Laura Dean Bennett
Louise Barnisky has long been known for having one of the greenest thumbs in Marlinton. Her burgeoning vegetable gardens were an annual triumph of hard work and shrewd gardening skills.
The vegetables that came out by the bushel not only went into her cooking, canning jars and freezer, they were also generously distributed around the community.
In her front yard, the flower beds were a glorious profusion of proud irises and brilliant lilies, colorful gladiola blossoms and sweet smelling roses which made Louise’s home the summer showplace on her street.
It was not unusual to find Louise hard at work digging, trimming, weeding or harvesting every day except Sunday, which was set aside for worship at her church – Huntersville Baptist.
“I’ve always enjoyed growing things, and I tell you, I just love flowers,” Louise said, as she looked out the window of her room at Pocahontas Center.
She pointed out a large deer feeder that her son, Thomas, and grandson, Johnny, installed for her and the other residents’ viewing pleasure.
“The deer come right up there,” Louise said. “I love watching them. And so do a lot of other people here.
“Boy, those deer know when that feeder timer goes off! They must listen for it, because as soon as that feed comes out, here they come!”
This past year, Louise moved into Pocahontas Center and has found that she’s quite happy there.
“I’ve made lots of friends here,” Louise related. “It was my decision to move. I just knew it was time, so I decided to try it for a while. And I haven’t been sorry I did.
“They’re good to me here. Everyone is so nice. And I’ve been happy with the food,” she added with a laugh.
This is high praise coming from a lady who, besides being a consummate gardener, has long been known as one of our community’s best cooks and a talented baker.
Besides cooking, baking and gardening, Louise loves her family.
They are the focus of her life.
But gardening is a close second.
And now she’s taken an interest in gardening at Pocahontas Center and has several of her friends there, digging in the dirt with her.
With a $100 gift from her friends in the Marlinton Woman’s Club and a few other private donations, Louise bought flats of flowers to be planted in the flower beds and flower pots at the Center.
The Center’s social worker, Sharon Moore, Brenda Cagel of the admissions office, and Lisa Robertson, restorative aide, were Louise’s assistants – and they were on a mission.
Louise and her team went on a shopping trip to the greenhouse on Droop Mountain and Buckeye Country Mart in search of plants.
The baby plants and potting soil were brought home to the Center where several residents and employees joined Louise in getting them in the ground last Friday.
“Everyone at the Center helped at one time or another,” Center Activities Department employee Donna Shearer said.
“We had a ball with it. Employees would take their lunch break or any minute they could, to help with the project.
As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work.”
“It only took about three or four hours, and we had it all done,” Louise said. “The long flowerbed along the front walk needed something.
“We put lots of different flowers in there, and we planted zinnias in the flowerbed in the backyard and then, at the front door, we put petunias in one planter and pansies in the other one.”
As we were inspecting the flowers, Louise lamented that they looked like they really needed watering, but how would she be able to water them regularly without a hosepipe nearby?
Before you could say “Jack Robinson,” here came Mike Thomas, the maintenance supervisor, with five gallon buckets of water.
As Louise and Mike hugged, she said: “I told you everybody here is good to me!”
Following the success of her first botanical foray, Louise is looking forward to continuing her gardening at the Center.
“We’re going to have to be watering and weeding these flowers. And deadheading some of them, too,” she said.
“I’ll be needing a lot of help keeping up with them.”
Finding help shouldn’t be a problem.
“It was worth a million dollars, to see how much our residents enjoyed being outside and working with those flowers,” Shearer said.