and I said I would never do it once I left home. And the first year, I planted a garden."
Mildred said she wasn’t blessed with a green thumb, admitting she sometimes has trouble distinguishing weeds from the more desirable plants. But that doesn’t damper her love of the garden.
"We like to sit out here when we can," Mildred said. "We just enjoy it."