By Kevin Kelley
We say “tuh-mey-toh,” Lynne Hannibal says “tuh-mah-toh.”
Nonetheless, the English-born Hannibal, along with her husband, Michael, is the first-place winner in the vegetable garden category in the 2013 Westlake in Bloom gardening contest.
The 20-by-50-foot plot that holds the Hannibals’ vegetable garden was originally built five years ago as a fenced-in pen for the couple’s English settler. But after the dog decided it liked staying indoors with the family, Lynne decided to grow vegetables there.
Located behind an unattached garage at the Hannibals’ Dover Center Road residence, the vegetable garden provides a quiet oasis even though the couple lives on one of Westlake’s busiest roads, Lynn told West Life.
“I love to be out here,” she said.
Lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli and herbs, including cilantro and oregano, are among the plants grown by the former schoolteacher. Swiss chard, eggplant and peppers have done best in this rain-heavy summer, she said.
The entire garden is organic, with fish emulsion used as a natural fertilizer. Allowing the plants to grow to seed attracts good bugs and butterflies, Lynn said, which keep the bad bugs out. Lynne used a broken bird bath to build a toad house; the amphibians dine on harmful plant-eating bugs, she said.
The Hannibals and their five children love eating fresh vegetables from the garden, Lynne said.
“The broccoli doesn’t even taste like grocery store broccoli,” she said.
Tall sunflowers in the rear of the garden attract birds, preventing them from eating seeds. While West Life was visiting, golden finches and a hummingbird visited the garden. Luci, the Hannibal’s white British domestic short-hair cat, is also at home in the vegetable garden. Several deer could be seen in the woods at the rear of the Hannibals’ property.
“To me, this garden is as much for the wildlife as it is for the vegetables I grow for my family,” Lynne said.
Two scarecrows stand guard at the rear of the fenced-off pen.
“They do seem to keep the deer out,” Lynne said of the scarecrows.
Lynne, who moved to America in 1973 at age 13, has used her creativity during the two years she has cultivated the vegetable garden. Old plates serve as borders for sections of the garden, and an old sink holds red leaf lettuce plants.
Lynne has been gardening since she was 20, but until two years ago focused on flowers and shrubs. She and Michael, a Fairview Park native, also won first-place in the vegetable category last year, and placed second in the century home garden three times in earlier Bloom contests.
Not a member of any garden club, Lynne said her gardening skills are largely self-taught.
“I love going to Porter Library and reading the gardening books,” she said.
The Hannibals plan to retire from the Westlake in Bloom contest to leave room for new gardeners; however, Lynne said she would like to serve as a judge in future years.