"It was a wreck," Lydia Klingensmith comments as she walks along a rocky path lined with gray concrete cores, not a sprig of grass in sight. "It was time to do something and this is what happened."
What happened is Klingensmith's yard. A chain link fence layered with wagon wheel-like rims encloses a concrete-and-rock-sculptured landscape -- at the corner of Fontanero and Weber streets -- that defies imagination.
"It keeps me grounded," said Klingensmith, "and it is very calming to have rebuilt it from scratch."
Calming isn't exactly the sensation exuded by the landscape at the "Wagon Wheel House." But Klingensmith's affection for her creation is unflappable. "It is just a creation that turned out better than I imagined."
Lydia bought her home from the city in an estate sale 19 years ago and has spent the last nine years working on the yard. Along with a gazebo, hot tub and numerous sculptures, it comprises a driveway and paths made from 900 discarded concrete cores ("originally used for testing concrete strength and then given away"). She has replaced the once-overgrown lawn with 96 tons of rock.
Why did she choose this form of landscaping? "I hate to mow and to have to water everything. Now I have a beautiful yard with no work to do," she said.
A reasonable solution to Colorado Springs' arid climate, unless, that is, you are Colorado Springs Utilities. Klingensmith applied for a Xeriscape (conversion of a landscaped area to save water) rebate but was turned down for having already started the project before she applied. "They were pretty mean and wouldn't even come out and look at what I was doing," she said.
When she is not rebuilding her home, Klingensmith works as an estate liquidator. Recently she has been involved in saving a 40 year-old tradition, the City Auditorium Antique and Collectibles Fair. Klingensmith stepped in when the previous promoter decided to quit. She is preparing for her second fair on April 3.
"This city is notorious for throwing away the past and ignoring the effect of losing our history. I do what I can to hold on to some of it."
photo by Sean Cayton
The City Auditorium Antiques and Collectibles Fair will be held on Saturday, April 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call Lydia Klingensmith at 475-2110 or e-mail
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