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Mothering Matters hosts Spring Garden Tour

by Marc Hayot | May 11, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Photo submitted Travis Chaney shares a photo of his garden which will be featured on the Mothering Matters Garden Tour. With most of the plants he raised last year eaten by deer and groundhogs, Chaney experimented with growing individual Perennial plants to create a deer-resistant garden, according Mothering Matters Coordinator Rebekah Entwistle.

Mothering Matters, a group of mothers of young children, will host its first spring garden tour from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 14.

The group consists of mothers with young children who coordinate the annual Christmas Tour, said Mothering Matters Coordinator Rebekah Entwistle. The Christmas tour is a separate event from the city's annual "Deck the Halls" house decorating contest, Entwistle said.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mothering Matters decided to do a garden tour in the spring instead of last year at Christmas, Entwistle said. Tickets for the event are $15 with all proceeds going to Mothering Matters. Entwistle said.

People purchase tickets and receive a map of all of the homes participating in the garden tour, Entwistle said. Tickets may be purchased at Beautiful Lives Boutique; Cafe on Broadway; Occasions; Sassafras Antiques; Savvy Salon and Whisk and Spool Bakery, Entwistle said.

"We're very excited because there is a variety of participants as well as a variety of plants," Entwistle said.

Participants include Restoration Specialist Travis Chaney of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership (IRWP); Keith and Kim Kretzer; Jed and Rachel Harris; John and Stephania Brown; Kim Andrus and as a bonus, the garden of retired Benton County Judge Stephen Thomas, Entwistle said.

Entwistle emailed brief descriptions of each garden on the tour.

Kretzer Family Garden

Keith and Kim Kretzer enjoy spending time in their backyard, Entwistle said. Their property offers peaceful quiet and scenic views of nature, Entwistle said.

Some of the couple's favorite critters are chirping birds, playful squirrels, butterflies and humming birds, Entwistle said. The Kretzers have three birdbaths, four bird feeders and two hummingbird feeders, Entwistle said.

In February 2021, the Kretzer's 19-year-old Holly Bushes that formed a three inch tall hedge across their entire front yard were mostly killed due to the polar vortex, Entwistle said.

Following the death of their bushes, the couple decided to pull out the hedge and replace them with 23 Wintergreen Boxwoods with the plan to hedge the Boxwoods as they grow in the coming years, Entwistle said.

Chaney Family Garden

When not working to restore wetlands, Chaney can be found puttering around his naturalistic garden, Entwistle said.

Chaney's ranch house was built in 1954, but his meadow gardens are only two-years-old and were established from approximately 2,000 individual landscape plugs, Entwistle said.

Deer and ground hogs have sadly eaten 75 percent of his flowering Perennials the first year so Chaney had to rethink his garden plan, Entwistle said.

This year, Chaney decided to experiment with growing individual Perennial plants from seed as well as working to create a dramatic. and dynamic deer-resistant garden with four seasons of interest, Entwistle said.

Chaney said he is thrilled that Mothering Matters is hosting the garden tour.

"I'm convinced that a thriving garden culture is a reliable indicator of a healthy, stable community," Chaney said. "Gardeners are people who have put down roots. They plan to stick around, they know how to work, and they are faithful to their place."

Harris Family Garden

Rise 7's Jed Harris and his wife Rachel own a 1984 Ranch Farmhouse which is surrounded by shady woods, Entwistle said. The couple loves to spend time walking their backyard trails that wind through the woods admiring their favorite plants: Hostas.

Harris and his wife also enjoy watching their daughter play in their unique playhouse that he built himself, Entwistle said. The playhouse is covered in cedar shakes and is popular among the Harris' daughter's friends who refer to it as the "Gnome House," Entwistle said.

Brown Family Garden

When John and Stephania Brown first moved into their house there was not a plant insight, Entwistle said. Stephania's mother, who was 74 at the time, helped round up the garden, Entwistle said. The couple spread sand and bales of Peat Moss all over the space, Entwistle said.

Over the years, the Browns incorporated plants from Stephania's mother's garden, plus they purchased plants based on her recommendation, Entwistle said. Stephania's mom lived with the couple from ages 86-94 and always enjoyed smelling the roses, Entwistle said.

Visitors who make their way to the Browns' 1986 garden cottage will see little woodland figures in the garden including Stephania's favorite, a rooster named Tom, Entwistle said.

Andrus Family Garden

The Andrus' green two-story house is situated on the top of a hill. Visitors cruise up the long winding gravel driveway to the house, said Andrus. Parking is available in the side yard and easy to see, Andrus said.

With a "cottagey" and wild "Farmhouse style," the couple focuses on a lot of shade-loving flowers like Impatiens, Begonias and Hostas, as well as herbs and also plants that deer do not like, Andrus said.

"We are thankful for a sunny spot for our vegetable garden," Andrus said. "We don't really consider ourselves great gardeners, but we have fun with it."

Andrus and her husband Dave have hosted lots of events on their property from big Easter egg hunts to the activities of many college students, Andrus said. During the coronavirus pandemic, the Andrus' hosted plenty of spaced-out get-togethers outside the fire pit, Andrus said.

Andrus said there will also be homemade baked goods for sale during the garden tour which can be purchased from Mothering Matters moms, Andrus said.

Thomas Family Garden -- Bonus

When Benton County Judge Stephen Thomas retired at the end of 2020, he did not lack activities to keep him busy. Thomas has been raising Peonies with his best friend from college, Henry Chotkowski, who resides in Fayetteville, Entwistle said.

Thomas credits Chotkowski for introducing and teaching him about raising Peonies, Entwistle said. Thomas has approximately 2,000-3,000 Peony plants on his acreage south of town, Entwistle said.

Thomas told Entwistle he was glad to open his peony acreage to the public to benefit moms through Mothering Matters.

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