BY BRIAN RIGGS
Director Fort Madison Area Arts Association
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison Area Arts Association has brought over 25 years of consecutive garden tours to the region without ever skipping a beat. Scotts Miracle-Gro is our event sponsor. The Scotts product raffle will be in full sway as always with one lucky garden-goer winning a myriad of products. Advanced tickets are available at Kempker’s True-Value, HyVee, and FMAAA galley in Ft. Madison. Also at Zaiser’s Florist and Greenhouse in Burlington or Gate City Seed in Keokuk for $10 for maps and tickets. Available in the gardens day of event for $13. Narratives and bottled water available in gardens. The red birdhouse sign marks the spot for each yard and the tour will run from noon to 4 p.m. at the following locations.
Lon & Shelly Spurgin: 316 Crescent Lane
Shelly really became proactive in her yard nine years ago after retiring from the public school system. She has over 40 container pots that go part in parcel with a part-time job at Matt’s Greenhouse. She basically takes her pay in plants. The dwarf Japanese Maple is the focal point of the garden and had precedence when the major project of the brick patio was added four years ago. It takes a good strong glaze every year to keep the shine. The massive fountain is a retirement gift from her kids. Her perennial garden grows like a tree ring every year and she likes the chaos of it, without working it in row spacing. She has many Elephant Ears which trumpet until first frost when they come inside. She likes to space astilbe in between the hostas in the shade garden around two sides of the garden.
Artist in the Garden: Pastel artist Lori Illner Greene will accentuate the setting.
Jordan & Kaity Price: 21 Richards Drive
These folks have held sway for 6 years at Richards Drive, with only lilies-of-the-valley in play prior. Kaity is serious about her planting, keeping a garden art journal for the last 5 years. She follows many plant groups on-line and trades plants via the net like baseball cards. “Plants are my thing. I am obsessed with yard art and like to spend time looking for the best deal. I am really into Flamingos. When I look for plants, I look for oddballs and color combinations.” Her newest entry is a cinderblock stenciled plant stair well in the corner of one end of the backyard. The arbor in the center of the back was there wedding alter threaded with Trumpet Vine.
Artists in the Garden: Kaity pops her top with metallic pop-can flowers. Steve Helling will bear the weight with his sturdy benches and other wares.
Gregg & Beverly Brockman: 2787 River Hills
Theirs if one of the first homes built in the second edition development of River Hills in the 1970’s. Gregg built the house and all of the architectural elements over time, in fact he is man of many skills. You will glance award winning stained glass, beautiful baskets, and an uncanny resemblance to Shoeless the Rodeo Clown. He began the multi-platform gazebo in 2016 with his go to octagon shape formation, as he loves to build with angles. Bev was born on the 4th of July; thus, the major red, white, and blue theme to her shade garden. Over 20 individual floral beds and 65 container pots adorn this property. The 45’x30’x30’ massive shadebed is like a humidor, spawning huge ferns, hostas, and elephant ears. “Chunking and splitting” is an essential for her and she always has new beds under development. She has spread the original ditch lilies to other parts of the neighborhood. Her background as a physical education instructor keeps her outside much of the time…..splitting and chunking.
Artist in the Garden: Plein air painter Ginny Lammert of Van Buren County graces the stage. Gregg Brockman will display his skill at basket weaving as well.
Sheryl Eid: 2420 Avenue G
At 79 years young Sheryl assures us that gardening is her primary source of relaxation and housework is secondary to the outdoor nest. In fact, this is a woman that would rather garden that go shopping or go on vacation! Birdhouses are her favorite type of décor and many are inhabited. She always wanted an old water pump for her spot. This one came from Nebraska via Arizona. The unique cement chicken came from Arizona as well. It is so heavy that it will anchor the spot for years to come. She has Martha Stewart’s favorite clematis blooming strongly on rail. Sheryl is particular to change the soil on her numerous container pots every 3 years.
Artist in the Garden: Glassblower Jim Topic will add a shine to the scene.
Marilyn Settles: 1409 33rd Street
Marilyn began working a bald yard 22 years ago always adding new projects over the years. The front side of the house was initially all brick and too tough to plant. She had to bring several loads of dirt in order to begin. Now impressive Weigela hold court as well as other shrubs that create a natural privacy fence. The newer white fence that encircles the home was a project from 7 years back. As one winds past the geode display to the backyard, most of them collected in the Tri-State area, several flower beds emerge into view. The initial main bed had to be eradicated due to an invasive grass plant that proved too difficult to manage every year. The concrete pathways that emerged took 2 years to complete.
Artist in the Garden: The Lost Canvas owner Ginny Henson will bring her talents to show painting on –site and the possible parties at her shop.
Kelly Peters: 3001 Avenue J
With 17 years under her belt, Kelly’s is another tale on this tour of starting from nothing but the house in the beginning. Hers has been described as an eclectic yard, full of whimsy. Her sidewalks are curved as she “doesn’t like straight lines”. She has made 50% of the garden décor with the sun and flamingo crafted at SCC classes. She collects from other artists as well. She likes rust&rocks, anything unique. She likes her color tones to reflect the colors of Mexico. The waterfall element to her pond is a newer project and she just started the succulents this year. She has her veggie garden with varieties she likes to eat, trying some googi berries this year. Her go-to for plants are perennials, but many container pots adorn the space as well. The corkscrew willow if a favorite for many at Kelly’s outdoor oasis.
Artist is the Garden: Plein air painter Carlene Atwater will hold court and pick her spots.
FMAAA ALWAYS THANKS THE GARDENERS ON THE TOUR AND OUR EVENT SPONSOR THE SCOTTS MIRACLE-GRO COMPANY. ALSO KUDOS TO OUR HOSTESSES, BUSINESSES SELLING ADVANCE TICKETS, ARTIC GLACIER, CARLENE ATWATER, DAILY DEMOCRAT FOR POSTER PRINTING, AND THE ARTISTS FOR ADDING ICING TO AN ALREADY HEARTY CAKE. ENJOY 2019 FMAAA ANNUAL GARDEN TOUR!!!!