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Posted: 07/16/14



Above, artist Evelyn Raiter paints the pagoda in Richard Tapper's garden in Bruce Township.  The work was later featured in the Moonflowers Afterglow at the Starkweather Arts Center. At right, Carol Leonard of Leonard relaxes in her garden, which she shares with neighbor Diana O'Riordan.

(Observer photos by Stacy Sobotka)

Garden Walk has another
successful year

by STACY SOBOTKA
Observer Special Writer
      A sunny day on Saturday had the green thumbs out and about enjoying the Romeo Area Garden Walk.
       The walk was presented by the Friends of the Romeo District Library, and all the proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the library.
       Among the participants were Elaine and Spencer Carlson, whose garden has six arbors with climbing flowers, flower beds full of perennials, and two ponds.
       "If you have a garden, you should share your garden," said Elaine Carlson."What would be the point of having something so pretty and not letting other people see it?"
       The Hudson's garden project began in 2006 with the addition of a patio, arbor and rail fence in keeping up with their Greek Revival style home and carriage barn. It evolved into an English-style garden that includes a shade garden, a sun garden, and an ornamental grass garden.
       "Little by little, we built all of this," said Leo Hudson. "And probably half of the flowers came from friends of ours in town that were splitting flowers."
       Elia Acuna-Tindall's gardens were built thanks to the generosity of friends and neighbors. A former apple orchard provides her garden with plenty of shade and provides shape to the gardens with their 30-foot high canopy. A small bridge allows visitors to cross over her goldfish pond, complete with waterfall.
       "(It's) a lot of work, but at the end of the day, I sit down at the patio, look around and just enjoy all the color that we've been provided with," she said.
       Over in Leonard, Diana O'Riordan and Carol Leonard have a shared garden. It began 25 years ago when Leonard began growing hostas after her husband, Bob, discovered them at Eastern Market after meeting a person who hybridized Gold Standard hostas. When she ran out of garden space 15 years ago, Leonard found a shady area between her and O'Riordan's yard, and the shared garden began. There are more than 100 different varieties of hostas in the shared garden, and each different type of hosta is individually labeled.
       Both are members of the Eastern Michigan Hosta Society based in Lapeer.
       "She's been a member of the hosta club for years and she just got me involved in the hosta club," said O'Riordan. "Carol has a real knack for designing and placing. She's really been an inspiration."
       Leonard is an advanced master gardener, a title she earned by completing a 13-week training program at MSU Extension and completing 15 hours of community service and five hours of education each year.
       Leonard proudly shows off her accomplishment with a sign that says "Advanced Master Gardener" on a playhouse that serves as a potting shed and storage unit.
       "It's like a work in progress all the time," she said of her garden. "You're just constantly evolving and doing something."
       The piece de resistance of the garden walk was Tapper Gardens in Bruce Township. Owner Richard Tapper began his extensive European, American and Japanese gardens in 2000 as a hobby, and has since become a labor of love.
       In the 3.5 acre garden, there are over 4,000 bushes, trees and plants, and 250,000 pounds of rocks.
       Sculptures by Washington state-based sculptor Jason Napier add a whimsical charm to the garden. A pair of swans in flight, entitled "Water Jockeys" seems to rise out of one fountain. Another fountain has a mama cougar holding a cub entitled "Precious Cargo."  The most unique Napier sculpture, however, is "Two Tails," which depicts a pair of pheasants joined at the tail to form a bench.
       The newest addition to Tapper Gardens is a Zen garden with bamboo walls.
       Visitors to Tapper Gardens are always in awe of the details of the gardens.
       "It's almost a religious experience," said Tapper. "When you get here, you wonder how this all happened."
       Overall, Judy Workings of Oakland Township thoroughly enjoyed the garden walk.
       "The garden walk is spectacular. Every year they always have new gardens to show, and this year it seems there's a lot more of not just plant material but of sculptures as well," she said. "It's always wonderful."
      


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