Humid weather fails to take luster from July Garden

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The balmy, humid temperatures as of late have taken tolls on all things connected to nature, causing the region’s gardeners to take extra care in watering their work.

It was during this period of time that Michele Lorenzo and Jan Zamperini learned that their work — including taking an hour each evening to water, due to the lack of rain — has earned them the title of “Garden of the Month” for July from the Punxsutawney Garden Club.

“We were horrified,” since the weather had been so cruel, Zamperini joked.

But as the temperatures even out entering late July, the couple’s garden is flush with not only perennials and annuals, but other highlights that mark their property at the corner of East Mahoning Street and Rockland Avenue.

Lorenzo said she’s been gardening at her house for the last 10 years, and that even though the yard is small, she and Zamperini have been able to make the most of the space with a pavilion, a shed for supplies and a three-foot pool that was once merely a hole in the ground, filled in with dirt.

Zamperini said she hadn’t gardened until she started living with Lorenzo, who noted, “She has a natural green thumb.”

“I jumped right in, and Boo (Lorenzo) taught me everything,” Zamperini said.

“We just learn by trial and error,” Lorenzo added. “If we see something we like, we just try it.”

The rustic shed on the edge of the property — which also provides one end of balance for a hammock — is actually incomplete, but Zamperini said, “We just use it for Halloween to scare people,” referring to the elaborate Halloween event to which the couple invites local families each year.

Unlike other gardeners, Lorenzo said she does map out a plan for each year’s gardening projects. One of those has been sidewalks using yellow bricks from the former home of her grandparents, whose house was located near the former Mary A. Wilson Elementary School.

“We had a lot of bricks, but we were short,” she said. That was until a co-worker at her business, Punxsy Dental, provided her with some bricks from the same house so she could complete the sidewalk.

“I always have to have a project,” Lorenzo said. “It’s nice to have something from my family.”

Not only is the garden a quaint space for Lorenzo, Zamperini and their guests, but it is also enjoyed by their pets — which do a great job of fertilizing the lawn, they joked — and the bevy of wild animals such as birds and squirrels that they feed.

Even after 10 years, gardening is still a learning process, they said, and the biggest challenge is the upkeep.

“When spring starts, we start all over again,” Zamperini said.

Jaime Sherry and Wendy Santik nominated Lorenzo and Zamperini’s garden for the July “Garden of the Month” title.