Five Northwoods homeowners and the Seasons of Life Hospice will open the gates to their gardens for the ninth annual Garden Walk and Ice Cream Social, inviting guests on a tour of nature enhanced by an artistic touch.
The event will be held Saturday, July 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
“It’s such an honor that these people have let you into their home to see what they’ve put a lot of their time into. I always felt very special that people would do that,” Jean Davidson said. She is one of the homeowners who are inviting people to her home to view her garden.
Davidson’s garden, which wraps around her home and yard and has a countless variety of plants, will be the site of the ice cream social.
“The philosophy behind the walk and the hospice garden is it’s been promoted by volunteer time and donations. The community really has supported it from the beginning,” Randi Danner said. She is the volunteer and community outreach coordinator at the Dr. Kate Hospice Ministry Home Care.
With the help of the Lakeland Gardeners, the walk was organized as a fundraiser to support the hospice garden, ensuring its longevity so residents will be able to admire its flowers for years to come.
“The garden walk was created to keep up the maintenance and improvements of the hospice garden. Any other donation goes toward patient care, but donations from this particular event keep that garden growing,” Danner said.
Keeping the hospice garden healthy and flourishing in turn benefits the residents, Danner said.
“The people inside the hospice can enjoy the beauty. You have people who are having a difficult time in their lives, and it’s a way to give them a gift,” Linda Kozisek, member of the Lakeland Gardeners and co-planner of the walk, said.
Though the hospice house opened in 2000, it took a few years to connect with gardeners who would volunteer their time to make the hospice garden a reality.
“When we first started the hospice garden, all we had was this little triangle. Then every year after that we did another section because we had to wait to get the funds,”
Each corner of the hospice garden is dedicated to a different color, making it a color garden. At the center is a combination of all the colors – a blooming rainbow.
“It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth year that it was totally completed. Now everything has matured and it’s a real garden now,” Kozisek said.
Because the hospice garden is the only one featured every year on the walk, there’s always something new in the garden to keep people coming back, Danner said. To keep it interesting for this year’s walk, one section of the hospice garden had a makeover.
“We decided the purple section needed an overhaul. Two of our gardeners designed it and bought all new flowers, and we all helped plant and put it together,” Kozisek said. “It’s a new scheme, so it’s just something new to go look at on the garden walk.”
This year, three items will be raffled at the Seasons of Life Garden: a hand-pieced quilt, a garden-girl scarecrow made by the Lakeland Red Hatters, and a painted concrete-casted leaf. At Davidson’s home and garden, a hand-painted Adirondack chair will also be raffled.
“We get door prizes from the same donors every year, different garden centers. Everybody is so onboard with this and wants to help out,” Kozisek said.
“We’re so thankful for the volunteers and the donors – all the community support to continue this event,” Danner said.
The event couldn’t be done without the help of volunteers who offer their time.
“It takes about 30 volunteers that day and 20 volunteer gardeners. So about 50 volunteers do the event, plus the homeowners,” Danner said.
In the past, a little rain never stopped garden walk visitors from touring the six gardens.
“Some of them coming through are practically giddy they’re so excited to see each one,” Danner said. “I remember one year it had started raining in the late afternoon. They didn’t care, they had been through five of the gardens, and they were just giddy and giggling.”
“Even last year we had this big downpour, but luckily it was lunch time. So everybody just went to lunch and all came back after and finished their tours,” Kozisek said.
Garden Walk and Ice Cream Social tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 16 and under, and are available at the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce and local garden centers.
Nestled deep in the heart of a Lakeland forest is Davidson’s garden. When the Lakeland Gardeners visited it last year, Kozisek knew it had to be featured in the next garden walk.
“I hear about gardens, and so I’m the one that scouts them out. With Jean’s garden, we were all blown away, so right away I thought of her [for the walk],” Kozisek said.
For Davidson, she is looking forward to having her hard work and dedication to her garden on display for visitors.
“Not many people see my garden, so it’s exciting for me to have people actually enjoy it,” Davidson said.
When Davidson and her husband moved to the Northwoods three years ago, the only garden in their yard was a small one on the border of their home.
“The rest of the yard was a blank canvass. For a gardener, it’s a truly amazing thing to be able to create your own paradise. You have a blank slate to start with, so you can go any way you want with it. And there isn’t really a right way to garden or a wrong way to garden – it’s whatever feels good to you,” Davidson said.
As soon as they settled in the Northwoods, Davidson had big dreams for her gardens.
“I knew when we bought the house, my intention was that from every window in the house, I wanted to look out and see beauty,” Davidson said. “When I’m not out here working, I’m looking out the windows, enjoying it. To me, that’s kind of the point of gardening – expanding the inside of your home to the outside.”
Describing herself as “a hodgepodge gardener,” Davidson’s gardens are home to a variety of flowers and plants that have no particular arrangement.
“My approach is to have a river of flowers and a variety of plants that combine into it. It’s like what God would do. God doesn’t garden where he has everything planted 10 in a row, and I don’t garden that way either,” Davidson said.
A waterfall in the backyard complements her colorful gardens. About 19,000 pounds of rock were hauled in for the project, but it was a all worth it, Davidson said.
“Last year we put in the waterfall, and I can’t even tell you if I’ve ever enjoyed anything we put in more. It’s so pretty, and you get the woodland flowers.”
Years ago Davidson heard a quote that rang true for her: “As I was going over the green, not knowing where I went, by chance I found a pleasant scene, a cottage of content.”
“I think that’s what we all should have in our life. When you come home, it’s your sanctuary and you’re away from all the troubles of the world in your own little kingdom,” Davidson said.
Sarah Hirsch may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org