A Twilight Tour
Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club will host annual event
The 19th annual garden tour, sponsored by the Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club will be held Friday, from 4-8 p.m.
This year’s tour will feature eight different stops promising to bring a variety of gardens from flowers to vegetables as well as a wide array of different gardening practices and techniques.
The tour will also provide a personal view of vegetable gardens, raised bed gardens, work done by area Master Gardeners, a garden of fruit trees, a hidden garden, ponds, shade gardens, a wide variety of container gardening and even a “gnome home.”
“You are going to see people who have fenced in their vegetable gardens to protect it from deer and different types of fencing for deer protection,” said Marilyn Peterson-Shipp, a Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club member.
“There are a variety of different ways people have landscaped their gardens,” said Skip Thompson, who is also a garden club member. “Some of them have combinations of both vegetables and flowers.”
Thompson and Peterson-Shipp said the home owners will be on hand to provide tips, talk about the different plants they raise and more.
The annual tour, Thompson said, is a way for people to showcase all of their hard work.
“It’s an expression of their artistic ability with living plants,” she said.
In the past, the tour was held in the afternoon, but since starting the Twilight Tour in 2017, the club has found great success.
“It’s a Friday night, people are ready to go out and do something,” said Thompson. “It’s early enough you can have your tour and go out to eat after and the gardens are much different in the middle of the day. We used to have it in the middle of the day when it’s hot. People don’t come out on a hot day. This is more relaxed.”
Tickets can be purchased at Becker Florists or from a Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club member. They are $10 for adults and children 14 and under, when accompanied by a paying adult are free.
A new stop on this year’s tour is the yard of Denny and Debbie Coulter.
“It is a showpiece,” said Peterson-Shipp. “He has done amazing landscaping with his yard.”
A main focus to Coulter’s flower gardens are the 50 pots and hanging baskets that compliment his landscaping.
Coulter says raising a variety of plants and flowers is a hobby – but he puts as many hours in as a fulltime job.
“I grew up doing this stuff with my mom and dad,” he said. “It’s a passion of mine.”
Coulter’s parents were Jerry and Pauline Coulter, owners of Jerry’s Fruit Basket.
“We had a 20 acre garden and sold flowers too – it was something that got into my blood and I can’t get it out,” he said. “Every year I say I am cutting back, but every year I add more.”
Coulter said he chooses to landscape using containers as it is easier for him to do so.
“I was in a bad accident 20 years ago and I don’t get up and down very easy,” he said.
Another benefit to potted plants is he has more of a control of that specific plant’s growing environment.
“I can control the growth better,” he said. “You are dealing with a specific pot and dirt. Some things require different care and you can give them what they want.”
The containers can be rotated throughout his yard as well. If one is struggling, it can be put back, out of sight while it recovers. If there is a particular pot that is flourishing, it can easily be brought to the front to be showcased.
Coulter said his true love is tropical plants – especially hibiscus.
One particular hibiscus tree that he has had for 13 years was started from a small cutting.
Other favorites include torenias and scaevola. Mainly, he prefers to plant flowers that do not require a lot of maintenance.
Coulter had been having issues with deer coming into his yard.
“They really like hibiscus,” he said. “My yard was smorgasbord for them.”
Sprays might work, but they have a strong odor and require frequent reapplications.
To control the issue, he simply expanded the height of his fence.
Coulter has proven even the most unproductive pieces of land can be turned into something beautiful.
He said he had issues getting grass to grow near the edge of his property line. After some examination, he found a layer of cement six inches under the dirt left by the contractors that built the house.
His solution? A rock garden.
Driving by, one will never know what a problem area that once was.
Coulter said he is ready to visit with people during the Twilight Tour and the fact that he has worked in a variety of professional settings such as his family’s business, Eddie’s Greenhouse, Smitty’s and more – people are going to get some expert advice.
“If you like flowers, you have to come look,” he said.
About the Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club
The Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club meets the third Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m. at the Lion’s Den in Fort Dodge.
Peterson-Shipp said guests are welcome to attend a meeting and oftentimes an informational program is included.
The garden club uses funds raised from the Twilight Tour and their annual plant sale to support scholarships in horticulture at Iowa Central Community College; the Iowa Arboretum, Botanical Center and donating books to the Fort Dodge Library.
If you would like to showcase your garden for next year, Thompson and Peterson-Shipp encourage you to attend a meeting or contact a club member or visit Jeff Becker at Becker’s Florists.