Porter County Master Gardener’s Association Holds Garden Walk 2010: Helping Others Grow

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Published on July 14, 2010 with No Comments

by Carl Kurek

Azaleas, Delphiniums, Rhododendrons…

Not only are some plant names difficult to spell, but some – or perhaps most – can be difficult to keep flourishing in your garden. Or maybe your garden just seems a little plain or possibly even a little too diverse. A growing number of people would suggest that you Google your problem, but if you desire a more hands-on learning experience, there is one other answer.

“Helping Others Grow” is the motto of the Porter County Master Gardeners Association (PCMGA), a not-for-profit corporation that promotes the art, science, education and pleasure of gardening. They do so in cooperation with and under the sponsorship of Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service in Porter County.

Every year, the PCMGA, which won the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission R.O.S.E. Award for Festival of the Year in 2009, sponsors a Gardening Show in January and a Garden Walk during the summer months.

This year’s Garden Walk includes a community garden where anyone can request a plot to grow. Another garden covers 2 acres of sun and shade gardens while showcasing arbors, a koi pond, and a waterfall. One sports a summer kitchen and the artwork of two family artists as well as an “orchestra pit” for musical entertainment at parties. 

Another is a garden gem crafted by the first horticulturist at Taltree Arboretum complete with camouflaged compost bin and rain barrel.  In another, admire artistic pruning and Asian-style plant arrangements in a garden punctuated with whimsical creatures, a gong and several weeping trees.

“We want to promote our Walk for the learning experience that it truly is and what Master Gardeners are all about – learning, teaching and helping others grow,” Suzanna Tudor, a Valparaiso resident of almost 44 years who has been involved with the PCMGA since 2002, said.

This summer’s walk will take place Saturday July 17 from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. Tickets will be $8 on the day of the event, $6 if purchased in advance and children under 12 are free. Since July 2, advance tickets have been on sale at Chesterton Feed and Garden, Four Seasons Landscaping Nursery, Horses Garden Center, Jake’s Feed and Garden, Kouts True Value Hardware, Porter County Extension Office, Reed’s Nursery and Garden Center, Samuelson’s Nursery, Town and Country Market in Valparaiso and Windy Ridge Farms.

A ticket provides admission to nine gardens that are all in Valparaiso this year.

“Some years they’re spread out, but this year they’re clustered,” Maureen Phillips, the chair of publicity and promotions committee, said.

“There are seven private gardens that people normally wouldn’t get to see otherwise. Then besides the Garden of Heroes, there’s another garden at a church.”

The private gardens are ones that private homeowners in the community have grown and are opening their doors – or rather their gates – to people who purchase tickets for this year’s walk.

Garden of Heroes is a garden located at Hayes Leonard Elementary school in Valparaiso that was put together after 9/11. Students of the elementary school, under the direction of Master Gardener Charlotte Friedlund, built the garden and are on hand to take visitors around the garden on the day of the walk.

Tickets that are purchased on the day of the walk are available there between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and the Garden of Heroes will then also provide a starting point for walkers. But Phillips says that there are more benefits to purchasing tickets in advance other than saving a few dollars.

“Tickets are actually 24 pages long and contain information on each garden,” Phillips said. “Purchasing them early gives people the chance to pick their own start and then prioritize the gardens in order of what they want to see and how much time they might spend at each.”

Also this year, points of interest throughout the gardens will be visually identified in each garden with numerals which will coincide with numerals that can then be found in the tickets, or guides, that people purchased.

“Garden walks are more than just touring gardens and seeing well-groomed grounds, trees, plants and flowers. Granted that it’s an enjoyable exercise,” Tudor said. “We like to refer to the gardens this year as ‘living, learning laboratories’ and, indeed, they are.”

The community garden at the church that Phillips spoke of is one that has been truly helping people for years. Anybody in the community can acquire a plot of land at this location to raise vegetables, and many who do then donate the produce to local food banks.

“We do have really exceptional gardens this year,” Phillips said. “If people have been putting off going on a walk, they should really get out there this year.”

The PCMGA is located at 155 Indiana Ave., Suite 301, in Valparaiso. For information about the Garden Walk 2010, visit www.pcgarden.info or e-mail pcmastergardener@gmail.com. The Porter County Extension Office can also be reached at 465-3555.

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