Chicago landscaper has roots in Hamburg area

Veronica Barreto-Rosa
Hamburg Reporter

Roger Houts was not born precisely in Hamburg, but from an age, he was related to the community and the Methodist Church.  Despite living miles away, he returned to give a little of his work back to the community that he loves.

“I grew up in this community, but I am actually an Atchison County, Missouri-born person, and that’s where my family farm is,” said Houts.

Since his father was a graduate of Hamburg, the family visited the Hamburg United Methodist Church.

Houts said that,  as a kid, he always went to the Rock Port school system, but he always felt welcomed in Hamburg. Being part of the church’s youth group made him feel part of Hamburg too.

“Up to this day, there are people in Hamburg that feel more like family than my own family,” he said.

Hosts now lives in Chicago and owns a landscaping firm: Metro Scape Chicago.

When he visited the Hamburg church back in March, he realized the planting at the church needed his help. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, hecouldn’t do the garden. He did not forget about it though and came back, just days ago, to complete it.

Houts said he wanted to do this in memory of my parents James Lyle Houts, who passed away in 2016, and Velma Jean Houts, who passed away in 1994 due to melanoma.

“They came here all the time. My dad was an active member of this church,” he said.

There are two other people to whom Houts has dedicated this work: Kenneth Bell and Marilyn Bell.

Hosts said Hamburg’s church was Bell’s first assigned church as a pastor in 1980. He is now retired with his wife in the Phoenix area.

“He [Bell] being a seminary graduate from Princeton, I have planted a Princeton Century Ginkgo tree by the church sign in his honor,” said Houts.

Like every job he does for his company, it is important to Houts that every plant and garden has a meaning.

The garden’s pathway reminds Houts a little bit of growing on his family farm where they raised cattle, and he was able to watch the different landscapes, etc., on the farm. That is why he was inspired to do something different in color, season, era, etc.

For example, since this year marks the 120th year of the laying of the church cornerstone, he planted a Millennium Alliums.

The colors of the plants also have a meaning, and according to Houts, they represent Pride month, which is the month when the garden was built.

About the whole experience, Houts said he felt this was a gift to be able do it for the community.

“Many generations to come will hopefully come and enjoy it,” he said.

Houts said he will always have ties to the community and that he feels blessed to grow up in a small town with a sense of community that big cities like Chicago lack.