Tatiana Deters is dressed in her bee-keeping attire and shows a screen covered in honeybees.
Tatiana Deters is dressed in her bee-keeping attire and shows a screen covered in honeybees.
From edible landscape to beautiful, fragrant flowers, to a trickling waterfall and a peaceful view of the property from a stately memorial - the property around the Tatiana and Dennis Deters home in rural Spring Grove is truly breathtaking.

When the Deterses purchased and moved to the property in 2001, the land looked much different than it does today. The maple tree and tall spruce trees near the house were there, but the rest of the trees, the pond, the gardens and other landscaping were put in by Tatiana and Dennis.

Tatiana grew up in Russia and as a child she helped her grandmother and mother in their garden, but at that time she wasn't very enthusiastic about helping out, she explained with a little laugh.

It wasn't until after she and Dennis purchased the property in rural Spring Grove that her interest in gardening really grew. Now she has a large garden with a wide variety of produce as well as many other aspects of her landscape that provide edible fruits and nuts.

"I really enjoy working outside and being able to provide healthy foods for my family," Tatiana commented. "I enjoy reading about different plants and learning how to grow them."

When entering Tatiana's garden, one walks through an arched grape arbor that is heavy with vines and fruit. The garden is neatly laid out with timbers separating each area.

"I wasn't really planning on making a Russian garden, I was just doing what I like, but people who have been in Russia and then visited my garden have told me that it's looks Russian," she shared. "I use a bed system that is very typical in Russia, instead of long straight rows. My grandmother had raised beds in her garden years ago."

The plants in her beds are not all one type; she practices "companion planting" meaning the plants that are grown next to each other help each other grow, help prevent pest problems and help attract beneficial insects. For example, she has cabbage and fennel together, and in another bed she has carrots, beets and onions. Her garden contains a wide variety of vegetables and herbs including corn, eggplant, peppers, tomatillos, watermelon, artichokes, asparagus, basil, tomatoes, green beans, parsnip, garlic, lettuce, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and cantaloupe. She even has a unique plant that was well known in medieval times - borage, also known as starflower. The flowers can be eaten in salads, but bees also love it, which is a benefit for the garden for pollination plus it helps her honeybee hives.

"It is fun to run out to the garden and get something fresh to eat for dinner," Tatiana said with a big smile. The garden also stocks her pantry for the winter. She cans and freezes a lot of produce to be used in the off-season.

Along the fence line of her garden, Tatiana has some unusual looking trees. She has pruned these trees in espalier fashion. This is the practice of pruning and tying branches to a frame so that they grow into a flat plane. Tatiana has done this with a couple of pear trees and a few apple trees.

"When the trees are flat like this there is more air circulation and it helps the tree produce nicer fruit," she explained.

Along the driveway, Tatiana has a nut orchard, as the family likes to call it. They have English walnuts, hickory nuts, hazelnuts and pine nuts. Not all of the trees are mature enough yet to produce nuts, but many of them are.

In amongst the nut orchard they also have raised strawberry beds, including an alpine variety that is everbearing. There are delicate white flowers on these plants, which, in not too much time, will give the family another delicious fruit to enjoy.

Throughout their property the Deterses also have a variety of unique trees and bushes that provide fruits and berries for them to enjoy - it is truly an edible landscape! These include cornelian cherry, seaberry, American persimmon, paw paw and aronia.

Tatiana knows each and every one and the nutritional benefits from each. Her knowledge of all her plants, shrubs and trees has come from reading and researching information.

"I am learning all of the time about the many different things," she said.

"Sometimes I plant things and then learn about them," Tatiana added with a little laugh.

She also has beehives. She has three producing hives and three splits (these are "newer" and are still building up their hive).

"My brother in Russia has bees and he got me interested in them. When you're gardening you realize how important bees are to your garden and how it grows. My bees are doing their job of pollinating the orchard and garden and in return they give me a little reward of honey," she said.

Wandering around the property eating bugs and trimming the grass are three geese and a spectacular peacock. There are also chickens scratching in the ground and providing the family with a variety of colorful and nutritious eggs. They also have three turkeys and some young guinea hens.

The Deters' home is bordered with beautiful, fragrant flower gardens. Beyond the flowers, the home looks over a peaceful pond that Tatiana and Dennis created. When they purchased the property, there was a swampy area with a tiny creek. They excavated the swamp, moving about 100 loads of dirt to the adjacent hillside. The hillside had been bare rock prior to digging out the pond, but with spreading the soil on the hillside, they were able to plant trees on it.

Tatiana and Dennis together, using a hand-cranked concrete mixer, made a small waterfall that helps aerate the pond, which is good for the fish. They also made a small walkway all the way around the pond, the bridge that leads to the hillside, and the stone wall that was created using stone from a quarry in Houston.

Standing serenely on the hillside that is accessed by the wooden bridge is a white marble gazebo. The gazebo is made from white Peking marble imported from China. It has a custom-made nameplate above its entrance. It is a memorial to Dennis' daughter, Heather, and his father, Lloyd. "We wanted something that would last a long time to remember these two very special people," explained Tatiana.

The view of the Deters' home and property from the memorial is calming and beautiful. The pond quietly exists with the wind gently blowing across its surface creating gentle ripples. The trickling of the small rock waterfall can be heard in the distance. There is some activity of birds near the pond, an occasional kitten wandering along the path, and the sound of the peacock or chicken clucking. But it is a peaceful busyness as nature's activities naturally happen.