At home among plants
Library’s source for succulents
By Angie Landsverk
Lillian Ziebell loves to spend hours tending to the plants in her yard.
On warm days, she times her work to the temperature and time of the day, opting to head outside in the morning or later in the day.
Rheumatoid arthritis does not stop her.
Ziebell works at her own speed – often pulling weeds by hand for two hours or more.
Neighbors and friends beep the horns of their cars and trucks as they drive past her rural Waupaca home.
“It makes me feel like a teenager,” says the 94-year-old.
This time of the year, the days grow shorter.
Her flowers may be done blooming, but there are always more weeds to pull and plants to check.
Ziebell shares her knowledge about them as she walks around her yard.
She is also happy to share her plants.
For more than a decade, Ziebell has been digging up the Hens and Chicks succulents covering numerous parts of her yard and donating them to the Waupaca Area Public Library.
She said her father-in-law got the first plants in the 1940s and planted them on the home farm.
“And I’ve had them every place since then,” Ziebell said.
Her current home marks her fourth one with Hens and Chicks as ground cover.
“Here is Hens and Chicks heaven,” she said. “They like the sandy soil.”
Ziebell is not exactly sure how she got started bringing her Hens and Chicks to the library.
“I figured I had them. They could sell them,” she said. “I would try to get them in once per week, usually on a Tuesday. Of course, they always had them sold.”
Library Director Peg Burington said all the proceeds from the sales of the plants go to the Friends of the Library.
“I think the Friends have realized over $1,500 from Lillian’s plant sales over the last decade,” she said. “She is a genuine gem and a great friend of the library.”
Ziebell explained how she became acquainted with Burington.
“I was sitting in my car with my green beanie hat on,” Ziebell said. “Peg said, ‘I like your hat.’”
Ziebell bought that hat in 1951 from a Montgomery Ward catalog.
She paid $2.98 for it, plus postage.
Ziebell wears the green beanie all the time – except during the summer.
“They know it’s summer when I’m not wearing the beanie,” she said.
Ziebell grew up on a farm outside of Waupaca and attended Crystal Lake School through eighth grade.
She remembers learning and reciting poems and continues to write poems today.
In fact, Ziebell writes everything down and kept diaries and calendars for years.
She fills pages with her memories and writes a poem whenever something puts her in the mood.
As a result, some of the subjects of her poems include her green beanie, the seasons and the windmill her late husband Ed built for her in 1975.
She and her husband farmed for years.
Both of them had green thumbs.
Ziebell’s current home sits on 3 1/2 acres and includes rows of flowers. She once grew vegetables as well.
“We really went full blast here because we were retired,” she said.
She and Ed had two children: son Wayne and daughter Linda (Cummings).
In addition to her two children, Ziebell has two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Plants also fill the inside of her home.
“I check my plants every day,” she said, “because every one of them is different.”