BY BRIAN RIGGS
Fort Madison Area Artists Association
FORT MADISON – Ft. Madison Area Arts Association unveils another great chapter to an ongoing novel of garden adventures. Six amazing locations with three in Ft. Madison and three in Wever on July 1st from Noon-4:00pm. Advance tickets and maps are $10 and available at Gate City Seed in Keokuk; HyVee, Kempker’s Tru-Value, and FMAAA gallery in Ft. Madison; and Zaiser’s Florist and Landscaping and Weird Harold’s in Burlington. Tickets are available in the gardens at the tour as well as garden narratives, maps, and ice cold water. Scotts Miracle-Gro is the Event Sponsor. The raffle of Scotts products is always a popular part of the tour, giving gardeners a leg-up for the remainder of the outdoor season. FMAAA thanks the gardeners for sharing their marvelous locations with the public. Also kudos to visual artists in the gardens, Artic Glacier for ice, Daily Democrat for printing, businesses selling advance tickets, and garden hostesses. A special thanks for the last week of rain!
Wayne & Mary Starnes – 1422 Avenue D
The first thing Wayne planted some 25 years ago was the sprawling Bald Cypress in the backyard. But upfront is an amazing Gingko tree that he planted from a graft. It is a narrow form of Gingko from root stock, a species dating back to dinosaurs! Other trees of note are Canadian Hemlock and Juniper Red Cedar. Wayne has a passion for prairie grass with many species. Look for the Bamboo on the west side of the home. It is a cold hardy version that does not come inside at the end of the season. There are a dozen types of hosta, half-dozen varieties of ferns, and 5 different types of clematis, including a rare one that gives off bell shaped flowers that smell like melon and resemble mop heads. Be you in sun or shade along the perimeter, you will spot many different and interesting varieties at this camp.
Artist in the Garden: Glassblower Jim Topic will add some sparkle in the location.
Chuck & Barb Wilkens – 132 High Point
The couple has been on the property for 16 years, always looking to “keep it blooming”. Other than the Rose of Sharon at beginning of property, everything has been planted by them. First order of business afterwards was the construction of the produce fence, saving the current crop veggies and new apricot&peach trees, from the voracious deer critters. The clematis on the fence leads to a decade old dwarf Gingko. The front yard houses fairly new tri-colored beech, white dogwood&magnolia. Follow the creeping phlox along the Rhododendron and Azaleas. Take a right down the side of the house to the Crazin Cherry, which drop crate paper blooms in spring. Than you are close….to an undeniably grand view of the Mississippi. The valley below held many linear trees, extinguished in the deep valley with a bow saw by Chuck, creating the grand view. Once you tear away from the view gaze upon the Mexican Petunia, which blooms once a day in the morning than drops its petals.
Artist in the Garden: Chuck refurbishes antique chairs and will showcase some examples.
Pat & Janelle McCrabb – 2019 337th Avenue
The McCrabbs have moved 8 times with each occasion giving Janelle a new blank canvas of landscape to fill. The red rhubarb is the only transplant, coming from her mother in Dubuque and her memories, perhaps moving along with her from home to home. Her father was a “planticide” personality, mowing down fresh starts the family may have tried. She would grow plants from seeds and create stone barriers so the mower monster could not take them. It led to a meticulous nature for her groundscaping, as she remembers hand trimming with scissors prior to advent of the weed wacker! Janelle loves heritage roses with over 15 varieties already on the perimeter. She teaches that smaller plants will take off quicker than larger ones from starts. She has been here basically little more than a year; and, she is making the environment her own with quick precision. Hydrangeas are her “canary in a coal mine”, telling her when to water. The south side of the home garden is a jaw dropper with only the hardscaping and 3 bushes left prior to Janelle painting outdoor canvas.
Artist in the Garden: Plein air painter Gin Lammert will document the scene in paint while Carlene Atwater roves various other locations with easel in hand.
Vic & Rose Peirrot – 1719 Green Bay Road
You know you have found a garden haven when the door knocker to the home is a garden spade! When a garden encompasses growth, beds, and landscaping 360 degrees around the domicile, it can definitely make cultivation a statement. This garden is a 360 degrees around the home, encompassed by a 360 degrees of development around the fence line. It is a 720! There are 10-15 built and maintained beds on this property. The property has been in Vic’s family for 3 generations, battling fire and rain. The house was built on fill that was battle tested in 1993! However, when the house was put up for sale it caught fire, maybe twas what called Vic back to his roost. See if you can spot the winter scalded Weeping Orange to see if it’s scar shall heal or whether it shall wither. So many stories to discover, but much can be summed in the His/Her sheds. Vic’s shed memorializes his first wife Lorraine. They spent 50 years tilling the soil together. The brown shed is from Rose’s West Burlington property. It now has become a playhouse for kids in the family. Both had a love for gardening and both lost their spouses on the same week. They have united to bring their sheds together on a truly inspiring garden path. How awesome of a “coming home” story is that? Park on either side of Green Bay road to view the garden; their driveway would get too congested.
Artist in the Garden: Rose will share 3 generations of her quilting family within the perimeter.
Dean & Sue Mabeus – 1661 Green Bay Road
Missing Dean’s Produce? In 1993 the couple were well-known at Farmer’s Markets and for their blue shed food stand at the residence. Most will agree this garden to be one of the largest produce growing territories in recent years. However, what is grown now is just for family and friends, not the 6 acres of veggies like in the past. The couple were known for picking their wares ripe the day of the market they were attending. Sue has a new hobby in her post produce days, nurturing 8 boar goats from the bottle that are sure to entertain the crowd. An old smokehouse adorns the scene left from the previous owners. Dean has butchered plenty of hogs in that giant slow cooker. Perhaps someone can aid this couple in finding a needed saddle? Dean salvaged the tower and bell from his one room school K-8 Pond’s School, which Dean attended until 7th grade when rural residents consolidated to Denmark. Parking available at the blue shed that used to be the produce stand.
Artist in the Garden: Curt Swarm metal sculptures add appeal to the outdoor scene, while his wife Ginny mans the popular Scotts Miracle-Gro product raffle!
Ed & Jim Lemberger – 3514 175th Street
These industrious brothers have all the equipment needed to be a commercial organic winery. Drive along either side of the fence rows to park at the outbuilding. Tours will form at that nexus point. Enjoy wine and cheese sampling. Ed and Jim have been making their own wine for years, entering regional competitions. When this property came available a decade ago, Ed pounced at the chance for vintering. The brothers have five types of grapevines: Concord, Edelweiss, Caco, St. Croix, and Swinson White. The property also sports 100 tomatoes and peppers of differing varieties. As well as Bitter Melon, Asian squash, watermelon, pumpkins, asparagus, broccoli, eggplant, strawberries, and blueberry bushes. Harvest occurs normally on Rodeo weekend. The white grapes are pressed that day, while red needs to ferment with the skin on for a week or so for color. Once prepped the wine resides for a year in the stainless steel vats. Than from vat to bottle to mouth!
Artist in the Garden: Potter Linda Ross displays wares from Chestnut Hill Pottery.