From hosta to hosta
Garden Club’s Twilight Tour to feature six gardens
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.
“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.
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.