Chesterton Tribune



Duneland gardens featured on Garden Walk 2014 Saturday

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From a bayou to a dry creek bed, Porter County Garden Walk 2014 offers a wide variety of garden settings to view and enjoy.

A large number of unusual trees, Japanese maples, hydrangea and conifers are found throughout the gardens. Artistic accents --- including metal sculpture, fountains and whimsical yard art --- abound.

Colorful perennials for sun, and textured ferns and hostas for shade, ramp up the energy in borders and beds. Vegetable gardens, both prominent and hidden, will be on display.

The event takes place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and features four private Chesterton-area gardens as well as an historic local mansion. Four residential gardens in and near Valparaiso also will be open to the public with an additional stop at a large community garden. The garden walk is sponsored by Porter County Master Gardeners, who will be on hand at each garden to answer questions. Find a favorite plant along the way and there’s a good chance they can tell you what it is.

Some shrubs, trees and perennials are recovering from the effects of the harsh winter. But that makes it possible to notice other garden gems that otherwise may have been overlooked.

One Chesterton garden has an international flair with seven themed beds bordered with 420 boxwoods. A woodland planting defies the misconception that shade gardens are boring, and another area that wine bottles are only good for bottle trees. Don’t miss a massive tree thought to be over 150 years old and a line of trees imported from Holland and planted in 1901.

Opening its gate to visitors is a Porter garden with unexpected trees like hickory pignut, pink-flowering Hawthorn and four types of oak. Featuring both sun and shade, this garden boasts award-winning hydrangeas, plant selections for extended color and interest, and a collector’s touch for the unusual.

Another featured area gardener (who has a hosta named in his honor) rescued a stand of conifers from a Wisconsin bulldozer and used them to border a hosta trail.

Large hostas are the favorite but many varieties of eye-catching solid, corrugated and variegated leaves grace this yard. A passion for hostas has expanded to collecting and propagating its seed to beautify this hillside property that overlooks a river’s original route.

Wee and winsome is how another Chesterton garden is described.

Garden “rooms” are used to maximize the yard’s impact and fool the eye. Both commercial and personal ceramic art liven the beds. A dead tree is repurposed to support a vine, a moist area was reclaimed through purposeful plantings, and learn which plant is beaten with a broom in the spring.

Historically appropriate selections are featured on a tour of a local mansion. The gardener who tends the grounds will be present to explain his choices that include castor bean, gas plant, blackberry lily and a surprise bed of new plantings for the garden walk. Painted Tongue and Eyeball plants will bloom later this summer.

The four residential Valparaiso gardens run the horticultural gamut by featuring non-spreading bamboo as a groundcover, an example of layered “lasagna” vegetable gardening, how to combine privacy with pleasing views, and a way to direct stem growth to increase a conifer’s “wow” factor.

There’s also a fern collection to see as well as an ash tree with pesticide injection devices to thwart Emerald ash borers. Featured this year is an award-winning garden landscaped with native plants; specimens were selected to attract songbirds and provide them winter shelter. This garden also has a rare Kentucky coffeetree.

In the Duneland area, advance garden walk tickets are available for $6 at Chesterton Feed & Garden, 400 Locust St., and at Four Seasons Landscaping Nursery on U.S. 6 one mile east of Indiana 49. Additional sales sites are located throughout the county.

Tickets will be $8 the day of the walk and may be purchased between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Chesterton at the Westchester Township Historical Museum, 700 W. Porter Avenue., and in Valparaiso at Fit City Community Garden, 3210 N. Campbell Street.

For more information call 219-465-3555 or visit


Posted 6/23/2014