• 48°

Backyard bliss

Anita Buckley’s passion flourishes in her

one-acre home garden 


Photos by Jennifer Sherwood  

In the backyard of Anita Buckley’s home on Barclift Street, she has spent years perfectly curating, from the ground up, a peaceful sanctuary of gardening bliss.  

“I love it. I never stayed long enough in one place professionally to get a garden going, so when I moved here, a friend saw the space and told me ‘You have a blank canvas. Go for it,’” Buckley said.  

That was 2009, when Buckley returned to Hartselle from a stint working in Montgomery for the Alabama State Department of Education.  

In the front of the garden, near the center, stands a Japanese Maple tree to which Buckley has a special connection.  

“When I was leaving Hartselle and going to Montgomery, I knew I couldn’t take the tree with me, so I brought it over to Kenneth and Becky Tankersly, who built the home, and she (Becky) planted it here, so I ended up with my tree after all these years,” Buckley said.  

As for planning and bringing together a garden of such grandeur, Buckley said it did not happen overnight.  

“I kind of treat it like decorating a house – just a little bit at a time,” she explained. “The balance and variety and putting everything together takes time, and I knew I always wanted something blooming.”  

Buckley said her garden is something she enjoys for more than just a couple months out of the year. Because of the variety of flowers and plants she has chosen for her space, something is blooming year-round. 

Her first step was installing rocks for a foot path. Then she outlined the rest of her serene sanctuary. The walkway leads to the patio, a place where she said she enjoys spending a good amount of her free time.  

Next was her Hosta bed, filled with all different types of Hosta plants, situated around another rock pathway and a seating area. A custom-made, wrought-iron gate is poised near the entrance; a “B” is situated atop the gate, to indicate the last name of the gardener whose hands have labored for hours in the garden’s soil. 


The Fuji waterfall is one of Buckley’s favorite garden features. The hydrangeas, with white and blue blooms, are among her favorite flowers. Landscaping lights add a relaxing ambience to the garden once the sun sets, and Buckley said the space transforms into an extra-special spot. 

As an educator with a resume that boasts stints at Morgan County high schools and the Alabama State Department of Education and beyond, Buckley said her career nurturing young educators and solving problems aids in her life as a retiree.  

She said her love of finding connections with other people is something she cherishes from her time as a teacher and principal in Alabama and South Carolina. After she retired, she oversaw the intern program for future teachers at Athens State University until she decided it was time to take a step back and enjoy a life in the garden instead of the classroom.  

That is where you can find her now, most days, soaking in the sunshine and the scents of her beautiful blooms and thinking of new ways to expand her little piece of heaven on earth.