Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | May 25, 2018

Art association hosts Dorothy Bell Garden Tour Sunday

Jun 22, 2017
The home of Pete and Kathy Tollenaere.

The Fairfield Art Association welcomes the return of its Garden Tour named after its founder, Dorothy Bell

The garden tour is in its 26th year, after taking a break for several years. Organizers are offering four beautiful gardens that will be open to visitors during the tour from 1-4 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets can be purchased at any garden and include a map on the back with directions to all gardens. The event benefits the FAA and its projects.

Ticketholders will be treated to beverages at each stop and cookies at one garden. All attendees will be included in a drawing for one of Kathy Tollenaere’s original colored bird sketches and a hand painted garden house succulent planter by Suzan Kessel. In addition, perennial plants will be given away until the supply runs out.

Woodland and residential settings are featured in our avid gardeners’ yards, full of perennial plantings, water features, and many unusual artistic pieces adding charm and providing tons of gardening inspiration. Two neighboring gardens will be found 5 miles from Fairfield, just off Glasgow Road with signs marking them. There are two in town gardens, one on South Sixth Street in the west section of Fairfield, and the other is off of South D Street in the southeast part of town.


Pete and Kathy Tollenaere reside at 2439 Peach Avenue. After moving to this wooded area in the fall of 2002, Kathy spent the winter studying shade plants. Kathy, a retired teacher, is the home-base designer, landscaper and gardener and has discovered the inevitable necessity of changes in a garden. Like when tree removal took place allowing more sunlight in the front yard, new flower beds were enlarged or developed. Several raised gardens were in existence when the Tollenaeres moved into their home and Kathy tolerated them as best she could, but considered them to be much more work than they were worth. Kathy and Pete eventually moved these plants to other areas. Together they spread ten tons of river rock throughout the garden and this spring a picnic table and fire pit were added, making the area much more fun and functional.

A flowering crab apple and a Sunburst Honey Locust tree planted in her sister and father's memory resulted in the creation of two more beds. A pea gravel path was added, separating beds into two sections. A small pergola was added to the back of the house and a flagstone pathway.

Early on a "Woodland Walk" was created with the help of young neighbor boys. Favorite features of Kathy’s shady beds are a myriad of different Hosta, Astilbe, Brunnera, Tricyrtis (toad lilies), Pulmonaria, Helleborus, Bleeding Heart, Tiarella, Ligularia, Columbine, and a host of native windflowers that grow in shady woodlands. Other favorites are different hydrangea, azalea, and viburnum. Clematis are also found nearly everywhere.

The installation of a new septic tank necessitated the removal of the existing plantings that had been created just a couple of years earlier. But the new section is now better than ever, sporting a small pond as a water feature, as well as a weeping Pussy Willow that was planted in 2013 in memory of her brother.

The Tollenaeres have discovered the benefits of living in woodland areas include the great variety of birds that can be heard and the cooler temperature that is noticeable on a hot sunny day.

Kathy belongs to a small group of area gardeners, "Gabby Garden Gals," that began over 15 years ago. Several members got together one winter and began making soft sculpture garden ladies. Some of them will be enjoying a cup of tea as visitors enjoy the Tollenaere gardens. A special garden tour guest will be artist John Preston painting en plain aire from 1-2:30 p.m.


Fred and Dixie Hickenbottom are located at 2433 Peach Avenue. They have lived in this wooded area for 21 years and started landscaping right away. Hostas were used primarily due to the shade in the beginning. However, now that they have lost several trees, they have added color with perennials and annuals. Fred has done all of the landscaping in the yard, including a rock garden on one side of the house with a bridge. Fred also does the mowing, while Dixie takes care of the flower beds. “Sometimes it is quite challenging with the deer, rabbits and squirrels” says Dixie. “The latest garden tip I have received is to shave Irish spring soap bars and sprinkle them around the beds. It seems to be working.”

Dixie describes their yard as rustic woodland in a park setting. She added “rustic” because they have some family heirlooms in some of the flower beds, including two sets of large kettles with old pumps beside them. One set is from Fred's family and the other set is from Dixie’s family. There are also a few other items scattered throughout the yard. “We love the area we live in because we have wonderful neighbors” concludes Dixie. “We can take walks, bike, jog, play games and visit. Sometimes we have homemade ice cream parties and wiener roasts. In the wintertime with the snow and ice on the trees it looks like winter wonderland.”


Joe and Deborah Peters Verstrepen live at 300 South Sixth Street. Joe & Deborah have lived at the SW corner of 6th and Adams for eight years. “Joe predicted it would take about five years to completely redo the yard and get it to a level of satisfaction and we noticed that was about correct” says Deborah.

You have probably noticed this wonderful yard with unusual trees and “sentinels” when you frequently drive by on your route to the west side of town. A few years back the Fairfield Beautification Commission honored them with a Rose Award for their lovely upkept yard and home. During our garden tour you will get to see the garden area hidden behind the home, where all the landscaping has been done by Joe. “Joe has been kind to ask for my input all along the way” said Deborah.

Joe views all of his endeavors as rejuvenative. There are many pavers and unusual rock sentinels that were hand placed. A trellis was installed that now supports two of four grapevines and there are several fruit trees, including two cherry, one apple, one plum. A few areas in the yard are used as nurseries to grow plants that will be later transplanted. Visitors will also see a koi pond made from a converted cattle tank and broad leafed hostas.

Several of their favorite trees are a deciduous larch (near the Southwest corner of the house), two red Japanese maples, two Horstmann’s Silberlocke Korean Firs (Southeast corner of house/South side of front porch). One of Joe’s gardening tips is to plant for the future by planting trees far enough away from each other and all plants and tress away from the house.


Patrick and Suzan Kessel live at 412 Heatherwood Circle. The Kessels built their home 34 years ago in the totally wooded area and have added (and sometimes subtracted) landscaping to their two acres every year. Practically everything has been done by them alone, including terracing the back yard sloped to a creek, creating a four level outdoor area.

“Every spring I am excited to get in my yard again like it was the first time!” said Suzan. “I love seeing all the plants return and bloom. But then I want to add more”. There are too many hostas to count, in all sizes and colors, along with many varieties of typical shade loving plants. Early summer is probably the best for viewing the Kessel yard, and this year it was even earlier. Hopefully the deer won’t eat the lilies and other currently blooming flowers before the tour.

The Kessel gardens feature several of the FAA’s past summer art installations purchased at auction – a mannequin, bird house, mailbox, obelisk and chair. You’ll see these scattered around a waterfall and water garden, on a patio, in the side garden or near a trellis or in the woods by the bridge. If you count, you might find at least fifty planted garden pots, with succulents to king tut grasses. Some plants come indoors for the winter. An herb garden is a favorite of Pats, located near his grill.

He will be sharing his homemade garden drink and rosemary cookies.

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