Imagine the endless possibilities for your yard

FD Federated Garden Club’s annual garden tour next week

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Jackie Brown and her granddaughter, Petra Tillison, 12, show off Brown's expansive backyard garden. Brown's home will be the first stop on this year's Twilight Tour hosted by the Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club.

Jackie Brown has no formal training in landscaping or gardening, yet her immaculately designed backyard is a work of art. Brown’s home at 1720 Williams Drive will be the first stop on the Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club’s 20th annual Garden Tour Twilight Tour.

“This is 15 years in the making,” Brown said of her garden. “I’m not a textbook gardener. I don’t know a lot of the plants’ names. I’m a very visual person.”

Every year, Brown visits various farmers markets and looks through gardening catalogs for new and unusual — and beautiful — plants to add to her backyard canvas.

“I go by instinct and light,” Brown explained.

The Twilight Tour will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 7. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at Becker Florist, or at the start of the tour at Brown’s home.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Faces are a common feature of the garden art in Jackie Brown's back yard.

There will be four homes and a church on the tour. The addresses for the other stops on the tour will be given to ticket holders at Brown’s home.

“This year we’re trying something that’s a little different,” said Skip Thompson, secretary for the garden club. “We’re doing the tour on Thursday night instead of Friday night, thinking that people will be less busy.”

The Twilight Tour is a moneymaker for the garden club, Thompson said. The funds raised go toward scholarships awarded by the club, and donations to the Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University and the Iowa Botanical Gardens.

“We’re trying to promote beautifying our city,” Thompson said. “Gardening is a work of art.”

Garden club members often approach homeowners to ask them to show off their gardens on the tour, Thompson said. A lot of the recommendations they receive come from word-of-mouth; members of the garden club might notice a home in their neighborhood has a unique or striking garden and ask them to be part of the tour.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Even this small strip of yard next to Jackie Brown's pool is expertly gardened.

This will be Brown’s third time hosting a stop on the garden tour.

Brown takes a lot of pride in her garden — with the exception of two retaining walls, she and her husband did all of the landscaping themselves.

“You have your failures and your successes,” she said. “But, you know, it’s a process.”

Brown also displays a variety of yard art throughout her garden — everything from aluminum chickens to water features to carved stone faces.

“They’re just so striking,” she said. “I just think you look at them and everybody gets something different out of that face.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
An asiatic lily blooms in Jackie Brown's yard recently. Brown's home at 1720 Williams Drive will be the first stop on Thursday's Twilight Tour of the Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club.

Brown is always adding to her yard art collection.

“Every trip we take, I try to find something that will remind me of that trip, or it’s gifts from people and friends,” she said.

Brown said she enjoys the garden tours because seeing other peoples’ gardens gives her inspiration. The tour features various levels of gardens.

“You’ll see something and it just kind of inspires you to do something,” she said. “And I love talking to other people who have the same interests and I’ve gotten really great information and different input from other people who come on the tour.”

Brown spends countless hours outside working in her garden, but when she isn’t, she’s enjoying a cup of coffee on her deck, looking over the beautiful view.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Jackie Brown, of Fort Dodge, has a variety of plants and decor spread throughout her back yard. Brown's home will be the first stop on the Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club's Twilight Tour this year.

“It is a lot of work,” Brown said. “But the reward — it’s just relaxing, it’s peaceful.”

20th Annual Twilight Tour

Thursday, July 7th

4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Rain or shine

Tickets $10, children 14 and under with a parent free

Advance tickets can be purchased at Becker’s Florist, 1335 First Ave. N.

Tickets can be purchased the day of the tour at 1720 Williams Drive


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