This is a self-guided tour, which will be held rain or shine. Tickets cost $10 are on sale in Norwalk at Schild’s Super Center, 171 Milan Ave., and Firelands Museum, 4 Case Ave. Proceeds benefit the Firelands Historical Society. A garden location map will be provided with the ticket.
On tour day, tickets will be available at the two location starting at 9:30 a.m. For more information, call Anna Bristol, at 419-872-0124 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six gardens are selected for your pleasure; some large, some filled with homey flowers and some pretty much designed and cared for by professionals. Two are condo gardens connected by backyards with lovely plantings and one is two miles outside Norwalk on Schaffer Road. Don’t miss any of them; they are great.
On tour day, the Master Gardeners will present two demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Lanning-Young Research Center about using herbs and plants to discourse insect pests. Tour-goers are encouraged to complete the entry form on their ticket after visiting all six gardens. Two people will be awarded one of the demonstration planters.
Also on tour day, the public may drop off plant trays, pots and cell packs at the Landing-Young building for Master Gardeners to recycle.
Joel and Wende Mersereau’s home at 110 Norwood Ave. was once a farm and they have capitalized on that fact. They have a lovely old house, immaculate, with with a nice country look, yet contemporary, smart and full of curb appeal. The out-buildings, originally barns, stables or farm shops, are all carefully restored and painted white with green trim. Farm items from the past are found around the house and buildings; one wagon, nick-named “The Rolls” is by the side door along with a quaint hand pump on a rustic stone slab. An antique stone grinder adds to the effect.
In front, a split-rail fence showcases an assortment of large leaved landscape plants, including hosts, hydrangeas and ligularias. Among the landscaping plants nearer the house is a large stone block monogrammed with M for Mersereau. The side yard is a tribute to our nation, state and service men. There is a United States of America Flag, an Ohio Flag and a flag for the Navy, since son Phillip is in the Navy. There are also anchors for the Navy and some whale accents for son Jonah. Wende is more an organizer, rather than a Gardner, so she has help with her paintings and choices. The backyard is a great party spot with lots of colorful seating, a pool, fireplace and mini bar for serving goodies.
Jan and Howard Smith, the gardeners at 123 Norwood, have a nice little garden with all our favorite flowers, iris, lilies, hydrangeas, daisies, hostas, spiderwort, Montana Bluets, Coral bells, clematis and others. Jan is the straw boss/designer and Howard is the help. Their dining room looks out on their new deck, built with the curves seen in the other area landscaping. The front beds are edged with nice curves that flow with rhythm around the colorful beds of perennials, varied annuals’ and shrubs.
A smoke treat trained too a small tree is a very nice touch. Another trained vine/tree is the small wisteria that has bloomed every year. In the back yard is an above ground pool, mostly for the grandkids, a water garden with falls, which is a favorite with the dog who keeps the frogs in line. Beside the water garden is an intriguing unknown evergreen with odd leaves and color. The area is shaded with a large magnolia tree which is a steady bloomer. Until Jan learned to use a fake heron to frighten away the real heron, the fish never lasted long.
Just inside the back gate is a stone fire pit surrounded by a stone patio. Flowers here are more perennial with bright annuals filling in the gaps. This garden is perfect for a small lot with all the work being done by the owners.
Two houses at one stop — that is the treat at 8 and 10 Mary Way. Here Eric and Cheryl Kirk and Woody and Johnna Rail, in side-by-side condos present a beautifully synchronized yard and landscape to the public.
Woody and Johnna, Woody the shovel man and Johnna the designer, have been gardening here for three years, enough to design a lovely range of shrubs, planted pots and hanging baskets that enhance clever areas of hard-scaping. The Dails have some beautiful black urns in front that add color and spark to the landscaping. Both giant blue hostas and bright smaller variegated hostas grace the yard. An area to the side is an additional lot that is devoted to a wild look with spring bulbs, wild flowers and lovely trees.
