Marian Mullen’s backyard oasis has a tropical feel, inspired by her numerous trips to Hawaii. Mullen’s lush garden on Willowmere Street is one of the many local gardens featured in this year’s Harrison Township Beautification Commission’s Inspirations Garden Tour July 20.

Marian Mullen’s backyard oasis has a tropical feel, inspired by her numerous trips to Hawaii. Mullen’s lush garden on Willowmere Street is one of the many local gardens featured in this year’s Harrison Township Beautification Commission’s Inspirations Garden Tour July 20.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Art and color combine to inspire at garden tour

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published July 12, 2019

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Marian Mullen’s lush garden is 25 years in the making.

It would have been in less time, but the recently retired Harrison Township resident was a busy professional, which meant she had limited time to work on the landscape around her Willowmere Street home.

“Growing up, my mom had the entire perimeter of the house filled with different plants and flowers, like dahlias and roses. It was just beautiful,” Mullen said. “At night we would watch the garden and the nature. It was so peaceful.”

Mullen always wanted to re-create that serenity at her own home, but living close to the water on Huron Pointe Drive offered little space to build a similar scenic garden.

“I remember I drove up and down the streets looking for the right house, when I saw the ugliest peacock blue house,” she said of what is now her home on Willowmere.

Mullen saw potential. A good number of the plethora of decaying trees in the front yard had to be cut down. Remaining were the two large maples that offered a scenic entrance to the home’s circular drive.

“It looks something like ‘Gone with the Wind,’” Mullen said.

And the landscaping continued — planting new trees and bushes, and maintaining the annuals and perennials became a passion for her.

Mullen would work when time allotted, and each area of her flourishing outdoor garden had a little something different. After retirement, she was able to really concentrate on the landscaping, with much of the work done in the spring and fall.

“Today, we sit out at night in the front yard and in the backyard during the day,” Mullen said. “We see fox, deer, rabbits and the occasional coyote. So much nature.”

Mullen’s garden will be one of six local gardens featured during the Harrison Township Beautification Commission’s Inspirations Garden Tour, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 20.

Commission Chairperson Sue Keehn said this year’s highlights include a breathtaking passion flower vine that’s climbing the side of one local gardener’s home, a community fairy garden with a double-sided view of the water, a meticulous garden created by a landscape architect who was featured on the tour six years ago, and a garden on the water that mixes artwork and color.

“What’s great this year is everybody’s take on color,” Keehn said. “There’s lots of eye-popping color, a lot of natural talent.”

Keehn, who drives the township scoping out potential volunteers to participate in the tour, said it has been a challenge due to the ripple effect caused by this year’s record-high lake levels. Many gardens have been experiencing higher-than-normal bug action. Mullen said she’s been spending a lot of time protecting her flowers from the hungry insects.

“It’s been challenging and a blessing because of the folks who did volunteer this year,” Keehn said.

Each resident receives a garden plaque from the Beautification Commission, and this year will also receive a certificate of appreciation from state Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township.

The Inspirations Garden Tour will go on rain or shine. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $10 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Harrison Township offices, 38151 L’Anse Creuse St.

Tickets cost $15 the day of the tour and can be purchased at the Tucker Senior Center, 26980 Ballard St., between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Advance VIP tickets are also available for $20, and include a guided bus tour and lunch stop.

Registration forms and tour maps will be handed out at the Tucker Senior Center on July 20. For more information, call (586) 242-3868.

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