By Erin Shultz
Tribune lifestyle editor
Just to be clear, Marian Cable said, the focus of this year’s Howard County Master Gardeners Association’s Garden Stroll is the gardens.
The stroll is, and always will be, about plants, she said.
But this year, the group has a little something new in store.
“We’ve got some stuff going on you’re not going to believe,” she said. “We’ve kind of gone all out this year.”
The annual peek into the private gardens of the area’s top gardeners returns Saturday with a few new surprises — including a bonus garden, a contest, lectures, music, plant sales and more. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at seven spots throughout Howard County.
“We’ve always had good strolls, but this is taking it a little different direction,” said Cable, chairwoman of the event. Woven through the fabric of this year’s stroll is a story-book theme, and each garden will feature characters from favorite story books.
This year’s stroll includes the traditional gardens to visit throughout the day Saturday but also includes an eighth bonus garden, featuring a 600 varieties of daylilies, that can be viewed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 7 only. Ticket stubs to Saturday’s event will get participants into the bonus garden for free, or a special ticket only for the bonus garden is available for $5.
Visitors to Saturday’s gardens will also have the chance to compete in a treasure hunt-style contest contained on the back of the event program, matching a clue to the garden in which it was seen. Contest entries can be left at any of the gardens on Saturday’s stroll or at the welcome center. The first ballot pulled with all the correct answers will receive a $350 landscape design package by Sabrina Parnham of Belle Louise Designs.
Cable said visitors Saturday are in for a wide variety of garden types and plants themselves.
“You’re going to see a lot of different varieties of plants,” she said. “We are not all about daylilies and hostas.”
The Kings’ garden features a raised vegetable garden, and the Reeds’ garden features a prehistoric species of redwood.
Kent and Jeanette Land’s home features a special fairy garden with handcrafted birdhouse, and what Cable calls a “Hobbit house,” cut right into the hillside.
“It’s right out of ‘Lord of the Rings,’” she said.
Cable said everywhere you turn on the Lands’ property, there’s another charming piece or special addition that speaks to the increasingly popular fairy garden theme.
“This is a great project,” she said. “We’ve found people are doing them with their grandkids.”
The wealth of knowledge at this year’s stroll will be another draw for plant lovers. Garden owners and master gardeners will be on hand to answer questions throughout the day, and the bonus garden on July 7 will feature a full day’s worth of lectures.
“If you study gardening all your life, when you die, you’ll still only know 1 percent of what’s out there,” Cable said. “It’s so vast.”
As always the association will host a plan stale at the event’s welcome center, First Christian Church, located at the corner of Malfalfa Road and Sycamore Street. The First Christian Church Mission Team will also offer breakfast and lunch at the welcome center, and students of Becky’s Art Barn will offer their garden art for sale.
If you go:
• WHAT: 12th annual Howard County Master Gardeners Association’s Garden Stroll
• WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
• WHERE: Locations throughout Howard County
• COST: $8 advance and $10 day of the stroll, children 12 and younger free
• INFORMATION: 765-963-2315
Ellen Livingston, 1520 S. Armstrong St.
This shady cottage garden has been evolving for 25 years, carefully tended by its owner and designer, Ellen Livingston. Its most unusual plant is a vining hydrangea, which shares the garden with a variety of shade-lovers.
Loni Tressel, 406 Ruddell Drive
Loni has created an English cottage garden with a sprinkling of herbs. Enjoy the brick paths that wind among the many varieties of lilies and hostas under dogwood, magnolia and mimosa. Iris, coneflowers and lavender happily grow with strawberries, rhubarb, chives and horseradish.
Jay and Karen King, 1718 W. Walnut St.
This formal garden flows around the entire perimeter of the hose and property and features a mixture of roses, hydrangeas, arborvitae, grasses and boxwoods. There are multiple seating areas from which the gardens may be enjoyed, shaded by redbud, dogwood, magnolia and river birch.
Eulaine Delgado and Gerald Smith, 1732 W. Walnut St.
Designed and installed by Eulaine, this cottage garden is filled with a wide variety of perennials, from bleeding hears to Black-eyed Susans. Glass garden sculptures, created by Eulaine, along with gazing balls, bird houses and vintage bird cages, add eye-catching interest among the flowers.
Patricia Myers, 6207 Woodcliff Court
Relaxed and peaceful are words that come to mind when describing this semi-formal garden that has been created over 14 years. Miniature hostas, sea lavender and Hinoki cypress are features among a wide variety of shrubs, vines and grasses. Patricia has used brick, rock, fence and arbors to unify her design and added fountains and a water lily pond for more interest.
Kent and Jeanette Land, 3985 W. 200 South, Russiaville
Surrounded by woods, Jeanette’s cottage garden contains dozens of varieties of perennial flowering plants, grasses, and vines accented by numerous shrubs that include eight varieties of hydrangea. Kent made the wooden gage and arbor and the metal obelisk. The Maestrale Winds will perform here at 2 p.m.
Jack and Carol Reed, 3216 W. 300 South
A lot has changes since this garden was on the 2005 Stroll. There is a new water feature and new flower beds created after the loss of some large trees. An informal mix of shade and sun gardens, look for the hardy begonia, Canadian ginger, fern-leafed peony and bottlebrush buckeye among more than 250 hostas and a wade assortment of native plants.
Bonus garden: Mary Reed and family, 5460 W. 80 South — open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 7 only
Daylilies — 600 varieties in fact — aren’t the only stars in this display. Dozens of perennial bloomers make this a feast for the flower-lovers’ eyes. Buttercups, columbine, hostas and astilbe; hollyhocks, bee balm, sedum and yarrow; Shasta daisies and sunflowers share the garden with roses, clematis and other vines, hibiscus and Rose-of-Sharon. Viburnum, dogwood and numerous trees, including a dawn redwood, provide vertical interest. This garden offers a place for sun and shade plants, natives and imports and is highlighted by fences and arbors, statues, stepping stones and birdhouses.