On the Kirk side, well-established old style coral bells weave their delicate pink flowers through blooming yellow coreopsis and big blue hostas, a result of more than 10 years of gardening on Mary Way. Here groundcovers, vinca and sedums add interest while many pots are overflowing with color in the back.The combined backyards are a haven for entertaining with lots of seating and colorful flowers. The Kirks also have beautiful urns brimming with color and both nom-owners have used clematis to entwine the mailboxes.
At nearby 14 Gerard Drive is the home of Del and Anna Bristol. It is she who tends the numerous gardens spots that have been developed over the years.
A recirculating stream burbles in the front yard where birds enjoy bathing. It is accented with Peach Melba heurchera and this year’s accent color of bright pink, seen in geraniums in a miniature garden bench planter and hanging baskets with a ring of variegated hostas underneath. The walk curves between the running stream and a stone dry bed nearer the house.
A lively lime green spiderwort with cobalt blue flowers sets the tone for the utility box area where deep purples and light greens complement each other. Japanese painted ferns peep through large hostas and bright pink petunias are seen paired velvety black petunias. Soon to bloom will be a lime green and purple cone flower, new to the garden.
Wander between the garages to a brick patio with a cascading rock fountain, guarded by a clear glass turtle. Hostas dominate the plantings, with purple perennial grasses, a potted black heuchera, combined with coneflowers and coleus to contrast with the green tones of the hostas. Nearby, the black fence for the dog run is offset with golden Stella d’Oro day lilies.
The rear yard is bookended with a trellis bed and a raised bed of stacked stones, with a line of birch trees delineating the property lines. These gardens offer specimen plants in an ever-changing array of colors and textures, such as, Lady’s mantle, columbine, Siberian iris, and lupine; and a large metal flower sculpture that oversees the raised bed. Between two rooms of the house is a nook in which Anna has planted bleeding heart, various ferns, jack-in-the-pulpit, and a bluish thistle, amongst other plants. It offers a welcome spring view of color through the bathroom window.
When you see a border of mixed garden flowers racing down the driveway, flowers self-sowing at will and presenting a cottage garden effect, you’ve happened upon a true gardener. When you have to have some of everything, your’e addicted. That’s Judy Eckler at 2710 Schaffer Road. She has veggies along the walk, hens and chicks invert corner and in the fall the whole place is orange with self-sown cosmos. The hen and chicks started with 20 and now there are thousands. Bring a bag or pot and take home some. Her garden art is exciting and intriguing; her theme of different kinds of decorative balls is different. Look for them among the flowers.
Judy and Gene Eckler moved here in 2008, built their dream house and today, the plantings are everywhere. Her favorite tomato is Sun Gold and you’ll find them also along the walk. She is a true edible Gardner as onions, beans, lettuce and other veggies are found with the flowers. Cleome is coming up like hair on a dog in some places, so maybe in July, on tour day some will be blooming. Guara, flowers called craspedia, probably unknown to most gardeners.
At the back of her yard, in the shade, there are hostas and other shade lovers. She has hostas along the house with the hen and chicks. And there are more hostas along the driveway. Tall lilies, yellow loosestrife, poppies, tall iris, cobalt blue Siberian iris and other gems bloom in their own time. Some unknown tall delicate blue flowers are sprinkled throughout the gardens, and hydrangeas from her sister are waiting in the wings.
On the property there are two waterfalls. On tour day there is most likely not a chance to see them, but make friends and invite yourself back another day and ride out to see them. The hillside along her drive is a bloom with more flowers. She uses a ladder to garden there to avoid rolling down the hill. Sedum fills in the cracks and some wild “Dame’s Rocket” has helped. This garden on Schaffer Road is a treat and so is the gardener, so be sure to make the trip.
Peggy Case is a Master Gardener, and serves Ohio Association of Garden Clubs (OAGC) as floral judge, instructor and Regional Director for Region 6, Huron, Ottawa, Seneca, Lorain, Sandusky and Erie counties. Call 419-929-6117 for more information.