The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Garden Walks Reveal the Reflections of Gardeners

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator

We often read how gardens are the reflection of the gardener. Right now my garden is reflecting controlled chaos. Yet the garden visions that waft through my dreams offer views of paradise rather than pandemonium.

June is the month to take a break from your own utopian endeavors, stand up straight for a day and enjoy the reflections of other gardeners during garden walks. University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners of Champaign County Garden Walk is set for Saturday June 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

One generous family on this year's garden walk includes Angie and Martin Wolske. A short chat with Angie quickly reveals her delight in experimenting and exchanging garden ideas. Angie and Martin go a step farther by sharing fresh vegetables and fresh ideas with their neighborhood in their corner U-Pick garden.

Angie's advice for other gardeners, "Start small and keep experimenting. Also, have fun. Do what you like. If you like to cook with herbs, grow your own. It's so empowering". She also counsels new gardeners to expect some failures and to ask lots of questions. It's a part of learning.

"The whole of our garden is an experiment in sustainable gardening," says Angie. One of the garden methods Wolske is trying is a hugelkultur bed, basically a raised bed filled with rotten wood to hold moisture.

"We find such satisfaction in our garden feeding us and our family. The weeds and garden scraps are enjoyed by the chickens and rabbits, which in turn provide manure for the compost. Nothing is wasted in our little urban farm," declares Angie.

Yes, the Wolske's have chickens and rabbits and bees, oh my. Angie states, "They have completed our circle. I used to hate to weed and tried every way to do something else. Now I think of weeding as foraging for our herd". The chickens eat weeds and vegetable scraps and they provide other resources. Angie shares her experience of people arriving at their home asking for buckets of manure. Certainly adds a whole new dimension to the stereotyped activity of neighbors borrowing a cup of sugar.

Angie shared an experience how their gardens have opened up neighborhood conversations. A little girl came by one day when Angie was in the garden. The little girl asked her, "What's your name?" After Angie's reply the little girl shared, "All I know you by is you're the garden lady". I'd say that is not a bad way to be known in the neighborhood.

Here are additional comments from other gardeners on this year's garden walk.

Tonya's garden goal: "To create a place where friends and I can come to relax and unwind—a place where you feel at home."

Becky shares that her garden is filled with memories. "Virtually all of the plants I have added bring memories of people that touched my life in a special way."

Beverly shares, "My plants have to be strong survivors. No tender babies allowed! These gardens are a tribute to sound advice I've received from many Master Gardeners over the years."

University of Illinois Department of Entomology Pollinatarium is also on the Garden Walk. It's the first free-standing science center in the nation devoted to flowering plants, their pollinators and the importance of pollinators in maintaining many of our food plants. Enjoy exhibits indoors as well as garden areas surrounding the building.

The award-winning Idea Garden has been a source of inspiration and education for its many visitors since 1997. It is designed, planted and maintained by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners of Champaign County offering ideas for every gardener as well as plenty of shopping among garden vendors on walk day.

The beauty of attending Garden Walks is in the joy of immersing yourself for a day in viewing beauty, exchanging ideas and enjoying good company of other gardeners.

Sunday June 14 from Noon-4 p. m. Vermilion County Master Gardener Garden Walk. Tickets available at these Danville area locations: Berry's Garden Center, Big R North and South, Danville Gardens, Georgetown Pallet and Schultz Nursery, and Country Arbors in Urbana.

Saturday June 20 from 9am-4pm Champaign County Master Gardeners. 8 gardens and plenty of shopping at Idea Garden in Urbana. Tickets can also be purchased at the following Garden Centers: Country Arbors and Illini FS in Urbana, Danville Gardens Too and Prairie Gardens in Champaign and Schuren's Nursery in St. Joseph.

All proceeds support local Master Gardener community gardens and programs. For more information and ticket info, contact UI Extension: Danville office 217-442-8615 or Champaign office 217-333-7672

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