By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – Phil Wheeler has always been a handyman at heart. So when his wife, Judi, saw an idea she liked on Pinterest, he jumped at the chance to try it for himself.
“She showed me a wall of bottles and I thought, ‘I bet I could make a gate out of that,’” Wheeler said. “She’d been wanting a gate in this spot for years.”
First, he built the wood frame for the gate and then he enlisted neighbors to donate the 28 wine bottles it would take to complete his creation.
“I don’t like wine myself,” he said.
Wheeler then used a diamond bit to drill holes in the bottoms of the bottles and then he ran Rebar through them, situating them in seven rows, each four bottles deep.
The end result is like looking at a lifesize kaleidoscope.
“It probably took me a couple of weekends to make it,” Wheeler said. “People, neighbors are always commenting on it.”
His next project is to build two low bottle walls running perpendicular to the gate, serving as sort of an entrance to it.
“That will help shade some of our hydrangeas,” he said. “They get a lot more sun since we lost some trees.”
The wine bottle gate isn’t the only interesting thing in the Wheelers’ yard. There are also birdbaths and benches made of Tishomingo stone, a colorful bottle tree, gazing balls, hummingbird feeders and a rocking horse.
“Daddy had three of those things,” Wheeler said as he set the small brown horse into a rocking motion. “They came from a park when he was the mayor of Verona. My sister got two of them and I got one. My grandson discovered it a few weeks ago and had a ball.”
Wheeler’s father, Billy Fred, was mayor of Verona for 12 years. In fact, Wheeler and his sister are in the process of fixing up a house for their father and mother, Edna, that’s situated right between their own houses.
“That’s why I’ve kind of neglected my own yard,” Wheeler said. “We’re trying to get the house ready for them to move into in August.”
Wheeler worked for Cash Distributing for 27 years and for the past five, he’s had a lawn-care service. He takes care of a lot of the yards in his neighborhood of Carr Acres and does some in Tupelo.
The Wheelers’ yard, especially around the pool area, is awash in rudbeckia, shasta daisies, lantana, morning glories, moonvines, crape myrtles, azaleas, Knock Out roses and lorapetalum.
But the real eye-catcher is a long bank of limelight hydrangeas separating the front yard from the back.
“Judi came up with the idea for those,” Wheeler said. “We started with two or three and every chance she got, she’d buy more. We probably have 15 of them there now. It gives us a lot of privacy.”