Three women with creative spirits and nimble fingers are enhancing the June 19-21 Gateway to Hope Garden tour with a selection of garden art to grace area gardens and patios.
Several of their creations recycle discarded items for new purposes. A flag uses old window blinds and fabric scraps. Tufa pots are made by dipping old blankets or towels in a cement-like mixture. Metal flower sculptures appear out of old hubcaps.
Lenora Schutt, Pearl Menninga, and Neva Groenendyk, friends who meet throughout the year to create new crafts, are using their skills to benefit local gardeners—and add to the funds being raised for Nicaraguan children and youth.
The garden art will be for sale—along with flowers, soil block makers, and Nicaraguan Ceramics— at Heartland Reformed Church of Pella—3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 19 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m on Saturday June 20.
Central Iowa residents unable to take the garden tour are welcome to simply stop in and shop during these hours.
After several years of experimenting with making soil blocks for starting plants for his garden, mechanical engineer Marlo Van Klompenburg has decided to demonstrate his soil block maker at the June 19-21 Central Iowa Gateway to Hope Garden Tour.
Van Klompenburg uses soil blocks instead of pots to start seeds for his vegetable garden. He first plants the seed into a 2-inch soil block. A few weeks after the seed germinates, he inserts this small block into a 4-inch soil block where the plant grows until it is ready to be placed in his garden. Because the plant does not need to be removed from a pot, its roots are not disturbed and it grows better after transplanting.
It grows better for another reason too. Van Klompenburg explained, “When the roots reach the edge of the soil, they sense the air and stop growing. The plant does not become root-bound as in a plastic pot. And there are fewer plastic pots that need to be tossed into landfills.
Van Klompenburg, who was a mechanical engineer at Pella Corporation before retirement, saw the soil block makers online and thought he might be able to create a similar device that was better and less expensive—and he believes he’s succeeded.
He’ll be demonstrating soil block making on Friday June 19, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday June 20, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Heartland Reformed Church. The soil block makers and the soil mix will also be available for purchase. All profits from sales of the soil block makers will be used to fund programs for children and youth in Nicaragua.
Also for sale at Heartland Church during the same hours will be flowers, garden art, Nicaraguan ceramics and jewelry. Area residents who are unable to take the full garden tour are welcome to visit these retail shops.
(Fourth blog in a series of four about the gardens on the Central Iowa Gateway to Hope Garden Tour June 19-21)
In January of this year, Our Iowa magazine featured Nadine Rozenboom’s farm at 1825 260tth Street near Oskaloosa as one of the prettiest in Iowa. The magazine said her farmstead is “abloom with a diversity of flowers that rivals many botanical gardens.” Nadine says she’s loved flowers ever since she watched her grandmother grow them, but she bebgan expanding and focusing 10 years ago—after her 70th birthday. The long flower bed in her side yard stretches from the road to the back of her yard and is ablaze with a series of colors all summer. Waving above the front of the bed are the Iowa and the U.S. flags. At the rear of the bed is a farm windmill. Artfully spaced throughout the grounds are smaller beds. One of these features hostas, and another is filled with roses. Nadine says, “Visitors comment all the time about how much work it must be. . . but I don’t consider it work at all. . . . I love what I’m doing. Growing flowers s my passion, my therapy, my labor of love.”
(Third in a series of four blogs about the gardens in the Central Iowa Gateway to Hope Garden Tour June 19-21)
Bill and Janna Boyd enjoy the peacefulness of their acreage at 402 Highway T14 north of Pella, along with the animals, birds, fishing—and gardens. Janna’s favorite part of their backyard garden is the waterfall.
“It is very soothing to sit beside it and listen to the sound of moving water,” she says. The backyard slopes down toward a woods and a pond framed by a bridge.
Other points of interest include a windmill, a day lily bed, and several fish sculptures.
The Boyd backyard is a joint project; Bill mows the yard, and Janna tends the gardens. She also says her gardens are always a work in progress; she replaces perennials that she tires of or that fail to come back with new ones.
Janna says she enjoys the outdoors, and when she is outdoors, she likes to be doing something. For her, that is gardening. When her children were young she also grew vegetables, but flowers have always been her first love. She enjoys arranging flowers even more than growing them, but adds, “I have figured out that the two go hand in hand.”
(The second of four blogs about the gardens in the Gateway to Hope Garden Tour June 19-21)
For as long as she can remember Mary Van Wyk has enjoyed yard work, and she purchased the home at 2007 Washington Street in Pella as a place to do the entertaining she loves. Then, she says, “The project just kept growing!”
She has named it “Mary’s Home Place,” and it has begun to be used by area residents for family gatherings, a use which provides Mary with great pleasure. She has dedicated the gardens in memory of her late husband Gene Van Wyk.
Mary’s Home Place has both shade and sun plants, along with interesting features both indoors and out. Collectible farm machinery provide rustic focal points in many of the beds, beginning with a wooden wagon at the entry to the grounds. Several of the farm’s outbuildings also feature collectibles and are open for tour as well.
(First of Four Articles Featuring Gardens on the Gateway to Hope Garden Tour June 19-21)
Eight years ago when members of Heartland Reformed Church were looking for a local mission project, they decided to start a community garden on their 17-acre campus on the north edge of Pella. The garden is now 110 feet by 85 feet with wood-chip paths between sections. Flowers interspersed among the vegetables add color and attract beneficial insects. The garden has donated cattle tanks for raised beds, colorful scarecrows, handmade birdhouses, and a children’s garden with lots of fun features.
Each picket of the wooden fence at the front of the garden was painted by a child. The church gardeners try to encourage children to learn more about gardening and where food comes from. The children’s garden includes a tunnel leading to a teepee that becomes covered with peas, beans, and luffa gourds as the summer progresses. Garden coordinator Rhonda Kermode says, “Children love picking produce, especially onions, radishes, and beets. It is fun for them to see what is hidden beneath the ground.
Although members launched the community garden in order to bring fresh produce to the food shelf in Pella, they have discovered that it also has strengthened relationships within the congregation and with other congregations. Gardeners range from age 4 to 84. And members of Second Reformed Church have helped, also becoming active gardeners at the site.
Rhonda says the members have learned a lot about gardening, improving soil structure, and composting. “Everything we grow can also be grown in smaller gardens, raised beds, or containers. We try something new every year.”
On Friday June 19 and Saturday June 20, a meal will be served in the church building for a $5 charge, and plants, garden art, ceramics, and jewelry will be for sale in the shelterhouse on the church grounds. The 17-acre grounds also include a mowed walking path through a woods for visitors to enjoy.