The Arber Greenhouses inaugural Town and Country Garden Tour to nine special gardens in the County and City of Wetaskiwin was a resounding success. The day began with a pancake breakfast at Arber Greenhouses where tour participants also received a list of the gardens on the tour with a brief note about each one, a map, and directions for driving from one to another of the gardens. Many continued the tour even after the showers began in the early afternoon.
The gardens toured displayed a wide range of settings and landscaping concepts. Seven of them were on farms or acreages, while two of them were on small city lots. There were a wide variety of flower displays, many of them in decorative containers large or small. Petunias were very popular for showy display, but some of the gardens had gorgeous beds of well tended perennials with lilies and roses in full bloom. Some featured shrubs more than others, while water features are increasingly popular and were on display from large enough to winter fish to a tiny spot on a city lot. The gardens on the tour were a delight to see, like visiting a series of beautiful parks. Every one of them was special in its own way, showcasing the creativity and hard work of its designer.
Frank VandeKratts has a landscaping business including the installation of water features, so his fishpond with rocks and shrubs enhancing the waterfall and his new deck extending to the pond is also his business showcase. Flowers, both perennials and annuals, tastefully add spots of colour to this tranquil setting. In addition, there is a luxuriant and practical vegetable garden behind a picket fence.
Monica Blaeser uses her whole acreage to display her creativity, from the antique seeder and brick gateposts and brick flower boxes welcoming visitors with a blaze of colour to the well developed terraced area behind the house. The natural slope behind the house lends itself perfectly to the walk-out basement with covered patio, nearby gazebo, and stairs down to a seating and visiting area with a delightful small playground tucked in a corner and all enhanced by the brick retaining wall. The flower display beautifully complements the front of the house.
Ross and Susan Brown practice “lasagna” gardening, the layering of water-soaked newspapers placed under growing medium with mulch on top. Using this method, they have produced a most luxuriant perennial garden that spreads along their drive as well as around the house yard. Their roses are magnificent.
Lori Purschke shows how it takes only 19 years to go from bare farmland to a well planned yard with both perennial flower and vegetable gardens sheltered and enhanced by mature trees. Start with the trees.
Colleen Heslup's speciality is tucking containers among her perennials to give a fuller colour display. Her wonderful lilies have amazing variety of colour.
Terry and Charlene Swenson are rebounding after severe damage by the hailstorm of a year ago, having a solid base of cut stone terracing and water feature to rebuild upon. Annuals bring colour while the many perennials, shrubs and trees become established again.
Barb Ganske has had to replace some mature trees blown down by winds in recent years in order to maintain a solid windbreak around the yard. Her favourite spot is the area beside her deck where she grows some flowers from her grandmother's garden.
Sandi Ratch has a luxuriant vegetable garden, mostly grown from heritage seeds, tucked in her back yard on a small lot in Wetaskiwin.
Janet Magrum illustrates how even a small city lot can be developed with small water features, a special nook with rich bloom and still have some open space.
Every garden on display was beautiful in its own way, and every garden provided new ideas for gardeners on the tour. Congrats to Arber Greenhouses for initiating this tour.