Gorgeous garden tour happening in Oakwood and Kettering on Saturday

Fountains are a soothing garden treasure. CONTRIBUTED
Fountains are a soothing garden treasure. CONTRIBUTED

When it comes to a soothing balm, there’s nothing like a stroll through a magnificent garden. The Miami Valley’s lovely public gardens have helped many of us nurture our souls during these troubled times.

It isn’t very often, however, that we have an opportunity to peek into private gardens created by folks in our community who’ve fallen in love with plants and flowers. If you’ve never taken a garden tour, you’re in for a special treat.

Woodchipped paths wind among carefully selected hostas and perennials at this Garden Gems stop.  CONTRIBUTED
Woodchipped paths wind among carefully selected hostas and perennials at this Garden Gems stop. CONTRIBUTED

“One silver lining of the pandemic may be an increase in people exploring the outdoors, taking up gardening and experimenting with nature,” says Jean Ireland, chair of The Garden Club of Dayton’s upcoming event. “For myself and my gardening friends, the pandemic gave us more time to research ideas about what additional native and pollinating plants to add to our gardens. Gardening is a very relaxing activity for most of us in our club and it was something normal we could still engage in, despite all of the changes the pandemic created.”

Explore‘The Music of Queen’ show will rock you

You don’t need to know your hydrangea from your anemones to appreciate the beauty in these magnificently designed and treasured landscapes. It’s a great opportunity to pick up ideas for your own yard and to ask questions of experts. And at the moment when we’re still thinking about COVID, it’s a great and safe outing.

One of the gardens on the Garden Club of Dayton tour features a manicured putting green. CONTRIBUTED
One of the gardens on the Garden Club of Dayton tour features a manicured putting green. CONTRIBUTED

Gardens on view range in size. You’ll be amazed at what can be accomplished in very small spaces and you’ll be awed by large properties that incorporate everything from a putting green to a waterfall. Expect to see a wide range of plantings, fountains, pretty benches and hardscape designs. (The term “hardscape” refers to all of the non-living elements in landscaping such as a brick patio, a stone wall or a wooden arbor.)

These self-guided walking tours don’t require you to stick to a schedule; you can visit the homes in any order and spend as long as you like at each. There are at least two tours in our area slated for the month of June. Both are fundraisers for organizations that benefit the community.

Each garden holds surprises, large and small. This sculptural stone planter is tucked among the hydrangeas. CONTRIBUTED
Each garden holds surprises, large and small. This sculptural stone planter is tucked among the hydrangeas. CONTRIBUTED

Kettering, Oakwood gardens

Seven gardens will be open to the public on Saturday, June 12, when the Garden Club of Dayton hosts a walking tour of private Oakwood and Kettering home gardens. The organization has the honor of being one of only 200 in the United States affiliated with the Garden Club of America and this annual event is a fundraiser for the club, which has been involved in Dayton’s horticultural and conservation efforts since its founding in 1922.

ExploreKings Island adjusting hours due to worker shortage

Over the years, the Garden Club of Dayton has committed both volunteers and funds to projects ranging from the Marie Aull Tribute Garden at Carillon Park and Wegerzyn Gardens to Cox Arboretum, RiverScape and Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm. To honor its upcoming 2022 centennial, members have chosen to support the Sunrise Park segment of the Dayton River Development Project focusing on river ecology, native plants and bird migration. At each of the stops on this tour, you’ll be given an information sheet with details.

The upcoming tours allow you to take your time in each garden. CONTRIBUTED
The upcoming tours allow you to take your time in each garden. CONTRIBUTED

Yellow Springs gardens

In memory of her friend Diane Foubert, gardener Lynn Sontag has organized a tour of 10 private gardens in Yellow Springs on Sunday, June 27, to benefit the Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center where Foubert served as director. Her husband, Dave, was the mayor of the village for many years.

Sontag says many of the gardens on this tour feature native perennials as well as garden rooms, separate areas sometimes separated by hedges. ”One room might be vegetables, another might be a shade garden under a tree that leads out to a meadow,” Sontag explains.

