The Grand Garden Tour

The fourth garden on the Master Gardeners’ tour originated as a part of nature program. This hidden gem features two ponds, a log cabin, bird sanctuary and a deep woods feel located in the middle of New Ulm.

NEW ULM — Do you have a green thumb? Does landscaping your yard sound appealing? If so mark Thursday, June 28th on your calendar for the annual Brown County Master Gardeners’ Gardenfest Tour.

The tour will start at 4:30 p.m. and go through 8:30 p.m. on Thursday. Garden site information is available with a ticket purchase.

This year’s tour will feature five impressive gardens in the New Ulm area. Each of the gardens was selected for their unique features.

Master Gardener Ingrid Liedman said one of the reasons the tour remains popular is it gives fellow gardeners new ideas.

Liedman said a commonly heard phrase on the garden tour is “I am going to do that.”

Fairies and gnomes have long been associated with gardens. This Gnome home decorates an English wood style garden on the outskirts of New Ulm.

People see something new or are reminded of an old idea and decided to try it in their own garden. It is also a great chance to get advice from fellow gardeners. The people volunteering for the tour are more than happy to swap trade secrets about their process.

Liedman requested the exact location of the five gardens remain a secret until the tour day. A Journal staff writer was able to take quick tour of the garden on the condition the five sites remain a mystery.

The first garden on the tour is tucked away on the edge of New Ulm away from the main road. The long driveway leading to the property is flanked on both sides by large vegetation.

The house itself is surrounded by a variety of flowers including, lupines, balloon flowers, monarda, coneflowers, lilies of the valley, phlox, hydrangea, geraniums, delphinium and clematis.

The garden is located adjacent to a natural wood setting. Hostas are mixed in the woods with daylilies and wildflowers. Lawn chairs are scattered throughout the five acre garden to allow rest and relaxation in the tranquil space.

Plant stands come in all shapes and sizes. Tricycle and bicycle shaped garden decorations are becoming common sight. This neon green trike is located on the lower patio level of the Heartstone garden.

The second garden is an impeccable landscaped yard on a corner lot. Perennial flowers beds are confined within rock perimeters and rustic antiques are scattered throughout the garden to accent the yard.

Plants include bleeding heart bushes, Black-eyed Susans, lilies, free forming goldilocks, variegated lamium, roses and yarrow.

Liedman was especially taken with a bench swing hanging under a tall deck. “Isn’t this just the perfect place for a swing?” she said.

The location of the swing keeps visitors out of direct sun, but in a perfect position to view the garden.

Visitors to the third garden on the tour must enter through a gate to view the “Heartstone Garden”. The garden was named was given by the owners granddaughters and features a heart-shaped flower bed in the center filled with annuals and perennials.

Placing flower beds in tree shadows is a popular way to further accentuate the tallest plants in the yard. The rock perimeter also helps protect gardens when mowing the lawn.

This garden is located on steep hillside. Retaining walls create a vertical step garden. From a patio on the lowest level visitors can see most of the garden stretched out above them.

Liedman said due to the its location on a hillside below a wooded area the garden is frequented by deer.

“They see deer in their garden often,” she said. The garden is managed with the deer intrusions in mind. The edible vegetation is kept behind a fence.

The garden features purple coneflowers, dogwood, peony, echinacea, bleeding heart, white and red trillium, hydrangea, white yarrow, wild ginger, variegated Solomon’s seal and Jack in the Pulpit.

Birdhouses are located throughout the garden, as well as other miniatures such as tiny church and light house.

The second garden on the tour takes advantage of its corner lot with picket fence installation next to the sidewalk.

The fourth garden is located on a relatively small lot. It was started in 2009 as part of a nature program event associated with a local park. The owners have since expanded the garden to educate the public about wildlife that use gardens such as pollinators, bats and snakes.

The garden features two back yard ponds alongside the bird, bat and bee houses. A small backyard cabin was built on the property giving the garden a deep woods feel even though its located in the middle of New Ulm. Signs warning of a possums are hung throughout property but the closest thing to a possum in this garden is a skittish cat.

The last garden on the tour is the only garden located outside of New Ulm. Liedman said this garden was featured on a previous garden tour and it left a lasting impression on her and others.

“Expect shade,” Liedman said in describing this garden. “And lots of hostas. Every kind of hosta you could want.”

Strategically placed shade loving plants surround the ascending driveway leading to the property. According to the tour program the backyard garden offers a beautiful hillside view. A special pond with a waterfall installation adds to the peaceful setting.

Each of the five gardens stands apart from the rest, but there was one specific theme popping up in several of the sites. Bicycles were used as planters at several of the garden sites. Some of these bikes were older antiques, others looked as if they were constructed specifically to hold plants.

Liedman admitted she had not noticed the trend at first. Once you start looking for garden bikes, you will see them everywhere. Using recycled items and repurposing them for gardening has been a trend for years.

Anyone interested in touring these green works of art is encouraged to purchase a ticket and join the fun. The ticket, which includes tour locations and information can be purchased at Hy-Vee. A ticket is required to enter the gardens.

All proceeds go toward horticultural education programs for youth and adults in the Brown County.