Sharon and Keith Koerber’s garden is titled “A Midsummer Day’s Dream” for the Troy Garden Club’s 2024 Garden Walk July 10.

Sharon and Keith Koerber’s garden is titled “A Midsummer Day’s Dream” for the Troy Garden Club’s 2024 Garden Walk July 10.

Photo by Sarah Wright

‘Garden Stories’ celebrated through Troy’s 49th annual Garden Walk

By: Sarah Wright | Troy Times | Published July 2, 2024

 Like the Koerber’s garden, Susan Purcell’s garden displays a diverse array of plant life and decorative features.

Like the Koerber’s garden, Susan Purcell’s garden displays a diverse array of plant life and decorative features.

Photo provided by Susan Purcell


TROY — For the 49th Troy Garden Walk, Troy’s Garden Club invites community members to visit six homes in Troy, as well as a bonus venue, on Wednesday, July 10.

“Since one of the gardens is nearly adjacent to the Stage Nature Center, located off Coolidge Highway, it has been added to the 2024 Walk and will be worth the stop if time allows and if you have not visited this green space in Troy before,” Judi Milidrag, from the Troy Garden Club, said in an email.

The Garden Walk will run 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-8:30 p.m., rain or shine. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $18 on the day of the event. Tickets will include a map to each of the venues, and they can be purchased on the Troy Garden Club’s website or at Auburn Oaks Garden Center, Bordine’s Rochester Hills, Telly’s Greenhouse, the Troy Historic Village, and Uncle Luke’s Feed Store prior to the event. On the day of the event, tickets will only be available at the Troy Historic Village, 60 W. Wattles.

The Garden Walk is the principal annual fundraiser for the Troy Garden Club, which supports various nonprofits.

The 2023 walk generated net funding of approximately $13,400 for distribution in early 2024 to at least 22 nonprofits “in support of their horticultural programs and educational pursuits,” a fact sheet for the 2024 Garden Walk states.

This year’s theme is “Garden Stories,” and each of the garden names was inspired by the works of William Shakespeare.

Sharon and Keith Koerber’s garden, titled “A Midsummer Day’s Dream,” and Susan Purcell’s garden, titled “All’s Well That Grows Well,” are some of the local gardens that will be featured at this year’s event.

Sharon Koerber is a retired attorney who is selling her 50-year collection of antiques on top of being a passionate gardener, ever since her mother inspired her interest in botany.

“She had a large, lush vegetable garden, as well as perennial gardens,” Koerber said in an email. “She lived near a lake and would have the company that raked out the lake every spring give her the seaweed. She used the seaweed as compost for her gardens, and her gardens were magnificent. She taught me how to maintain raspberry bushes, how to make raspberry jam and can beans, how to divide plants when they were getting too big, and what to do when you first planted a new transplant.”

Koerber’s mother gave her daisies, irises, columbine, ferns, lilies, raspberry bushes, junipers and bleeding hearts when she moved to the Troy area in the 1980s because there was very little landscaping at the time.

Since then, Koerber has added a variety of plant life, usually ones that deer and other animals won’t eat, as well as different landscaping accents that include furniture and decorations from flea markets, garage sales and estate sales, to her home and to parts of the cul-de-sac where she lives.

“I love nature, and I like to be outside,” Koerber said. “We’re always outside when it’s nice out. Since we’ve moved in, I’m probably in the garden at least six hours a day. The cul-de-sac is a lot of work.”

A storm in 2023 caused some problems for Koerber’s garden. Three 40-foot, 43-year-old pine trees toppled over onto everything in her backyard. Many of her juniper trees were too damaged to save, and surviving plants and bushes had to be transplanted into other parts of her yard.

“It was a living nightmare for a while, but thank God the trees did not fall on our house,” Koerber said in an email. “The landscape company we hired had to use heavy duty trucks to haul out the large trees, and again to bring in the new trees, and in doing so, the trucks pretty much destroyed all the sod in the back yard and buried most of my rock border. Needless to say, the entire rest of the summer was spent replanting the trees, transplanting bushes, adding perennials, digging up and moving rocks, and watering the new sod.”

Koerber suggests those interested in gardening research plants that animals are most likely and least likely to eat — specifically, astilbe, geraniums, Japanese ferns, and dahlias are less likely to be eaten by deer.

Susan Purcell has been retired from the Budd Co. for about 16 years and has lived in her Troy home since 2008. Purcell enjoys traveling and golf, in addition to gardening. She joined the Troy Garden Club around the time of the 2013 Garden Walk and has had her garden featured in the walk before.

“I’ve always enjoyed being surrounded by flowers, and it mushroomed from there,” Purcell said. “It’s therapeutic, relaxing and settles the mind to have fresh air and hear the birds and squirrels.”

When she and her husband moved in, the garden was not as full as it is now, but they were able to develop a more robust landscaping plan after hiring master gardener Janet Macunovich. Some of the ideas for Purcell’s garden included adding flower islands and plants that bloom all year round.

“Before I moved to Troy, I lived in Royal Oak. Back in the mid ’90s, I knew of Janet Macunovich because of her weekly column in the Detroit Free Press at the time,” Purcell said in an email. “I contacted her to see if she would help me with my landscaping. She was wonderful to work with. When we moved to the house in Troy, nothing really was established, and I contacted Janet to see if she was interested. I am so grateful that she was. The garden is really hers, and I just embellished it over the last 15 years.”

Since then, Purcell has added and removed a variety of plant life, like hostas and summer annuals, some of which can be found fairly close to her neighbors’ yards.

She suggests that gardeners consult with professionals for their garden plans, as well as cutting down dead plants and cleaning up garden beds in preparation for the planting season.

“Invest in a garden plan by going to Bordine’s or a master gardener to draw up landscaping plans,” Purcell said. “Spring is when the real work starts.”

During the Garden Walk, for the 14th year, attendees can view plein air artists in each of the gardens. “Plein air” refers to artists who specifically paint, usually landscapes, in outdoor areas in order to capture their subject in a live setting.

“The club continues their tradition of placing a plein air artist in each of the six gardens, and you can enjoy watching these artists in action during the course of our Walk — painting a scene of their choosing,” Milidrag said in an email.

A Midsummer Arts and Crafts Boutique and Plant Sale will be going on at the Troy Historic Village 9 a.m.-6 p.m. during the event.

On top of that, three prizes will be raffled off as a way to further encourage ticket holders to visit Troy Historic Village during the Garden Walk event. This is a free raffle where attendees will earn a yellow ticket at the village by visiting each of the gardens and shopping from the vendors at the Midsummer Arts and Crafts Boutique and Plant Sale.

“Your name and phone number or email must be on each ticket dropped into a fishbowl by 6:30 p.m. near the village entrance, and you need not be present to win,” Milidrag said in an email.

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