From hosta to hosta

Garden Club’s Twilight Tour to feature six gardens

-Messenger photos by Hans Madsen
Steve Pratt, of Fort Dodge, makes a fine adjustment to one of the features in the Marlee’s Stone Creek section of their garden. Each of their grandchildren has their own section dedicated to them. The garden is part of this year’s Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club Garden Tour.

One of the fun people those attending the 18th annual Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club Garden Tour on Friday will get to meet as they look over her garden work is Donna Rae Porter.

Porter doesn’t believe in gardening gloves.

“I don’t wear gloves,” she said. “I would never wear gloves. I love the feel of the dirt.”

She’s not one to stay cooped up in her home.

“I just love being outside,” she said. “It’s very relaxing. I’m a farm girl that just loves to pick away.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Steve and Diane Pratt walk down a patch in the Gretta’s Garden section of their garden. Each of their grandchildren has a section dedicated to them. The garden is among the six featured on this year’s Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club Garden Tour.

Porter’s garden includes several unique clamatis, lots of flowers, and if the visitors look carefully, a whimsical clay frog and segments of a dragon.

How much time does she spend there every week?

“Not as much as I like,” she said. “I don’t have that much that needs much attention.”

This is her first time on the Garden Tour. There’s lots of work to do to have it just perfect.

“Everybody is coming to look at my weeds,” she joked. “I’m excited, though. I’m still picking up airplanes from the maples.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Donna Rae Porter, of Fort Dodge, works on dead heading some of the flowers in her garden. Porter’s garden is one of six that will be featured on this year’s Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club Garden Tour.

This year’s tour includes six gardens. The tour starts at 1167 Fox Ridge Drive at the Frank and Patricia Cramer home. Tickets can be purchased there or in advance at Becker Florist, 1335 First Ave. N. The cost is $10 for adults. Children 14 and under are free if accompanied by an adult.

The tour, called a Twilight Tour, is from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., rain or shine.

Another garden on the tour belongs to Steve and Diane Pratt.

It’s a labor of love 30 years in the making.

“We moved in 30 years ago and we had a clean slate,” Steve Pratt said. “There wasn’t even a blade of grass.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club Tour Committee member Sally Allard looks at a clamatis in Donna Rae Porter’s garden that’s among the six included on their annual Garden Tour.

As Michigan natives, the couple missed being surrounded by pine trees.

“We have 20 pine trees out here,” he said.

During his work life, the garden served as a welcoming place when he returned home.

“I traveled a lot,” he said. “I was on the road 150 nights a year. It’s an oasis. That’s really how I looked at it.”

The couple has developed different sections of the garden as tribute, homage and dedications of affection for each of their grandchildren.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Steve and Diane Pratt honor the Dodgers and their fans in a section of their garden. The garden is among the six featured on this year’s Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club Garden Tour.

“We developed a section for each of the grandkids,” he said. “The kids love to tear around; they’ve always had free reign. They’re really proud of their own areas.”

The couple have a division of labor: he plans; she takes care of the weeds.

“I’m not the visionary,” Diane Pratt said. “But I know when something has to go.”

The Pratts’ garden was featured on a previous tour, about 15 years ago, they said.

It takes a lot of work and time.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The large clay frog is one of the whimsical items that will greet visitors to Donna Rae Porter’s garden during this year’s Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club Garden Tour.

“I spend about 20 to 30 hours a week on it,” Steve Pratt said.

In addition to the individual areas for the grandchildren, the garden also has raised berms with plantings, including a lot of hostas.

“It’s really a shade garden,” he said.

One thing that the Pratts share with most other gardeners is the inability to drive past a nursery or garden center without stopping.

“Oh no,” he said.

Those attending the Garden Tour will be given a brochure with directions and addresses for all the homes on the trek when they purchase their tickets.

Twilight Tour

What: 18th annual Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club Twilight Tour

When:  4 to 8 p.m. Friday

Tour start: 1167 Fox Ridge Drive

Cost: $10 for adults, children 14 and under are free.

COMMENTS