Fourth annual GFWC Garden Tour set for July 11

Vallier garden (Courtesy photo)

Vallier garden (Courtesy photo)

Submitted by Linda Telfer

General Federation of Women’s Club-Big Rapids

BIG RAPIDS — Area residents are invited to stroll through a few gardens and soak in the beauty during the fourth annual General Federation of Women’s Club-Big Rapids garden tour.

Titled “Secret Garden Treasures,” the tour takes place from 3 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 11, rain or shine. The event is a fundraiser for GFWC programs, and all the money raised from the tour is distributed back into the community. Tickets cost $15 and are available at Patterson’s Flowers, The Old Pioneer Store and Artworks, as well as from any GFWC-Big Rapids member or any Rotary Club member. Tickets also can be purchased at each garden during the tour.

Directions to the homes will be listed on the ticket. Ticket holders also will be able to enjoy discounts at several Big Rapids-area businesses on July 11.

For tour participants’ enjoyment, Artworks has organized a group of artists who will create something special in the gardens again this year. After the tour, stop by Artworks for refreshments, music by Havusbac and the Michigan Water Color Traveling exhibit. A drawing for various prizes also will take place there.

An interesting garden is more than a collection of plants. Rather, it is one person’s attempt to translate their personality and passion for growing things into something unique. Gardeners use gazing balls, birdbaths, romantic figurines, interesting birdhouses and unique rain chains to add character and charm. Participants are encouraged to look for these treasures as they stroll through the gardens on the tour and discover new ideas they can try in their own special space.

Bryson garden (Courtesy photo)

Bryson garden (Courtesy photo)

Bryson Garden

Upon arrival at Bob and Jeri Bryson’s farm, tour participants will likely find this garden was worth the drive. This beautiful little farmhouse lends itself to acres of tranquility people will not want to miss.The quaint little home is nestled in the midst of beautiful hydrangeas, Jeri’s favorite, not to mention the phloxes, roses, Echinacea, bears’ britches, herbs and more. Just added are raised flower and vegetable beds placed in front of a cute garden house, designed by Bob, which houses a chandelier as well as a strategically placed stamped metal piece above the porch. There are berms filled with flowers, bird baths and fountains awaiting visitors with a wisteria pergola for all to enjoy. Continue on through this setting and enjoy the ponds and take some pictures of the bridge, refurbished church steeple from a local church or the unique yard art used in these gardens. The fresh air and farm setting is truly a secret garden treasure.

First United Methodist Church Memorial Garden 

Big Rapids First United Methodist Church (Courtesy photo)

Big Rapids First United Methodist Church (Courtesy photo)

As guests walk the path along the east side of the church, they will want to take note of the ivy climbing the church and encircling the stained glass window as well as the interesting Japanese Variegated Willow Tree. Geraniums are used to add color as visitors approach this garden. The sidewalk continues into the garden tucked behind the church, which was created to memorialize members, family and friends of the church who have passed away. It is an opportunity for spiritual enrichment as a celebration of life in a garden environment. The garden creates a tranquil setting for baptisms, Holy Communion, weddings, and more with moments for reflection with the Creator. The newest addition to this garden is the cross displayed in a prominent location made of a variety of woods by one the church members.

While here, rest on the many benches around the brick patio and just enjoy the sound of the waterfall and the many flowers. The brick planter around the maple tree is home to six pots with a variety of plants all neatly tucked in place. This overall garden has a layer of large field stones which adds a very natural feeling to this city garden.

Schmidt garden (Courtesy photo)

Schmidt garden (Courtesy photo)

Schmidt Garden

Behind the wooden fence tour participants will find a crazy quilt of gardens surrounding the pool. Start the tour with the perennial garden of colors and plant varieties, continue to the pool-side garden, then cross the small bridge and dry river bed to the hosta garden with many ferns and hydrangeas. The rose garden sits on top of the retaining wall with a variety of roses to enjoy. The rhododendrons and azaleas command the corner above the ivy and periwinkle-covered hill. Finish the walk through the whimsical bird garden featuring colorful bird houses and a tiered herb garden conveniently placed right outside the kitchen. While Donna has devoted 18 years of developing their gardens and city retreat, John has added many hardscape features such as fountains, bird baths, wine-bottle lighting, rain chains and rain barrels. The rain barrels are conveniently placed around the home to allow easy access for watering. Notice the unusually crafted trellises (if they are visible through the flourishing clematis). Of particular interest is the professionally landscaped front yard which features all deer-resistant plantings.

Telfer Garden 

Telfer garden (Courtesy photo)

Telfer garden (Courtesy photo)

As visitors stroll up the Telfer driveway they will find a charming garden featuring many perennials with flowers blooming from spring into fall. See what Linda has done with borders, including a ribbon of ivy that grows in both the sun and shade, as well as the various mediums used for the borders. Take note of the border pavers encrusted with stones which add an attractive touch and will be of particular interest to DIY-ers. The garden is filled with bright pink geraniums, lilies, daisies, roses, hostas, columbines and herbs. A garden bench is placed under the flowering crab tree so one can sit and just enjoy the beauty as well as the wind chime blowing in the breeze. Visitors are encouraged to take their time and discover the many secret treasures hidden here. Just how many turtles and frogs can one find here? This garden may give guests some ideas of what can be accomplished in a small area.

Vallier garden (Courtesy photo)

Vallier garden (Courtesy photo)

Vallier Garden

Stan and Jean Vallier love to entertain and as guests enter their yard a wisteria arbor awaits. Of special note are the variety of trees on this property such as Horse Chestnut, Weeping Cherry, Eastern Red Bud and Ornamental Pear, to name a few. Although this yard is relatively small, it is surrounded with flower beds filled with dianthus, zinnias, phloxes, lilies, sedums, hydrangeas, balloon flowers, columbines, goosenecks and butterfly bushes as well as many other beautiful plants. As visitors enter the gate, they should take special note of the waterfall in one corner of the back yard, designed and built by Stan and his son-in-law. The other corner of the backyard features an above-ground pool, a perfect setting for those warm summer days. Just past the back fence is a variety of hostas tucked under the tree tour participants will not want to miss. As one continues around the house, enjoy the many more interesting plants and garden surprises that await. Of special note is the side arbor made of recycled doors.

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