For your reference, here’s a map of the 2013 Gateway to Hope Garden Tour:
June 14-16 Garden Tour Offers Hope to Children
“This year’s Gateway to Hope gardens offer an unusually wide range,” said garden tour team member Kathy Groenenboom. “Large and small, country and city, shade and sun—and they are all beautiful!”
Six Central Iowa gardens—three in town and three in the country—are featured June 14 through 16 in the third annual Gateway to Hope Garden Tour. The gardens are open to visitors Friday, June 14, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, June 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Sunday, June 16, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The tour is self-guided, and visitors may begin at any garden. Tour maps are available at each garden. Admission is by donation, with a suggested minimum donation of $10.
A highlight of the tour is the five-acre Stonypoint Garden at 3241 Ranch Avenue, near Reasnor Iowa. Melvin and Karen Poortinga launched the garden in 1996 on a century farm settled by Karen’s great grandfather in 1869. It includes a pond, towering trees, winding walks, a Dutch windmill, antique farm implements, a covered bridge, a grain bin restroom, a shelterhouse—and thousands of perennials, annuals, vines, and shrubs. StonyPoint has been featured in both Farm and Ranch and Our Iowa magazines.
On Saturday of the tour, at a barn on the Stonypoint grounds, visitors can enjoy lunch and and purchase plants, garden art, and handmade Nicaraguan ceramics and jewelry. Lunch includes a deluxe walking taco, cookie or bar, and a beverage for $5.
The two other country gardens on the tour are owned by Alvin and Milly Van Dyke, 392 223rd Place, Pella and by Carol Olson, 11792 E 86th Street, Reasnor. Carol Olson enjoys rescuing old items such as a chandelier, lightning rods, watering cans, and converting them to garden art. She enjoys a natural look for her garden, and grows both vegetables and flowers. Her garden includes a front-yard pond and a backyard swimming pool. What’s her favorite flower? “Whatever is blooming at the moment,” she said.
The Van Dyke Garden fills three acres on a backyard slope that is bordered by a wooded deer reserve, complete with walking paths. Thirty-eight years in the making, it Includes a winding row of 100 kinds of daylilies, several fountains, a fireplace, lots of benches—and a couple of bowling balls. Alvin does the mulching and Milly does the mowing and weeding. “Believe it or not, I love weeding!” said Milly. She says that when traveling, she has to work hard to resist the urge to pull a stray weed in someone else’s garden.
Four-hour round-trip van transportation to these three country gardens is offered each day of the tour at a cost of $10. Reservations and schedules can be obtained by calling 641-628-1636. Seating is limited, and reservations should be made before June 7, if possible.
The three in-town Pella gardens on the tour are backyard neighbors and visitors can walk from one backyard garden to the next.
David and Nelda Pealer’s garden at 1007 E. 3rd Street, Pella, features a five-step waterfall, emptying into a pond with 10 multi-colored koi. Nelda chooses and places the art for their garden, and David selects and manages the plantings. Their grandchildren assist with children’s features—including a tea party setting and a fairy garden—and also enjoy the swing set in the middle of a hosta bed.
The shaded yard of Jim and Julie Mueller’s 160-year-old home at 1008 E 2nd Street displays 250 varieties of hostas, a birdbath area constructed by her great-grandfather, and a brick patio constructed by her grandfather. The 19th century barn in their backyard was originally Pella’s woolen mill.
In 1989, when Glenn and Shirley Borgman retired to their home at 411 Lincoln, its only landscaping was all rocks. Over the next 25 years, they converted to a garden with brick walks and graceful curving beds beneath flowering trees. Shirley says she learned to garden from her California mother. “She was in the garden 24-7,” said Shirley.
The tour is sponsored by Friends of Chinandega, a ministry of Faith Christian Reformed Church of Pella.
All donations to the tour are used so that Nicaraguan children from the poorest of the poor neighborhoods can attend arts camps and Bible schools. “Gardens are places that foster hope in the human heart,” said tour team member Sandy Shalin Rhoades. “And using the donations for arts camps and Bible schools will help grow hope in the hearts of Nicaraguan children.”
(Final Post for the July 2012 trip)
Following vacation Bible school and a tropical shower, we create a circle of chairs in the Nazarene Church courtyard. A woman sweeps leaves and VBS debris from the newly laid cement that surrounds us. In an adjacent corner sound the scraping shovels of four men mixing stones and mortar to lay another section.
This humid Nicaraguan late afternoon we are meeting with leaders from the five Chinandega churches to discuss our ongoing partnership. Nicaraguan pastor Henry Cruz distributes sticks of colored clay and tells us to separate into a North American and Nicaraguan team and construct a symbol of our relationship.
Our team talks and molds, talks and molds—and what emerges has a cross, two stick figures, and a globe. The cross is three winding strands, representing our two nationalities and our Creator. Two people kneel before it, holding joining one hand at the cross and touching the globe with the other. Where their hands touch the globe, it is a verdant green—springing to life and spreading down to over the globe’s black underside.
When we join our Nicaraguan friends we are surprised by the similarities in our clay creations. Their model, too, has a cross. And it tops two touching hands. One flows from a US flag and the other from the flag of Nicaragua.
In the conversation that follows this and our reading of the story of Ruth’s commitment to Naomi, we all talk about our learning from our cross cultural interaction, our unity in Christ, and our desire for an ongoing, long-term relationship.
We will pray for each other. We want to learn more about each other, perhaps even each other’s languages. And we want to meet again.
We do not set the date for that or make specific plans. That is still to come.
But this much we know: In the power of the cross of Christ we want to continue hand-in-hand for Him.
Today (Saturday) we returned to Managua from Chinandega. We think it’s a good day to share with you memorable sights and scenes from the week.
Nicaragua has tropical beauty year-round, but now—toward the end of the rainy season—the vegetation is especially lush and rich. Below is a small sampling.
In our week in Chinandega we helped five churches with a day of vacation Bible School. Each church planned its day, and we helped them in the roles they asked us to do. In some churches we told a story of three trees that became a manger, a boat, and a cross for Jesus. In other churches we helped with crafts. And sometimes we helped to serve lunch.
The programs varied, but often included songs, Bible stories, crafts, outdoor activities, snacks, and lunch. After completed today at the fifth church, we have worked with 300-350 children.
Below is the story in photos and captions.