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Gardens to tour for AAUW event

Caryn Claflin's yard is full of bright colors with flowers and painted furniture. (Photos by John M. Steiner, The Sun)1 / 5
A colorful garden is a center spot to a custom-built, high-roof shed at the Harley and Jaci Trefz yard in southeast Jamestown. (Photos by John M. Steiner, The Sun)2 / 5
Hues of pink and purple-colored flowers help decorate the Sandy Eckelberg yard in northeast Jamestown. (Photos by John M. Steiner, The Sun)3 / 5
A swing hammock from travels to Paraguay and a custom-built bench, wrapped around a large ash tree, are two recent additions to Robert and Sue Carlson's backyard. (Photos by John M. Steiner, The Sun)4 / 5
An old school desk with weathered wood is a perfect plant stand for a cluster of flowers at the Caryn Claflin yard. (John M. Steiner/The Sun)5 / 5

This year's 24th annual American Association of University Women Garden Tour isn't just a showcase of flowers and landscaping -- it's also a sharing of art, stories and friendship.

"I've always thought of gardeners as being a kind of artist," said Kelly Krein, who selects the tour's gardens each year. "Jamestown has some wonderful gardens."

This year's tour is from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. The tour's hosts are Robert and Sue Carlson at 705 17th St. SE, Harley and Jaci Trefz at 709 17th St. SE, Caryn Claflin at 404 Fourth Ave. SE and Sandy Eckelberg at 229 18th Ave. NE.

During the tour, the hosts will be out in their yards, answering any questions about their gardens as visitors are allowed to explore.

"It's just a nice evening," Krein said.

The tour can be educational, she said, and each year she tries to select a variety of gardens so that visitors can get many different ideas.

Meet this year's Garden Tour hosts:

The Trefzes:

This year is Harley and Jaci Trefz's third time on the Garden Tour, but it's their first time showing at their current address, 709 17th St. SE.

"Harley and I are first and foremost artists," Jaci said. "Some love the colors (of a garden.) We like creating things and making things pretty."

Their yard, which is on a riverbank, features all perennial flowers, some fruit trees and some garden art pieces, like small fountains.

"This yard is a yard full of perennials," Jaci said. "The only annuals are in pots."

She said she and her husband really enjoy birds, and hummingbirds are often attracted to the flowers and fruit trees they have in their yard.

Harley is just finishing building a new storage shed, which will be seen on the tour.

"Harley designs things and he builds thing with a flair," Jaci said.

The Trefzes have enjoyed their Garden Tour experiences so much that they convinced their neighbors to join the tour this year.

The Carlsons:

Robert and Sue Carlson live next door to the Trefzes at 705 17th St. SE.

"Their yards sort of flow into one another," Krein said. "It's fun."

"(The Trefzes) is kind of a newer yard," Sue Carlson said, "and ours has sort of evolved."

She and her husband have made the yard into somewhere that they enjoy spending a lot of time, and they enjoy entertaining guests.

"It's very unique," Sue said. "We just find it really peaceful."

There's a raised garden in the back of their yard, with some trees, many different flowers and a vegetable garden. They also have a porch with a wood fire oven. They make pizza in the oven using herbs from their garden, Robert said.

The Carlsons have lived in their home for five years now, and their yard is now "getting to that point where we're really satisfied," Sue said.

Robert works a lot with the vegetables, and Sue works with the flowers, she said.

"Sue does all the management and planning, I do all the medium-hard work," Robert joked.

Both Sue and Robert said they're excited to share their yard on the tour.

"It's just a nice setting," Sue said.

Caryn Claflin:

This is Caryn Claflin's first year on the Garden Tour, and she's excited to share her garden full of memories and stories.

It's her second summer living at 404 Fourth Ave. SE, she said.

"Everything in her yard has been repurposed," Krein said. "She makes things out of nothing."

And all of the repurposed items have some meaning to Claflin.

"There's a story to everything in here," she said.

She's planted flowers in a desk from her parents, in dishes and in bras to symbolize women in her family who have struggled with breast cancer.

Many items in her garden were made for her by friends or family, like her shed was made by her son.

The very back of her garden is a memorial garden for a close friend of hers who passed away.

And when it comes to flowers, Claflin said she has "no rhyme or reason."

"I just throw them in and see what happens," she said.

Claflin is excited to show on the Garden Tour, she said.

"It's nothing fancy," she said of her garden. "It's just -- this is who I am."

Sandy Eckelberg:

Although she's hosted on the Garden Tour before, this is Sandy Eckelberg's first time showing at her current address, 229 18th Ave. NE.

"Those of us who are addicted to this -- you can tell," Eckelberg said while showing her garden.

When she moved to her home in 2008, she put in all new flowerbeds. She also brought some plants from her former home.

She has many unique plants in her yard, she said, like a giant fleece flower plant and a weeping willow. Eckelberg has a degree in horticulture, which helps her in caring for her many different plants.

"I like experimenting with plants," she said. "I do a little bit of everything."

In the back of Eckelberg's garden, she has a porch, where she has different artwork displayed.

"I really like it back here. It's very private," she said. "It's kind of fun decorating with wall art."

Because she has so many different plants, Eckelberg said she has "something for everyone."

She said she's looking forward to the Garden Tour because she always loves to hear ideas from other gardeners, and she said she hopes her garden can help inspire people on the tour with ideas for their homes.

Refreshments will be available at the Arts Center during the tour, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Garden tour tickets are $8 in advance and $10 the day of the tour. They can be purchased at the Arts Center, Country Gardens Floral, Don's House of Flowers, Don's Garden Shop, Lloyds Toyota and The Garden Gate.

Proceeds from the Garden Tour go to Jamestown's branch of the American Association of University Women, which funds two scholarships at Jamestown College, Krein said.

Sun reporter Charly Haley can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at

Annual AAUW Garden Tour

When: Wednesday

Time: 5 to 8 p.m.

Tickets: $8 in advance, $10 day of tour. Purchase tickets in advance at the Arts Center, Country Gardens Floral, Don's House of Flowers, Don's Garden Shop, Lloyds Toyota and The Garden Gate. After 4 p.m. on the tour day, they will be available only at the Arts Center and the tour sites.

Charly Haley
Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Before working at the Herald, she was a reporter at the Jamestown Sun and interned at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes Newspapers and the St. Cloud Times. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn.
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