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Donahue woman preserves husband’s legacy through gardening

"Now it's 20 years and I'm going, 'Yeah, I think I'll stick around for a little bit longer.'"

DONAHUE, Iowa — For two decades, flower-lovers have traveled out to the countryside in Scott County to explore someplace magical. It’s Miss Effie’s Country Flowers outside of Donahue, Iowa.

”This whole two acres has been magical to people,” says owner Cathy Lafrenz.

She says she and her husband Honey built this garden together, tending to the perennials, building grids for the annuals and keeping a flock of chickens for eggs. Honey was always by Cathy's side from planting to harvest.

But this spring, the rows of flowers have been quieter. Honey died in April 2020. He first battled cancer then pneumonia. 

“We were always a team working together,” she says. "It wasn't COVID, but there was nothing, no antibiotic at all would take it.”

Cathy says she wasn't sure she could keep up her garden without Honey. But he reassured her before he was gone.

“I said (to Honey), ‘I don't know if I can do this anymore. And he said, ‘You have to,’” she recalls.

He told her there was a young girl, who had loved coming to the garden since she was little. He said the garden has to be there for her senior photos.

Cathy says the family emailed her to get those photos taken.

And she's still seeing an outpouring of support from customers, friends and volunteers. Cathy says she'll keep her husband's memory alive. 

“I really believe that his soul is here. It isn't in some cemetery. It's here," she says.

Miss Effie's Country Flowers is open Thursdays-Sundays. She's also offering subscriptions for pre-made bouquets.

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