Torrential had just started to let up as we walked into Katrina Cheney and William Dick’s garden as a part of the Champaign County Master Gardener Garden walk in late June. Their property lies adjacent to the Park District’s Boulware Trail, which was mostly under water at the time of our arrival.
Katrina and William have transformed their large lot into a beautiful garden over the past seven years, centered around a large, multi-tiered koi pond. We spent nearly an hour at the garden, talking with Katrina and William about the garden, koi pond and their pet exotic birds.
Shielding my lens from the last of the raindrops, I began at the back of the garden, where an island of cattails split streams of rushing water on either side. Over the fence, we even spotted a soggy opossum that found itself stranded in the middle. Even on a rainy day, the annual and perennial border burst with color along a split rail fence topped with birdhouses on every post.
The back border slowly winds toward the northern edge of the koi pond, softened by small boulders, flowing grasses and water plants. The pond is home to more than 70 koi, all of whom Katherine and William impressively can identify by name.
The rain slowed enough that William brought one of their pet macaws outside to meet us. I’ve never been up close with a macaw for any length of time; its affectionate and inquisitive nature kept us enthralled as we conversed on the deck.
It was obvious that William and Katrina care passionately for the animals that share their home and garden, only reinforcing my belief that gardens are that place in the modern world where humanity and nature can blend into one.