The weeding, planting and watering done by Dan Callahan, pictured, and his wife, Maureen, really paid off. The Bradford couple won July Garden of the Month from Haverhill Garden Club.

When Dan Callahan decided to refurbish the outside of his Laurel Avenue home in Bradford with his wife, Maureen, the last thing he expected was that his work would be described as “award-winning.”

But after four years of weeding, planting and watering, their garden was named Haverhill Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for July. A white sign heralding the achievement has been placed in the garden so everyone will know.

“This wasn’t part of the game plan,” he said with a smile.

Dan Callahan said they receive many compliments from neighbors and passers-by about their perfectly manicured front yard, colorful flower boxes and primped side entryway.

One longtime admirer is neighbor Catherine Sarfde, whose home overlooks the Callahans’ driveway. Sarfde is a member of the Haverhill Garden Club, and decided to bring a few of the women from the club over to view her nominee for July Garden of the Month.

A major factor in the Callahans winning the award was the drastic change from before to after. And Sarfde knows because she was there to observe the entire transformation.

“I watched him work and work,” Sarfde said. “To see it prosper is just great.”

The growth of the Callahans’ garden has been a long process, growing “little by little” according to Dan Callahan. It began four summers ago with a small collection of black-eyed susans and other plants next to the family’s backyard patio. Then a year later came the perennials and annuals that line the entire backyard. Now they will dedicate summers to redoing the parts of their house that are visible to the street.

It took a lot of hard work, but Dan Callahan wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Like anything worthwhile, it takes some time and effort,” he said.

The Callahans have lived in their Laurel Avenue home for 28 years. Dan is officially retired from a career in construction and his wife is a bookkeeper and accountant by trade.

Despite all the time put into their garden, Dan Callahan still makes sure that the time spent in his yard is an enjoyable hobby, not backbreaking work. For him, it’s all about the journey.

“You slow down a bit,” he said. “It gets you to enjoy the day a little bit more.”

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