This spring, I talked with Mike Haby several times at our Airline store, and could tell he was very excited and proud of his garden. One day, I asked if I could come see it myself! We met on April 21st, a beautifully clear and breezy day. How I loved sitting and visiting with him in his shaded, private garden!
Mike lost his wife in October of 2014. Linda had received a confirmed diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) in August of 2013. He and Linda were married 33 1/2 years; she was a pediatric nurse practitioner, one of the first in Corpus Christi. They moved to Corpus Christi two months after getting married in 1982, and bought their current house on Donington in Brighton Village in 1992. I loved hearing how his backyard evolved during the following 24 years, from a play area for his family to a quiet respite for his wife and him, then to a peaceful view for his wife to enjoy in her final days. And today it is not only a bird sanctuary, but also a place of healing for Mike.
Clearly, he misses Linda a lot. He laughed as he told of his early gardening mistakes and successes, like buying a male Yaupon Holly from a discount house back in the 90’s. The mistake being that male Yaupons do not produce beautiful red berries (we sell only females)! One of his many successes included an extension of the concrete patio he built himself. Mike almost doubled his hardscape by laying 1’x1′ patio blocks, separated by 1″x 2″ treated pine corral boards that give the impression of tiles and grout. Before laying the pavers, he took his subgrade down 15″ and filled it with dry cement and play sand to create a very stable base. The patio is very good looking. I loved the dragonfly paver, given to him by a friend, in the middle of the patio.
In 2014, Mike hired Kathy Hubner, our very knowledgeable landscape designer at Gill’s, to create a landscape plan for his backyard. He knew the value of a design; his dad was a landscape architect. Kathy designed the landscape beds deeper and introduced beautiful curves that flowed with the existing trees and grade of the landscape. She selected plants that would screen his neighbors, creating a very private, beautiful garden. Some of her plant selections included David Verity Cuphea, Hannah Ray Bottlebrush, Blue Plumbago, Esperanza, Katrina Iris, Shrimp Plant, Variegated Ginger, Philodendron and Wax Myrtle. Mike keeps the beds mulched with hardwood mulch.
Years ago, Mike and his wife Linda bought 7 1/2 acres of raw land near Fredericksburg, north of Wildseed Farms. They spent many a weekend trimming trees, clearing land, getting ready to build their retirement home. Now two years since his wife’s passing, he’s ready to sell his home in Corpus Christi and make the move to the Hill Country that Linda and he had intended to do together. Mike is considering wind direction, how to catch the best breeze from the front porch, planting wildflower seeds, and deciding which native plants to include in his landscape. I can tell he’s getting excited about the plans for his new home. My visit with Mike gave me a great lesson in how to best maneuver through whatever life brings. He says Linda was a much better wife than he ever was a husband. I feel certain she would disagree.