Let your nose be your guide during Garden Walk

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published July 30, 2014

 Sitting in the garden waiting for visitors are Dianne Szabla, right, and Farmington Garden Club member Chris Britts in Szabla’s garden in the late afternoon in 2010.

Sitting in the garden waiting for visitors are Dianne Szabla, right, and Farmington Garden Club member Chris Britts in Szabla’s garden in the late afternoon in 2010.

File photo David Schreiber

FARMINGTON/ FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Hills resident Shirley George, 86, couldn’t help being born with a green  thumb.

Her parents loved digging into soil, and planting and primping in their Southfield home’s garden, a habit in which George also indulges.

“I’ve been gardening since I was a child. Both of my parents gardened. I just watched them,” George said. “We were interested in gardening together.”

Arthritis is the only thing that stopped her mother from gardening at 93 years old.

George is one of several participating in the Farmington Garden Club-sponsored 2014 Biennial Garden Walk 10 a.m. -4 p.m. Aug. 2.

George, whose house is in the 21100 block of Parklane, has tons to show off during the tour that also features the Governor Warner Mansion, 33805 Grand River Ave., and its gardens.

“We have tons of clematis,” she said. “We have lots of various colors. It is a very colorful garden.”

Diane Szabla, Garden Walk chair and Farmington Garden Club secretary, said the event is a chance to see unique blooming gardens.

“It is an opportunity to see beautiful gardens and get ideas for your own garden or just appreciate the beauty of them,” Szabla said. “We have quite a variety of gardens: We have perennial gardens, annual gardens, organic gardens, some ponds, a white garden, a green garden.”

Szabla said one of the highlights of this event includes hosting more garden-themed vendors at the Warner Mansion, among other treats, including the garden club selling painted pots. Farmington
artists will also be painting in the gardens.

Warner Mansion head gardener Betti Pool, who tends the mansion’s 16 gardens with other volunteers, said the garden walk foreruns the Good Neighbor Garden Contest, which features gardens in the Farmington-Farmington Hills area.

The winner and second- and third-place contestants will participate in the Garden Walk, which has been around since the mid-1980s.

Pool said this year’s contest garnered seven contestants.

The gardens are chiefly judged on color, neatness, design, first impression and overall appearance.

Judging took place last week.

George said she won second place one year during the contest.

Her favorite thing about her garden is the light factor.

“There are certain times when it is especially beautifully lit,” she said. “It is an early summer garden.”

George puts in 20-30 flats of annuals every year and 48 new perennials, a process she described as a “labor of love,” minus the weeding and Japanese beetles.

“I keep getting enchanted when I go to buy plants,” she said. “I garden until the mosquitoes come out, and then I read. I am probably one of the best customers at the Farmington Public Library.”

Tickets are a $10 donation, with no charge for children under the age of 12. Tickets may be purchased at the Governor Warner Mansion on the day of the walk or prior to the event at Steinkopf Nursery, 20815 Farmington Road in Farmington Hills. Refreshments will be provided at the mansion.

A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Environmental Outreach Program in Farmington Public Schools.

For more information, go to ci.farmington.mi.us.