Garden Club tour offers ideas for all spaces

Ten area gardens will be open for exploration for the 12th annual tour of gardens, hosted by the Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club.

Hopefully, visitors will get ideas for their own gardens, said club vice-president Johanna Fawcett.

“That’s one of the reasons people come,” she said.

All sizes of gardens will be included, said Marilyn Peterson-Shipp, club president. One is a large estate, with rocks and berms and lots of grass.

“I liked it because it’s so serene,” Fawcett said.

Another is a tiny garden with everything in it, Peterson-Shipp said – a container garden. Another they referred to as “Day Lily Heaven.”

One has beautiful, huge statues, Fawcett said.

“It was a big surprise when I saw it. It looks all plain, and then you come around here and she has these statues of David,” she said.

Visitors to Dave and Ellyn Lemke’s garden will see a wide variety of features. Notable are the roses – thick-pedaled orange ones in the berm out front and an old English variety climbing a frame next to the vegetables.

“I like roses. I had a grandfather that grew them after he retired, and I got a love of them from him,” Dave Lemke said. “And I’m in the fertilizer business, so I fertilize them good.”

He and his wife both work in the garden. She tends to the vegetables, while he does a lot with the flowers.

“She comes up with ideas and I put them into place,” he said.

They got married 14 years ago, and have worked on their yard and garden in stages since then.

“We started in front and worked our way around,” Lemke said.

He said they pick roses mostly by color.

“I don’t remember what they all are,” he said. “She says we want a pink one there, so I get a pink one. Or I go get a big tall one. There’s one in there that’s a wild rose, or nearly wild.”

Stone rabbits, deer, turtles and even angels can be found throughout the gardens.

A shade garden lies at the north end of the lawn, and a berm protects plants in the lowest place in the lawn where water tends to collect.

In the middle is a memorial garden of sorts to Ellyn Lemke’s parents. A tree stands in memory of her dad, who died six years ago, and a quince bush for her mother, who died one year ago.

“It’s a flower bed,” he said, pointing out the old bed frame providing support for plants in the memorial.

The Lemkes are not members of the garden club. In fact, only one garden this year is owned by a member.

Peterson-Shipp said they found the gardens mostly by word of mouth, and went knocking on doors to find people who would be interested.

The garden club meets the third Tuesday of every month at the Lion’s Den in Armstrong Park. Guests are always welcome, she said.

Tickets for the walk are $10 and available at Becker Garden Center. On the day of the tour, they can be purchased at the first garden.