• Last modified 758 days ago (June 22, 2017)


Eden times 5

From koi ponds to rustic relics, rural garden tour offers a taste of paradise

Staff writer

This year, patrons of Marion City Library’s eighth annual Garden Tour can expect to experience five delightful country stops and chance to acquire rustic garden items and refreshments.

The tour will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 24 throughout the county.

“We’ve got some really great gardens again this year; all have something different and unique,” library director Janet Marler said. “People can get some good ideas for their own gardens. It should be a lot of fun.”

In addition to myriad blooms, patrons can expect to see anything from fish to birds, waterfalls to ponds, rock gardens to boulders, and barbwire sculptures to just plain old rust.

Koi and doves

Nestled among irises, lilies, wisteria and other flowers at the home of Lonnie and Charlotte Nickel, 210 W. 6th St. in Lincolnville lies an aviary and a 5,000-gallon koi pond with a small waterfall feature.

“We’ve got about 15 fish or so; we keep koi and different goldfish in the pond,” Charlotte said. “My husband built the nice little bridge that goes across the koi pond to a bench you can sit in.”

While their fish bubble near the waterfall, light reflects off a garden house with stained glass windows. Patrons also might hear cooing emanate from the aviary and birdhouses that Charlotte builds.

“I used to raise lovebirds and finches, but we raise mourning doves,” Charlotte said. “Wild birds visit the lawn. The doves sit on top of the aviary roof and coo. Our great-grandkids tell us they want your birds to come out and play.”

Family projects

Many of the garden and landscaping features at the lakeside home of Joe and Debbie Bowman at 17 Lois Lane have sentimental value. Included are a birdhouse, birdfeeder, barn-wood quilt, old-time gate, wooden palette American flag, and a section of white picket fence with triangular vintage flags hanging from it.

“The things that we incorporated that my family made mean a lot to me; and they know that,” Debbie said. “I love doing all this. I enjoy seeing pretty things and watching things grow.”

Somewhere among the verdant trees and bushes, a newer item that was created for the garden tour also can be seen.

“Joe was nice enough to make me a cool display item for our yard,” Debbie said. “We used porch posts and an old window I had, and then put some regular yard lights in front of it. It’s nice; you can see one of our trees through the window.”

She encourages visitors to play a pickup game with horseshoes that rest nearby their limestone patio, and she notes that most visitors are taken with “huge rock walls” that help create terraces.

Potted paradise

Those interested in container gardening likely will find valuable ideas at the home of Mike and Gayle Thomas at 2165 US-256, east of Marion.

“I can’t really dig in the ground and garden so we have a lot of potted flowers; no vegetables really, mainly flowers that tolerate a lot of heat and sun,” Gayle said. “All I have here in the summer is sun.”

Gayle plants various types of rose moss purslanes, petunias, and geraniums and arranges them around their long house on and among memorable and historic rocks.

“I have an obsession with rocks,” she said. “I just kind of have had them, but they all have significance.”

Gayle and Mike incorporated the front steps and a buggy step from an old stone house in one of their pastures as well as a stone carriage bench from another location.

Barbwire and blooms

Bodacious blooms and barbwire sculptures intermingle atop rocks, and in rock gardens, wagon wheels, and railroad ties at the home of Kim and Deb Unruh at 1774 170th Rd.

“We have a lot of yard art and barbwire sculptures made by Laddie Helmer,” Deb said. “Some are abstract, but there also is a cactus, coyote, and horse head. We have a lot of them.”

There is also an interesting barbwire vulture in their collection, and friendly gnome statues and other yard art, rustic glass electric insulators dotting their lily, marigold, daisy and rose filled garden, which was landscaped with railroad ties and large stones little by little over the years.

“I just love the way it all looks,” Deb said.

Another highlight that might cause a giggle is a stone marker officially proclaims, “On this site in 1987 nothing happened.”

Red, green, and yellow

Stone walking paths that were tediously but caringly placed upon a hillside, meander among a variety of wild and prairie flowers near multitier series of pools above a farm pond should “wow” visitors at the home of Dan and Rhonda Holub at 1953 240th Rd.

“I identify flowers by red, green and yellow,” Dan said. “Someone once asked me, ‘Dan, what type of flower is that?’ I said ‘Orange.’

“I did all the rocks with my kids. Everything green Rhonda did. She she does a great job; the garden is beautiful.”

He said Rhonda was the one who figured out how to cultivate hard the clay soil.

“I got him to stop using the pesticides and the bees started to show back up and things began to grow,” Rhonda said.

The stones in their garden aren’t all for aesthetic pleasure; they deter erosion.

“Whenever Dan moves a rock I ask him where it came from,” Rhonda said. “When it rains plants can wash right out of here if we’re not careful.”

With their garden, they try to strike a balance between formal and wild, and seem to have fun reworking different areas as need or when the mood strikes.

“When I can’t sleep at night I like to go for a walk in the garden where there are a lot of walking paths lighted by solar lights, which is good because you don’t have to carry a flashlight,” he said. “We also have a tallgrass area set aside that we don’t mow, except for a path through there, and we keep a dead tree because the wood peckers seem to like it.”


Marler said visitors will be encouraged to visit Bearly Makin’ it Antiques on Main St. and out at the mill just north of Marion on Walnut St. because many rustic items found there can be used for landscaping.

Owner Marion Ogden has planters, bird baths, cisterns, well pumps, washtubs, buckets, and sewing machines that can be used a bases to put flowers on. He also has all kinds of flower stands and chicken feeders

“We got rust,” Ogden said. “It’s all unique and it’s all a matter of what you’re interested in; me, I like it all.”

He said a food truck would be available at the mill, too. Refreshments also will be served at the library.

Tickets cost $5 and available only at the library. The event is a fundraiser for library projects throughout the year. More information is available at (620)382-2442.

Last modified June 22, 2017