Monday, Oct 22, 2018
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Beloved blooms: proud gardeners to show yards in public tour


    An outdoor patio is featured at Jenny Cope's garden at her home in Old Orchard. The 2018 Spring Garden Tour will feature 11 gardens exhibiting different design styles, plant selections, and outdoor spaces.

    2018 The Blade
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    A bed frame is featured in Tracy Tersigni's garden at her home in Old Orchard.

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A few years ago, master gardener Jenny Cope added a chair to her front lawn for an elderly woman who couldn’t quite make the loop around the block with her little Welsh corgi.

The cluster of blooms around the chair became known in the Cope household as the “chair garden.” Ms. Cope liked to keep the woman company when she could.


Tickets for Sunday’s garden tour cost $10. For a map, more information, and tickets, visit

“When she was there, my world stopped,” Ms. Cope said.

In spring, the backyards of Old Orchard neighborhood blossom into little wonderlands home to stone frogs, koi, and toy fairies. Avid gardeners have spent years — some, decades — planting their yards with multicolored blooms and, in the case of one gardener, more than 25 varieties of hosta. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 11 of the private gardens will go public for a day in the Old Orchards Neighborhoods Association’s first tour.

Planning started a year ago, said Brent Lohmann, head of the 15-person subcommittee organizing the event. Local greenhouses chipped in to sponsor the event, providing gardeners with gift cards to subsidize landscaping work. The committee has sold and distributed 150 tickets and hopes to sell 200 tickets, Mr. Lohmann said. The group is prepared for 500 visitors, though more could be accommodated.

Tracy Tersigni, retired Toledo Public Schools special education teacher, described her garden best:

“Something old, something new, but mostly blue.”

In her backyard, antique furniture cradles live blooms. A bed frame, rusted over by rain, encloses a flower bed; a teal wheelbarrow holds a fairy village, which Ms. Tersigni built for her grandchildren; an archway supports white rose vines.

Ms. Tersigni’s yard is one example of a rule: The garden reflects the gardener. From watering cans to flower pots to the gardener’s preferred eyeshadow, almost everything comes in shades of blue. Other hues include white, green, and — occasionally —  purple. Ms.Tersigni tries not to mix up the scheme, but sometimes she can’t resist.

For some gardeners, like Ms. Cope, the beauty of a garden isn’t only aesthetic. Next to the chair garden is the rose garden, which she transplanted from her mother’s yard. On visits to her mother, who has since moved out of her house, Ms. Cope brings bouquets of roses that carry the smell of home.

“This one means the most to me,” Ms. Cope said of her rose garden.


A bed frame is featured in Tracy Tersigni's garden at her home in Old Orchard.

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Other parts of her yard evoke weirder associations, like the great blue heron that terrorized, for a day, local ponds.

One summer, a great blue heron stole the largest fish from Ms. Cope’s koi pond — Mr. Orange, “the leader of the pack.” When she saw the bird pluck Mr. Orange from the water, she ran outside to stop it. But no amount of arm-waving or yelling — “Let him go! Let him go!” — slowed the predator, which moved on to a neighbor’s pond across the street. Ms. Cope last saw Mr. Orange flapping in the air, high up.

“I felt like a mama who couldn’t protect her babies,” Ms. Cope said.

Other highlights of her lawn are a large red brick outdoor oven built by a past owners — a “focal point” of the yard, Ms. Cope said. A grove of white heliotrope hidden in the back is the main source of the garden’s fragrance. Ms. Cope thinks of it as her hidden gem.

“It’s my chaos amidst all of the organization,” she said.



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