Originally created 08/18/00

Imagination turns obstacle into dream

Jimmy and Debbie Morris know all about frustration and hard labor.

After 25 years in their Overton Road home, they were frustrated by the steep slope of brush and mud in their back yard, which led to Raes Creek.

They learned about hard labor when they started renovating the property.

They began by laying 14 steps down the slope, which was the end of what they call "the path to nowhere."

"I love to name the areas we have created in the yard because after you spend countless hours of hard labor on something, they become very personal to you and you feel like you've got to name it like a pet," Mrs. Morris said.

The path to nowhere winds through the bistro, a narrow strip of side yard with a small brick area, a perennial bed and a bistro table.

The Morrises are good friends with their neighbors, Harry and Teri Jacobs. To make the trip between the homes easier and quicker, they constructed "the path of least resistance." It was the first of several joint gardening ventures with the Jacobses.

The neighbors created a pond on a level, common area of the back yardand painted flagstones on the concrete around the pond.

The pond was the first of many ideas to transform the back yard. "When I stopped viewing our terrain as an obstacle, completely downhill and small areas, my eyes were opened to the infinite possibilities," Mrs. Morris said.

Soon, the original 14 steps became 44 steps.

The path cut through the back leads to the friendship garden, where the Morrises laid concrete slabs adorned with handprints and signatures of their friends. "What's more important to Jimmy and me more than anything in the world are our friends and what they've done to help us achieve this," Mrs. Morris said.

One of seven retaining walls forms the back wall of the friendship garden. It houses a shade garden with lots of ferns.

A 6-foot-long bridge leads to the oasis, a raised platform for a fountain Mrs. Morris bought for their wedding anniversary. The path was elongated to reach the Jacobs' property and was named the French Connection.

They also have sodded the few open spots and have rooted ivy to cover the steeply banked areas.

"Once you realize there are no rules, anything is possible," Mrs. Morris said. She has lots of creative ideas and an encouraging husband. "He gives me a lot of freedom to do just what I want to do."

Friends of the Morrises frequently donate items or energy to the projects. Mrs. Morris and Mrs. Jacobs are working on a cutting garden on the Jacobs property.

The Morrises spend most of their time outside now. "At least the house stays clean," said Mr. Morris.

They have many more plans for the property, including the addition of a playhouse and a reflecting pool with a bridge in the front yard.

The Morrises say the property is becoming their dream home. They have laid tile throughout the home, had a mural painted on the living room wall, constructed a deck and made the garage into an outdoor recreation room.

But it's the yardwork that makes the property special. "Honey, I fell in love with my yard this year. You can't make me move," Mrs. Morris said to her husband. "Everywhere I look every day, I realize that there are too many memories for me ever to leave."

Reach Valerie M. Rowell at (706) 823-3351 or newsroom@augustachronicle.com.


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