The Jay and Nancy McWherter garden on the Linn County Master Gardener Walk has more than 1,000 varieties of hosta. (Jay McWherter photo)

The Jay and Nancy McWherter garden on the Linn County Master Gardeners Walk has more than 1,000 varieties of hosta. (Jay McWherter photo)

Two spectacular garden walks are coming up next weekend, June 22 and June 23, 2013, in Linn County and in Iowa City. The tours offer a great way to see lush landscaping and be inspired by gardeners who really know what they’re doing.

Here is more from ISU Extension about the Linn County Master Gardener Walk on June 22 and from Project GREEN about the group’s tour on June 23:

Explore five diverse Linn County Master Gardener gardens that will inspire you with ideas you can apply to your own garden or landscape or simply provide you the opportunity to tour beautiful private gardens.

Gardens will include: ornamental grasses, conifers, vegetables, perennials, containers, raised beds, prairie, water features & more.

Master Gardeners will be at all of the gardens to answer your horticulture-related questions.

Mark your calendar and join us: June 22, 2013
Admission is $5 per adult or $10 per family
Start at any of the gardens listed below!

McWherter Garden
1610 Timberland Drive NW • Cedar Rapids

The McWherter shade/woodland garden is an artistic presentation of plants that include hostas (over 1,000 varieties), perennials, and tropicals.  This garden is interspersed with limestone paths, garden art and containers that are an integral part of the beauty. Wildlife abounds! This garden is created and groomed by Jay & Nancy.  Every niche reveals a photographic image.  Inspiration for your garden will result after viewing this hillside garden.

Granger House Museum Garden
970 10th Street  • Marion

The Granger House Museum gardens consist of three beds featuring a mixture of vegetables, perennials, and annuals commonly planted by 19th-century households. This Master Gardener project includes edibles such as lavender and other herbs as well as rhubarb, peppers, and a variety of tomatoes.  It also features a crab apple orchard, a beautiful collection of peonies, and a grape arbor that provides a shaded retreat for weary gardeners.  Note: Garden Walk does not include admission to the Granger House Museum.

Stewart Farm Garden
298 Martelle Road  •  Martelle 

The Stewart’s farm garden began as an English cottage garden, reflecting the 6 years they lived in Britain.  The surrounding acres now include a shade garden for bird watching, a floral cutting garden, a 3/4 acre restored Iowa prairie, a vegetable garden that includes 4 raised beds, and areas for production of fruits and vegetables preserved for year-round family use.  Rain barrels, multiple compost locations, a ready supply of sheep fertilizer, mulch for weed control, and minimal chemical use demonstrate the family’s goal of connecting with and respecting their land and rural heritage.

Dvorak Garden
206 Candlestick Drive  •  Mt. Vernon 

The Dvorak gardens include an eclectic mix of old and new, perennials and annuals, sun and shade, many of which have been selected to attract birds and butterflies. There are also a traditional vegetable garden, herbs, grapes and berries.  The central water feature invites family and friends to come, sit, relax and enjoy the beauty around us.

McKinstry Garden
408 B Avenue NE  •  Mt. Vernon  

A lovingly tended garden will welcome you at the McKinstry home.  Peace and tranquility prevail as you follow pathways through the garden rooms created in the perimeter of a city lot.  The garden incorporates an interesting assortment of perennials, shrubs and trees.  Color and texture balance the garden’s beauty throughout the seasons.

Download a copy of the 2013 Garden Walk brochure which includes a description of all the gardens, a map and directions.


Sunday June 23, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

$5.00 admission, 16 & under free

PROJECT GREEN (“Grow to Reach Environmental Excellence Now”) is an all-volunteer organization organized in 1968 to beautify green spaces, major entryways, roadsides, riverfronts, public school grounds, parks and median parkways on state, county, and city properties within the boundaries of Iowa City. Project GREEN also supports Johnson County’s efforts to educate citizens about native prairie restoration.

During winter, Second Sunday Garden Forums are held at the Iowa City Public Library. A major source of funding is provided by the annual Project GREEN Garden Fair each May, plus contributions from private donors and commercial businesses.

The Garden Tour is an annual event that offers area residents a peek into the beautiful and widely diverse gardens of private residents in Iowa City and/or Coralville. Every year the gardens are different, with an occasional garden making a repeat performance! Some gardens are expansive, some are small and intimate, but all are chosen for their beauty in design, rich variety of plantings, and creative hardscaping (walkways, patios, walls, etc.).

TICKETS: Tour-goers may start at any of the Iowa City gardens listed below to get a ticket and map that provides entrance to all the other gardens. Visitors should bring whatever they may need—good shoes, a hat or visor, sunscreen, notepaper, pen, and a water bottle. This year, bug spray is a good idea too!

PARKING: Many of these streets have No Parking signs on one or more sides, but the tour organizers will notify the city and police department of this event to waive the restrictions.

RECYCLE: Visitors may bring clean, sturdy, heavier plastic pots with labels removed to the tour ticket table at 830 Walnut Street (Lekin garden). Clean pots can also be delivered at other times to any of the following people:

Sue Terveer-Mullins, 1207 Marcy Street, 319-339-0984
Karrie Craig, 2415 Mayfield Rd., 319-339-9403
Jan Carpenter, 110 No. 7th Ave., 319-338-8613
Judy Best, 3211 Shamrock Dr., 319-338-6604
Nancy Weber, 500 Whiting Ave., 319-337-3421

The five gardens are all in Iowa City:

Walnut Street is 1 block north of Kirkwood Avenue and east from Summit Street.

