Altrusa Club of Ames to hold first Spring Garden Tour June 5
The Altrusa Club of Ames is holding its first Spring Garden Tour on Saturday, June 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is a change to the club’s usual fundraisers, which were canceled due to COVID-19, and funds raised during the tour will be distributed to four local nonprofit organizations.
Typically the Altrusa Club of Ames holds one or two fundraisers each year, with its largest event being the Holiday Home Tour, which features several local homes in December.
“It’s been going on for 31 years now,” said Mary Ellen Metzger, the club’s past president. “However, with Covid, things that were typically done to raise money for others, like the Rummage Rampage, were canceled.”
The group started thinking about having an event outside.
“In the same vein as the Holiday Home Tour, it will be the outside of the home and we are doing a Garden Tour,” Metzger said.
Ames Altrusa member Marilyn Schnormeier, who leads the Garden Tour committee, is the gift shop manager at Reiman Gardens, and she presented the Garden Tour idea to the leadership at Reiman to help find gardeners in the area who would be interested.
Reiman Gardens decided to help promote the event – and more. The purchase of a $20 ticket to the Spring Garden Tour will also include free admission to Reiman Gardens.
“It’s a wonderful community effort on Reiman Gardens’ part to really make this a grandiose tour,” Metzger said. “They’ve really been a great collaborator in this event.”
Ed Lyon and Dylan Hart show ‘Lyon-Hart Gardens’
The director of Reiman Gardens Ed Lyon and his partner Dylan Hart agreed to have their home featured along with four other homes on the tour.
“They have a 1910 Victorian home in the downtown area,” Metzger said. “Having the background that Ed does with plans and especially unique plants, the average-size lot that they have has many unique plants and some harder-to-find cultivars that he presents in their garden.
“Ed told us that he doesn’t even own a lawn mower because everything in his yard is a plant.”
“Lyon-Hart Gardens,” as it’s known, is located at 725 Hodge Ave. and has been featured on the PBS show “Gardening with Steil” and also in Garden Gate magazine. The garden includes a gazebo replica of a French orangerie and features more than 1,000 lilies.
Dee and Don Draper have ‘Hillside Hostas’
“The Drapers call their garden ‘Hillside Hostas’ because they have well over 1,400 hostas,” Metzger said. “They actually have a 5-acre area that they garden as a perennial garden.”
The Drapers were also featured on a PBS show in March and have had other tour groups come through their garden over the years.
Located at 4912 W 190th St., the perennial beds are arranged on three levels, each containing distinctive microclimates and plant ecosystems. There are several pollinator gardens, a rose garden, a daylily collection, numerous grasses, conifers, shrubs and native woodland plants, according to the brochure.
Russ Hoffman and Martha Stewart look forward to your questions
The garden of Russ Hoffman and Martha Stewart, located at 1027 Ridgewood Ave., is an example of what can be done with a small or oddly shaped yard. They focus on both the plants and the hardscape in their garden, Metzger said.
“The backyard has several stone raised beds with perennials and small stone patios. A time treasured water element and compost bin work well in the limited space,” the brochure stated. “Everything on the property has been designed, constructed and planted by the owners.”
“Martha Stewart specifically said, ‘We hope this tour gives you good ideas for your garden,’” Metzger said. “And they look forward to seeing you and answering your questions.”
Kris and Tom Jurik have nearly 1,000 peonies
Located just north of Ames at 5658 95th St., the garden of Kris and Tom Jurik spans several acres and has nearly 1,000 peonies, more than 1,000 hostas and many other perennials.
“The Juriks have also been featured in a magazine. They’re kind of famous for their peonies,” Metzger said. “Although many of those will be spent by the time of the tour, there will still be some in bloom.
“The beauty of some of these larger gardens is that when one thing goes away, other things come out and things are constantly in motion.”
“A reconstructed prairie, a large vegetable garden, fruit trees and floodplain and upland forests with native spring ephemerals complement the flower gardens,” according to the brochure. “The diverse habitats attract songbirds, deer, rabbits, waterfowl and many other animals.”
Veronica Lorson Fowler’s garden is her ‘idea generator’
The garden of Veronica Lorson Fowler is located at 1031 Ridgewood Ave. Fowler is a garden writer and her landscape is her “living laboratory, photo studio and idea generator,” the brochure stated.
“It’s a small garden but packed with perennials, annuals, containers, a small formal garden, a vine-covered play fort, a water garden, small herb bed and more.”
Fowler has gardened at this location for more than 30 years, and during that time, the garden has constantly evolved into something a little different each year.
“One thing I really like about this tour is that these individuals, whether their gardens are large or small, these are well-seasoned gardens,” Metzger said. “Some of these people have been gardening these spaces for 30 years.”
Reiman Gardens has an origami-inspired exhibit
Reiman Gardens currently has an art exhibit called “OrigamiintheGarden²” featuring large origami-inspired sculptures. “That’s a new exhibit,” Metzger said. “If you don’t like flowers, maybe you like garden art.”
“Three of the gardens are in town, and two are on the outskirts of town, plus Reiman Gardens. So we have a total of six venues that can be visited on that day,” Metzger added.
Club has a philosophy of altruism
“Our name, Altrusa, is based on the word altruism, which is the concern for the well-being of other people and acting on that to help others,” Metzger said.
The group has focused on donating money raised at its events to area nonprofit organizations. Four nonprofits will benefit from the money raised during the Spring Garden Tour: Martha’s House of Hope, NAMI of Central Iowa, The Bridge Home and Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance.
“The main reason for doing this tour is to give back to the community,” Metzger said. “All four of these nonprofits indicated that the need was greater due to the Covid situation.
“In fact, Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance said that their requests for heat and utility assistance had doubled because of Covid.”
Martha’s House of Hope is a fairly new nonprofit that provides a home for young single mothers. The organization plans to use the funds for safety equipment for children – things like car seats and monitors.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) plans to keep the funds for use in Story County in a special project that will teach cooking skills to members of peer groups. The funds will be used for cooking supplies and appliances.
“At The Bridge Home, because of Covid and the spacing required, they used local hotel rooms to shelter homeless people, which was more costly,” Metzger said. “The homeless situation was very volatile during Covid.”
Tickets to the Spring Garden Tour are $20 each.
“We’re always sensitive about ticket prices, but I think if I asked people on the street if they would be willing to give $5 each to these four important local organizations, I think most people would do that,” Metzger said. “Plus it gets you into Reiman Gardens, which is a minimum of $10 for admission, so it’s a good deal.”
A list of sponsors will be printed on the Spring Garden Tour brochure. The sponsorships are crucial, Metzger said, because they cover the cost of the event, allowing ticket sales to be donated to the four nonprofits.
Tickets are available at Everett’s Flowers, Coe’s Flowers and Reiman Gardens’ gift shop. Plus tickets will be available at any location on the tour during the event.
“We’re hoping for nice weather. If we just have a drizzle or two, we’ll still have it on June 5,” Metzger said. “But we do have a rain date of June 6.”
The Ames Altrusa Club will announce on its Facebook page and website if inclement weather causes a rescheduling to Sunday.