Photo: Valdonia Melton stands with her Glencoe Beautification Award designation in front of her home on July 12. See 5A for more photos. (Emma Kirkemier/Messenger)
By Emma Kirkemier, News Editor
While many are looking for a way to beat the Alabama heat this summer, one local resident has found “serenity” in landscaping and gardening in her own front yard.
Glencoe homeowner Valdonia Melton was presented with the Glencoe Beautification Award on July 12. City officials and Glencoe Beautification Board members commended her hard work on her home.
“This is my passion,” Melton said. “I love it. This is my serenity. When I’m in the yard, it’s just peaceful and calm.”
Looking at Melton’s front yard, one could see suggestions of that serenity in every detail.
Her green lawn was punctuated with blooming crepe myrtles and manicured rose bushes. The grass gave way near her driveway to small flower beds, marked with stepping stones.
The one large oak tree adjacent to Melton’s driveway provided shade to her visitors, in addition to drawing their eyes to the plants and flowers that encircled it at regular intervals.
The real centerpiece, however, was Melton’s front porch, which was built onto the front of Melton’s home a few steps above her lawn. Bordered neatly at the bottom by trimmed bushes and at the top by hanging ferns, Melton had a small, shaded oasis.
Melton explained that she enjoys the comforts of her home as the result of her own hard work. Melton has been gardening and landscaping for practically her entire life.
“My mother, she was a yard person,” Melton said. “I remember coming up, I never did work in the yard, but I loved the yard.”
Both in her childhood and today, Melton noted that she has a real penchant for being outside. She sometimes stays out in her yard for six or seven hours at a time.
“Seriously, I stay outside more than I stay inside,” Melton said. “There’s something about being inside that’s like I’m closed in or something.”
Melton added that when she isn’t working in the yard, she enjoys sitting on her porch in the evenings to “get [her] peace and quiet.”
Melton prioritizes caring for her plants organically.
“Most of the time, I like pulling weeds with my hands because I don’t like using chemicals,” she said. “I got it from my mother.”
Melton has been known to help guests and family who come to take pictures of her yard and glean inspiration from her.
“I don’t mind sharing, and I go around to people’s house[s] and help them set up sometimes,” she said. “I don’t charge. I just help them is all, (when) they don’t know what to do.”
Melton’s yardwork has long been appreciated by her neighbors and friends.
“Everywhere I have lived, my neighbors always have told me I should get the beautification award,” she said, laughing. “But I guess no one ever really pursued it.”
Melton has lived in her Glencoe home for seven years. It took her about two years to finish the majority of the landscaping, doing “a little something” here and there. Melton accomplished the beautification of her home entirely by her own efforts.
“This was a blank canvas,” Melton said. “I planted every flower, every tree, every rosebush, everything.”
Melton noted that she even singlehandedly moved the rocks and mulch used to line her driveway and flower beds.
“I didn’t have it hauled in,” she said. “I did it little by little in my car.”
Melton’s her rose bushes, which total 22 counting her front and back yards, are her favorite plants. She explained that they mimic her own landscaping strategy: she cares for them little by little, but with unwavering consistency.
“I said when I was smaller, ‘If I ever get enough land, enough property, I’m going to put as many rosebushes on it as possible,’” Melton said. “They’re easy care, and I love them, but you have to keep working at them. Because if you don’t de-bud them and keep them up, they won’t do well. You have to work at them.”
Despite all her efforts and her recognition by the Glencoe Beautification Board, Melton’s work never seems to be done. She always seemed to have a new project at the ready to improve her home.
“I just stay at it,” she said.