Halloween melds with history at this fall yard of the month
Look for the Tin Scarecrow at 2418 Blake Ave. to enjoy a front porch and yard decorated festively for fall and Halloween. Paul and Mary Anne Taylor’s log home was built in 1948 by Mary Anne’s father, Leonard Rippy, from trees harvested on the Flat Tops. It has been selected by the GWS Garden Club as our Fall Yard of the Month.
Mary Anne and her family have a long history associated with the New Castle and Glenwood Springs area. As a child, Mary Anne even lived summers in a cabin on the Flat Tops at a sawmill her great-grandfather started in the 1920s. Her grandfather and father continued operating that sawmill for many decades.
When Mary Anne was 4 years old her family moved into this log home now on Blake. At that time it was in the country near Glenwood Springs. No other homes nor businesses were in the area. You need to picture that the city limits for Glenwood then ended at 12th street. You should also picture that Grand Avenue was lined with trees on both sides of the street, and there were houses all along it. The area where her home is located was surrounded by pastures and sage brush, with some scrub oak on the hillside behind the home, Mary Anne explained.
In 2008, following her father’s passing, she and Paul moved from New Castle into her historic childhood home. They and their children could not accept the idea of selling this home holding so much family joy and history. The Taylors have lovingly maintained and remodeled the home adding the porch, where Halloween greets visitors among antiques from the sawmill and her parents’ collections.
Standing beside mums and just steps from the driveway, Pumpkin Head, the tin scarecrow, greets visitors. Look for the scarecrow as you drive down Blake between 23rd and 27th streets. Stop by to enjoy the old-fashioned extensive yard with rose bushes, which were brought over from her grandparents’ yard in New Castle decades ago, plus now huge elms and spruce trees planted when the log home was built in the ’40s.
Hold on to the cedar handrail Paul made, and observers are invited to walk farther up the yard or along the walk way to have a closer look at the autumn decorations, which embellish the front porch. You may hear a small barking dog in the backyard, but the humans welcome you to look closer at their many antiques hanging on the walls and sitting in corners. They have been collected by generations of the family with additions by Mary Anne, who loves to garden and also explore and shop for unusual yard art and antiques.
The seasonal decorations add color to the rusted metal and aged wood of all these antiques, which of course have many stories to tell. One metal jerry can (old Army gas can) is telling an unexpected story as it was repurposed to have a jack-o-lantern face. The opening in the back is perfect for placing a large candle at Halloween.
On the porch an almost human-sized witch is flying haphazardly in the breeze. She’s been with the family for numerous Halloweens.
“She’s been hanging around a long time — so long that her stockings are faded,” Mary Anne shared with laughter. A tall broom sits by the front door signed “If the broom fits, ride it.” Sometimes it gets used.
An arrangement of dried corn stalks with a black crow standing guard rests on a post. Pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn and potted plants such as flowering cabbages and mums sit in antique metal potato baskets and wooden wagons.
In contrast to the antiques and more traditional fall decorations, a large contemporary wreath of many fluorescent colors hangs merrily by the front door.
“Those pesky local tree squirrels are challenging me this year,” quipped Mary Anne. “They keep gnawing on the pumpkins and gourds.” It’s evident that Mary Anne enjoys decorating for this season.
The early heavy frost destroyed many of her plants early, too. But Mary Anne’s love of decorating for all the seasons just sent her shopping for more fall plants and pumpkins.
She’s used to many challenges of a different kind with this shady property. Only certain plants survive. Thus movable potted plants, window boxes, plus shade-loving foliage are planted during the growing seasons.
Looking around Glenwood there appears to be fewer homes with decorations and flowers this time of year. Despite the early frost, Mary Anne’s home is an exception.
“It’s my favorite time of the year. Fall colors change so quickly. It seems more precious because you know it won’t last long,” she aptly explained her choice.
A little bit philosopher and a lot gardener and local historian, Mary Anne is a wealth of smiles, knowledge and information about Glenwood.
“Because I’ve lived here forever. I started kindergarten here and graduated from GSHS,” she explained.
She temporarily left Colorado for college in Arizona, worked in California, married and soon moved back to the valley.
“I remember coming over to this house to help Mom with the gardens, which covered the whole side yard on the other side of those elms. We planted produce galore and had fruit trees. Of course we canned, froze, and dried what we grew.”
The Taylors enjoy the memories, sharing their time with friends and family, travel and being involved in the community. “We are honored that you chose our yard.” The GWS Garden Club is honored that Mary Anne is an active member of our group serving on committees and hosting special events.
We look forward to featuring more yards next spring, summer and fall. Recommendations from residents are greatly appreciated. Please tell any Garden Club member or contact Ann English at 970-948-6184 if you know of unique and exemplary yards that beautify our community.
Ann English is past president of the Glenwood Springs Garden Club and a member of the Yard of the Month Committee.
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.