Louella Huff, 92, moved to Washington from South Dakota in 1946. Her father was a farmer and always wanted to live here, tired of not having his own land.

Louella, or Lou as she goes by, is really glad about the move since she inherited her father’s green thumb while accompanying him in the garden as a kid.

“I love it. I love to work outside, it’s good therapy. When you get upset you can go out there and pull weeds and stuff. I just like it,” Huff said about gardening.

Huff lives in West Valley, off Tieton Drive. Though her front and back yards are small, Huff makes the most of the areas.

Flowers such as marigolds, zinnias and snapdragons adorn the spaces between bushes and trees. Bursts of color in varying heights catch the attention of neighbors and people driving or walking by. Three bird feeders attract hummingbirds, finches and bigger birds.

“The lady across there told someone ... ‘I don’t have to plant flowers in my yard. I just sit on my porch and look across the street,’” Huff said.

In the backyard, more flowers grow along the side of the house, requiring more shade than others. It’s also where Huff has a vegetable garden, growing small crops — some in raised planters to ease the difficulty of gardening with arthritis in her knees.

“In my garden I have various things, like I have potatoes, some cabbage that the worms liked this year, and onions,” Huff said. “I have beets, I always raise radishes but of course they’re gone. And my onions, I’ve harvested some of them already to dry. Oh, and I have beets and I have some zucchini and cucumbers and tomatoes.”

Huff’s daughter, Alix Huff, mentioned the size of the cherry tomato planted last year in her mother’s garden.

“It was something I’ve never seen before, nor has my mother seen it before. It was enormous, huge. And getting into it, to try to get fruits, it was like I was going into a jungle,” Alix said.

Standing up to show the height and width, Alix motioned her hands above her head and spread her arms as wide as she could.

“I’m not exaggerating. It was this wide. It was funny. It was ugly, but it was just, ‘Here. You want some tomatoes?’ ” Alix said of the giant plant’s produce.

Huff never planned for it to grow that big. It just went hog wild, she said. “It was incredible, it really was. They were delicious, too.”

Maybe it’s because Huff encourages her flowers and plants as she’s planting them.

“I plant a plant and I tell it, ‘You know what happens if you don’t grow? Up you come.’ When I work in them and they look like they might not make it I tell them, ‘What did I tell you when I planted you?’ ” Huff said.

“But I do, I talk to them and I’m sure the neighbors hear me sometimes and wonder what in the world is she doing.”

Huff battles red clover in her yard and talks to it, too.

“If you don’t pull the root, it comes right back. It’s mean, but they get threatened a lot. They don’t listen. But my flowers do; I don’t have to pull many of them. They get the hint,” Huff said.

Huff doesn’t preplan her gardens. She plants tulips and daffodils and fills in the holes with other flowers.

“I just plant things. My roses, I kind of try to (plan). I’ve got one here” — she points to the backyard — “and then I’ve got them up front, but I don’t have any reason for planting them where I plant them,” Huff said.

Alix calls it a work of art. Every year the garden is different. And the artist gets cranky if she can’t go outside.

The heat makes it hard to garden, but she goes out earlier in the mornings to get her work done. Her indoor chores come first, however.

“I go out and putter in the yard, or if I have house housework to do, I do that first because once I get out there, I don’t come back. Time just goes,” Lou said.

She doesn’t like planting seeds or using gloves.

“I never plant, hardly ever use seeds because I hate to watch, wait, until they grow, so I always buy plants,” Huff said. “I cannot wear gloves. I have to feel what I’m doing.”

Feeling the soil between her fingers, Huff feels more connected to her garden. “It’s just good therapy,” she said.

Lou will turn 93 on Aug. 27. The only things that keep her inside during the gardening season are the heat and her arthritis.

“My mind says I can do it but my body says no. ... I think that’s the hardest part. You know, I tell myself I can do it and then I try and so I keep a five-gallon bucket by my side if I need help to push myself up,” Huff said.

Huff used to kneel on the ground but she can only do that now for a limited time, and she doesn’t like to sit while she’s working. So when she’s not kneeling, Lou bends from the waist.

“So now the neighbors get the benefit of my behind,” she said.

While not in her garden, Lou likes to watch television, do word-search puzzles and cheer for the Seattle Mariners. And of course, tend to her indoor plants.

Alix points to a decorative sign that says: ‘Plants get me.’

“It’s more like plants get you, mother,” Alix said.

Reach Sara Shields at sshields@yakimaherald.com.

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