Pollie Hahn brings splash of color to daily life
Hampton resident Pollie Hahn has filled her backyard with a variety of blooms, like many spending time in her garden as an oasis from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Though she wasn’t a lifelong gardener, 90-year-old Hahn became interested in the hobby after joining her daughter-in-law on garden walks throughout Omaha.
“Every summer they would have garden walks and some of them were so elaborate,” she recalled. “I thought it would be kind of fun and when I started the kids helped me.”
A lawn remodel became the perfect time to change the landscape in her backyard. Hahn had a berm added to the middle of her yard and planting areas around the edges.
She noted that she doesn’t have many of the original plants that took up residence in her yard all those years ago, but she has worked to grow established plants for a longterm floral display.
The ever-changing landscape of her garden has been a surprising guessing game for Hahn. She has found that from year to year, she never knows what will bloom and what might grow.
“I have a mystery this year in my berm,” she said. “I’ve got all these little white miniature daisies. I’ve never had that and I’ve never planted one. Then all of my phlox aren’t there, so you never know.”
Hahn’s garden consists of almost all flowers, with a couple of tomato plants mixed in. At one time she said she grew vegetables when her children were little, but she doesn’t anymore.
“I used to do vegetables when I had kids,” she explained. “I usually always had tomatoes, green peppers and cabbage. I didn’t have good luck with carrots, something always ate them.”
She aimed to grow veggies that she knew her kids would not only eat, but enjoy eating.
Her garden has also brought around some unexpected visitors. Hahn noted that in the evenings when it’s quiet cardinals can be seen flying around her yard.
“I even had a toad that hopped out real close,” she said. “He sat there as long as I sat there. Then the next night I was sitting here and there was a rabbit right by my feet.”
While she sits outside and enjoys her hard work, she has found that
some plants have stood out to her for their beauty, ease of care and resilience.
A standout is her hibiscus plant with its red blooms. She noted that her plant has been easy to grow and comes back every year.
“My brother-in-law lived in New York and he was telling me that they had some and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll try those,’” she recalled. “Sure enough they have these great big red blossoms and they’re easy to work with.”
Pointing over to the rocks around her home, Hahn has found that despite the stony and dry conditions flowers still grow there every year.
“I think they just like it there,” she voiced. “It’s hot and sunny and you have to have a few flowers like that for a little more variety.”
One of her other favorites that weren’t quite in bloom this summer is her hydrangeas. Normally she reported that purple and white blooms can be seen throughout the garden, but not this year.
She recalled that last year she had large and colorful blooms, only to have no purple flowers in sight so far in 2020.
“The truth is sometimes flowers look good one year and the next year they don’t,” Hahn said. “Hot winds of course are hard and hydrangeas can be temperamental. They can decide they’re going to grow and then they can decide they’re not going to.”
Lessons she has learned about the plants surrounding her home have been selftaught, though she noted that she gets many tips and tricks from listening to Backyard Farmer.
“I get good ideas about treating insects, watering and about when you should trim and when you should not trim,” she said.
To help reduce the amount of time she has to spend outside, Hahn primarily plants perennials. Drawing the eye of anyone who passes by are yellow daylilies
“My daylilies are all yellow or a darker yellow,” she described. “I have some that if you look at them closely they’ve got dark brown in the middle. It reminds me a little bit of a butterfly. They’re kind of pretty, but I didn’t plant them that way.”
Hahn was able to showcase her hard work in 2016 during Hampton’s garden walk. She recalled how 60 people came to enjoy her flowers.
“It was fun,” she said. “I had people register so I had 60 people come, which was pretty nice.”
Putting in the work
Having a lovely garden
doesn’t happen overnight. Between planting, weeding and watering many flowers take a lot of care. Hahn has found that while the end result is great to look at, weeding is her least favorite part.
“I don’t like the weeds and I don’t look too close because I have some weeds,” she said. “If it’s a cool morning I’ll sometimes go out early in the morning and just weed because you’ve got to keep ahead of them if you can.
“It’s something you can sit and enjoy when they look the way you want them too,” she continued. “It’s not relaxing for me to get out and weed, but if the ground isn’t really hard and the weather is cool I don’t mind.”
Working in the Nebraska heat was an adjustment for Hahn, who grew up in northern Iowa in an area that got a lot of rain.
Throughout the years, she has tried her hand at a variety of plants. Two flowers stood out to her as options that were more work than they were worth. She noted that roses were too much work between insects and fertilizing.
“I used to plant tulips, but I gave up because they were pretty expensive for each tulip bulb,” she said. “They were quite beautiful and then the next year they weren’t quite so big. They were a disappointment to me and they bloom early and don’t last, so I gave up on tulips.”
While Hahn has found that an established garden can take care of itself, cleaning it up in the fall can be a challenge.
“You know I’m 90 and I can’t do everything I used to do,” she explained. “In December I’ll be 91 and getting up is harder, so it can be a problem.
“I can say that gardening is enjoyable, but it is work you have to tend to and I certainly am not the perfect gardener,” she concluded. “It’s a nice pastime, however don’t take on more than you think you can handle. If it’s your hobby and you enjoy it and find things that you really like, try it because it can be fun.”
‘I can say that gardening is enjoyable, but it is work you have to tend to and I certainly am not the perfect gardener.’
‘The truth is sometimes flowers look good one year and the next year they don’t.’