Gardens by the guys: Portage Lake Garden Club hosts ‘Men Dig Gardening and Art’ tour

The Portage Lake Garden Club hosted its "Men Dig Gardening and Art" event on Thursday in Onekama. Skip Bergquist's shade garden was one of seven featured stops along the garden walk. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

The Portage Lake Garden Club hosted its “Men Dig Gardening and Art” event on Thursday in Onekama. Skip Bergquist’s shade garden was one of seven featured stops along the garden walk. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The Portage Lake Garden Club is comprised of talented and dedicated women, who for years have played a key role in keeping the Onekama area beautiful.

On Thursday, however, these women gave way to the guys by hosting a “Men Dig Gardening and Art” tour, which highlighted Onekama area gardens that are mostly tended by men.

“We wanted to do something a little different, so the focus is that these are men’s gardens,” said Susan Halloran, first vice president of the Portage Lake Garden Club. “A lot of garden clubs hold garden walks, but we wanted to give ours a twist this time.

“And part of the idea is that we’d love for men to join our garden club,” she added. “We’re always open to new members, but we want people to know it’s not exclusively for women. Some people have that assumption about garden clubs.”

The garden walk — which was headquartered at Onekama’s Farr Center — featured seven unique home gardens in and around Onekama that were visited by nearly 125 participants throughout the day.

Several sites along the tour also had the art of four prominent local artists on display. Garden walkers purchased tickets for the event, the proceeds from which benefit the restoration of the Memorial Fountain in the Onekama Village Park.

“One of our goals this year was to raise funds to refurbish the fountain,” said Lynise Hensel, co-chair of the garden club. “It’s over 100 years old and has needed some work done to it for a while now.”

Garden club members also raised funds through craft sales at the “Unique Boutique,” which was stationed at the Farr Center throughout the event.

Gardens featured in Thursday’s tour were:

• Farr Center’s native plants and rain garden, maintained by Portage Lake Garden Club members;

• Mick Story’s eclectic gardens featuring cross-country ski walkways;

• Paul Mueller’s raised bed perennial garden and pond with aquatic plants, which also featured the abstract acrylic and oil paintings by local artist Jamey Barnard;

• Skip Bergquist’s shade gardens, stone pathways and garden art, which also featured sun-print works by middle school students from Onekama Consolidated Schools;

• Les Scruggs’ forested lot featuring his unique wooden sculptures in organic shapes and forms;

• Andrew Jagniecki’s labyrinth garden with vegetables, flowers and herbs, which also featured a wood-cut art studio; and

• Doug Schlutz’s fruit tree, vegetable and flower garden and swallow houses, which also featured hand-crafted bird houses by Marty Kuriger.

The Portage Lake Garden Club is a 501(c)3 organization under the auspices of Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc. Members maintain several gardens and landscapes throughout the Onekama area, while also spreading environmental education through various programs, exhibits and initiatives.

For more information on the Portage Lake Garden Club, visit or visit the Portage Lake Garden Club Facebook page.


Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or

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