The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Garden Walk, It's Amazing

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner

It was a delightful walk through four beautifully landscaped properties late Sunday afternoon during the Stronghurst Booster Club's annual Garden Walk.

With four places to visit, garden enthusiasts could get ideas for a grand scale park environment, or a relaxing stroll through the woods, to ideas for a low maintenance and simpler landscaping theme.

Jim Blender of Raritan, has created a park , owner and operator of Bygones and Buds flower shop in Stronghurst, expanding his love for flowers and design to 20 acres of an 80 acre farm he purchased where he grew up south of Raritan.

Although he and his wife still live in town, he has chosen to build a cabin home at his garden retreat that his family can enjoy, and has even rented it out on occasion including for weddings.

Jim is probably one of the few flower shop owners that can provide the flowers, the garden for the wedding, and the honey moon cottage to boot.

Blender took advantage of a creek and a hilly terrain to build a smaller version of a covered bridge, and an oriental arched bridge.

He is lining the creek's bank with large white rocks which flows into a large pond west of the cabin, and across the creek has planted a variety of trees including many evergreen and ornamental trees.

It is his ongoing project that started 20 years ago with the planting of a Rhododendron. Several secluded garden spots with mulched walkways and stepping stones, statues, and lighting draw visitors to seating areas Jim as put throughout his garden.

In fact, his favorite place for morning coffee or hot tea overlooks the oriental bridge with a huge wind chime nearby, a gift to his wife from their children.

I'm sure Jim has Henderson County's largest garden, if not, it will soon be with his ambition and love for landscaping and design.

At Roger and Deb Cole's home and business (Cole's Photography) at rural Gladstone, many beautiful garden features surround their home.

The gardens have a twofold purpose, to bring pleasure to the Coles and to give Deb backdrops for her photography settings five days a week.

This year, a petunia garden added this year was in full bloom in pink and purple with oriental trees and a fountain at the front of their home. Roger said when they bought their two acres 33 years ago, there was only one tree. They built their home, and 18 years ago build Deb's photography studio. Their projects have been a team effort, Roger said, who works for Pioneer out of Good Hope, but helps Deb when he is home. The property now has many trees, a small barn, several fences with plantings, tall landscape grasses, swings, hammocks, and a favorite place is the fish pond and water fall off their deck. It was completed redone and enlarged in May after this year's ice storm fell tree limbs that destroyed it.

Trudi and Garland Lefler of Stronghurst enjoy their home in the Grigsby addition next to a timber. They had purchased their home a year or so ago with landscaping design already in place by previous owner, Mark Phillipson which has garden paths, Day Lilies, Phlox, Hostas and many other flowers that come up yearly. Trudi insists she doesn't have to do anything to the gardens which feature perennials except add some mulch. She has added a few annuals like inpatients but the rabbits are too plentiful. The Leflers also opened their home for viewing which includes a beautiful family room that overlooks the back yard, Garland allowed viewing of his huge collection of tractors he started collecting the past several years, and Trudi displayed her collection of Lee Middleton vinyl dolls.

In Media, Kevin and Connie Burgdorf invited visitors into their yard to view what Kevin describes as a low maintenance plan for busy homeowners or those unable to do a lot of gardening work.

Kevin, who has offered his landscaping skills to homeowners, showed how using rock, and mulch, and groundcovers can simplify work. He also said it is important to place the right plant in the right areas, such as switching to fowers that enjoy shade when trees grow big enough to produce shade.

Day Lilies are easy to grow and enjoy sun, and Hostas and Impatients and groundcovers can easily beautiful shady areas. He also showed how simple curves enhance homes and gardens rather than straight lines.

All four of the garden stops had decks built onto their homes for an inviting gathering place outside with plantings nearby.

Garden walks give homeowners many ideas on ways they can enhance their property and bring people back into the yards again.

It shows small ways or more challenging ways to expand your living area to outside by creating an inviting setting, even in small spaces.

It encourages homeowners to improve their property in a way that can bring enjoyment not only to the homeowners, but also to neighbors, and all who drive by or visit.

The Garden Walk is an annual fundraiser put on by the Stronghurst Booster Club.