Thuro-ly Living

Text reproduced from: Page 58 San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles May 2000 Issue

a_SDHGTitle1 (2015_08_25 12_01_50 UTC)A BACKYARD PARADISE is WILDLIFE’S HAVEN                      By Judy Wigand Photography by Bob Wigand

Vine-covered arbors, a cascading waterfall and rustic birdhouses hanging from  tree limbs are all part of the essential elements found in Barbara Thuro’s Backyard Wildlife Habitat garden in Vista. Gardening always has been a keen interest of Thuro’s. Her property of more than half an acre was home to raised vegetable beds, fruit trees and flower-filled borders. It wasn’t until five years ago that she decided to re-landscape the majority of her backyard. Her main purpose was to eliminate all the lawn areas and the chemicals it took to maintain them.

She sought help from Brian Morse of Expanding Horizons in Vista to design and install the hardscape. The slope of her property had some serious drainage problems that Morse was able to resolve. Thuro’s desire for a pond gave him the idea to dig trenches and install drainage pipes in the same location where the dramatic Koi pond exists today. Water spills gently into the pond from a recirculating waterfall, its edges filled with santolina, society garlic, evergreen junipers and lacy ferns. Before reaching the pond, water lazily flows over the flagstone path. Thuro often notices the wet footprints of raccoons and other small creatures that have taken this passage during the night.

Across from the pond is a rose-laden arbor, an inviting entrance to the sunken garden. Feverfew surrounds the garden’s edges and steps lead into a quiet existence where only the sound of water can be heard in the distance. This is where Thuro spends much of her time. She loves this part of the garden to work and entertain guests. It separates me from the rest of the property, as if I were going into a different room. I feel at peace here, she says.

Another arbor formed from curved arches of rebar is covered with vines blanketing the stairway that leads into the lower garden. The thick growth consists of only two vines Hardenbergia violacea,  which has purple flowers in winter, and Distictis Scarlet Trumpet Vine, which blooms from spring into summer. This gives a shady alcove and shelter for the many birds that need a protected place to nest.

The sound of water is met once again in this part of the garden with a gentle flow spilling from an urn held by a statuesque figure. Water falls calmly into the large rock-faced fountain below. Birds enjoy flying from the vine-covered arbor and surrounding trees to refresh themselves in their little part of paradise.

Thuro’s fondness for birds dates to when she was  years old. She remembers attempting to fill her father’s birdbath with warm, soapy water. I just wanted the birds to enjoy a warm bubble bath. Fortunately my older brother caught me in time, she recalls.

Organic gardening always was high on Thuro’s list as a natural safe approach to growing her own vegetables and fruit. Now that her landscape is redesigned she has applied this approach to her entire garden.

Wishing to educate herself on building nutrient-rich soil, Thuro attended a demonstration on worm farming given by a master composter from Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas. The instructor also gave advice on how to establish a backyard wildlife habitat. The main requirements were to make available food.

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