Words by Andrea Darr | Photo by Josie Henderson
Nature is a healer. Poppies, cosmos, coneflowers, coreopsis, Indian blanket, Mexican hat, bachelor’s button, black-eyed Susans, zinnias and larkspur emerge quite readily on their own in this half-acre volunteer garden behind a Merriam industrial park.
“We bought the original seeds right around ’94-’95,” recalls Dierk Van Keppel, a glassblower who commutes to work past this little slice of nature via a foot trail from his home to his warehouse. The property was homesteaded in 1898 by the Meyers family along Turkey Creek, off what is today I-35 and 67th Street.
Due to a bad back and arthritis, Dierk has had to give up some activities he loves—including gardening—but the garden hasn’t given up on him. The flowers return year after year, and so do the monarch butterflies.
“It’s absolutely beautiful; I’m happy to be in my own world here,” Dierk says.