|Joy Walter, Greg Largent with their awards|
By Janet I. Martineau
An 1800s church with 10 gardens around its exterior and a private home where grass is at a premium are the winners of the 2011 Women’s National Farm & Garden/Saginaw Branch Beautification Award.
The business/community garden category winner is First Presbyterian Church, Court at Harrison.
|One church garden|
The church occupies an entire block, and around it are 10 garden beds “adopted” and maintained currently by seven church members.
One of the beds is in such a hot spot, the spring bulbs bloom in February.
Begun 25 years ago by minister of music Gregory H. Largent and two church members, Fred and June Ostler, Largent reports the gardens remain an ever-changing work in progress.
He says when he came to that church those 25 years ago, he was “deeply offended” by the existing yew-filled landscaping. Thus began a colorful transformation to perennials, roses and flowering shrubs showcasing what he calls the beauty of God’s world, of making the inviting life of the inside of the church also inviting outside.
Receiving the residential garden category award is Joy A. Walter of Saginaw Township, who apparently never met a perennial she didn’t like because she counts 97 different KINDS of them flouring in her garden -- along with a fish-stocked pond and assorted shrubs and small trees.
|Joy Walter's back yard|
And when it comes to just ONE of those 97 KINDS of perennials, well, she tends to 38 clematis.
This landscape in which grass does not stand a chance was created out of nothingness when Joy and her husband moved to their home in 1982.
Joy is a retired language arts teacher, serving 30 years at Arthur Hill High School and North Intermediate. She is the current president of the Apple Country Gardeners in Freeland. And this year she began work on what she calls a Fairy Garden of miniature plants.
“I can’t resist new plant each time I go to a nursery,” she admits.
The awards were given at the Oct. 12 meeting of the club. Greg and Joy each received notecards with a picture of their garden, and the other seven nominees also received a packet of notecards showcasing all the nominated gardens.