This Tuscan Retreat is featured on the Garden Club of Dayton tour. Built in 1927, the Italianate Revival home is surrounded by more than an acre of landscaped grounds that feature a pool and natural waterfall. CONTRIBUTED
This Tuscan Retreat is featured on the Garden Club of Dayton tour. Built in 1927, the Italianate Revival home is surrounded by more than an acre of landscaped grounds that feature a pool and natural waterfall. CONTRIBUTED

What the gardeners say

Nancy Dankof, a member of the Garden Club of Dayton, envisions her garden as an outdoor painting. She began gardening at an early age while watching her mom and dad. “I thought the trowel was my trophy for the day if I was asked to help dig holes, plant flowers and then sprinkle water from the tin can or hose,” she remembers. " I learned the flowers’ names and often accompanied my parents to the garden center to buy their plants. Buying and planting pansies became an annual tradition with my mom, which I still continue to this day.”

ExploreKettering’s Fraze Pavilion to host Styx, Night Ranger in SummerFest concert

In the years since, Dankof has combined the information she gleaned from her parents with her own art background. “These gardens become my outdoor paintings,” she explains, “Just like when I sit down to paint, I am thinking about my composition: What should be my focal point? What textures, colors, and shapes do I want to use to make differences and harmony?”

Dankof’s garden becomes the canvas. “I think about the shades and textures of green to use for contrast. For my flower selections, I try to find harmonious combinations of color — sometimes I choose a dominant color with supporting accent colors. I think about the values of colors, the lights and the darks, and their placement. Do I want to use a monochromatic or analogous color scheme?”

Area gardeners share their passion with the public. This photo is from the upcoming Garden Club of Dayton tour. CONTRIBUTED
Area gardeners share their passion with the public. This photo is from the upcoming Garden Club of Dayton tour. CONTRIBUTED

These outdoor canvases, she adds, sometimes need to be “painted over” when a plant gets too tall or when a bunny eats it. “Mistakes are made,” she concludes, “but I also enjoy the yearly do overs!”

Tracy Bieser, who led the DGC’s effort to redesign the Wright brothers’ graveside at Woodland Cemetery, finds gardening a form of self-expression. Each year she decides what to add or subtract. “I think that the most successful gardens — like great paintings — have some sense of balance between composition, texture and color that leads the eye and helps create points of focus that makes you want to slow down, stop and look,” she says.

GCD member Debbie Corpus of Kettering says the elements that create art in a garden are the same elements that create art in a painting: unity, contrast, repetition, color, patterns, volume and energy. “A garden can be quiet and serene, loud and busy, bold or soft,” she says. “I’ve loved plants since I was a child, seriously gardened for the last 30 years, and still have so much to learn about creating art in the garden. It’s an endlessly fascinating adventure.”

HOW TO GO

What: Garden Gems, a walking tour of seven gardens in Kettering and Oakwood hosted by the Garden Club of Dayton

When: 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 12. You’re encouraged to arrive at the last garden by 2:30 p.m. The event will be held rain or shine.

Where: A map and list of exact locations will be listed on your ticket. You may visit the gardens in any order.

Admission: Tickets are $25 through June 11 and can be ordered online at www.gardenclubofdayton.org and picked up the day of the tour at Smith Gardens, 11 Walnut Lane in Oakwood. Tickets may also be purchased for $30 on the day of the event at Smith Gardens. If you’re planning to go with someone who has a ticket, you can purchase an additional ticket at any of the gardens.

Parking: Street parking is available outside each home. The gardens are not wheelchair accessible and some gardens have stairs.

More info: Visit gardenclubofdayton.org/events or email gardenclubofdayton@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

What: “Bloom and Beauty Garden Tour” of 10 private gardens in Yellow Springs

When: 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, June 27

Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 day of tour and available beginning June 7 at Young’s Jersey Dairy Market Gift Shop on Route 68 north of Yellow Springs, Rosie’s Natural Foods, Yellow Springs Hardware and Current Cuisine in Yellow Springs. Tickets will provide addresses and information on the various gardens.

To benefit: The Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center founded in 1926 and dedicated to the memory of Diane Foubert, past center director who passed away last year.

More info: Contact Lynn Sontag at ltsontag@gmail.com

In Other News