Janesville garden walking tour features less driving
The garden of Marie Freier at 3212 E. Danbury Drive, Janesville is part of the Rotary Botanical Gardens annual garden walk Saturday, July 23.
IF YOU GO
What:Rotary Botanical Gardens annual garden walk
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, July 23
Where: Seven area homes and Rotary Botanical Gardens.
Cost: $10 in advance, $12 the day of the event. Tickets are available at Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville, and K&W Greenery, Highway 14 at Kennedy Road, Janesville. For more information, visit rotarybotanicalgardens.org or call (608) 752-3885.
JANESVILLE The “walk” is back in the garden walk.
This year’s Rotary Botanical Gardens Home Garden Tour features eight gardens, six within walking distance of each other.
In some cases, the owners have even connected their gardens with paths through backyards.
“We’ve been trying to cluster the gardens together,” said Jean Sedor, garden tour chairwoman. “People like that—they don’t have to keep driving all over town.”
This year, the cluster of gardens is in Briar Crest. One home is on Henke Road not far from the subdivision. The final stop on the tour is Rotary Gardens.
Sedor, whose home also is on the garden tour, said the committee wants to move the tour “cluster” to a different Janesville neighborhood each year. When picking gardens for the tour, the committee looks for engaging, unusual, welcoming and well-kept spaces.
The primary goal?
“We want people to enjoy themselves,” Sedor said.
The homes in Briar Crest have a unique advantage. Filled with oaks and other old hardwoods, the gardens show how much can be done in shade—or with just a little bit of sun.
The home of Marie and Tom Freier, 3212 E. Danbury Drive, is a good example.
The front of the Freiers’ home is modestly landscaped, but as you wander down the driveway, the backyard begins to reveal itself.
An awkward slope from the driveway to the lawn was transformed into little terraces filled with bee balm, now in full bloom, tickseed and other colorful plants.
At the bottom of the terraced steps, the yard opens up before visitors. A gazebo, small pond, bridge and arbors, each surrounded by lush greenery and dotted with garden art, provide focal points for the eyes.
But the landscape isn’t cluttered: Each area holds its own while fitting into the whole.
Many areas are dedicated to a family member, and the garden got its start with a gazebo dedicated to Marie’s father.
“When my father died, I really needed something to do, something to keep busy with,” Marie Freier said.
The gazebo was built from a kit.
“It started as a big pile of wood in the driveway,” said Tom Freier.
Marie added her own touches to the gazebo: a birdhouse on the peak and an original pattern for the floor. Inside, the gazebo features mementos of her father, Don Bladorn. A photo of Marie and her father dancing and Bladorn’s shuffleboard stick are two such items. Bladorn, who wintered in Florida, was so good at the game he is now in the shuffleboard hall of fame.
The Freiers also have garden spots dedicated to Marie’s mother, Ruby, her sister and the couple’s sons.
The Freiers are retired—Tom from GM and Marie from Milton Avenue Floral, a business she ran for 25 years.
Marie does the planting and planning in the garden.
“I mostly dig the holes,” Tom said with a grin.
He also helped Marie mix the 120 bags of Sakrete needed for the hand-cast stepping stones for the garden path.
Much of the Freiers’ yard is dappled shade, and it’s surprising how much grows in those conditions. A Shasta daisy, typically a sun-loving plant, occupies a corner filled only with dappled light. Red and purple annuals pop out like gems amid the greenery. Even an arbor of Concord grapes thrives without much sun.
The Freiers’ yard is connected to two other tour gardens: Collen Adamany, 3211 Briar Crest Drive, and Craig and Deb Lewison, 3304 Sratford Court.
Sunlight pours into the center of Adamany’s cozy yard, which is ringed by large hardwoods from the Freiers’ property.
Around the edges, a variety of colorful and original birdhouses built by Adamany’s late husband, Wally, add original touches.
A bright blue table and chairs add to the cheer.
Mark Dwyer, Rotary Gardens horticultural manager, said the garden tour is a major fundraiser for the organization. He stressed that the gardens do not receive any tax dollars and subsists on donations, memberships and ticket sales.
It also depends on more than 10,000 hours of volunteer labor performed by community members.
1. Jean Sedor, 3194 W. Danbury Drive: The gardens blend with woodlands and are filled with a colorful blend of shade-loving plants. Each season features a variety of blooms. Spring interest includes magnolia, lilac, Virginia bluebells, shooting stars and May apples. Summer interest includes begonias, roses, impatiens, hydrangea, phlox and clematis.
2. Matt and Debbie Mills, 3186 W. Danbury Drive: Several varieties of hostas greet visitors in the front yard. Astilbe, hydrangea, begonias and impatiens line the natural pathway to a tranquil retreat in the back yard. An elevated, cobblestone patio sits among oaks and pines to make it feel as though you’ve been transported north. Bordering the back of the house is a bed of herbs and vegetables in parterre style.
3. Tom and Marie Freier, 3212 E. Danbury Drive: A memorial gazebo is the centerpiece around which this garden has been developed. Each section of garden has been dedicated to a family member in some way. Plants include many varieties of perennials and annuals and birds are always welcome to use any of the birdhouses for a residence.
4. Greg and Gretchen Hunsader, 3238 E. Danbury Drive: This wooded lot—which includes oak, maple, hickory, spruce and dogwood—is made to feel cozy and intimate because of the many gardens that frame the yard and home. Birdbaths and feeders are situated throughout the gardens.
5. Colleen Adamany, 3211 Briar Crest Drive: A sense of tranquility is provided in this shaded space that includes a wide range of hosta, ferns, coral bells and other shade-loving plants. Pink impatiens are replicated throughout the garden to brighten up darker areas. The focal points of the yard are the colorful birdhouses built by Colleen’s late husband, Wally.
6. Craig and Deb Lewison. 3304 Stratford Court: This yard’s initial challenge—the amount of shade—has now become an attribute. The shadier portions of the yard include hostas, ferns, bleeding hearts, astilbe, goatsbeard, hellebores, anemones and many other perennials.
7. Wayne and Sharon Petranek, 5237 N. Henke Road, Milton: This country lot includes the home, garden and landscape business. The home is built into a hill and the terrain has become an asset. Boulder retaining walls with planting pockets help define the yard. A sheltered location includes semi-hardy varieties and dwarf conifers. Perennials, shrub roses and annuals provide additional accent, and groundcovers help minimize weeds.