Home garden tour features former victory gardener, Colorado landscape

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Ashley McCallum
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

JANESVILLE—Joanne Anderson has come a long way since she sowed her first seeds in a World War II victory garden.

Anderson learned to garden by helping her father before he went overseas with the Army. She took care of her father's garden during his four years away.

That experience helped her become one of the first master gardeners to graduate from Rotary Botanical Gardens' master gardener program years ago, she said.

Now, Anderson stays busy tending her garden at Cedar Crest Community for Senior Adults, which is part of the Rotary Gardens Home Garden Tour on Saturday, July 15.

This year's tour features different home gardens -- including Deanna and Leonard Duckworth's garden on Deer Path Trail -- and nine garden plots at Cedar Crest.

Anderson has tended a garden at Cedar Crest since she moved in 11 years ago. Each year is different, and she decides what to plant based on what she enjoys at the time.

This year, her garden contains day lilies, peonies, Russian sage and unusual plants such as dictamnus -- also known as gas plant -- which gives off an odor similar to gasoline. She also planted porcupine grass, which towers over the other plants.

Other Cedar Crest residents, such as Carolyn Hart, plant vegetables and flowers. Lloyd Page's garden plot includes a hanging ball of llama fur for birds to take for nesting, Anderson said.

Cedar Crest was last featured on the tour in 2008. Gardeners must wait at least five years before their gardens can rejoin the tour, said Barb Tapovatz, garden tour committee member.

New to the tour this year is Deanna and Leonard Duckworth's garden at 2757 W. Deer Path Trail in Janesville.

Leonard always thought he and his wife would retire in Colorado. They vacationed there with their kids many times and enjoyed the landscape.

The couple decided to build their retirement home in Janesville. But with help from Jeff Vine, president of Tee Um Up Paradise Backyards, they were able to bring Colorado scenery to Wisconsin.

The Duckworths' backyard features a mountainesque waterfall lined with boulders Vine brought from Colorado. Aspen trees, also from Colorado, surround the perimeter.

Deanna said she plants the 100 or so annuals that bloom at the base of the waterfall. A field of prairie flowers spreads across the rear of the backyard.

This is the first summer the Duckworths can enjoy their completed landscape, Leonard said. It took about two years to finish the project, which includes two water fixtures, numerous trees and flowers in the front and back yards.

A committee of volunteers decides which gardens will be featured on the tour, Tapovatz said. The Duckworths' yard was nominated by a committee member who watched the gardens take shape while riding her bike past their house.

The Duckworths accepted the nomination after learning the tour is a fundraiser for Rotary Gardens, Leonard said.

Gardens don't have to meet specific requirements to be on the tour, Anderson said.

“It doesn't have to be perfect. Gardens aren't perfect,” Tapovatz said.

Garden locations are farther apart than in past years, Tapovatz said. The tours are self-guided, so people can visit the gardens in any order.

Tickets can be bought in advance or on tour day at Rotary Gardens and K&W Greenery. Tickets will be checked at each location, and they include a free visit to Rotary Gardens.

“It helps support Rotary Gardens, which is so important to Janesville,” Tapovatz said. “It's a good way to help the gardens and hopefully go through the gardens. It's always a treat."

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