FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Beth Peter’s backyard on the north side of Fort Wayne is full of color and full of life. Her big, beautiful garden, in which she grows different kinds of flowers and vegetables, is a labor of love.

“Oh yeah, you tend it, you nurture it, you weed, it, you pay attention, kind of like when you have a little one,” said Peter.

She remembers doing 4-H in Iowa where she grew up. It’s where her passion began.

“I just love getting my fingers in the dirt,” she said.

Now, years later, her love for gardening and fondness for flowers extends far beyond the walls of her fence. Beth Peter brings it to the people.

“[Flowers] are so powerful to change my mood by just a look and a smell and just a gathering of colors,” said Peter. “Okay, I can be a kind and gentle person when I look at that. How could you not?”

Credit: Beth Peter

Every few weeks or so, she hand-picks an assortment of flowers from her garden, arranges them in beautiful glass vases she buys from Goodwill, and leaves them on a small bench just outside her home. A sign accompanying the bouquets reads “gift for you.”

She admits it wasn’t an original idea. Before the pandemic, she took a bike ride on the Fort Wayne trail system and rode by a house that had a bucket of free flowers on its front lawn.

“I saw it and it just imprinted on me, it filled me with all these wonderful feelings and I was like ‘ahh I love Fort Wayne,’” Peter said with a smile. “What a community, what a caring family on the corner.”

Touched by the kind gesture, Beth decided she would pay it forward. She wanted to continue spreading the wonderful feelings that filled her heart when she stopped and picked up some of the free flowers.

“This year after COVID and feeling so alone and so lonely, I was out with my flowers and it just dawned on me, really it dawned on me, that like ‘heck yeah let’s just do that,’” she said.

Soon after, her garden blossomed into a source of joy not only for herself, but for people on the other side of her backyard fence. Beth Peter says she doesn’t do it for thanks or praise, she simply wants people to feel love and happiness.

Beth Peter’s backyard garden

“If someone drives by and they feel the calling of that powerful flower, they will stop and they will pick it up, just like I did, and we’ll share that love,” said Peter. “One fella even came to my door later on and he said ‘you know my wife loves flowers. I took your flowers home, she loved them on the table, and then we were gonna go see a person who is homebound and we knew she’d love those flowers so we took them to her.’”

Beth Peter is also offering some tips for people who are thinking about getting into gardening. She says:

  • Make a million mistakes
  • Look at pictures and homes for inspiration
  • Don’t be afraid to approach people about their gardens – they’ll love to talk and give tips
  • Start small with just a little bucket, a little dirt, and some seeds

She also gave insight on how she puts her bouquets together. She says she follows the “rule of 3” when choosing flowers, and always adds mint, catnip, or herbs to add to the aromatics.