The Times West Virginian

May 16, 2012

Country perfection

By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Some houses are just made for the country.

They look vibrant surrounded by the bright colors of spring.

They’re enveloped by the lush greens of summer.

They fit right in with the riotous splashes of fall.

And when it snows in the wintertime, their stately elegance takes your breath away.

Debbie and Doug Williams live in such a house on a 59-acre farm deep in the Wetzel County countryside near Pine Grove.

“We purchased this property in 1999, and we were told by the real estate agent that it should be torn down and a new house put up,” she said.

“Well, needless to say, that didn't happen.”

It definitely needed work. The roof on the front porch was sagging. The upstairs had not been used “in years and years.” There were bats in the attic.

But it had charm and was worth working hard to save.

“In my book, older is better, no matter what you have to do,” she said.

So she and Doug got busy, tearing down the wainscoting ceilings to expose the beams. They frugally reused everything they could “to get it to where it is today,” she said.

The exterior had been grey shingle material. Now, the original clapboards are exposed and painted.

Their country retreat looks just the way it was always meant to be.

And now that spring has arrived, the landscaping has come alive with color.

Forsythia bushes planted 10 years ago for privacy now form a colorful bright yellow background.

Periwinkles and daffodils add to the color.

Bright spindly flowers adored with showy deep pink blossoms scream for attention.

She calls them, naturally, “pinks.”

“I’m not sure what the real name is,” she said. “I remember my grandfather had some, and he called them ‘pinks.’ They’re one of my favorite flowers.

“If a flower is pink, then I own it,” she said.

One day she heard a loud buzzing and discovered a swarm of wild honey bees covering a tree limb. She scrambled as close as she dared to take a picture.

“They were swarming in the air, and the noise was amazing,” she said. “They stayed about an hour and them swarmed and traveled across to the neighboring woods. I followed them as far as I could. It was an amazing sight.

“I was glad to have seen it. Mother Nature is truly amazing.”

The 59 acres isn’t really a farm, though.

“We had a cow in the fields. He’s gone now. We plan on getting another one. But we have ducks and things like that,” she said.

“We grow vegetables for our own use ... when the weeds don’t take over,” she said with a chuckle.

Last year they grew volunteer pumpkin gourds.

“I had a bag of seeds in my greenhouse, and mice chewed a hole in the bag and scattered the seeds. There was a huge plant in the garden, and it just took over.”

She lets them be.

“They volunteer to grow here, to they deserve to grow.”

Her garden isn’t ruler-straight.

“It’s not perfect,” she said. “It’s just wherever I plant and what comes up. It’s not prim and proper. Let’s put it that way.”

One of the jewels of her yard is the stream they put in leading to their pond.

“We mulched this whole big area,” she said. “Doug brought a pond home, and it looked like it was just sitting there.

“So we had this little pond and we wanted a stream to go through it,” she said. “We didn’t want the pond to just sit there.”

So, ever resourceful, they took an old barrel and old cast-iron sink and jerry-rigged them to form a stream that flowed down to the pond, complete with waterfall and everything.

“We looked up different streams. Even though it’s not going downhill, it’s more or less flat. One took flat land and made a stream. I liked it and thought I’d give it a shot.

“So we hauled all the rocks out of the creek and built the stream. We put up a little fence. Nothing fancy. And we started building from there.”

The water rushing over the rocks in the stream creates a soothing, comforting sound. The stream also creates a play area for their grandchildren.

“There’s a wide rock where they can sit and put their feet in the stream if they like.

“We keep adding to it. Last year was our first year for it. This year, we added plants like moss and cattails.

“So far, it’s looking pretty good.”

Every Wednesday through June, Take 5 will be strolling through our readers’ lush gardens. To have yours featured, contact Debbie Wilson at 394-367-2549 or

Email Debra Minor Wilson at