The University of Illinois Extension DeKalb County Master Gardeners’ 12th annual Garden Walk will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 13, rain or shine. Five beautiful private gardens showcasing various styles and one public educational spotlight have been chosen for this year’s event.
The featured gardens are located in DeKalb, Clare and Malta. Tickets are available at the DeKalb County Center for Agriculture (Farm Bureau Building), 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore, during business hours or the day of the Garden Walk. Tickets also can be purchased at Blumen Gardens and The Garden Market in Sycamore, Glidden Florist in DeKalb or at any of the gardens on the walk. Tickets cost $10 and all proceeds support the University of Illinois Extension programs.
For more information on the gardens, call the Extension office at 815-758-8194.
A brief description of each of the gardens on the walk follows.
Marshall Dirks began gardening in his parents’ vegetable garden and has been developing his current property for about 15 years. He credits talented plant breeders around the world who carefully cultivate and introduce their products for his inspiration as a gardener. Dirks said he travels nearly every week, so he needs annuals that are self-cleaning, perennials that are long-blooming, and shrubs that are repeat bloomers.
The Dirks garden is a Proven Winners garden, filled with many of the most popular varieties in the collection, as well as many new plants that will debut in 2020. The garden includes annuals, shrubs, perennials, herbs, berries and vegetables.
Jefferson Elementary School
Community Garden – Educational Spotlight
The mission of the Jefferson Elementary School Community Garden is connecting students and families to hands-on experiential learning through gardening. The plot, begun four years ago as a community garden, is comprised of raised beds and unique vertical gardening for vegetables, herbs and flowers, as well as being a registered Monarch Way Station. Each spring the students vote on what to grow and start seedlings in their classrooms.
The Jefferson garden is special because it is a dynamic collaboration between families, students, staff and community members. The garden is mobility-friendly with bordering sidewalks to enable easy access for students and families.
Mike and Dianna Huttunen’s garden is a mix of perennials, shrubs, annuals and vegetables. Some of the plantings attract butterflies and finches, including a trumpet vine which attracts hummingbirds throughout the summer.
Although the Huttunens have been gardening for 22 years, Dianna credits her mother for garden inspiration. Growing up, they always had vegetables and flowers. Dianna even has iris from her mother’s garden.
The Huttunen property abounds in special features, including a tree house, a pergola with an old-fashioned swing, a garden shed, a pond with a stone fountain and several perennial garden beds. They have even incorporated old doors to created privacy in different areas of the yard.
Zurbrugg Garden – Refreshment Stop
Anita Zurbrugg’s earliest recollections include gardening by the side of her parents and six siblings in their flower and vegetable gardens. As an adult, she began planting trees at her current home with her late husband Mike in 1990 when the space was first converted from a conventional corn and soybean field. Anita more recently focused on the landscape and gardens when in 2016 she moved into a newly built net-zero energy efficient home.
Zurbrugg’s approximately 13-acre garden, natural yard and prairie including a wildlife pond, 11 acres of prairie in different stages of development, wildflower and perennial gardens, and vegetable garden are interspersed with natural landscaping. Mowed areas are kept to a minimum, primarily maintained in the form of mowed paths and areas for recreation, including a campfire site used for gatherings.
The Zurbrugg property abounds with special features. Anita dug most the trees and shrubs from around DeKalb County and transplanted them as seedlings. An immature fruit tree orchard, perennial small fruit and vegetable garden and Christmas tree grove are located in the “lower garden” south of the pond’s dam. Soil excavated to create the wildlife pond was used not only to create the dam, but also to form a large berm which shelters the home and provides the backdrop for a wildflower garden. A large vegetable garden located north of the house is an ongoing effort with a longtime friend to provide fresh produce for family and friends.
Steph Forsberg, who has been gardening for 45 years, loves it so much that she even enjoys deadheading every morning! Steph thinks of her garden as a country/cottage style. She incorporates both colorful flowers and vegetables in her flower beds, all accented with whimsical garden art. Turtles abound in certain beds.
Since Forsberg enjoys inspiring others to garden, an archway welcomes visitors to the garden which meanders back to a cute potting shed as strategically placed fairy gardens continue to surprise the visitor. Although problems with Japanese beetles have prevented Forsberg from planting some of her favorite flowers, she still has an abundance of perennials, including roses, day lilies, hosta, black eyed Susans, heuchera and more to keep her busy.
Marcia Dick has been gardening at her current home in Malta for 30 years, and when she moved in there were only dogwood, mock orange, yews, weigelia, ferns and a few hosta. She has added many perennials with butterflies in mind and shrubs and trees with birds in mind. She has planted perennials from her mom’s garden and rescued peonies that were being mowed over in a neighbor’s yard. She also has a lilac started from a 100-year-old lilac found in a farm yard. Marcia calls her style “cottage,” and since she is tolerant of fragrant flowers, she believes in letting plants thrive where they choose.
Dick loves tetraploid day lilies, peonies, bearded iris, violets, magic lilies, Asiatic lilies, hosta, aster and lily of the valley. She adds annuals so that something is always blooming and particularly likes pinks, blues and whites, punctuated with reds and yellows.