Grundy Center Historical Society hosting first Garden Tour

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Several tons of rock were brought in to create ponds and a rock bridge that connects the ponds to the patio at the John and Mary Doak home.

GRUNDY CENTER – As many people know, Grundy County is known for its good, black dirt that benefits the farmers with high production of corn and soybeans, but that black dirt enhances the production of some beautiful gardens in the area. The Grundy Center Historical Society is hosting its first Garden Tour from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on July 14.

What better way to share some Grundy Center history than by featuring a tour of gardens that have beautiful landscaping, areas of flower and vegetable beds, ponds and many other amazing features. The public can tour seven gardens that are hosted by Scott & Lisa Bienfang, Jon & Staci Freese, Kevin & Sandy Klar, Larry & Darlene Marske, John & Mary Doak and Earl & Jeanette Slinker plus the Herbert Quick Schoolhouse is open for tours. Four of the gardens are in Grundy Center and the other three are at rural farm locations.

The gardens at Scott & Lisa Bienfang reflect years of planning, patience and persistence. The Bienfang home was built in 1903 by Scott’s great-grandfather. Several perennial gardens, roses, vegetables and raised beds yield practical as well as aesthetic rewards. What was once the cupola of the old corn crib is now a garden shed and chicken brooder. Some of the peonies are over 100 years old. The cottage garden was added in Spring 2024 and, although still young, shows great potential. There are a variety of sitting areas near the flowers, the fountains, front porch and fire pit.

At the home of Kevin & Sandy Klar, people will experience her passion for nature and the outdoors, It’s Sandy’s creative space. She likes adding art to the outdoors and loves rocks. Each year she adds something. The yard is a retreat for black lab Willow and them.

At the home of John & Mary Doak, the public will enjoy the beautiful ponds they have near the back patio. Several tons of rock were brought in to create ponds and a rock bridge that connects the ponds to the patio. Jeff Hockemeyer who was a student at Iowa State University created the original concept during a class project. The yard primarily remains as it was in 1979, when they built the house, as an informal setting where family played games on the back lawn. There once was a putting green, a small ski slope and places for friends to gather round. They have been told that they have the largest green ash in Iowa.

With the sponsorship of Matthew Wikert ReMax Concepts, the Historical Society is excited to share this event as a fundraiser for the society. Tickets are $10 (children 12 and under are free) and can be purchased at the Historical Society Museum, 613 G Ave., on Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and during the Felix Grundy Festival weekend of July 12 & 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or at the Natural Grind Coffee Shop, 721 G Ave., from July 1 – 13. Maps are also available. A ticket is required to stop at each of the garden locations. People will be asked to present the ticket to be punched before exploring each area.