It is finally here!

The 2019 Emporia Garden Tour sponsored by K-State Research and Extension — Lyon County, Extension Master Gardeners. From 8 a.m. - noon Saturday five gardens will be open for the public to visit and see all the beautiful colors.

The public garden for 2019 will be Red Rocks State Historic Site — the William Allen White House. This year’s the garden tour is being held in conjunction with the Artist and Authors in Garden at Red Rocks. The Lyon County Extension Master Gardeners will have a plant sale at Red Rocks during the hours of the tour.

Here are the five gardens being featured on this year’s Emporia Garden Tour. Just like in past years, each garden is different and unique in its own special way.

Richard and Doris Crone, 1915 Holiday Drive

Richard and Doris Crone have spent several years working together on this yard. When Richard would deliver campers, he would bring back many items. All of the concrete edging was brought in from Indiana and the weeping mulberry came from a town outside of Dallas. Most of the shrubs located in the yard have come from all over the country as well.

The front yard has an arch that was purchased from Sutherlands, along with a planter that is modeled after one that was located at Diddes. Plants such as: boxwood, liriope, moonshadow euonymus and a recently planted dogwood are planted in the garden on the North side of the house. Richard and Doris also have their share of garden art, which were mainly purchased at yard sales.

Visitors are led to the backyard by a fun arch and an old bird bath repurposed into a planter. Once in the backyard, a new perennial bed, a trellis Richard made for the wisteria, strawberry and asparagus beds and a greenhouse are some of the features to be showcased. The mock orange along the back fence was planted in honor of Doris’ father.

The deck is adorned with a pergola that has a slate and brick floor with two swings across from each other. Richard has built all the structures within the current landscaping. At one time, the Crone’s operated the old Brown’s Floral, which was located here in Emporia.

Debbie O’Connor 1728 Mayfair

Six years ago, Debbie had the opportunity to purchase the house on Mayfair Street, which she had admired for 40 years. Gardening has been a passion of hers since she was 10 years old. So, Debbie was eager to begin her gardening adventure.

Overcrowded trees and shrubs were removed before Debbie started to improve the lawn. The goal was to keep things simple and just have a few pots of flowers.

Debbie said, “I started creating and one idea led to another, my foot and the shovel became partners that could not be contained. I am happy with where this journey has taken me and now patience will be my best virtue.”

There are fun little pockets throughout the yard that gives Debbie great pleasure; a butterfly garden, a shade garden and a boxwood garden just to name a few. She has been told that this is the only French Normandy Architecture in Emporia. So, the landscape is designed to have a French appeal to go with the style of the home. As we all know gardens are an ever evolving art, so this canvas is probably not yet complete.

Debbie is very proud that the Master Gardeners have asked her to share her property with all of the avid gardeners that look forward to the annual tour. She hopes that her passion for the gardens she has created will be a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Kent and Jodi Heermann, 1720 Trowman Way

Kent and Jodi both enjoy gardening and adding curb appeal to their home.

The Heermann’s first house after they were married was on a corner lot and lined with peonies and iris, so they had to learn quickly.

The plants chosen for their home on Trowman Way are mostly on a whim. Kent and Jodi have been given many plants over the years that continue to thrive — a hosta and an early-blooming variety of peony that blooms two to three weeks before the old-fashioned varieties and a few Asiatic lilies. Redbud trees, dogwoods, forsythia and lilacs are beautiful in the spring, while the burning bush is ablaze in the fall. They have learned a lot along the way, for example, don’t plant sweet potato vine in the pots on the patio because it is a condiment for the squirrels!

The Heermann’s are not great vegetable gardeners but grow herbs and a couple of spicy peppers for salsa and dips. It’s great to step out the door to snip fresh herbs for cooking. In the fall herbs are cut and dried to use all winter long.

A little succulent area has been fun to put together. Most of the plants are annuals, but some perennials that come up every year as ground cover have been incorporated. This year, a galvanized calf waterer that was converted into a flower box for succulents was added. It hangs under a window on the garden shed.

The patio is a real focal point for relaxation and gathering of friends and family. It is a comfortable space where Kent and Jodi enjoy spending time. Patio lights define the space that is filled with hanging plants and colorful containers. Dragon wing begonias thrive in the hanging baskets, loving the morning sun and the shade in the afternoon. Jodi is drawn to purple, red and chartreuse, so the large pots on the patio and on the front step reflect that color combination. Because so much time is spent on the patio, several of the plants are chosen for their insect repellence.

Leslie Lloyd and Daryn Bontrager, 1724 East Wilman Court

Not much of the yard Leslie and Daryn inherited six years ago remains. The mature boxwoods along the front of the home, a burning bush, a volunteer patch of spearmint along the drive and three trees were saved. One of the trees is an old oak, the second is a middle-aged red maple and the third is a much less impressive oak that grows at an angle and competes for sunlight from underneath the larger oak’s canopy.

