Four gardens will be featured in this year’s garden tour

The Marietta Garden Tour will be held Sunday, June 22, rain or shine. The gardens of Joyce Robinson and Judy Phillips at 606 Washington St., Alex and Christy Minard at 512 Second St., Jerry Bedilion at 130 Constitution Road and Geoff Schenkel at 214 Putnam Ave. will be featured on the tour.

Gardens will be open 3 to 6 p.m. The churchyard plant sale and refreshments are open from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. The Unitarian Universalist Church is located at 232 Third St., Marietta.

Tickets are $7 in advance and may be purchased at Twisted Sisters, Greenleaf Landscapes, Williamstown Pharmacy, and Thomson’s Landscaping or $10 on the day of the tour at the church or any of the gardens.

For information call Debra Miller at 525-4558 or Caroline Putnam at 373-4510 or

Robinson and Phillips Garden

The lushness of the Washington Street garden, created by sisters Joyce Robinson and Judy Philips belies its newness. Most of the garden is less than three years with most of the work by the sisters themselves, who chose to retire to Marietta together after exploring a number of Ohio towns. In just a few years these avid gardeners have transformed their downtown yard into an urban oasis with multiple garden rooms.

Facing the early twentieth century bungalow, the visitor enters a shady space anchored by rhododendrons and magnolia. This area is enlivened by a variety of hosta, heucheras, astilbe and columbine, demonstrating the color and texture interest possible even by heavy shade . The far right corner of the front yard is home to a rock garden of mostly native plants. Visitors enter the back yard via dyed and stamped concrete steps. In addition to more hostas and heucheras, the plantings include a fern collection, Japanese iris, spiderwort, sweet woodruff, wild ginger, and lots of arum. Along the fence between the home and a church are several heritage peonies from the gardeners’ grandmother. A floral footpath punctuated by a ninebark trained as a standard runs between the fence and garage. This narrow area includes lush window boxes, hardy hibiscus, and orange geum.

The footpath leads to an expansive back garden where an “alley house” once stood. It is now home to service berries, daylilies, hardy geranium, coneflowers, and assortment of columbine. The plantings along the fence include a corner conifer garden, fothergilla, “Wine and Roses” weigela, “Sky Pencil” holly, “Miss Kim” lilac, and a weeping purple fountain beech.

The gardeners are also committed to environmentally sustainable practices in their cottage -style garden. Besides choosing natives and other area appropriate plants they have installed rain barrels and an 1100-gallon cistern to collect runoff for watering their plantings.

Minard Garden

Christy Minard describes 512 Second Street created with her husband Alex as “a reflection of our family’s life.” Every age group is welcome in this elegant urban retreat that incorporates wild-life friendliness, a large vegetable garden and compost area, a basketball hoop, a water feature, a children’s play area, room for adult entertaining, and lots of creative containers.

Entrance to the back yard is through the property’s only lawn area. Planted along the house wall is a butterfly-attracting garden of mostly purple flowering plants, while the stockade fence to the right is edged by a young garden of shrubs and perennials that tolerate the shade of the property’s signature hemlocks. Like all parts of the garden, this area is bird-friendly. The garden’s centerpiece is a large water feature, fenced for safety and planted with dwarf conifers, a weeping Japanese maple, and a variety of perennials. A large ceramic frog adds whimsy to the stone waterfall.

Much of the back yard is occupied by an organic lightly hand-tilled vegetable garden, largely the project of Alex Minard. The plants are fed by the products of a large compost area. Rather than hiding the vegetables, the Minards have placed them in neatly defined beds bordering their two-level patio., incorporating into the design. Pollinator attracting coneflowers are used as a short hedge along the garden path.

The garden’s centerpiece is a large water feature , fenced for safety and planted with dwarf conifers, a weeping Japanese maple, and a variety of perennials. A large ceramic frog adds whimsy to the stone waterfall Beyond is a play area for the children.

REsolve Studies Westside Garden

REsolve Studios Westside Garden at the corner of Putnam Avenue and Franklin Street is all about “changing the pattern in Harmar Village” according to its creator, Geoff Schenkel. This five year old garden grows on the former site of an ice cream parlor that by 2008 had been closed for more than 20 years. When Schenkel and his wife , Alice Stewart, purchased the property, it was home to liquor bottles, used hypodermic needles, abandoned cars and “No Trespassing” signs. Today it is a haven for art, wildlife, and neighborhood children, who sample the berries growing along the garden’s central path as they pass through.

This public-private garden packs a lot into a small space and demonstrates what can be done with more creativity than cash. Materials from demolished buildings have been repurposed into landscaping and found materials are given new life in works of art.Old tools and other items are mounted are mounted on the fence , allowing visitors to focus on their shapes. Old garden gloves and a dead tree trunk have become sculptures, while “fossil bricks”-made by children at the Boys and Girls Club incorporate man-made into concrete blocks used as edging.

Another tie to the past worth noting: the Schenkel-Stewart home originally belonged to Stewart’s great-grandparents and the old-fashioned backyard peonies in this modern garden were planted in the early twentieth century

A food production garden as well as an art space, REsolve’s Garden is home to seven fruit trees as well as the child-attracting raspberries. Vegetables and herb plants are tucked into the raised beds created from the site’s reclaimed material. Because the original soil is hard and compacted, Schenkel has worked to improve it by incorporating organic material. A major theme here is that nothing goes to waste or is wasted.

Bedilion Garden

Jerry Bedilion’s hillside garden in Constitution began as therapy after his mother died in 1982, but it grew through what he calls “a garden of happy accidents”. It is also the site of prom photos for lucky students at Warren High School, where Bedilion has taught at for more than 40 years. This year is special because it marks the 100th anniversary of the construction of the former Methodist Church which is now the home of this passionate gardener.

When visitors disembark from the vans that take them to the garden, a peek over the white picket fence will give a teasing glimpse of the treasures beyond. Seeing the garden today, it I difficult to believe that when the property was purchased in 1980 it was a hillside tangle of blackberry vines growing in red clay. Today the soil is rich and loose and home to an amazing variety of plants, all of which Bedilion has planted, even though, by his own admission, neither a horticulturalist nor a landscaper. The staircase to the CSX rail line was present (the original main path to the church to the church), but all of the garden’s other paths and terraces and plantings were constructed by the gardener. The result is a series of breathtaking spaces.and terraces.

This is a stately garden, one which invites lingering in each of its many “rooms”. The hilltop plantings constitute the garden’s anteroom, the ‘walls”of which are defined by dramatic container plants. The walk way to the house is lined with gardenia standards (a tribute to the gardener’s mother) and alpine trough plantings in blue pots. A 150 year old Christmas cactus sits on top of the steps, while a gate signals the entrance to the garden proper.

The first terrace is home to golden spirea contrasted with burgundy Japanese maple. throughout the property, plants with gold or chartreus foliage brighten the shady area. the first of the garden’s many modern water features (homage to the gardener’s fondness for contemporary architecture) rests at the bottom of the first staircase right the eye is drawn to the variegated dogwood “Wedding Cake” and to a lower seating area with furniture in a restful shade of blue.

A vine-covered arch marks the entrance to the lower garden,accessed via the narrow staircase originally on the property; BE careful. The railroad tracks are screened fence, back drop to a raised pool guarded by a stone angel. Both sides of the staircase hold specimens of Bedilion’s hosta collection.