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Take a walking tour through 5 gorgeous gardens in Oakwood, Kettering

This local garden will be open to the public on June 8 when the Garden Club of Dayton hosts Garden Gems. CONTRIBUTED
This local garden will be open to the public on June 8 when the Garden Club of Dayton hosts Garden Gems. CONTRIBUTED

The Garden Club of Dayton’s inaugural event is Saturday, June 8

Artists have always been drawn to a beautiful garden. It’s easy to see why, especially at this time of year when flowers are beginning to bloom and the outdoor world is lush and green.

Here’s an opportunity to view the kinds of landscapes that inspire artists to pick up their paint brushes. Thanks to the women of The Garden Club of Dayton, some of the Miami Valley’s most spectacular gardens will be open to the public Saturday, June 8. The club’s inaugural walking tour, Garden Gems, will lead visitors on garden paths through the grounds of five Kettering and Oakwood homes. Allyson Danis is chairing the project.

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“Gardens are a great topic in relation to art,” says the DAI’s chief curator Jerry Smith. “Gardens are areas capable of exciting the imagination. They can be filled with explosions of color and minute and fascinating details.” Gardens, he adds, are areas of controlled nature, separate from untamed nature. “They come in various styles and sizes and have provided inspiration to artists for centuries.”

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This local garden features a fairy house nestled in the woods. CONTRIBUTED
This local garden features a fairy house nestled in the woods. CONTRIBUTED

On display

You’ll see that variety in the local gardens slated to be on show: one focuses on native and pollinator plants, another features 135 maple trees tapped annually. There are garden sculptures, a greenhouse, a pagoda and a fish pond. On the grounds of one of the homes, you’ll encounter a cascading waterfall. Another features a fairy house nestled in the woods that’s been constructed by the owners from a felled tree.

For Lindsey Clark, a longtime member of the Garden Club, gardening is painting a visual palette with plants. “I hope to create rhythms with different planting beds,” says the Oakwood woman. “It’s like an outside concert that uplifts and energizes me. Being outside in nature is therapeutic. It’s educational living with my gardening successes and failures.”

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Where the money goes

Monies raised from the June tour will be used to beautify public spaces in our community. The historic organization (GCD) was founded in 1922 by Katharine Houk Talbott and a group of her gardening friends. In 1926, the club was invited to become the fifth member of the Garden Club of America. The mission is educational: “to stimulate knowledge and love of gardening; to aid in the protection of native trees, plants, birds and other creatures and to encourage historic preservation, civic planting and the general knowledge of nature.”

A local garden tour is being planned by the Garden Club of Dayton. CONTRIBUTED
A local garden tour is being planned by the Garden Club of Dayton. CONTRIBUTED

Over the years the club has made lasting contributions to Dayton and the Miami Valley. Members encouraged the planting of victory gardens during WWII, helped create Cox Arboretum, supported the River Corridor Project, funded the Marie Aull Nature Trail at Wegerzyn Garden Center and helped found MetroParks. “We’ve planted trees in Old North Dayton, helped Kiser School plant a school garden, revitalized Flood Park on Valley Street, and assisted with the cleanup of Pineview Park in west Dayton,” says club member Susan Sauer, chair of the Garden History and Design Committee.

Now the group’s 70 members are excited about the prospect of a 2022 Centennial project — working with MetroParks’ Riverfront Project to redevelop Sunrise Park, the park on the west side of the river that runs from Third Street to the Dayton Art Institute. “The GCD and MetroParks see development as a way to bring both sides of the river together,” Sauer explains. “Our Centennial celebration in 2022 will also include special events, speakers, garden tours and more.”

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Artists have always been inspired by gardens. This painting, entitled “Hollyhocks” by Frederick Carl Frieseke, is currently on display at the Dayton Art Institute. CONTRIBUTED
Artists have always been inspired by gardens. This painting, entitled “Hollyhocks” by Frederick Carl Frieseke, is currently on display at the Dayton Art Institute. CONTRIBUTED

Art in history

Smith says when you consider the importance gardens have played throughout human culture, it isn’t at all surprising that images of gardens appear regularly in art.

“Gardens in art date back to the biblical story of Adam and Eve and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon,” says Smith. “They are found in Egyptian tomb reliefs, painted on the walls of luxury homes in Pompeii. Louis XIV built remarkable gardens at Versailles to demonstrate his wealth and power. In America following the Civil War gardening became increasingly popular. Nurseries were opened and seed companies grew alongside the publications of gardening manuals and magazine stories about the pleasures of gardening.”

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Claude Monet’s “Waterlilies,” is one of the Dayton Art Institute’s most famous paintings. CONTRIBUTED
Claude Monet’s “Waterlilies,” is one of the Dayton Art Institute’s most famous paintings. CONTRIBUTED

Three works by Monet act as centerpieces for the DAI’s newest Focus exhibit, “Monet and Impressionism.”

“Monet’s highly planned and cultivated garden in Giverny was the site of some of the most popular paintings ever made and includes Dayton Art Institute’s own ‘Waterlilies’ from 1903,” says Smith. “His garden proved a source of continuous inspiration for Monet and for many other artists.”

Gardens, he adds, are areas that suggest leisure and time away from distractions of everyday life. “The ability to relax and enjoy a garden grew with the expansion of the middle class in Europe,” Smith says. “Not surprisingly, art collectors want to bring images of beautiful, peaceful gardens into their homes.”

HOW TO GO

What: The Garden Gems: A Walking Tour. A visit to five gardens at private homes in Oakwood and Kettering.

When: 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday, June 8. The event will be held rain or shine.

Tickets: $25 in advance and $30 the day of the tour. Advance tickets may be purchased online at gardenclubofdayton.org or by mailing a check to: The Garden Club of Dayton, P. O. Box 534, Dayton, OH 45409. Exact locations will be listed on your ticket. Tickets will also be on sale at each garden on the day of the tour.

More info: Call Susan Sauer at (937) 274-8328.

Parking and more: Street parking is available outside the gardens. Gardens are not wheelchair accessible, and some gardens have stairs.

10 TIPS FOR AN ARTISTIC GARDEN

• Define the space — use gravel, wood chips or grass paths. Allow curves for meandering, or keep symmetrical.

• Repeat a color or plant as a visual pathway.

• Use seasonal plants in groups of at least three to keep the the garden from looking spotty.

• Use color and hues of that color to complement one another, not to match.

• Choose plants with contrasting leaf shapes, textures and colors to add variety and interest.

• Know the importance of right plant/right place — some plants like sun and some like shade.

• Layer the garden by choosing plants of different sizes and shapes.

• Accents: Use sculpture, bird houses, bird baths, ponds or water features. Potted and hanging plants and flowers also add a creative touch.

• Create a space with something edible — an herb or a vegetable garden, using pots or other containers if you have a small space.

• If you have a large garden, create surprises around each corner – don’t plan your garden to be viewed all at once.

SOURCE: Stacey MacDonald, Dayton Garden Club, Oakwood