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Joan and Kirk Dietrich were not big gardeners when they moved into their central Lincoln home in 2000.

But that has certainly changed in the years since, as the couple has transformed their one-acre plot of land near 40th and South streets into a pollinator's dream in the heart of a city.

"It's like we're in the country," Kirk said, "but you're two minutes away from a Walgreens. People always say, 'I didn't know this was in here.'"

When the couple moved into their house, they combined the two plots of land around it into one homestead and haven't looked back.

And Saturday, their home was one of the prime stops during the annual Lincoln Garden Tour, which featured several properties along South 41st Street between South and Sumner streets.

"We weren't really gardeners when we moved here, we just had grown a normal bluegrass yard with stuff here and there," Kirk said. "It was typical. Then we moved here and I didn't know if I could do this, but we love it. We're outside all the time."

He said he and his wife spend about two hours working outside every day.

Joan, who serves as the president of the Garden Club of Lincoln, has passed the master gardener course offered at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"That has helped me a lot with identifying certain things to plant," she said. "There really is no master plan here; we see what works. If the rabbits don't eat it, we plant it."

To that end, one of Kirk's projects five years ago was installing a rabbit fence around the area to protect the hostas, wild ginger flowers and other plants.

"I'm just the grunt," Kirk joked.

So when Joan says she needs a tree trimmed, hole dug or a patio area built, he's on top of it.

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He also made an arched arbor gate in the backyard with sign that says "Kirk's Mew."

The "mew" comes from the couple's 2018 trip to England, where they learned that a mew was a small alley in a city. A pickleball and other decorations hang on the gate as well, adding character.

Over the years, the couple has brought out that character in many ways, and they see the property as a constant work in progress.

"We just pick a project and go at it," Kirk says. "We'll be like, 'We need to do something on the north side of the garage,' then we'll pick out some plants and just plant them over there and two years later there you go."

Joan said attracting pollinators through planting is the main goal, but she and her husband don't want to mess with the natural beauty of the place too much.

"We want it to stay itself," she said. "It's just so unique in this part of town, it's so peaceful. I mean, the busiest intersection is right there."

Joan said a big reason they have the lot to the north is because they never want to see a home built there.

"It would just be such a loss," she said.

Kirk has tamed what used to be a thick forest since the couple moved in 19 years ago. Joan said it was much more wild with weeds and other plants back then. But keeping it under control can be a challenge at times, especially with the recent heavy rainfall. 

When the area gets an inch of rain, the vegetation on their property can easily grow a foot.

"I don't even know what this is," Kirk said as he motioned to a plant on the north side of his home. "I've never seen it, because it's never been this tall."

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