The four other gardens are in the Manville Heights neighborhood, south & west of City Park.

Shirley & Jack Lekin, 830 Walnut St.

When the Lekins arrived in 1984, this deep, narrow lot offered up messy fruit trees and overgrown blackberries. Now this property is a favorite garden destination in Iowa City! The front yard features wisteria, a weeping redbud, and a low wall filled with a raised bed of perennials and shrubs.

A brick drive winds into a backyard patio created from salvaged pavers. The mostly sunny garden has been transformed to about half shade / half sun. Nineteen new trees, several Canadian hemlocks, and a hemlock hedge form an evergreen privacy screen.

Reconfiguring a completely flat yard, truckloads of dirt created berms to give height to the flower beds. Two small garden ponds are featured—one with a waterfall and one with a fountain. Brick walkways wind among the hundreds of perennials. Here you will find clematis, peonies, hosta, dianthus, heuchera, iris, geraniums, daylilies, lilies, amsonia, daisies, phlox, allium, delphinium, hosta, columbine, and more! Shirley’s garden, complete with a potting shed tucked in a back corner, is a flower-lovers’ English-style garden brimming with color and charm.

Joni Jones, 516 Holt Ave.

A peaceful sanctuary of past and present, Joni’s garden is like stepping into a secret world with its own sense of place. Perennial transplants from her previous home garden were brought along when she moved here five years ago. New additions include shrubs, roses, grasses, and spring- and summer-blooming bulbs. More sun shines now after an evergreen recently blew down . . . always new problems to solve! Rabbits are deterred with chicken wire along the fenced perimeter.

Peonies, iris, daylilies, roses, grasses, and hostas offer foliage and flowers for a long bloom period, with the addition of annuals to deliver continuity of color. Shrubs with season-long interest add structure; vines provide vertical lines and privacy; groundcovers and mulch minimize weeds. Herbs and veggies are gaining ground in Joni’s garden. She is experimenting with vertical gardening for vining cucumber, pole beans, and even spaghetti squash. Special attractions include hanging baskets and wreaths of succulents. A rain barrel and compost container ward against drought, and the marvelous deck and pergola abound with vines, birds’ nests, hanging pots, and flower boxes.

Paul & Joan Burns, 425 Beldon Ave.

For the past 15 years, Joan has enjoyed moving, dividing, and sharing plants each year to tweak the look and health of their plantings. With overgrown privet and lilac hedges removed, their garden now hosts a variety of plantings that include roses, coral bells, liatrus, bee balm, sedum, coneflower, black eyed susan, flax, lilies, baby’s breath, grasses, daisies, hosta, boxwood, Japanese maples, and hydrangea.

A stepping-stone footpath weaves through a mixed garden of hostas and perennials toward a gated backyard. A border of arborvitae stands guard over a hosta garden near a screened porch under the shade of a large maple. Dozens of hosta varieties include dwarf to huge sizes plus hues ranging from variegated to solid green. In a sunny spot, an herb garden flourishes with rosemary, chives, sage, tarragon, thyme, and basil. A stone planter box created from materials from Stone City overflows with annuals each year. Their patio features a fabulous limestone tabletop and base from Stone City with flagstones leading to an impressive limestone fireplace with inlaid artwork tiles.


The John Chase garden will be on this year's Project Green tour. (photo/John Chase)

The John Chase garden will be on this year’s Project Green tour. (photo/John Chase)

John Chase, 419 Beldon Ave.

After moving to this home in 2003, John allowed his two Black Labrador “gardeners” to take over. But with professional help, he is now enjoying beautiful gardens and landscaping while maintaining a dog-friendly property. From the front porch, a grand swoop of color, texture, and movement is interspersed with a walkway of pavers. Anchored by a magnificent fir tree, groupings of perennials, shrubs, and a small birdbath attract birds and wildlife.

Within the fenced and gated backyard, pavers wind past the dogs’ cozy hideaway under the back stoop. Here a stunning fieldstone patio, grill, and fireplace are further enhanced by flowering plantings backed by a screen of junipers and a mature hemlock. A hot tub along the side fence is tucked into a construct of the same fieldstone, under a cedar pergola entangled with clematis. Another walkway heads toward a sauna and outdoor shower (suitably disguised). Outdoor lighting extends the long summertime hours, as do acoustic planters! Music is piped throughout the garden from speakers below the annuals in pots from Reference Audio Video in Coralville.


Randee & John Fieselmann, 933 Highwood St.

Randee is a lifelong gardener who loves to read gardening books and magazines. She and John enjoy road trips to favorite places such as the Morton Arboretum, Minneapolis Landscape Arboretum, and Winterthur Gardens.

In this garden native plants are preferred, and houseplants are brought outside for added punch. Randee’s most important tip for garden planning is simple but often neglected, especially when choosing plants for sun or for shade. Study the microclimate of each area within your own property, analyze the hours of sun vs. shade as well as soil types and drainage concerns. Another key consideration is the level of visibility of planting selections from different sightlines.

A brick patio at the back of the house offers a sunny spot for the Fieselmanns to enjoy their garden, while another courtyard at the side features a shady retreat. Don’t miss the boulder fountain—it is spectacular! Visitors will come away with many ideas while strolling this attractive corner lot filled with shrubs and trees, both shade and sun offerings, annual and perennial combinations, plus the delightful seating areas.