Shady Oaks Garden Tour set to highlight city's unique home gardens in June

Brandon Paykamian • Jun 2, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Every two years, the Shady Oaks Garden Club holds a local garden tour, showcasing some of the best gardens in neighborhoods across Johnson City.

The Walker Garden in north Johnson City, tended by Helga Walker and her husband, Glenn Walker, is one of those unique gardens.

“We’ve lived here for about 30 years. For the last 15 years or so, we’ve really put some effort into making this garden, “Helga said. ”It takes a lot of time.”

The front section of the Walkers’ home garden features a colorful bed of perennials, annuals, hedges and shrubs.

But once visitors step into the Walkers’ backyard, they will notice some of the garden’s most interesting features, including the stone walls, foundations, arbors and a garden house in the back built by Glenn about four years ago.

Helga and Glenn are particularly proud of the garden’s infrastructure and the architecture, which they said brings it all together. 

“I think one of the most important aspects of a garden is to make sure the architecture varies,” Helga said. “Some (plants) are elevated, and we have some ornaments in here, and what we call ‘garden art,’ like a little rabbit and the garden house.

“Most people tend to plant flat, and I think that’s a big mistake,” she continued. “You can see in nature that nature grows at different heights, and yet, we humans tend to want to shape it to where it’s all even.”

Paying attention to variation and the “bones” of the garden is a key part of making the perfect garden, according to the couple. 

“The colors are varied, and the leaves are varied. Variation, I think, is the key,” Helga said. “The ‘bones,’ as my husband will say, is important. You have the stock element, the tree element, then some hedges and the rest are really fillings. The big mistake many people make is that they make the fillings the most important element.”

The year’s tour, set for June 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is a major fundraiser for the club’s other events and activities, according to Shady Oaks Garden Club member Nancy Fischman.

“We’ve picked gardens that each have some kind of unique feature about them,” she said, adding that the tour’s gardens are located in the Roundtree and Briarwood subdivisions.

“It helps fund our flower show, plus all our other activities.”

Pat Buck, the club’s chairwoman, said the tour allows local gardeners to learn from one another. 

“Whenever we have a garden tour, we think of it as ‘idea gardens.’ People come to admire, but also to get ideas for what they can emulate,” Buck said. “Anybody who is a serious gardener has a unique yard. They’re combining their own vision with a specific place.”

Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at the Shady Oaks Plant Sale at 915 Grady Drive or at the Votaw Garden, 3603 Honeywood Drive, where refreshments will also be served. For more information on the club’s garden tour, contact Buck at 423-431-8766.

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