Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 18, 2013

A stroll through the gardens

Annual event highlights 6 unique gardens, historic homes

Carson Gerber Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — The large, brick house at 802 E. Sycamore St. was built in the 1850s by Howard County’s first judge.

It’s an old house with a lot of history, and it’s surrounded by a small forest of old trees.

There’s a 100-year-old magnolia, 40-year-old tulip poplars and Colorado spruce. Hanging moss, a 100-year-old ornamental fence and a century-old hedgerow make the spacious yard surrounding the 17-room house feel like a secluded woodland from the 1800s.

That’s why it’s one of the homes featured in the 13th annual Garden Stroll this Saturday. This year’s theme is Howard County history, and the tour will feature two historic houses surrounded by unique, one-of-a-kind gardens.

“This is going to be a stunning — and I mean stunning — stroll,” said event organizer Marian Cable. “You’re going to see some amazing things.”

The stroll runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and allows participants to take a firsthand look at six gardens in Kokomo that implement creative landscaping and layout.

“There’s going to be a lot of different things to see,” Cable said. “Some are big and some are small, but none of the gardens are cookie-cutter gardens. They’re all unique and special.”

Jack and Julia Sawyer said it’s the trees surrounding their 160-year-old house on East Sycamore Street that really make their garden special.

Jack said he loves trees and plants two or three of them a year around the neighborhood.

In fact, he planted most of the trees at their house, where the couple has lived for the last 43 years.

“The trees really set our place apart from the other gardens,” Julia said. “You don’t see this many trees on most city properties.”

Other highlights of the tour include a garden on North Hickory Lane that has more than 50 varieties of daylilies and more than 35 types of flowers. The garden on Four Mile Drive contains sculptured shrubs, marble urns and a gazebo.

Tickets for the Garden Stroll cost $8 in advance or $10 the day of the tour. The event is the major fundraiser for the Howard County Master Gardener Association.

Cable said money from ticket sales will go toward two scholarships for students going into horticulture.

Funds also will be used to support the community gardens at Ivy Tech, where volunteers help produce thousands of pounds of food each year for local nonprofits.

But the event is about more than just raising money or looking at beautiful gardens. Cable said she also considers the stroll to be a kind of community improvement project.

“The tour gives people ideas about what they can do in their own gardens to make them more attractive, which in turn makes the city look better, too,” she said. “It’s really about enriching the city.”

As part of this year’s theme, each garden will also have a stand that highlights historical facts about the city and county.

“I think people will take away a lot of knowledge about the area,” Cable said. “A lot of people don’t know about the history of the county. I’m sure they’ll learn some things that might make them say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that.’”

The event includes a plant sale at the Seiberling Mansion, 1200 W. Sycamore St., hosted by the Master Gardener Association. Participants can get a tour of the museum at a reduced rate by showing their stroll ticket and peruse the mansion’s gardens for free.

Lunch will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 503 W. Mulberry St., for $5. Proceeds will go to the church.

Cable encouraged anyone interested in seeing creative, unique gardens and getting an inside look at Kokomo historic sights to buy a ticket and enjoy the stroll.

“It’s a fun day,” she said.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.

If you go What: 13th annual Garden Stroll. When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Where: Seiberling Mansion, and six gardens located at 5460 W. 80 South, 5510 Four Mile Drive, 1208 N. Hickory Lane, 1222 West Carter St., 500 W. Mulberry St. and 802 E. Sycamore St. Cost: $8 in advance, $10 day of stroll, free for children 12 and under. Sponsor: Howard County Master Gardener Association. Advanced tickets can be purchased at most locally owned nurseries and florists, and at Eden's Way, Markland and Park; Skeeter's Place, 1720 W. Boulevard; and the Seiberling Mansion, 1200 W. Sycamore St.