The tour is a fund raiser for the Firelands Historical Society. And it’s a fun way to get ideas for your own landscape and garden.
When I saw some of the landscape highlights at the homes of the other folks hosting garden tourists this Saturday, July 8 — Scott and Nancy Sisson, Tom and Jackie Dunlap, LaMar and Phyllis Zieber, Shannon and Dave Ditz and Bill and Judy Rarick — I was a little intimidated. Some of them are Master Gardeners. And it sounds like all of them have created fabulous outdoor spaces.
Most of what makes our place interesting is a result of sheer luck. Back in 1991, ours was the first home built on our street. And we ended up with a unique city building lot: more than three acres in size, lots of trees and a nice hillside that descends to Norwalk Creek.
It’s very pleasant to look at. But there is a lot to maintain.
And I have never been able to slack off because my neighbors all take such remarkable care of their yards and landscapes. Berrys, Wilkinsons, Stierts, Millers, Brights and Gormleys all have impeccable properties. It’s a challenge just to keep up.
My around-the-corner friend Mike King was the original bar setter for over-the-top landscape perfection. His lawn and gardens on Jennifer Way are the ones all the rest of us tried to emulate. Mike, by the way, designed and installed the handsome landscape circle you will see at the very end of our street, Jeffrey Way.
One of the best things about agreeing to have more than a hundred people stop by to look at my yard is that it has made me finally do all the things I have been putting off for years.
I had low hanging limbs on my trees cut back. I had lattice installed to hide the junk under my deck. I cleaned up weeds in the woods and along the stream (as my poison ivy will attest). I pruned and planted and tweaked things that had been needing it for up to 20 years.
And I fenced a little garden space that I had previously ceded to the deer.
Oh, yes, the deer.
It now seems so quaint to think how once upon a time we actually put out a salt lick down near Norwalk Creek, hoping to attract a deer or two.
And now we are overrun with them. In the winter, we have counted as many as 15, grazing on anything green — much of which I bought and planted.
Now, as you stand on my deck — and I really hope you will — you will see a sizeable open area at the front edge of the woods. It used to be filled with several varieties of hostas, handsome shade-loving plants that we always had at home when I was a kid. Hostas are the deer equivalent of potato chips. And, like the commercial says, at my house they could not eat just one. My huge hosta bed is now mostly mulch and decorative rocks.
In other beds, the deer did the same with my taxus yews, daylilies, daisies and black-eyed-Susans. Ate them down to the ground enough times that the perennials stopped coming back.
In that regard, the deer are a problem. But if, during your garden tour visit, you happen to see the doe with her two spotted fawns that have been around most of the spring, it will be the highlight of your day.
I really hope you will buy a ticket and stop by this Saturday, July 8 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You can get your ticket this week at Schild’s IGA for $10. Saturday you can also get a ticket at the tour starting point, the Firelands Museum on Case Avenue behind the library.
As I said, I recommend starting your visit with an overview from the deck on the east side of our home. In fact, you can enjoy a glass of wine while you are there. Of course, you will have to bring it yourself. I spent all my wine money on mulch.
Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at jimbusek@ hotmail.com.