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Posted: 07/09/14

GREAT GARDENS. Above, Lisa Jaroch stands in one of three hoop houses at the Cold Frame Farm. At right, Shirley Wilburn of Romeo shows off one of her favorite spots in her garden. Below are some of the flowers and other plants grown in Wilburn's garden. A total of eight gardens will be on display during the Friends of the Romeo District Library's Romeo Area Garden Walk on July 12.

(Observer photos by Chris Gray)

Eight gardens blossom
for annual Garden Walk

Observer Staff Writer
      Gardens and landscapes as individualistic as they are colorful are ready for the Friends of the Romeo District Library's biggest fundraiser of the year.
       The non-profit organization will host its annual Romeo Area Garden Walk from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 12.
       Eight residents have opened their gardens for the public to peruse at their leisure during this year's Garden Walk. Rosemary Kern, Garden Walk coordinator, said each garden is like its own secluded getaway.
       "People really come out to enjoy the ambiance in the area," she said. "It puts everybody in a really good mood - they're looking for Mother Nature's beauty as they go on our walk."
       She said the walk not only provides a scenic and peaceful experience, but also provides tour-goers inspiration on what they would like to see in their gardens.
       "We're really pleased with them all," she said. "They are all very beautiful."
       A map with the locations of the gardens will be provided with tickets. Among them is Shirley Wilburn of Romeo, who is featuring her garden for the first time on the walk.
       Wilburn's yard consists mainly of spring bulbs and perennials, while the back has grasses, ferns, phlox, mums and oak leaf hydrangea. With a chuckle, she admitted she doesn't plan out where the plants go.
       "I just add a little bit every year," she said. "I just plant it and if it doesn't work then I try something new next year."
       The yard is shaded by a crabapple and birch trees and includes a patio. Wilburn said she has worked on the gardens since 2000 when she moved back to the area from New Mexico.
       "I never thought I would be on one (a Garden Walk)," she said. "People can see what they can do with a small garden."
       By contrast, garden tourists will visit the Cold Frame Farm of the Jaroch family to see how organic farming can look. Sitting on 27 acres, the farm uses three passive solar energy with hoop houses to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers year-round alongside an acre of outdoor fields.
       Lisa Jaroch, a landscape architect, said the farm was established in September 2012 with the idea of being self-sufficient while being good stewards to the environment. She said they also aim to promote healthier eating through education.
       "It's quality of food and assurance of health now versus costs in health care later," she said of organic foods. "Why eat the chemicals and all that if you don't have to?"
       Two full-time workers and five part-time workers help manage the farm, which uses natural fertilizers, no pesticides or herbicides and plenty of weeding to keep the crops healthy. Jaroch said the goal is to eventually obtain USDA Organic Certification.
       The farm sells its produce Fridays and Saturdays, and will have items for sale during the walk.
       "It's pretty intensive vegetable production here, we try to use every square inch of this expansive space that we have," she said.
Garden varieties

       The following is a brief description of the other gardens on the tour:
       - Acuna-Tindall gardens: An array of plants and shrubs from friends and family are planted in the garden, which has been developed over 10 years. A vegetable garden, hosta garden and old apple orchard are found alongside a waterfall and pond.
       - Carlson garden: Six arbors are found in the yard with climbing flowers, pots and hanging baskets, flower beds with perrenials and two small ponds found near a 112-year-old barn. Benches are found everywhere to enjoy different views.
       - Hudson garden: A project that began in 2006, the English-style season garden includes features like an arbor, pond and waterfall, sun and shade gardens, perennials and roses. A rail fence was installed to keep the theme of the carriage barn and home.
       - Leonard and O'Riordan shared garden: The Leonards have collected hostas for 25 years, ending up with a garden of more than 150 varieties. Their neighbors, the O'Riordans, share a shady spot between their homes that is attached by an arbor for the hostas.
       - Stephens garden: The garden joins with Wilburn's garden on the north side, accenting her flowers with landscaped areas and floral plantings.
       - Tapper garden: A Zen Garden has been added to the estate, adding to the European, American and Japanese gardens that cover four acres of land. Five thousand plantings, six ponds and sculptures can be found throughout the garden.
       Proceeds from the Garden Walk support programs to enhance library services for the Romeo District Library. Tickets are $10 prior to the event and the $12 the day of the event, and are available at the Graubner and Kezar libraries.
       Tour-goers can continue the festivities later in the evening with the Starkweather Arts Center's Moonflowers Afterglow, held 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 219 N Main Street.
       Tickets are $20 and include live music, food, drinks and a viewing of paintings inspired by the Garden Walk gardens.
       For more information, visit and

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