Sharing the beauty of this summer at our Simple Serenity Farm


COOPER, Iowa, Aug. 2, 2014 — It has been a busy summer.

And right now in early August the fruits of my labor appear – in the vegetable garden for sure.  The sweet peas and radishes are done, but the cucumbers are now being picked, the zucchini is ready to fry, the beets (finally I’m successful with beets) are being picked, and the tomatoes are turning red (we need some more heat!).  And as is always the case my cabbage plants have way too many pest holes.  Sigh.

But the best part of the nearly perfect July weather we had is my flower gardens.  I can’t remember them ever looking so bright and fresh at the beginning of August like they do now.  Colors so vibrant they almost look fake, as Chuck pointed out to me the other day.  The phlox, of which I have plenty, are brilliant.  The lilies keep coming back, and the cone flowers, coreopsis, Russian sage, hostas, cosmos, snapdragons, petunias, geraniums – all spectacular.    Honestly, they all take my breath away.

Carla standing in phlox front garden vertical.JPG

Carla Offenburger standing among the phlox in her front flower garden.

Russian sage and more in a row.JPG

All varieties of the flowers seem to be doing well.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” is what I say every morning when I walk out the door on my way to work.  I’m betting your garden is having the same great summer, too.  What a blessing!

I’ve worked extra hard at my gardens this year because I had so many opportunities to share them with visitors.  I planted, weeded and hoed in anticipation of our guests for the June 14-25 College World Series when our Vanderbilt Commodores (from Chuck’s alma mater) ended up winning the national championship.  It was a whirlwind of fun in Omaha, but we had friends staying with us and others visiting, so I enjoyed having my gardens look good.  And that was really before anything was blooming!

Next up was 10 days with our daughter-in-law Maria Offenburger and granddaughters Lindsay and Casey, visiting from New Haven, Conn.  Those girls were great help in the gardens, weeding and picking bouquets for their mom.   They were here during the summer rains, so we fit time outside between showers.  But the result of those showers was the bountiful flowers now.

Girls in garden on July 4.JPG

Granddaughters Lindsay and Casey Offenburger in the patio garden on July 4, after they’d had their faces painted during the community celebration in the nearby town of Yale.

Then in mid-July, Chuck and I made good on an auction item we offered at the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association’s fundraising banquet last February – a picnic for 20 or so with home-made pie and live entertainment at Simple Serenity Farm.  The flower beds were all smiling by this time and it was a grand event out on the west edge of the front yard between the flower gardens and the vegetable gardens, where 20 some guests dined on pulled pork, loaded coleslaw, calico beans and five homemade pies – three with rhubarb picked from the garden the day before.  Our longtime bicycling friends Kent and Lou Ann Sandberg, of the Des Moines suburb Clive, purchased the picnic for their cycling group “Team B.A.D.D.,” with that acronym standing for “Bicycling And Drinking & Dining,” which is their fun monthly mission!

The best part of the picnic though was not the food, the pies, nor the gardens – but the entertainment.

We hired Angie and Robby Pedersen of History Boy Theatre in Jefferson to come out (stage and all) to do their 45-minute performance of “Oklahoma 2.” It is a condensed version of the Broadway hit’s storyline, but has all the show’s songs and nearly all the characters – performed and sung by just two people, Robby and Angie.  They are fabulous entertainers and the setting, with a bean field and an RRVT bridge in the distant background, was ideal.

BADD group here for picnic.JPG

With “Team B.A.D.D.” at the picnic we hosted them on a Sunday afternoon at the farm.  The day featured a bike ride on the Raccoon River Valley Trail, a full picnic meal in the yard, live entertainment from Robby and Angie Pedersen of History Boy Theatre in Jefferson, and then homemade pie and ice cream.

Robbie Pedersen singing & dancing.JPG

Robby Pedersen sings and dances to “Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City” while Angie Pedersen looks on from behind.

Carla peach pie with bicycle crust.JPG

Carla Offenburger holding one of the pies she made for the picnic, this one a fresh peach pie and note the special touch on the crust for the bicyclists.

We have been looking forward to the quiet days of August when our calendar isn’t so full.  We will enjoy sharing garden bounty and beauty with friends Mary and Art Seaman during their short visit and trip to the Iowa State Fair.  And then we’ll enjoy the time on our front porch watching the gardens grow.  It’s no surprise to us that the beans and corn across the road look like a bumper crop, too.

Life is good at Simply Serenity Farm.  I hope it’s good where you live, too.

You can write the columnist at or comment using the handy form below here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *