2020 Tour Gardens Preview

Master Gardener Kent Friese

A Court Yard Paradise for Pollinators


Kent Friese is a master of small space gardening.


In a townhome courtyard bounded on three and half sides by buildings Kent has created his “own Little Garden of Eden”. Small in size but exquisite in beauty, this Garden offers lush greenery, prolific flowers and native grasses, a cascading waterfall, a breakfast spot with an Eastern Redbud Tree overlooking it all.

The visitor is greeted at the front entrance to the home by the soothing sounds of the four-foot-high pondless waterfall with cascading water down three levels of rock. This water feature is the focal point of a delightful perennial garden.

His perennial bed consists of mostly native plants: Butterfly Milkweed, Spiderwort, Asters, Veronica, Phlox and Helenium (Sneezeweed). Reminiscent of an English garden, red creeping thyme is peppered between the flagstone walking path. 


Butterflies, bees and birds abound in this pollinator enriched environment.  Kent has been registered as a “Plant-Grow-Fly” garden by the Blank Park Zoo.  Such a sought-after designation recognizes significant pollinator gardens in Iowa.

Kent’s favorite spot is a small table shaded by the redbud tree. Every morning you can find Kent having his coffee in this courtyard paradise, sharing his time with the birds and butterflies. 


Master Gardener Kathy Cole

The Splendor of Color


Vibrant colors. delicate textures and unusual flowers are the mainstay of Kathy Cole's garden. The display begins at the entrance to the home with perennial beds that include Knockout Roses, Clematis, Lupin and Iris; the addition of Daylilies and Daises along the pathway creates an informal garden effect.

In the back the stunning Cone flower collection includes a mix of red, yellow, orange, white, hot pink, and deep purple. Blue False Indigo (Baptisia), Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea and a rare Clematis Roguchi (bluebells) are favorites. A bubbling fountain surrounded by Scottish Moss and Flagstone anchors the entire garden.


A must-see feature of this backyard garden is the charming Garden House, designed by Kathy and her husband, Steve.  This Garden structure, Kathy’s Happy Place, includes a front porch for sitting and reflecting, as well as a potting table and work areas.  White window boxes, cascading with blooms enhance the outside entrance. 

Of interest is a rain barrel irrigation system, devised by Kathy and Steve, that can water most of the backyard plants.  Underneath their deck a rain catching gutter system channels rainwater into a 200-gallon rain barrel fit with an on-demand electric pump.

A cement leaf garden path (an original design crafted by Kathy), a memorial bench to loved ones, and a dedicated raised bed vegetable garden are other features not to be missed in this memorable garden.


Master Gardener Diane Ackerman

The Tranquility of Water


Diane Ackerman says her garden is eclectic with a mix of sun and shade plants and with an emphasis on flowering shrubs scattered throughout her yard.  


Eclectic?  A little maybe but this Garden is so much more than that. With designated pathways on all sides of this home garden, the visitor is delighted with new discoveries at every turn.


The first delight is the entrance to the home and front perennial beds. On the walkway to the home’s front door, one passes under the arching branch of a Forest Pansy Redbud tree. An exquisite purple hue, the tree creates a sense of welcome and excitement.

Off the backyard patio is the water garden edged with boulders . This is the centerpiece of the entire home garden, providing a multi-sensory experience creating reflection, movement and sound.  Amidst the bubbling water, aquatic plants and gorgeous water lilies float gently.    

A 90-foot stone boulder retaining wall along the back-property line provides a perfect backdrop for Diane's flowering shrub collection—Viburnums, Hydrangeas, and Dogwood. Ornamental trees such as a Northstar Cherry Tree and a Japanese Maple also enhance this outdoor space. Unique shrubs and flowers in the mix include a Great Star Hydrangea and a Red Kashmir Rose.

The addition of water creates a sanctuary for wildlife.  The yard is filled with butterflies, birds and squirrels much to the delight of the homeowner and her visitors.

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Dunlap Garden

Urbandale's Newest Treasure

Jackaline and Paul Dunlap began their secret garden in 1974 when they started purchasing the farmland around their Urbandale home, eventually transforming the cornfield into a 12-acre outdoor retreat full of natural beauty.


This masterpiece, accessible from the Dunlap's back yard, was surrounded on all sides by Urbandale subdivisions and hidden from the public.  Jackaline had a special greenhouse for tropical plants and directly off the sunroom a prized perennial bed surrounded by a Brick pathway.  The couple wanted to create a space that was reminiscent of Iowa's prairie past, while also incorporating unique and rare plant and tree species not historically found in Iowa.


Jackaline's dream from the beginning was to share the arboretum with the community and ensure its beauty was protected for future generations to enjoy. In 2012, the couple gifted the arboretum and meadow to the City of Urbandale, entrusting the City to continue efforts to realize the vision for the park and celebrate the legacy of Jackaline and Paul.


There is a short loop of paved path, with a modern shelter. Lots of benches and picnic tables are spread throughout the shady park. There are several garden sculptures and planted gardens, with a connection to the nearby paved bike trail.  


Four acres of the plot feature a mature arboretum, with a variety of native and foreign trees and plants, including concolor fir, horse chestnut, blue spruce, and magnolias.

This year Polk County Master Gardeners lend their expertise and energy to Urbandales Park and Rec efforts to enhance Jackaline's beloved perennial bed.

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Demonstration Garden

Urbandale’s Best Kept Secret

The Demonstration Garden is one of Urbandale’s best kept secrets - a hidden treasure of abundant beauty, significant wildlife habitat and bountiful food production. Established in 1988 the Demonstration Garden provides a working area for various garden techniques, hosting classes and maintaining environments suitable for flowers, vegetables, fruit and trees.


With 40 plus years of tender care and creative design from Master Gardeners, this one-acre garden boasts numerous flower and shrub beds, a fruit orchard, complete with mature apple, pear, and cherry trees, raspberry and blueberry bushes, a raised bed vegetable gardening and garden art and soothing sounds of water.


The blooming Splendor of this Garden can be found in the many sunny perennial beds that welcome the birds, bees and butterflies all the while providing a panorama of color and texture for the visitor to enjoy.  As you meander along the pathways, check out Hummingbird Circle, Birdhouse Island, the Roses and the Shrub Roses, the Birds and Bees Garden, the Bulb Bed designed to bloom from Spring to Fall, the Cutting Garden, the Pollinator Bed and the gorgeous Sunshine Plaza.


The shaded areas of Hosta Haven, Shady Characters and the Woodland Walk offer equally enjoyable finery both in color and in texture.  For unparalleled texture enjoy the many unique specimens of the Dwarf Conifer Bed. Look for the vining Clematis found throughout the garden


The working garden, the center of food production, serves the local community with crops of tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, squash and greens in the spring and perennial fruits and vegetables include grapes, hybrid strawberries and rhubarb.  The mature orchard produces tons of fruit all donated to local community organizations. The raised vegetables bed gardens demonstrate the best of small space gardening.


Urbandale’s best kept secret garden invites you to join the others who know of this treasure. On any given day one can find an artist painting, high school students having senior pictures, young children exploring with their parents, gardening classes or someone sitting quietly on a bench watching the birds enjoy the very popular bubbling fountain.  


Welcome to the Demonstration Garden.  Map of the Garden


Master Gardener

Charity McCauley Andeweg

A Perfect Backdrop for Entertaining

Charity McCauley Andeweg began her current garden “from scratch” - taking a suburban lawn to new levels of color, texture and shape.  This garden is also home to over 65 varieties of shrubs and trees.  Quite a few of these plants are native to Iowa. Charity says Iowa’s hot and dry summers challenge the gardener; using drought and heat resistant Iowa natives insures a level of success.

Unusual and Interesting shrubbery and trees is the real foundation of this home garden. A Japanese Maple and a Korean Maple in the front greet the visitor with a gentle hint of what treasures lie beyond. 


In the back Charity’s three beloved Smoke Bushes are joined by White Contorted Pines, Mohican Viburnum, Harry Lauder Walking Stick, Ivory Halo Dogwood, and Black Chokeberry. 


Her perimeter shrubs provide semi privacy to the Urbandale Bike Path that borders the yard, at the same time allowing bikers and passersby to enjoy a peek at the stunning panorama. 


Favorite Perennials include Fritilla, otherwise known as Skunk Plant and five Buck Roses. A favorite annual is Salvia Rockin(R)Playin’ the Blues (R) that draws in both butterflies and hummingbirds.

Charity considers her garden an extension of her home, another room for friends and family to enjoy. The beauty of the garden is the “perfect backdrop for entertaining”.


This year a brand-new addition is the little Garden house. This delightful structure offers both a place for potting and garden work but also a place for entertaining. 

Charity’s advice to gardeners is “you’ve got to try new plants and new things. Do not be afraid to try.” She knows that not being afraid to try rewarded her with a serene and joyful outdoor space.

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Master Gardener Ruth Doxon

An Ever Changing Landscape

Ruth Doxon’s home is a 30-year story of everchanging gardens, from full sun to light shade to a mix of sun and shade and on the story goes. Like all Master Gardeners, Ruth tells a story of adaptation, transplanting, redesigning, reworking, and the continual joy of this ever changing garden.  

