Marion?s second garden tour bigger, more varied than first one

The second annual ?Flowers in the Flint Hills Garden Tour? is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 25, and organizers said they are excited about this year?s gardens.

The tour will feature an array of gardens in both residential and other settings, according to Janet Marler, Marion City Library director and planning committee member.

An additional garden site was added this year.

Included in the tour are: Kevin and Kris Burkholder, 431 Elm St.; Keith and Mary Ann Conyers, 146 S. Lincoln; Wild?flower Garden-Performing Arts, Marian Crofoot and Pam Bowers, 412 S. Thorp; Pete and Teeny Williams 96 Lakeshore Drove; Gallery 101, Sculpture Garden, 106 E. Main; and Wildflower Tour at Rocky and Shirley Hett?s home (from 9 a.m. to noon only) at 2052 Timber.

Wildflower garden

A pocket-sized wildflower garden outside Marion High School?s Perform?ing Arts Center, 701 E. Main St., illustrates the city?s love for the Flint Hills, said Jeanice Thomas, co-coordinator.

It also shows the town?s love for the world of theatre and music, she said.

Creek-side garden

Shirley Jo and Rocky Hett?s home is back by popular demand, Thomas said. The Hett garden is 600 acres of Flint Hills countryside.

?It is obviously impossible for visitors to view all 600 acres on one June afternoon,? she said. ?But Rocky has done a masterful job of creating a mini-tour on the property.?

The ranch is home to Illinois bundle flowers, wild indigo, coreopsis, cat tails, white yarrow and wild flax and more.

Gardeners are encouraged to bring their wildflower guides, bird guides and geological guides for this part of the tour.

Creating a private world

The Conyers? front yard will feature a fountain, purple-spiked spirea and a variety of trees.

?The city garden of Mary Ann and Keith Conyers proves that it isn?t necessary to possess acres in order to create a private world,? Thomas said. ?They have transformed their mundane backyard, which once included a chicken house, into a welcoming retreat for birds, squirrels and their family.?

Visitors will see Mexican petunias, oleanders, buck thorns, chocolate mint, red leaf barberry, Japanese yews, hosts, sweet potato vines and annuals.

?What makes this Flint Hills garden so memorable is its history, family and limestone,? Thomas said.

Multi-talented

In addition to being an artist and art gallery owner, Jan Davis also is a gardener.

?Her sculpture garden might be unexpected in the heart of the Flint Hills,? Thomas said. ?But the city of Marion boasts of one.?

Like all the other gardens on the tour, the sculpture garden is a family enterprise.

?Initially, son James spent his college vacation wielding a jackhammer to break up the vacant lots old concrete,? Davis said.

Once the concrete was removed, it was replaced by small rocks and stained glass stepping stones, she said. He also installed the wrought iron fencing enclosing the garden.

?Currently, the rest of the hardscape includes a wall mural, but Jan promises much more to come,? Thomas said.

Gallery 101 is also participating in the garden tour through its exhibition of floral art inside the gallery, Thomas said.

A mother/daughter garden

Marian Crofoot and Pam Bowers prove that two generations can sometimes be better than one, Thomas said.

?The yard facing the street is landscaped simply with shrubbery and the rear garden is for living and looking,? she said. ?Pam has laid out the garden so her mother, whose active gardening days are over, has something beautiful to view from windows and the back deck.?

In addition to dahlias, peonies, cannas, caladiums, larkspurs, bachelor buttons and daisies, Bowers has planted rhubarb, peppers and spinach on a slope leading to a stream.

County lake garden

The tour wouldn?t be complete without including a garden at Marion County Lake, according to Thomas.

?This year our tour invites everyone to the 21?2 acres cherished by Pete and Teeny Williams,? she said.

Although Teeny said she likes ?little bitty stuff,? the garden ranges from her husband?s enameled snail shells to ?Old Man Cotton,? a large aboriginal cottonwood tree.

Limestone retaining wall

The Burkholders like limestone and their garden showcases a lot of it. ?We feature a shade garden that includes a 6-foot limestone retaining wall surround?ing and protecting Kid Heaven,? Kevin said.

?Visitors will see what tons of limestone, truckloads of soil and hundreds of colorful flowers have done in creating the Burkholders? garden,? Thomas said. ?But when the visitors think they have seen it all, they will see a limestone wall that looks as if Kevin imported a castle from Europe.?

Ticket information

Tickets are available at Marion City Library, 101 Library St., at $5 each.

When visitors buy their tickets, Thomas said, they will receive two tour guides?one for the gardens within the city and at the Marion County Lake?and a second giving directions to the Hett ranch, north of Marion.

?The second map lays out the tour route through the ranch and indicates where parking is available for those wanting a closer view of the wildflowers,? she said.

For more information, call the library at 620-382-2442.

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