Chesterton Tribune

Duneland garden walk is June highlight

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Wonders and Weeds


As one of six featured gardens on the June 28 Duneland Garden Club 2003 public garden walk, Kelly Miller is happy to welcome visitors to her home. She does, however, want to make this disclaimer: her garden isn’t done.

“I’m only 10 percent of where I want to be,” she explains. “I want to make a big billboard that says ‘Come back in 10 years.’ But it shows where you’ve come from and where you’re going.”

Kelly and her husband Michael have imprinted their own unique style on the land at 344 E. U.S. 6 in Jackson Twp. while taming a portion of their 13 acres. Devotees of art and auctions, the Millers have a passion for giving old items new life. Two acres have been developed with a variety of water features, landscaped beds, decorative objects and paths.

Although much smaller, Lisa Berke had to tame her 401 W. Morgan Ave. yard, too. “When we moved in it was so let go and so overrun it was nothing but bushes.” Slowly, Berke found horticultural gems hidden among the overgrowth. Winter-hardy bamboo, old roses, and a dragon arum.

This exotic giant bulb (dracunculus vulgaris) from Mediterranean Europe is characterized by unusual leaves and flowers, and especially its smell. “We looked for a dead animal, it smelled so bad,” said Berke, who assures the plant will not be in flower but she will have pictures of the last time it did.

The garden of Bill and Lisa Berke has been fashioned to fit the young family’s active lifestyle. Using trial and error, this garden represents the art of revitalization combining shade from a dogwood tree and sun in the front borders.

“I never gardened before until we moved here. It’s turned into my passion. I love it,” said Berke, who also has a 60 year-old, night-blooming fragrant plant from her grandmother.

Dean Recktenwall had the opposite situation when moving into his 332 E. CR 1050N residence in 1991. “When we moved in here there wasn’t much to speak of. I wasn’t into gardening. I put a patio in and we had to put some plants around it and we got into perennials. They didn’t do well so I started with hostas.”

Today, Recktenwall and his wife Joyce have more than 250 different hosta varieties. “I’m addicted to them,” said Dean. “They don’t all look alike. They have their own little personalities. They’re hardy, they’re tough. You can hardly kill them.”

At least three-quarters of the Recktenwall garden is shade which means competition from tree roots and depleted soil so Recktenwall pays careful attention to its nourishment by adding amendments. A new challenge this year has been deer.

The Recktenwall hostas are interplanted with heuchera, astilbe, epimedium, yellow dicentra, impatiens, carex grass and hundreds of ferns. “I’m not a gardening student. I just pick things up as I go,” said Dean, who’s been seriously gardening for just nine years.

Three other gardens also are featured on the garden walk. Each reflects the gardener’s own sensitivity and experience. Sun, shade, texture, color, contrast and repetition all are used to create bold borders, quiet corners and tempting trails waiting to be explored.

The 230 E. Morgan Ave. garden of Lou and Hank DeWulf is full of remembrances of friends and family. A formal oriental garden graces the front of the house, and flower beds with several varieties of trees, shrubs and perennials abound in the back. A special feature is an espalier apple tree, and the garden is ornamented with a cherub fountain, stepping stones and trellises.

Rita and Shawn Skeffington have spent 30 years fashioning their 502 Starwood Dr. garden in Graham Woods where much of its original woodsy charm has been preserved. The couple has proven equal to the challenge of gardening among oak, hickory and pine trees. Colorful gardens and a pond attract many species of birds and butterflies.

Working since 1998 when their new home was built at 124 Johnson Dr. in Liberty Twp., Doug and Cindy Stevers have surrounded it with several different gardens. The pathway garden winds through a wooded area in the front of the house, and for the couple’s grandchildren a fairy cottage with miniature furnishings was built.

Confessing a fondness for fragrant plants, Cindy has planted an herb garden and is working on a terraced vegetable garden to be intermingled with flowering perennials. Various evergreens, trees and woody shrubs also dot the Stevers landscape, which is still being developed.

All garden walk tickets are $6. Advance ticket holders will receive a detailed map and descriptions at any garden the day of the event; tickets also may be purchased at any garden June 28. Tickets are available in Chesterton at Seldom Seen, 103 S. Second St.; Diane’s Gifts, 119 Broadway; Lynn’s Garden Gifts, 123 S. Calumet Rd.; Chesterton Feed and Garden, 400 Locust St.; and at Four Seasons Landscaping, 226 E. U.S. Highway 6 east of Indiana 49.

For more information, please contact 787-8377 or 477-4995.


Posted 6/20/2003