When Ruth and Don Doxon moved in there was only one small corner bed for raising tomatoes and vegetables. The trees were fledgling and full sun beckoned Ruth to plant a variety of perennials, focusing on Daylily and Iris. She kept adding more ornamental trees, shrubs and perennials.  Fifteen years later the neighbor’s trees were towering on all sides and full sun went to deep shade

Ruth adapted and expanded her Hosta and Fern collection.  This garden hosts over 80 varieties of Hostas spread throughout the gardens. The colors of the Hostas are a breathtaking variety of greens from dense forest green to emerald, olive, chartreuse, teal, and lime.  The green shades and textures demonstrate how even in a shaded area, color combinations can explode with beauty.

But don’t forget the sun.  Ruth’s sun garden now borders her garage on the southside with a raised bed of tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. On this pathway is a variety of Daylillies, Bearded Iris, Peony and Butterfly Bush.  Ruth calls this her “old fashioned garden”. 


A Crabapple tree, complete with hanging baskets, arches overs the entrance to the backyard.  A boulder fountain by the deck provides calming sounds. Peppered along the back fence are Oakleaf Hydrangea, Viburnum and Pagoda Dogwood.  The showpiece is a Tricolor Beech, a striking tree with pink, cream, and green leaves.

And what became of that only corner bed in the original yard? Well it is still there. Now it is a nursery where Ruth grows plant divisions and young plants for her own garden and to share with the demonstration garden and other fundraisers.

Master Gardener Nancy Anderson

The Gardener as Artist

For Nancy Anderson, the multiple garden beds surrounding her home provide a framework for something different, something new. 


Yes, there are the beloved foundations and base of her garden beds—like the beloved Hardy Hibiscus off the backyard patio which Nancy has transplanted from 2 other homes. There are the peony bushes and the blue hydrangea on the northeast side of her front yard. 


There is the sunny bed by the street where Purple Salvia and Baptisia bloom. There is the backyard woods with dense shade trees towering over her yard. These are her anchors, the cornerstones of her many garden beds.

Then like an artist experimenting with light and color, Nancy surveys her gardens and plans for those special additions of color and texture. Her southside “anything goes flower bed” is an example of this.  Sometimes it is wildflowers grown from seed, sometimes a bed of zinnias, sometimes a particular annual flower bed; this is her eclectic cottage garden area. This is the area which delights her with surprises, a fun place that makes her smile.

Recently the towering trees of Honey Locust and the woodland beyond present the challenge of dense shade. Hostas, the backbone of any shade garden, have not fared too well back here with the visiting deer enjoying a daily Hosta feast. 


Nancy, ever the artist, ever the garden designer, redesigns the woodland garden-- Brunnera, Ferns, Astilbe, Angel Wing Wax Begonia and Heuchera all will have a chance to show their stuff, in Nancy’s search to find the right combination for this challenging area. 

It is fitting that Nancy has gardens with their challenges and their opportunities to shine.  She has been gardening since the age of 8 when she first asked for her own flower bed. She remembers scattering wildflower seeds and the joy of seeing those first blooms. Nancy’s joy of gardening continues every season in this cherished garden setting.

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Master Gardener Judy Hines

Rustic Garden Design- Memories of the Farm

When Judy Hines moved into a new subdivision, she was presented with a blank canvas to plan her gardens. Judy develop two combination shrub/flower beds, each with a canopy of shade trees. 


Judy’s landscape can be described as an “old fashioned flower garden with a touch of rustic garden design”.  Elements of rustic garden design are a wagon wheel, a metal gate, an old plow, a small picket fence in addition to a wooden trug, where Judy raises cherry tomatoes. 


Her front yard is bed anchored by a Crabapple tree includes yellow and orange Coreopsis, purple Coneflowers, Fireball Hardy Hibiscus and Asiatic Lillies.

Judy, who developed her love of gardening while growing up on a farm in Manning, Iowa, has transplanted many perennials from her childhood farm.


A group of Red Hollyhocks on the east side of her home are ones from the farm, which provide a privacy cover and at the same time allow a gentle air flow into the porch sitting area.


Other favorite perennials include Siberian Iris and Geranium under the Plum Tree.  Later in summer garden bed is ablaze with Black-eyed Susan, Sedum Autumn Joy, Bee Balm, and Chrysanthemums.


A new bed under construction is a beginner pollinator garden with a Butterfly Bush (Buddleia), Milkweed, Phlox and a mix of wildflowers. Judy says the butterflies are already loving it.

Gardening is a family affair at this site. Judy’s daughter’s home backs on her property and Judy shares her love of gardening with her granddaughter Kylie.

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Address will be provided on purchase of a ticket

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