Vibrant 65 years

Dazzling display of flower garden colors for Barrowcloughs, 86

  • Dr. Fred Barrowclough and his wife of 65 years, Audrey Barrowclough, on the front porch of their Glen Abbey neighborhood home. - Michelle Hollenhead

  • This is just one of many flower-filled beds in the Barrowclough’s yard. - Michelle Hollenhead

Even during summer’s hottest months, one Farragut couple starts almost every day among their flowers and, in turn, share that beauty with all who pass their way.

Dr. Fred and Audrey Barrowclough live on a corner lot in the Glen Abbey neighborhood, and while their home is a lovely testament of their 65 years together, their flower beds are a daily dazzling display of vibrant color and magnitude.

Roses, petunias, lilies, pansies, hostas, daisies and geraniums are just a few of the colorful blooms lining beds along every side of the red brick house, in addition to the built-in beds bordering their backyard patio — and still more flowers and shrubs encircling several trees on the lawn.

The couple work tirelessly in their flowers and show no signs of slowing down, even at 86. They top off blooms, cut back stems and pinch yesterday’s blossoms to make way for tomorrow’s beauty.

“The older we get, it does get harder on our backs,” Audrey said. “I am trying to go for more perennials, just because of my age, but I do like the annuals.”

“They are out there every day,” marveled Linda Perry, one of the couple’s five children. “And they have a gorgeous flower garden to show for it.”

Neighbors and strangers alike slow down to see the Barrowcloughs’ efforts, or offer a wave when walking by, as their flowers are prominent along the main road feeding into the subdivision.

“We have always had a garden and I have always loved flowers,” said Audrey, who noted Fred also grew vegetables when they had a larger yard. “But people really enjoy our flowers. We have had people stop and have their pictures made with them.”

They have lived in Glen Abby nearly 20 years but have resided in Knoxville twice that long, having followed their two oldest sons who attended the University of Tennessee on scholarships.

Fred, a pharmacist by trade, jokes he “retired at 55 — but I have been working ever since,” as he does work two days a week for a local pharmacy and one day a week at Shannondale Nursing Home.

“I enjoy it, and I enjoy what I do,” he added. “The day I don’t like it any more, I’ll quit.”

Originally from Rhode Island, the couple met as teenagers, and Fred was immediately smitten.

“I was 15, he was 16 when we met,” Audrey said. “Fred happened to be working at his father’s drug store at the newspaper stand when our paths first crossed.”

His father hired her to work the soda fountain.

Fred told the story that when he first met her, he told a friend, “‘I’m going to marry her some day.’ And I did.”

Fred served two years in the Army, then went to the University of Rhode Island to pharmacy school, during which time the couple married. They had four children by the time he graduated.

They lived in Florida for a decade then in Washington, D.C., for a dozen years before coming to Knox County.

The couple has 14 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren, and their three daughters live nearby.

“We have been all over the world, and this is the best place in the world,” Fred said. “We love it here.”

“This is God’s hidden secret,” Audrey added.

After 65 years, “We have great conversations and enjoy each other’s company,” Audrey said. “We are always putting each other first, and we never let a day go by without saying, ‘I love you.’”

Romance still plays a key role, too, as evidenced by Fred’s gift of 65 roses to Audrey in honor of their 65th wedding anniversary May 14. Audrey is hoping to propagate the roses to add to their ongoing collection.

About maintaining their prolific flower beds, “It does take time,” Audrey said.

“You don’t find a husband and wife who like garden work as much as we do,” Fred added.

“But we are both very healthy for our age,” Audrey said..

“We have certainly been very blessed.”