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Perennials and hard work

Stephanie Jensen talks about the different flower gardens in her yard. Various hardy perennials attract beneficial insects, birds and an occasional deer. Photos by John L. Steiner1 / 3
Beautiful pink flowers attract beneficial insects in Alan and Mary Sargeant s yard.2 / 3
A colorful sedum plant makes for a nice background to these ornamental metal dragonflies in Kimm Avan’s yard.3 / 3

If you go

What: AAUW Garden Tour

When: 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 19

Where: Kimm Avans, 418 4th Ave. SE; Frank and Stephanie Jensen, 1605 3rd Ave. NE; Alan and Mary Sargeant, 3161 Highway 281 N; John Zvirovski, 1601 7th Ave. SE; and 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse, corner of 3rd Avenue and 5th Street Southeast

Tickets: $8 in advance, $10 day of the event. Tickets are available at the AAUW used bookstore, Arts Center, Country Gardens Floral, Don's House of Flowers, Lloyds Toyota, The Garden Gate and all AAUW members.

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The sizes and decorations of the four yards on the 28th Annual AAUW Garden Tour vary greatly, but a couple things are consistent. Many plants that visitors will see are perennials, and the gardeners have put a lot of work into their creations.

The AAUW Garden Tour is from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, and includes five stops—the yards of Kimm Avans, Frank and Stephanie Jensen, Alan and Mary Sargeant and John Zvirovski and the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse.

Gardeners have been putting a lot of effort into getting their yards ready for visitors.

Alan Sargeant, for example, referred to caring for his 25-acre backyard as "full-time fun."

"You've got to do something and I really enjoy it," he said. "Most everything is perennials. They come and go and some have bloomed and gone already and some haven't bloomed. It's something new all the time."

His large backyard includes four different areas of native prairie featuring a mix of native grasses and wildflowers. Those areas require a lot of effort to prevent invasive grasses that aren't native to this area.

The 25 acres of plantings and lawns include 8,500 trees, in excess of 350 varieties of plants and more than 90 varieties of daylilies.

"There is a lot of trial and error and it doesn't all work," Sargeant said.

On the other end of the size spectrum is the urban yard of Kimm Avans in Jamestown. Her landscaping projects got a start three years ago when the waterline connecting the home to the city's water main at the street broke.

"I started over," she said, referring to the landscape in the front yard that had been dug up to repair the waterline. "What the heck, I thought, we might as well do what I want to do if we have to start over."

The landscape plants in the front yard are almost all 3 years old or less, while the backyard features stone and pavers to create a large seating area.

"This is the patio I wanted," Avans said. "A place to read or have friends over for margaritas."

Her landscape plants are also predominantly perennials, including a garden dedicated to sedum. Sedum is a low-growing plant sometimes referred to as stonecrop.

"That whole garden is all different varieties of sedum, which grows nice in North Dakota," Avans said.

Stephanie Jensen said she doesn't plant many annuals in her north Jamestown garden.

"The deer and the rabbits like them too much," she said.

Jensen prefers to plant perennials that are proven to grow in the area.

"Mostly I stick with plants that are North Dakota hardy for the heat and the cold," she said. "The wind and the heat are making watering hard this year."

Kelly Krein, organizer of the event for AAUW, said this year's garden tour also includes the yard of John Zvirovski, Sun garden editor.

Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 on the day of the tour. Ticketholders tour on their own from garden to garden and can stop at the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse to drop off the completed ticket for a door prize, check out the recently completed restoration work at the courthouse and have some refreshments.

Krein said this year's edition is the 28th garden tour over about 30 years.

"We missed a year or two during the flooding," she said.

The event continues to be a fundraiser for AAUW programs.

"All the profits are given out," Krein said. "One of our programs is a UJ (University of Jamestown) endowment that benefits older-than-average women students."

Krein said the event is more than an opportunity to help the causes of AAUW.

"Enjoy a nice evening plus get some information on landscaping," she said. "Wear some good walking shoes and a little mosquito spray might be a good idea."

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