Lodges Receive City’s Ninth Spirit of Union Award

You could say gardening is Norma Lodge’s second career. Mrs. Lodge retired in the early 1980s from her job as assistant to the president of United Theological Seminary and was considering best ways to spend her new-found time. “I was visiting Aullwood Audubon Nature Center one day and saw its beautiful herb garden and thought, ‘This is it.’ ” She knew then she wanted to devote her free time to gardening.

Her passion has paid off in many ways. Mrs. Lodge and her husband, Bob “Tuck” Lodge, are the ninth recipients of the City of Union’s Spirit award, which recognizes Union property owners whose yards exemplify extra-special beauty and care. She says she takes great joy in creating an exterior landscape that is pleasing to those walking or driving by her home. She also says she’s found gardening does wonders for the human body and spirit.

Mr. and Mrs. Lodge moved to Union three years ago when they built their present home at 365 Rinehart Road. For many years, they had lived on a three-acre property at the other end of Rinehart in Clayton. There, they had a half-acre vegetable garden, a half-acre pond, a large herb garden, and flowers “all over the place,” Mrs. Lodge said.

She and her husband decided to downsize and selected their present one-third-acre lot in Union. “We liked it especially because of the mature evergreens bordering the back of the property - including blue spruces and a hackberry tree,” she said. Today, those evergreens provide the perfect background for a well-tended shade garden that includes hostas and impatiens and a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. Mr. Lodge built a swing set for that area of the yard. “I have to give him a lot of credit - I couldn’t do all of this gardening and yard work without him,” Mrs. Lodge said.

Mr. Lodge is retired from General Motors and worked part-time at Hine Hardware when the store was located in Union.

The backyard also includes a variety of other perennials. Mrs. Lodge loves hydrangeas and owns the “Annabelle” variety - “Annabelle was my mother’s name, and I just had to have those,” Mrs. Lodge said.

A wrought-iron fence borders the entire backyard, which provides an elegant enhancement to the landscaping as well as keeps the Lodge’s dog, Cocoa, within the yard. Throughout the backyard are ceramic figurines such as turtles and frogs.

Near the back patio is an herb garden with a fountain nearby. “You want your herb garden near the back door, just steps away from the kitchen,” Mrs. Lodge said. She has made vinegars seasoned with the herbs from her garden, as well as used the herbs in her cooking. “The flavor is just wonderful!” she said.

The backyard also holds a sizable vegetable garden. Small rocks that the Lodges unearthed when preparing the soil for landscaping are today used to line flower beds and a dry creek in their yard.

The front yard includes hostas and impatiens as well as a kidney-shaped flower bed blooming with petunias and salvia. Close to the house is a variegated purple iris. On the front porch are potted geraniums and an antique bench. A decorative plaque that her son gave to her for Christmas hangs on the porch. It says, “I would like for you to come in. My flowers would like to meet you.”

Every morning, Mrs. Lodge likes to “dead-head” the flowers and in the evening the Lodges water their many plants. Every 15 days, she fertilizes the plants. Mrs. Lodge said she’s continually moving things around to achieve certain landscaping effects. Every year, the Lodges add more perennials and annuals.

Mr. and Mrs. Lodge, who raised two sons in the area, have been long-time Northmont residents. They have four grandchildren.

As for the Aullwood herb garden that first inspired Mrs. Lodge over two decades ago - well, Mrs. Lodge today is one of the caregivers of that garden. She joined the Aullwood garden club back in the early 1980s and continues to volunteer her time there. “I’ve learned so much from the other women in the club,” Mrs. Lodge said. “I find gardening so enjoyable. It’s almost like caring for a baby.”

The Spirit of Union award recognizes property owners whose yards exemplify extra-special care. Business owners also are eligible for the Spirit award. The award was established and winners are selected by the City’s Park Board. To make nominations, please contact the City at 836-8624, or email your nomination by visiting the City’s Website at www.ci.union.oh.us/spirit.html.

The first recipients of the Spirit of Union Award were Jerry and Shirley Hissong in 1997. The second recipients of the award were James and Marilyn Goodman in 1998. In 1999, there were two recipients: the Kessler Family (Debi and Ken), who received the third Spirit award; and the Harper Family (Darla and Scott), who received the fourth award. In 2000, there also were two recipients: Chris and Tim Van Atta received the fifth Spirit award, and Greg McFadden and Rosemary Broderick received the sixth award. Dave and Joy Aran of 106 Deubner Drive received the City of Union’s seventh Spirit of Union Award in 2001. Sarah and Michael Pace of 101 South Old Mill Road received the eighth Spirit award in 2002.