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Published: Wednesday, 6/12/2002

Tour of 9 Ottawa Hills gardens to benefit Toledo Day Nursery

A windowbox overflows with greenery at the historic residence of Sue and Jim White, Jr. A windowbox overflows with greenery at the historic residence of Sue and Jim White, Jr.
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Step through welcoming garden gates or under flowing arbors into nine diversely beautiful Ottawa Hills gardens on Saturday as the Friends of Toledo Day Nursery presents the seventh annual “In Another Garden” benefit tour.

The tour is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Proceeds support Toledo Day Nursery, which was founded in 1871 and provides care for children of parents who work or are students.

At the home of Sharon and Geof McKisson, the lush lawn meanders like a river of green along a shaded shoreline dotted with five miniature theme gardens. The newly geometrically designed cutting garden, where pastel blues, pinks, whites, and reds grow in formal beds, is edged with petite boxwood. A whimsical garden shed, the Bunny Cottage, is tucked into a quiet corner. The meditation garden includes architectural elements in keeping with the home's stucco exterior and a bench for contented contemplation.

A nature garden, where a backyard brook and falls provide cooling refreshment for butterflies and birds attracted to the bright blossoms, is featured at Sue and Mickey Rosenberg's. This garden is a pleasing blend of potted plants, roses, and water plants that harmonize with the peaceful setting where artist Lori Rosenberg will be working at her easel.

A 3,000-gallon friendship pond is the focus in the backyard of Susan and Michael Smith. A 3,000-gallon friendship pond is the focus in the backyard of Susan and Michael Smith.
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Susan and Michael Smith's creative efforts have produced an engaging summer oasis for family activities. The 3,000-gallon friendship pond with its lyrical waterfalls is the central focus in the elongated backyard. Here, a variety of waterlilies mingle with exotic fish. Under the dappled shade of a giant evergreen, an extensive hosta collection swirls while, overhead, cradled in the gnarled limbs of a majestic old tree, is a treasured tree house. In this shady nook, potter Valerie Parrett will demonstrate her skills. Among the border plantings are roses, Mrs. Smith's favorites, and a beautiful mosaic tile bench and copper spiral trellis designed and constructed by Mr. Smith.

The historic residence of Sue and Jim White, Jr., is the former Hasty Farm stable, which was built in 1929 and housed thoroughbred horses. In 1999, it was renovated by the Whites into a country French home with courtyard gardens. The cobblestone courtyard is a vision in white and shades of green geometrically designed with emphasis on border plantings of white hydrangeas, clematis, roses, and espalier ornamental fruit trees. Windows, resembling the original stall doors, overlook this formal setting. Along the home's facade, abundant window boxes enhance the ivy and boxwood foundation plantings. The second courtyard is a colorful contrast of playful zinnias and warm shades of roses bordering a dipping pool and outdoor dining and living areas.

A curved twin-level terrace embraces and protects roses in Bebe and Lee Wesselmann's yard. A curved twin-level terrace embraces and protects roses in Bebe and Lee Wesselmann's yard.
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At the home of Bebe and Lee Wesselmann, everything is coming up roses. “They are what the Dutch masters had in mind when they painted their floral still lifes,” said Mrs. McKisson during a preview of the tour. The path to the main garden is lined with pink hybrid tea roses followed by pink azaleas across from a row of pines mingled with rhododendrons, holly, dogwood, and ornamental cherry.

The rose garden is embraced and protected by the curved twin-level blue stone terrace. Designed for privacy, it is a perfect area for outdoor living. Numerous urns of pink and white flowers and foliage sprinkle the surface. Even though the backyard is long and somewhat narrow, it is meticulously edged with soft pines and hostas.

At the entrance to Joni and Chuck Arredia's home, amid layered plantings of trees and shrubs, a pair of large metal sculptured trees adorned with brilliant bunches of silks suggest lightheartedness and fun. The path to the pool garden beckons with pots of vibrant hot pink geraniums.

Visitors enter the garden on the highest of several levels overlooking a beautiful tiled pool. With no lawn, planting pockets at intervals have sunny daylilies and fragrant white Casablanca lilies. A living hedge of ornamental trees and evergreens provides privacy. From nearly every location, visitors will have a glimpse of a fun figurative sculpture by Mr. Atomic that resides poolside. It seems to smile as if amused and to encourage smiles when first seen.

Bright blossoms, a brook, and falls are featured in Sue and Mickey Rosenberg's nature garden Bright blossoms, a brook, and falls are featured in Sue and Mickey Rosenberg's nature garden
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Across the front of Krista and Nick Havill's residence, a brick-lined walk offers a closer view of P.J.M. rhododendrons, holly, oakleaf hydrangea, Korean spice viburnum, and giant allium. Two potted yellow tree roses grace either side of the front door. Planted to scale, miniature roses, sedum, white bleeding hearts, and blue lobelia lead visitors to the backyard. Through the arbor, a garden retreat awaits with perennial flower beds, peonies, specimen plants, art, and a brick patio. These gardens represent 24 years of Krista Havill's efforts and creativity.

At Rubena and Mark Schaffer's, a cottage garden awaits with pergola, patio, and magnificent potting bench. A greenhouse offers year-round gardening opportunities. Mrs. Schaffer begins many of her plants from seed. True to cottage gardening, trellises of clematis, sweet peas, nasturtium, roses, lilies, delphiniums, poppies, and foxglove - along with a pond and borders of annuals - please the eye.

Brooke Simonds has a private garden that exudes serenity. A willow table created by artist Roger Zielinski and a Thai teak spirit house add interest and mood to the garden of pink peonies, lilies, other perennials and pretty pots of annuals. A wall fountain refreshes and echoes on a summer day.

Says Joanne McElheney, garden tour chairwoman: “Garden enthusiasts are in for a real treat.”

The tour's starting point will be St. Ursula Academy, 4025 Indian Rd. From there, shuttle buses will provide free transportation to the gardens. A garden boutique, refreshments, and free parking will be available on the St. Ursula campus grounds. Tickets, $15, are available at St. Ursula on Saturday and at local flower shops in advance.

Mona Macksey is a local freelance writer.

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