A vintage wooden wagon provides a rustic setting for a group of potted plants. Flowers include the pinks and purples of tobacco plants (nicotiana,) pink dahlias, and pale pink petunias, while fennel, front, and elephant ear (Colocasia,) to the rear, complement the flowers with green foliage. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By Cindy Hadish/for Iowa Gardener

FRANKLIN, Iowa – A pre-Civil War limestone house, historic stagecoach stop and various outbuildings provide a rustic backdrop for perennials, reseeding annuals and other plants tended by Lori Jarvis.

An artist, Lori adds creative touches throughout the acreage where she and husband Mike Jarvis live in the tiny town of Franklin, in far southeastern Iowa. A butterfly crafted from a metal wine barrel hoop swings in the open stagecoach building, paintings turn outbuildings into works of art and wine bottles and wind chimes sway from a male mulberry tree.

Lori Jarvis stands on a bridge in a wooded area of her home in Franklin, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Her artistic approach extends to the gardens, where daylillies create colorful splashes in the middle of a yard, potted plants form a picturesque scene in a vintage wooden wagon and furniture is strategically placed to view the wildlife that visits their pond and other outdoor spaces.

The two take advantage of what nature offers, using dandelions in salads, for example, and eating the raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries and more that grow in their woodlands.

Lori’s gardening philosophy fits with the relaxed rural setting. Seedlings from love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) and spider flower (Cleome) are among the annuals that find their way around the yard, while moonflowers (Ipomoea alba) provide an enticing nighttime fragrance. Even plants that some gardeners consider a nuisance are allowed to grow in certain spots, such as creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea,) which serves as a groundcover.

“I like it,” she said. “I want it to look more natural – not perfect.”

Pink spider plants (cleome) are among the annual flowers that Lori Jarvis allows to reseed on her acreage. The limestone house was built in the 1840s, with a “new” addition constructed in the 1860s. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

See more of this story and photos in the January/February 2018 edition of the Iowa Gardener magazine. Find extensive information on gardening in Iowa by subscribing to the Iowa Gardener.

Read about other great Iowa gardens:

Water garden in Cedar Rapids

Hosta heaven

Historic South Amana garden

Wanda Lunn grows new and old in harmony

Daylily gardens in Central City

Secret shade garden

Sunlight filters through a variety of plants left to seed at the end of a gardening season. Gardener Lori Jarvis allows her annual plants to reseed and prefers a natural look to her acreage in Franklin, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)