Annie Calovich

June 7, 2012

Hail can’t batter neighborhood bond

The number of roofing-company signs sprouting in the North Riverside neighborhood rivals the flowers that are trying to come back from a hailstorm that hit the area particularly hard last week.

The number of roofing-company signs sprouting in the North Riverside neighborhood rivals the flowers that are trying to come back from a hailstorm that hit the area particularly hard last week.

The timing of the storm couldn’t have been worse for gardeners who were planning to be on the neighborhood’s garden stroll next weekend. Teresa Stumpf had been finished with all her planting for two days, and her next-door neighbor Teresa Hammer had just put in her last plant before the tour — a coleus — when the storm hit and punched holes in hostas, peeled peas, threw apples and, most sadly, knocked a nestful of yellow black-crowned cranes out of a towering pin oak and to their deaths on Payne Street below.

“We love watching them all summer,” Stumpf lamented of the birds that have nested in the tree in her front yard for years.

One of the five gardeners scheduled to be on the tour had to pull out because of the damage, but, with the neighborhood pulling together to help the others, the tour will go on as planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 16.

In fact, the rescue mission only underlines the beauty of a neighborhood garden tour. It’s about community. And the two Teresas who live next door to each other and who will be on the tour together exemplify it in an enviable way.

The two “garden nuts” became fast friends about 10 years ago when Teresa and John Stumpf moved into their house next to Teresa and Marty Hammer in the 2000 block of North Payne. The women got tired of walking around their fenced backyards to get together, so their husbands finally put a gate in the chain link between the yards a couple of years ago.

Stumpf says their gardens are good examples of what people can do on their own without a lot of money. The two friends like plants that can be divided and replanted — and, of course, shared.

On either side of the Hammers’ driveway, the gardeners have planted echoing garden beds under towering pin oaks, sharing plants and stone for a cohesive look. Both backyards have fenced areas along the back that hold vegetables, but such edibles as eggplant, zucchini and peppers are also planted in other garden beds.

But it’s heart-breaking that years of hard work that was finally going to be on display on the garden tour suddenly was undone by the hail a week and a half ago. Hail hit twice earlier this year, and the yards looked like junk yards, the women said, their plants covered with tarps, boxes, trash cans. But this storm didn’t allow them the time, and their plants were too big anyway.

Teresa Stumpf mourns the loss of flowers that had been gracing her many clematis vines and the holes in a giant hosta that had been her pride and joy in the front yard. When the hailstorm came, the women were in their own houses but on the phone with each other, pacing from the back door to the front door, “screaming bloody murder,” Teresa Stumpf says. Teresa Hammer finally had to hang up because she couldn’t take it anymore.

But the calm after the storm is bringing a silver lining. The North Riverside Neighborhood Association and people from all over the neighborhood are helping clean up and replant. When Stumpf and her husband went out of town last weekend, they returned to a wonderful surprise: Some people on their block had cleaned up their yard.

There are some things that are even more beautiful than flowers.

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Also on the tour are the garden of Shirley King at 1821 Lisa Lane, which overlooks the river and the church at 18th and Garland, Cristo Vive Asamblea de Dios, which has been relandscaped with three water features. Artist Anita Goble will be sketching in the Hammers’ garden at 2028 N. Payne.

The tour also is an interesting history and architecture lesson. The $5 ticket includes information about the development of the neighborhood and architectural details of the houses on the tour provided by Barbara Hammond and Kathy Morgan of the city’s historic preservation office. Tour headquarters at Starkey Music Center at 1318 W. 18th St. will feature refreshments, music by Starkey students, tips from Johnson’s Garden Centers and a display by Wichita Rain Barrels.

The garden-stroll ticket also serves as a buy-one-get-one-free admission to Botanica that is good through June. Tickets are available at Johnson’s locations, at Starkey, and at each tour location during the tour.

Proceeds from ticket sales will be used, naturally, for public landscaping projects that promote neighborhood identity and pride.

The first landscape project taken on by the neighborhood association also can be seen on the tour — the triangle garden at Coolidge and McKee, just north of 13th Street — along with a rain garden belonging to Alan and Sharon Fearey at 1456 N. Woodland.

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A reminder that there are a couple of out-of-town garden tours this weekend — in Newton and in McPherson. Visit to read recent coverage about those tours.

• The Newton-North Newton Flower & Garden Tour will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The cost is $5. Tickets are available in Newton at the Newton Public Library, Harvest Greenhouse, Flowers by Ruzen and Newton Dillons stores, and at each house during the tour: 515 E. Fourth St., Newton; 2816 Goldenrod Road, North Newton; 2507 and 2509 Ivy Drive, North Newton; and Sand Creek Community Gardens, Goerz Avenue and East 24th Street, North Newton.
• The June Bloom Garden Tour in McPherson, about an hour’s drive northwest of Wichita, will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. The one-day tour will feature seven gardens and is sponsored by the McPherson master gardeners and friends. The cost is $5 to see all of the gardens. Tickets can be purchased at any of the tour sites: 1433 Briarwood, 613 E. Euclid, 820 E. Euclid, 1015 N. Walnut, Countryside Gardens at the corner of Northview and Covenant, Master Gardeners and Friends Demonstration Garden at 600 W. Woodside and CertainTeed Employees Garden on the 4-H grounds north of the arena and half block north of the demonstration garden.

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