The Mary Ann Dickinson Memorial Garden Tour will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 7 and noon to 4 p.m. June 8.
Reduced-price tickets will be sold in advance and are available at K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County office, 2110 Harper, and area garden stores. Tickets can be purchased at the showcased gardens the day of the tour.
Each garden on the tour will feature garden lessons, such as water gardens and container gardening, taught by master gardeners and others. The gardens are:
- Don and Carol Abrahamson, 944 Lawrence Ave.
- Julie and Chad Glazer, 906 Schwarz
- Jennifer and Bill Sims, 1201 Centennial Dr.
- Lois Greene, 844 Broadview Dr.
- Ernest Eck, 726 Ohio
- Mark Taylor, 1205 Prairie Ave.
- Alice and Kyle Medina, 990 E. 1587 Rd.
- Tish Tuohy, 1552 N. 1000 Rd.
For more information, contact the Extension office at 843-7058.
If you're looking for ideas or inspiration, head for the Mary Ann Dickinson Memorial Garden Tour.
By Carol Boncella
Journal-World Garden Writer
The days draw closer for the Mary Ann Dickinson Memorial Garden Tour given by K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County master gardeners. Eight lovely gardens are open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. June 8. Let's look at more of the gardens.
What started out in 1991 as a house that was just right for Lois Greene and a yard that was all wrong has become a beautiful shade garden. The property came with no grass or garden and trees common to Kansas: elm, walnut and hackberry, many of them dead.
``I didn't go out the first year, it was so ugly,'' Greene said.
Another problem was the lay of the land. The house sits at the bottom of a hill, and property around the home continues the slope. During any rainstorm, water rushes down the hillside.
``Everything that is not tacked down floats to Eudora,'' Greene joked.
The remedy was to provide a safe passage for the water over large boulders and a drain 18 inches deep, which allows the plantings to remain undisturbed. The boulders also serve as natural steps to enter the garden.
Before Greene tackled the garden renovation project, she read books, looked at other beautiful gardens and experimented.
``I've been learning what grows under walnut trees and what doesn't,'' she said.
The garden began with a planting of 100 hostas, four dozen astilbe and vinca. Over the years it has expanded to include several Japanese maple trees, flowering dogwood, hollies, viburnum and a weeping Norway spruce.
At the entry to the garden, the deep color of the Japanese maple trees leads the eye to the soft pink blossoms of the dogwood. As visitors carefully step down the large rocks, ajuga, hosta and ferns pass into view. Columbine with delicate blue flowers, masses of violets and an occasional jack-in-the-pulpit pop up.
The combination of the plantings is visually delightful. Greene, who teaches basic design and color theory at Kansas University, knew the look she wanted to achieve in the garden and planned for it.
``It was a great revelation to me when someone told me you can move plants,'' she said. Now she even brings her students to the garden for a practical lesson.
Much of the area at the back of the property has been left natural to provide a screen against the sound of traffic on Ninth Street. Several viburnum have been planted to add to the screen and the beauty.
Lilies, dianthus, mums, coreopsis and spirea warm themselves in a small sun garden juxtaposed near a corner of the house. Greene said that hundreds of monarch butterflies feed on the plants during their fall migration.
At the end of the tour, visitors climb back uphill along large boulders. The garden continues with more wonderful shade-loving plants. Stepping out of the serenity of Greene's garden makes visitors yearn for a return visit.
Bill and Jennifer Sims
In the middle of the city, not too far from busy Iowa Street, wildlife finds a woodland haven in the garden of Jennifer and Bill Sims.
The garden in their corner lot starts at the curb. A well-cultivated area filled with daylilies, lamb's ear, vinca and lilies is nestled along a rock wall that Bill built. A silver lace vine clamors up the utility pole. Several iris bloom vigorously in this corner spot.
``Mother always like iris,'' Jennifer said. ``As long as I can remember, we had iris.''
A short distance from the corner bed up the gravel driveway, a woodland garden awaits. Trees of all sorts grow on this small city lot. When the house was built in 1983, the Sims already had the idea for their future garden.
``We tried to keep as many trees as possible,'' Jennifer said.
To get to the garden, visitors travel through a narrow entrance near the garage. A large squirrel feeder sits in an area surrounded by trees. The ploy is to provide the squirrels with enough food so they will not bother the bird feeders placed throughout the garden.
Even without the feeders, there is plenty of food for the birds in the Sims' garden. Large gooseberry bushes provide tasty fruit. A small patch of strawberries adds to their menu.
``We eat a couple of batches, then let the birds and squirrels eat the rest,'' Jennifer said.
Birds are plentiful in the garden: Cardinals, orioles, goldfinches, catbirds and cedar waxwing -- Jennifer's favorite -- all make regular visits.
Along the back of the garden, a row of wild honeysuckle bushes surrounds passing visitors with their sweet fragrance. Viburnum, known for fragrant spring bloom and fall color, are strategically placed between the natural plantings. Coupled with so many trees and tall woody shrubs, they make the entire area seem removed from the city. Even the wildlife think so: Jennifer claimed to periodically see a red fox.
Several large peony bushes, lamb's ear, spiderwort and a large clump of Japanese iris gather under a window of the house. Catmint and thyme provide a wonderful fragrance.
``I have a timid approach to gardening,'' Jennifer said. ``I'll buy one plant. If it does well, I'll get another.''
Her artist's eye has made some wise decisions about the placement of certain plants with others. A ``Grape Ice'' daylily that is purple in color with a yellow eye is planted along with a creamy yellow one with a purple eye called ``Ury Winifred'' daylily.
``For the first time, I understand companion planting,'' she said.
At the front of the house, another deep shade garden is home to hostas, ferns, sweet woodruff, bleeding heart and Virginia bluebells. Red-leafed coral bells and silver beacon offer bright relief in the shade as do the dainty blooms of the forget-me-nots. The Sims' garden is not to be forgotten.
Dan and Carol Abrahamson
Remember their garden from last summer? As spectacular as it is from the front, it is every bit as wonderful in the back. The Abrahamsons have added a feature to their water garden -- a small river babbles over smooth stone as water trickles from a fountain. And yes, the "home plate" hosta garden is still there.
Julie and Chad Glazer
I cannot believe it has been a year since we visited this beautiful garden. Flowers of one sort or another are always blooming in the wonderful afternoon sunshine. The plants are fuller and even more lush. For anyone who wonders how to grow a garden in the Kansas heat, this garden is a must-see.
Try this at home
A bonus of the garden tour is a chance for guided tours of the Master Gardeners' own demonstration gardens at the K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County Office on Harper Street.
See you on the Garden Tour!
-- Carol Boncella is education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.