Lillie Golay’s Garden of Serenity

Writer & Photographer / JJ KAPLAN

Each of us has a place that we go for a peace of mind. For some of us, it may be a far away place that we dream of at night. For others, it may be a place close to home. For one Carmel resident, her place of serenity is right outside her doorstep in the harmony of flowers, birds, trees and fountains.

Welcome to the garden of serenity of Lillie Golay.

Lillie and her husband, Dave, enjoy the peace and quiet of working in their bounteous garden that surrounds their home in Village Of West Clay. According to Lillie, “Flowers always make people feel better. “ She adds, “I could never live where there aren’t flowers, as they are a symbol of life.”

With more than 100 species of plants, she delights in nurturing hostas, daisies, hydrangea, sunflowers, hibiscus, mandevilla, cornflowers, along with her private grape vines. The perennials are scattered throughout the flowerbeds, and annuals are confined to the pots.

Which is better— perennials or annuals? Both have their uses in the garden. Annuals are great for places where you want a lot of flowers, but they generally need more watering, fertilizing and other care than perennials. Planting them every year can be a chore, too. Perennials have a steady structure and form to a garden. Many gardeners delight in the anticipation of waiting for their favorites’ bloom time. Along with the flora, her gardens are filled with fountains and a dry bed stream. At every turn on her slate walkway, another glimpse of beauty abounds.

Living among the flowers are a wide array of birds, ranging from hummingbirds to goldfinches to chickadees to purple headed finches to doves to cardinals to red headed woodpeckers, which the Golays enjoy feeding every day. The birds, in turn, propagate the various types of flowers, especially the sunflowers that dot her pathways.

As a young girl, Lillie watched her mother tend to her own gardens and enjoy working in nature. It was a hobby that Lillie passed down to her own daughters years later and together they enjoy sharing their gardening adventures and triumphs. She even hosted a tour to the Zionsville Ladies Garden Club recently.

“My favorite thing to do in the morning is take a cup of coffee and stroll the garden, Golay says. “Watering here and there in spite of the underground irrigation system. I find it relaxing to give them my own bit of water.”

Lillie admits that her soil is poor for growing plants, as it is mostly mud and clay. Most gardeners agree that success is in the soil. Good soil — not too sandy, not too sticky, with enough organic matter to make it drain well and be inviting to plant roots — is essential for successful flower gardening, just as it is for vegetables. Lillie finds it necessary to add potting soil before planting her precious seedlings to give them the proper nutrients.

“I am looking forward to taking the Master Gardening Class offered by Purdue University this month, she says. “I know that I can learn more about soil enrichment and look forward to learning even more about plants.” To learn more about the Master Gardening Class, visit

Pause for a moment to find your own place of serenity. Whether near or far, take the time to nurture your place of peace and rejuvenation. Sometimes it takes effort to enrich the soil and to water our dreams in life. But in the end, fruits of our lives will be much richer and rewarding.

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