You know you’re going to love someone’s yard when the first thing you see, under a tree in the front yard, are the pots you have in your own garden.
I found just such a kindred garden in Hesston, along the route of a garden tour that will be held there next weekend.
Of course, I always feel like I’m among kindred spirits in Hesston, so I’m excited that the town is having a tour on June 28. Another favorite town within close driving distance that is also having a garden tour that day is Marion.
The Hesston tour will pass through six gardens from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and while you’re there, you can’t not stop at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains (free) and Stone Creek Nursery (probably far from free by the time you’re done looking).
Cheryl Hershberger owns the house at 22 Pheasant Run where I found my pots. The pots are probably the most straightforward thing in her garden, because she’s made container gardens in so many other things: a chair seat, a desk whose drawers spill plants, boots, birdcages, galvanized tubs, an old metal dustpan, a vintage chicken feeder. Basically, cute things you’ll see in an antique shop or in a dusty cabinet in the garage and say, “I wonder what I could do with that.” You have a feeling about it, but you don’t quite go the distance and pour potting soil in.
Fortunately, Cheryl has done it to show you that you can.
“Have the freedom to be creative” is her advice. “Imagine what something can be used for that it hasn’t.
“I know that I can use anything. I just bought a bar stool yesterday and put that in the front garden. I’m going to plant a plant on it.”
She also advocates the freedom to change your mind.
“Move things around. Oh my goodness, I move things around.”
I love her instinct in putting raised beds for vegetables just off the front corner of the house, and displaying her house numbers on an oval mirror that’s propped in a planter box by the front door. Not far from a wire chandelier hanging on a shepherd’s hook whose arms hold battery-operated votives.
Cheryl calls the garden a retreat center.
“It’s just a place for me to celebrate nature, God’s creation, and the peace of it.” But she also enjoys sharing the garden and is happy to have it on the tour, especially because the $10 ticket helps a church youth group in town.
A pond behind Cheryl’s backyard winds its way up to another garden on the tour – 23 Meadow Lane, belonging to Laurel and Pat Miller.
The other gardens on the tour also have notable features, if not my brown-rimmed green pots:• Great vegetable garden ideas and mature trees in Mel and Norma Diller’s big backyard, where they have set out to cut their water usage. The wood from an old deck has been repurposed as raised beds for vegetables and a neat boardwalk in between the beds. Burlap on wood posts around vegetable patches provide shade when needed.
Their address at 404 N. Weaver shares an alley with other large yards that have beautiful vegetable gardens, including another stop on the tour next door, belonging to Rene and Deb Brunk. They have a pond and gazebo.• A wooden arbor beautifully frames and marks the entrance o the backyard of Jim and Jan Erb’s house at 226 S. Lancaster. Two yellow Adirondack chairs setting off a neatly trimmed green lawn are perfect punctuation marks – in this case, exclamation points for an impeccably kept yard.
• Darren and Jacey Anderson have a crafty and arty yard, where Jacey has planted “glass flowers” – glass plates on stakes sticking up in bouquets among the real flowers. The Andersons live just down the street from Dyck Arboretum of the Plains, so it’s easy to pop in there after you’ve visited this garden. The tour organizers also suggest a few other free stops in town: the Hesston College Campus, King and Heritage Parks, and the community gardens at the villa.
This first official weekend of summer features the pond tour and College Hill walk in Wichita. (See the Gardener’s Almanac on Page 2C for details.) Let’s make the most of these longest days of the year.
Three gardens in Marion – two in town and one in the country – will be on the Flowers in the Flint Hills tour on June 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $5 a person, for sale at the Marion City Library, which the tour benefits, and at the gardens on the tour. The library is at 101 Library St., two blocks off Main Street directly south of the County Courthouse. Cookies made by library volunteers will be available at the library, and a “Wizard of Oz” collection belonging to the librarian will be on display. (I know “Marian the Librarian” from “The Music Man” is playing in your head, but her name is Janet.)
The gardens on the tour are at 747 S. Freeborn (a red, white and blue, Fourth-of-July theme); 620 Hudson (where Elora Robinson has been working in the garden since 1968 and just got on a riding mower for the first time this year); and 832 140th (a Flint Hills country garden with chickens, an orchard and a hideaway with a pond – and a hibiscus that was started 35 years ago by owner Julie Nelson’s mother).