Glimpse gardens past and present on 39th annual walk

By: Terry Oparka | Southfield Sun | Published June 18, 2013

 This rare yellow peony named Bartzella blooms in Susan Purcell’s garden, which she named “From Sunrise to Sunset.”

This rare yellow peony named Bartzella blooms in Susan Purcell’s garden, which she named “From Sunrise to Sunset.”

Photo by Deb Jacques

TROY — Thrilled by trillium? Besotted by blooms? Hyped by hydrangeas? The gardens featured on this year’s 39th annual Garden Walk, sponsored by the Troy Garden Club, offer seven visions of artistic and functional gardens to savor. This year’s walk is titled “Gardens Past and Present.”

Although the Troy Historic Village has always hosted the Arts and Crafts Boutique during the event, this year the village, with help from volunteers, has new gardens to see.

“They (Troy Garden Club) asked us to be one of the featured gardens,” said Loraine Campbell, director of the historic village.

Volunteers from the Troy Garden Club and the community stepped up to plant a garden around the gazebo and flowerbeds at the town hall, church, parsonage and Caswell home at the historic village. There’s also an herb and vegetable garden.

Campbell said that Bill Warren, a local gardener, offered his services to plant a vegetable garden, which she described as “outstanding.” Master gardeners and student volunteers from Renaissance High School in Detroit and Oak Park High School helped.

Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace donated six flats of vegetables to the effort. Seeds were also planted.

“It’s a beautiful garden,” Campbell said. “It enhances the village.”

The produce will be used in programs at the historic village and the student volunteers will reap the harvest, Campbell added.

Another stop on the tour, a garden that Susan and Jerry Purcell named “From Sunrise to Sunset,” features a shade garden, as well as seven or eight varieties of ferns, blue bush clematis, various varieties of roses, day lilies, fountain grass, geraniums and lots of perennials. The Purcells moved to the quarter-acre lot in Troy from Royal Oak six years ago. Susan, who Jerry admits is the principal gardener, said she worked with Janet Macunovich, of Perennial Favorites, to design her new garden, taking existing shrubs and an Alberta spruce and moving them around.

Susan Purcell has also planted Japanese peanut ferns, Japanese anemones, meadow rose, varieties of columbine, wax bells, cat mint and Solomon’s seal from her home in Royal Oak. 

From May to June, she said she spends six hours a day in her garden.

“I love it,” she said. She plays classical music while she works. “I find weeding very therapeutic. I recently learned how to use a hoe. I always used my hands.”

She’s been on the Troy Garden Club’s Walk before. “I didn’t think my yard was worthy.” But after the last couple of years, “I think I can compete,” she said.

Other gardens on the walk feature a peony that belonged to the owner’s grandmother that is about 50 years old, a Kwanzan cherry tree, a garden that blooms 10 months of the year and a rock collection from a cave in Ohio.

Tickets for the Troy Garden Club’s 39th Annual Garden Walk, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., July 10, rain or shine, are now available for purchase. An arts and crafts boutique, plant sale and student art exhibit will be at the Troy Historic Village. Tickets are $10 in advance at Auburn Oakes Garden Center, Telly’s Greenhouse, Uncle Luke’s Feed Store and the Troy Historic Village, and $15 on July 10 on site at the Troy Historic Village only. To order tickets by mail, call (248) 540-4249. For more information, check online at

The Troy Historic Village is located at 60 W. Wattles.