How does your garden grow?

Twilight tour is Friday

-Messenger photo illustration by Joe Sutter
Marilyn Peterson-Shipp looks over the serene garden owned by Rick and Pam Pingel that will be the first stop on this year’s annual garden tour, in this image made from multiple photos

Among the hostas and raised flower pots, Al and Jean Helmers’ garden is full of stone angels.

“My wife calls it our memorial garden,” Al Helmers said. “Each angel represents a loved one who has died.”

The Helmers garden is one of six that will be featured on the 17th annual garden tour by the Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club. Visitors will meet at 1127 Cooper Drive from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, where they’ll get directions to the rest of the gardens.

Cost for the tour is $10. Tickets will be available at Becker Florists, 1335 First Ave. N., and Earl May, 168 S. 25th St.

In previous years the tour was held in the mornings, said Marilyn Peterson-Shipp.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Each angel in Al and Jean Helmers' memorial garden stands for a loved one who has died. The daylilies, angels, hostas and sundials of the Helmers garden will be featured on the annual garden tour.

“Last year we went to an evening one,” Peterson-Shipp said. “People liked it… You get a whole different perspective in the evening.”

“A whole different crowd is able to come,” Skip Thompson said. “We tried to make it after work, early enough so you could still got out for an evening.”

The first garden on the tour belongs to Rick and Pam Pingel. The garden is a good example of what can be grown in sun or in shade–it’s gone from one to the other since a large central tree came down last year.

“The whole design of the garden changes,” Thompson said. “You had shade, and now you don’t.”

The tree had provided shade for the Helmers’ garden too.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Skip Thompson looks over the garden of Rick and Pam Pingel, the first stop on the garden tour, where this massive tree’s removal after a wind storm last year changed the garden type from shade to sun.

“We had so much shade here, it was so big,” Al Helmers said. “This is the first summer without it.”

Helmers’ garden provides a tranquil space with daylilies and sundials.

“She loves it,” Al Helmers said of his wife, Jean. “This is her home away from home.”

He downplayed his own role in maintaining it.

“Ninety-nine percent of it is my wife,” Al Helmers said. “I helped carry the bags of mulch back here.”

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Al Helmers finds a bird’s nest hidden in the trellis leading into his garden. Angels, hostas, and daylilies create a tranquil yard in this stop on the annual garden tour.

Al and Jean Helmers aren’t members of the garden club. Many of the featured gardens don’t belong to members.

“We saw Al working in the front yard, and we stopped and talked to him,” Peterson-Shipp said.

“We knock on doors,” Thompson said. “A lot of people are happy to share their work.”

A garden is artistic expression, she said, with a careful placement of colors and other elements like in any other work of art.

“A lot of love and attention goes into these, and they like to show it,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Several sundials are featured throughout Allen and Jean Helmers’ garden.

Proceeds from the garden tour will fund local tree plantings, horticulture and landscape design scholarships, the Iowa Arboretum, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, and gardening books for the public library.

The garden club meets once a month, at 1 p.m. every third Tuesday of the month at the Lion’s Den in Armstrong Park on Exposition Drive.

17th annual Fort Dodge Federated Garden Tour

4 to 8 p.m. Friday

Advance Tickets: Becker Florists, 1335 First Ave. N.,

or Earl May, 168 S. 25 St.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
An angel with electric tea candle keeps watch over the water in Rick and Pam Pingel’s garden.

Tickets available on the day of the tour at 1127 Cooper Drive.

Adults, $10; children 14 and under free

with a parent

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Foxglove (digitalis) growing in Rick and Pam Pingel’s garden.

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