Leslie’s gardening at East Wilman began in the narrow space between the street and sidewalk. Some people call it the boulevard, others refer to it as the hellstrip. Theirs was more the latter and nothing more than a ratty patch of weeds, dirt and acorn caps. Leslie wanted to plant something other than grass that would give a little curb appeal and be somewhat self-sustaining. A little planning and a lot of good luck led to a sweet, curbside garden comprised of perennials like golden creeping Jenny, ajuga, creeping sedum, cheddar pink dianthus and tick seed.

Last year, catnip was transplanted as well as two Knock Out rose bushes that were not getting adequate sun along the drive. River rock was added this last fall so they would not have to replace mulch every year.

Leslie and Daryn’s next endeavor was the lawn (front and back). They are on attempt number five! The lovely, magnificent oak, with an impressive 13-foot circumference, has made it difficult to grow and sustain a lawn with its extensive root system and massive shady canopy. This past fall it was decided to landscape large sections of yard in both front and back with Colorado river rock. Areas of yard with the best soil conditions and the fewest roots were reserved for another attempt at a lawn. In front of the home, two additional boxwoods were planted for balance, a sidewalk made of pavers on the south side of the home to connect front and back yards, and some decorative fencing was added.

In the backyard, two raised beds for vegetable gardening, as well as a dry creek bed (inspired by Leslie’s childhood in Colorado) on the most shaded area of the lot were created. The rock is bordered with black mulch and mass plantings of variegated liriope, a variety of hostas, one wisteria, a dwarf Korean lilac bush and a single azalea bush.

Since Leslie and Daryn have had great success with Knock Out roses at their business, they decided to plant them on the North side of the yard along the raised beds. They add a nice pop of color all summer long.

The newest addition to the landscape is a fairy village comprised of three cottages, a church, a small lake with sandy beaches and a public park. The fairy village is located in a shared flower bed on the southern edge of the front yard. Over the next few months, the plan is to add a stepping stone path along the edge of the village using native limestone for “human” foot traffic. To date, this has been the most fun addition to the yard and Leslie is looking forward to adding to it over time.

A few spreading sedums have already been planted and the plan is to continue to add small scale shade tolerant plants throughout the growing season. The fairy garden is complete with solar lighting and pea gravel pathways for easy fairy travel.

Red Rocks State Historic Site – William Allen White House, 927 Exchange

The Lyon County Extension Master Gardeners are thrilled to feature the gardens at Red Rocks, the home of the William Allen White Family at 10th Avenue and Exchange Street, in conjunction with the Artists and Authors in the Garden on this year’s tour. The gardens here have been a haven for plant lovers for more than 100 years.

When Barbara White Walker donated the house, contents and grounds to the Kansas State Historical Society in 2001, the gardens needed some tending and updating. The KSHS called upon the Master Gardeners to help plan and update the lovely old garden. The new plan required a bit of lobbying as some historical aspects of the old garden were not practical because of maintenance issues: some of the “antique” plant varieties were invasive or difficult to maintain.

After much discussion, practical compromises were made: honey suckle replaced the wisteria and trumpet vine on the porch portico, and modern disease resistant varieties of roses were used instead of heirloom plants that were susceptible to black spot and mildew.

But today, as visitors stroll the pathways, they still see old fashioned iris, day lilies, and hostas. In spring, Korean Spice Viburnum line the side of the mother-in-law house, and in late summer into fall, oak leaf hydrangea hugs the north west corner of the Visitor’s Center. A favorite old fashioned plant, a sedum known for years as “hen and chicks” spills artistically from two vintage pots on the porch where President Teddy Roosevelt and other famous figures chatted with the White family.

The backyard also features a fish pond. One story, perhaps true, perhaps legend, says that Will White would don swim trunks on hot summer days and float on his back in this pool. Supposedly, neighbors looking from second story windows down into the garden, thought portly WAW to be swimming au naturiel because his round stomach hid the bathing trunks… true or not, a great story.

As visitors stroll across the back lawn, they must be wary of cypress knees and knobs. These graceful trees add cool pools of shade, but their exposed roots can twist an ankle or cause a fall. A variety of mature trees create a shady retreat in this historic garden.

So, come on out from 8 a.m. - noon Saturday for the 2019 Emporia Garden Tour, sponsored by the K-State Research and Extension - Lyon County, Extension Master Gardeners. Garden Tour tickets are available in advance either at the Lyon County Extension Office or tickets may be purchased from any Lyon County Extension Master Gardener. Tickets are $5 per person and will also be available the day of the tour at any of the tour locations. For more information please contact the Lyon County Extension Office at 620-341-3220 or stop by the office located at 2632 West Highway 50 in Emporia.

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