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Garden Tour: It will feature a variety of gardens

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A large decorative rock can be seen at the Lyle and Evelyn Sjostrom’s yard as well as a cantilevered wooden boardwalk and deck over the James River in the background. 2 / 3
Industrial-strength benches and mixed-media planters were designed and made by Tracy and Merrie Deutscher. John M. Steiner / The Sun3 / 3

The Jamestown branch of the American Association of University Women’s 25th annual Garden Tour will feature gardens of all shapes, sizes and locations.

The tour runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, said Kelly Krein, an AAUW member who selects the gardens for the tour each year.

The tour’s hosts this year are:

* Dan and Francoise Buchanan, 216 15th Ave. NE

* Delmer and Gloria Davis, 1201 10th Ave. SE

* Tracy and Merrie Deutscher, 714 3rd Ave. NE

* Oren and Connie Krapp, 1001 8th Ave. NW

* Lyle and Evelyn Sjostrom, 707 7th Ave. SW

A reception will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Arts Center, 115 2nd St. SW.

Krein said the tour has evolved over the last 25 years, as have the gardens and yards featured in the tour.

“In the beginning the gardens were basics, featuring beautiful flowers and trees,” she said. “Gardeners now are using a lot of different thing beyond plants and flowers. There is stone, different kinds of structures, hardscapes and garden art.”

Krein said this year the AAUW is starting the tour at 4 p.m., an hour earlier than previous years, to give people time to explore the yards.

The Buchanans

Dan and Francoise Buchanan have been on the tour before. The street side of their home shows a tidy, well-kept lawn and some flowers, but the backyard is where the couple spends most of their time. The yard features two shade gardens, including one that runs almost the entire length of their property on the east side by an old shelterbelt.

The shade gardens feature hostas — a green, leafy perennial plant that grows in the shade. Dan Buchanan said he became interested in hostas after touring the arboretum at the University of Minnesota.

The shade garden areas include hostas and other groundcover-type plants, including vinca and lamium.

Francoise Buchanan said she planted a rose garden closer to the house because she wanted one.

The backyard area also features a pagoda dogwood — a large shrub where the branches grow out straight — some silver maple trees and a gazebo.

The Sjostroms

Lyle and Evelyn Sjostrom’s home and property fronts the James River and features statues, different seating areas including an arbor, and a dock and deck over the river that is cantilevered, meaning it doesn’t have any posts in the water to support it.

Evelyn Sjostrom said this is the third time their garden has been featured on the tour.

“I was a 4-H kid,” she said. “I worked with my mom. I worked with flowers. I just love flowers.”

Sjostrom said her husband has done all of the heavy work, putting up any structures, including the dock, deck and arbor. The newest item to their yard is a water feature out front made up of two cranes.

Sjostrom said she thinks their garden is nice, but the location of being on the river is what makes it special.

“If it’s too hot on the deck by the house, I come down to the pergola (arbor) and enjoy the breeze off the river.”

The Davis’

Delmer and Gloria Davis’ yard is one of the smaller yards on the tour this year. Gloria said their yard shows what can be done with a smaller amount of space and a little bit of planning.

“We have wagon wheels; you’ll find ceramics throughout the yard,” she said. “Everything (planted) are perennials, except for what you see in pots.”

To help keep track and keep a record of what she and her husband have done, Gloria Davis has an album that contains information on every plant they have planted.

“If someone asks me about a plant, if I can’t remember, I can grab the album,” she said.

The Davis’ garden started with one item, a pond. Davis said they used to have a dog, and the yard didn’t look as good as it does now.

“Then the dog died, and I put a pond on layaway without telling my husband,” she said. “I told him ‘We’re going to start fixing up the yard.’”

The pond area is the central part of the garden, with smaller garden areas throughout their yard.

The Deutschers

Tracy and Merrie Deutscher have lived in their 3rd Avenue Northeast home for 23 years. Their property runs up part of a hill, with the main garden at the top of the property.

Merrie Deutscher said she wanted to start a garden, so about 15 years ago she started working on the top part. It was mainly a grassy area. Using rocks, the couple started developing the main garden and now has an area with an arbor and seating area at the top and a view of the rest of the property.

Tracy Deutscher built the arbor over a week’s time and used the leftover timber to build some heavy-duty benches. He also built the multimedia planters based on a picture he and Merrie saw in a home and garden magazine.

“It’s not a flat piece of land. That’s what I like about our property,” Merrie Deutscher said.

The main garden includes a repurposed wrought iron fence and a large metal sculpture dragonfly that Tracy Deutscher had made for the couple’s 17th anniversary.

The Krapps

The Krapps bought Connie Krapp’s parent’s home on 8th Avenue Northwest in 2008 after her mother, Elaine, passed away. The property is part of a hillside, and the Krapps have developed the yard into a terraced garden system.

Connie Krapp said the property is different than when her parent’s owned it.

“It didn’t have as much shade and trees, so my mom’s garden features different plants and flowers than ours,” she said.

At the top of the backyard is a small playhouse for the Krapp’s grandchildren and a memorial garden area for Connie’s mother. The area features antiques and items from her mother’s garden and cupola from a barn that was on her mother’s family farm.

The Krapps started working on the garden area in 2009 and have been working on it since.

“It has taken us a while to just get the groundcover planted and established,” she said.

For more information about the tour, visit

  Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454