If you’re a new gardener or a non-gardener, taking a garden tour
offers inspiration. If you’re a veteran gardener, you walk away with an
appreciation for hard work and some new ideas for your own property.
For gardeners and others who are amazed each year by the beauty of nature, it was a strange spring indeed. Tulips, normally early May bloomers, were done and gone by Easter. Flowering
crabapple trees and lilacs, which normally peak right before Mother’s Day, bloomed before April 1. Obviously, there’s not much that can be done but to enjoy Mother Nature’s whims and fancies, and a variety of central Iowa tours offer just that opportunity.
Polk County Master Gardeners Tour |
Saturday, June 23, 2012
For Rita Minard of Des Moines, “Gardening is pure joy.” She enjoys growing clematis, called “classic climbers” by some. Is she passionate? Well, yes, if her 50 to 60 varieties in 90 different plants are any indication.
“I’m a collector,” she says. “I love them all. If you ask me which one is my favorite variety, I’ll say the one I’m standing in front of right now.” Rita started her garden 25 years ago, when there weren’t too many varieties available beyond ‘Nelly Moser’ and ‘Jackmanii’. She is from Minnesota originally, so she often drove to a nursery in Faribault to have more choices.
Clematis plants climb, of course, so she has numerous trellises, many made by her husband, Keith, a plumber by trade. “He made many of copper, but now he is welding. So he is making garden art, including bottle trees, and I get all the prototypes, which is fun.”
Rita Minard also is into clematis photography, which she uses in giving programs. “We garden for ourselves, but at some point we must share.”
That’s exactly what she and others will do, when they open their gardens for the Polk County Master Gardeners Tour, Extraordinary Gardens by Ordinary People, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 23, rain or shine.
The tour of seven gardens will take place in Beaverdale,
which Forbes Magazine last fall called “one of America’s prettiest neighborhoods.” Many of the gardens are within walking distance of each other.
Nancy Bork’s garden is Asian-inspired and includes
Siberian irises, Japanese forest grass, and a Japanese maple tree, along with a tree peony (bush) and a pergola covered with
wisteria. Her garden also has a bamboo fountain and
bird-related items. Nancy loves to educate herself by taking classes and reading magazines. “I think gardening is just in your genes,” she says.
Tour visitors can take in three educational demonstrations
on the tour, and a handmade quilt and piece of garden art will
be raffled. Those items will be on display at the Iowa State University Extension office from June 4 through June 22.
Garden tour tickets cost $10 before the tour or $15 on tour day. Advance tickets are available at Goode Greenhouse,
Herndon’s Des Moines Seed and Nursery, the Woodsmith Store, and Earl May Nursery & Garden Centers at 1845 22nd Street in West Des Moines, 5910 Douglas Avenue and 7701 Bloomfield Road in Des Moines, and 1509 Ankeny Boulevard in Ankeny. Other ticket locations are Grounds for Celebration at 2645 Beaver Avenue in Beaverdale; 50th and Mills Civic Parkway in Somerfield Plaza, West Des Moines; and 6600 University Avenue in Windsor Heights, plus the ISU Extension Office, 1625 Adventureland Drive, Altoona.
Locations on the tour will be on the tickets. Proceeds benefit the Horticulture Hotline, the Demonstration Garden in Urbandale, the Enabling Garden in Altoona, Discovery Garden at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, the Empowerment Garden, and the Gardeners Show House at the Des Moines Botanical Center.
For more information, call the ISU Extension Office, 515-957-5760, or check out PCMG Garden Tour on Facebook.
Indianola Garden Tour |
Friday and Saturday, June 22 and 23, 2012
Indianola will turn into Party Central as it celebrates its annual garden tour from
5 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 22, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 23. The town’s new
Taste of Summer event is modeled after the Holiday Tour of Homes and Taste of Indianola. It will feature local restaurants, caterers, and vendors dishing up grilled
items, barbecue, seasonal items such as sweet corn, and light desserts and cool treats.
The Taste of Summer hours will run later than the garden tour and will be on the Indianola town square.
The sponsoring Indianola Chamber of Commerce (515-961-6269) will sell
tickets for the tour, along with other businesses. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $17 on
Five area gardens will be open for touring—John and Jo Drost and Kirk and Laura Fulton of rural Indianola, along with James and Cheryl Holland, Dan and Kathy Ripperger, and Pam Bachof, all in town. Bachof’s Victorian-style home features
gardens full of hostas, old-fashioned rose bushes, and hydrangeas. Her home is across from Buxton Park, also open to tour visitors.
The Holland and Ripperger gardens were open on earlier tours but have changed considerably over the years. The Hollands have added a garden shed and new plantings, and the Rippergers are known for their collection of hostas and a koi pond.
The Drosts’ landscape features wildflowers, perennial beds, ponds, a waterfall, and a beach house. The Fultons have a 140-foot-long waterfall surrounded by a rock wall.
Central Iowa Garden Railway Society Tour |
Saturday, July 21, 2012
For John and Pat Olsen, the best part of developing a garden railway setup is sharing it with others. Their layout and four others will be on a tour sponsored by the Central Iowa Garden Railway Society and Kidman Tree Farm of Polk City.
The society’s fourth annual tour will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 21. Tickets are $5 per carload. For directions to
the tour sites, check out Kidman Tree Farm’s website,
kidmanfarms.com. The owner, Mike Kidman, is part of the
railway society and also has a train and accessory shop at the farm.
Jay Nugent, chairman of the tour, says, “For many of our members, it’s a couple’s hobby. Often the men work with the trains, and the women enjoy the gardening aspect. For at least one couple, however, it’s the other way around.”
Jay says the passion comes from the larger gauge of the trains. “People love the sturdier trains. Pair that with being able to be outdoors, and you have a fabulous hobby going.” The group takes a portable display to garden shows and to events such as Pufferbilly Days at Boone.
Railway gardens open for touring include those of John and Lori Myers, 1306 Court Street, Adel; John and Pat Olsen, 351 NW 58th Place, Des Moines (Saylor Township); Rob and Amy Renes, 435 E. Sheridan Avenue, Des Moines; Doug and Cindy Doggett, 8163 NE 110th Avenue, Bondurant; and Mike and Renee Kidman, Kidman Tree Farm, 3665 NW 98th Avenue, Polk City.
For the Olsens, time spent with eight grandchildren on Sundays in the yard overlooking the trains is special. And as for the jokes about “big boys and their toys,” John Olsen pleads guilty: “One can never have enough locomotives.” On the gardening side, the couple has added hostas, daylilies, ornamental grasses, and phlox for color and texture among tracks and buildings, including a Dutch windmill, a church, and a Maine lighthouse.
John explains that some society members are purists, focusing on certain eras or trains of certain companies. He, however, loves the mix of old and new (little kids, of course, love Thomas the Train) and analog and digital transformer systems.
In the winter, G-scale train lovers spend time building kits or lubricating their train cars. “Our group’s members love exploring this different twist on gardening,” he says.
His layout has tunnels, trestles, and driftwood, along with a pond filled with large goldfish. When the garden plantings are filled out, he refers to one area as Hosta Pass.
Many of the garden railway engineers started their hobbies with starter kits around the Christmas tree. Needless to say, they have come a long way. It’s hard to go wrong with the combination of gardens and trains.