Grace Church and her grandmother, Ava Kinder, sit in front of the stump of what used to be the second largest tree in Vermilion County.

Eight homeowners in Catlin will showcase their lovely flower gardens during the Vermilion County Master Gardeners’ annual Garden Walk on Saturday. This is the first year that the walk will be held on a Saturday rather than a Sunday afternoon.

Participants can begin their tour at any garden between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., rain or shine, and they must present a ticket at each garden that they visit.

Janice Dirks, Garden Walk chairman, said, “We’re pleased to feature so many unique gardens in the Catlin area this year, and I want to personally thank everyone who has helped to make this event possible. Participants on the walk are sure to pick up some new and different ideas for their own gardens.”

Dirks explained that the date of the Garden Walk was moved back a week this year so it doesn’t conflict with Danville’s annual Arts in the Park. “By moving our date, more people will be able to enjoy both of these wonderful summer events,” she said.

One of the featured gardens on the walk is located at the home of Rick and Ava Kinder at 605 W. Vermilion St. Ava has recently completed the Master Gardener training, and she has used her newly acquired gardening knowledge to tastefully landscape their 1½-acre property.

“I’m very passionate about gardening,” Ava said. “I try to get my other work done first thing in the morning, and then I spend the rest of the day and evening playing in the garden.”

The Kinders recently added 18 yards of mulch to their landscape, creating winding pathways for visitors to stroll and enjoy the lovely and peaceful surroundings. Their garden features more than 300 shade-loving hostas, lush ferns, and colorful perennials, as well as shrubs and trees that are interspersed with brightly colored impatiens. Ava also has planted some geraniums near the one sunny spot in the yard, where her five grandchildren enjoy their small swimming pool.

The second-largest tree in Vermilion County once stood in the Kinders’ back yard, but it was severely damaged by a storm some years ago. Rather than removing the entire tree, the remaining stump and a portion of the trunk were transformed into a natural planter that Ava has filled with cascading petunias.

Ava credits her 9-year-old granddaughter, Grace Church, with helping her with the gardening. “She’s a great little helper,” Ava said. “We also love watching the birds and the squirrels together, and I’m planting some milkweed so I can start raising butterflies again.”

The Kinder property includes areas devoted to each grandchild: Grace Place, in honor of Grace; Austin City Limits, for Austin Downen, who lives in southern Illinois; Ianapolis, the pool area, for Ian Church; Country Weston at the barn, for Weston Church; and Sydney Outback, named in honor of Sydney Downen.

Grace will be serving lemonade and cookies to guests who tour her grandparents’ garden on Saturday.

Ava is a retired teacher from District 118, but she still works part time at Danville Area Community College.

Her husband, Rick, helps Ava with all her gardening projects, and he recently built a heavy-duty trellis for her sprawling wisteria. “Rick is also the cook of the household while I’m out playing in the garden,” Ava added.

Other Catlin residents on the Garden Walk include:

  • Barb and John Blaufuss at 207 North St. have a shaded garden that is filled with colorful annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. As they walk up the driveway, visitors will hear the trickling waterfall as they view two koi ponds and a running stream. Dogwood, Japanese maples, azaleas and topiaries enhance this part of the garden. The wrap-around front porch offers an inviting respite with its colorful planters, hanging baskets and white, wrought iron settees. Containers overflowing with plantings add a nice touch to the deck at the back of the Blaufuss home.
  • Bob Steube of 304 N. Paris St. is known as “Bob the Builder” because of all his handiwork. He has designed a raised herb garden and trellis on his back deck, which leads to a sunroom that he also built. Steube enjoys growing annuals, perennials, and vegetables, which he gladly shares with his friends and neighbors. He also designed a “bottle tree” for his next-door neighbors, which he can see by looking over his fence into their yard.
  • Dave and Janet Ives at 105 Carrigan St. started with a blank slate and have transformed their original property into a gardener’s showplace. They have created a park-like setting that includes several sitting areas. The backyard is framed by a wooden privacy fence, and English ivy grows profusely on the trellises. A lace-leafed Japanese maple graces a still pond, and a waterfall created from an old hand pump. An arched pergola that includes a sitting area and waterfall is visible farther back in the yard. This garden also features some unusual evergreen topiary, a variety of shrubs and perennials, and many containers of colorful annuals.
  • Doug and Candi Klemme at 509 Walnut St. A cobblestone walkway, picket fence, and yellow window boxes made from old shutters adorn the front of this “little white house with all the unusual treasures of memories.” Their garden features hydrangea bushes in four colors that were passed down from Candi’s mother, as well as an ornamental cherry tree, which she received as a gift when her mother died.

Seating for two, an old bicycle, rows of yews, and an old plow are all warm reminders of loved ones. Visitors can also look through an ivy-colored archway to see a potting table, an herb garden, and gourds that Candi will dry and convert into birdhouses. Also featured are a vegetable garden area, dragonflies made from old fans, and a fire pit surrounded by ivy, clematis, zinnias, marigolds, and climbing green beans.

  • Bob and Joyce Miles at 107 W. Fleming St. have a beautiful, shaded yard that enhances their vintage home. Hostas and sedum line both sides of the driveway and sidewalk. Vinca, impatiens, dianthus, peony bushes, daylilies, iris and roses brighten the landscape, along with containers filled with colorful annuals. A fountain and waterfall add to this relaxing setting. Those who know Joyce will see her artistic talent reflected in this eye-appealing garden.
  • Jeff and Michelle Kimbro at 705 W. Vermilion St. feature a serene, shaded garden that complements their beautiful brick home. The circular driveway showcases a large flowerbed filled with hostas, lamb’s ear, roses, peonies, forsythia, and other perennials. Surrounding a huge magnolia tree are more hostas, and beside an old chicken coop you’ll find a vegetable garden, lilacs and a variety of grasses. Brick steps lead down a slope to another sitting area, which is situated next to a cascading waterfall and goldfish pond. Colorful planters filled with annuals are placed atop the brick wall that follows the driveway and extends to the home. As they return to the top of the slope, visitors can appreciate the beauty and privacy of this lovely garden.
  • The garden of Carol Legg at 205 North St. features a unique bottle tree with colorful and unusual bottles, and a special tree top that a friend created for her. She has livened up her beautifully maintained yard with colorful perennials and unique yard art that visitors won’t want to miss.

Ticket information

Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 on the day of the walk. Advance tickets are available at the Vermilion County Extension office at 3164 N. Vermilion (across from Danville’s Village Mall). They also are for sale at the Danville Public Library, Danville Gardens, Berry’s Garden Center, Big R, Bob’s Market, Schultz’s Nursery, and the Greenhouse Mega Store in Danville.

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