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Home grown

With patience and determination, a Tennessee couple work from the ground up to turn their acreage into a gardener's paradise.
Ilona and Jim Wooten love to stroll through their 6-acre property. They have lived there since 1967.

Paradise at home

There's nothing like living in the country to bring out the do-it-yourself attitude in homeowners. That's what Jim and Ilona Wooten discovered when they moved to their 6-acre home in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. "My husband just fell in love with it," Ilona says. "The first time he saw it, he said, ' I want a house right here.' "

Jim says he was struck by the lay of the land and the high-quality soil. That sudden inspiration led him to design and build a 3,000-square-foot retirement home made from prehewn logs. Gardening, however, is the couple's true passion, and the acreage provides a huge canvas for planting.

The Wootens had grown vegetables and flowers at their previous home, but that land didn't come close to what their acreage offers. The couple's gardens and landscaping now cover 4 1/2 acres.

Jim, a master gardener, creates all of the landscaping designs. His method is different from the approach many gardeners use. Instead of sketching out his designs, he makes them in his head as he walks around his acreage. "I'm a gardener who doesn't do what he is supposed to do," he says. "I walk through a piece of property, and I can see exactly what I want to do with it."

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