The love of gardening: The gate

By Linda Workman Smith - Multi-County Master Gardener Association
The gate.
Longtime Shawnee resident, Ted Tyler, celebrated his 100th birthday Nov. 1.

Our backyard adjoins the backyard of this fine gentleman. We met Ted Tyler and his wife Jackie in the fall of 2000, soon after buying our Two Acre Paradise here in Shawnee, Oklahoma, USA. 

Ted and I became acquainted through gardening…and dogs. Ted had several raspberry plants that had popped up near his row. He asked if I would like to have them. Never one to turn down plants, I of course accepted. Two years after planting my 30’ row, I harvested 30+ pounds of raspberries. They continued to produce well for several years. But, alas, Oklahoma weather is not kind to raspberries and I no longer have them. As I write, I’m wracking my brain for the variety. 

Somewhere along the way, Ted mentioned having a gate between our yards. We had an old chain-link gate that we had removed from a fence that separated the yard proper from the remainder of the 2 acres when we moved here. Ted volunteered to install.

Our older dog, Gillie was fond of eating the raspberries. I remember an occasion when Ted and Jackie came through the gate to check out our berry patch; you see, Ted’s gift of his excess raspberry plants prompted my desire for more! Sweet Hubby and I went on to create five more 30’ rows; three were for blackberries, three for raspberries. Anyway, on this occasion, Jackie was pointing out the ripe, ready to eat raspberries to Gillie as she had not seemed to discover the difference.  

I also have a desert willow tree and a chitalpa tree in my landscape that Ted started from cuttings, as well as a multitude of black-eyed Stella d’Oro lilies from Ted’s yard.

After Ted and Jackie became acquainted with our dogs—Gillie and Luther—Ted kept a jar of dog treats near the fence that separated our properties. Gillie and Luther soon took advantage of the situation; after breakfast each morning they would make their way to the back of our two acres and wait for Ted.

One winter I spied a brightly colored ribbon near my back door. Upon closer inspection I found that it was the flimsy plastic  lagging tape used by utility companies and various contractors to mark certain locations; it was 20-25” long, was broken, had a bow tied in the middle, and an envelope attached. In place of a stamp, “dog mail” had been written. It was a Christmas card from these precious neighbors, Ted and Jackie Tyler!

Luther was just a puppy when he met Ted. The two developed a friendship over the years; Luther left us at the age of almost 12 years. Ted had high praise for him; he told me, “Luther was a gentleman.” Luther is buried just a few steps from the gate.

Over that gate we have had lots of good conversations. 

Could not wish for better neighbors!

As always happy gardening.