Twelve outstanding Westerville gardens will be showcased Sunday during the 22nd annual WesterFlora garden tour, themed "Festival of Gardens."

Twelve outstanding Westerville gardens will be showcased Sunday during the 22nd annual WesterFlora garden tour, themed "Festival of Gardens."

The free tour will take place from 1 to 7 p.m. July 21, and will feature a variety of gardens, including garden rooms, gardens with views, wildlife habitats, flower gardens and edible gardens.

At select times during the tour, musicians will perform in the gardens, and artists will paint or sketch the gardens.

The tour will conclude with a 7 p.m. nature walk with Cindy Maravich at Inniswood Metro Park, 940 S. Hempstead Road.

Garden with a view

Jeanne Sweaney dreamed of country life while her husband, Richard, wanted to stay in the suburbs.

As a compromise, they purchased a lot on the Medallion golf course that contained a large portion of a pond, heavy with lily pads and an attraction for wildlife of all kinds.

"We see a lot of deer walking across there," Jeanne Sweaney said. "We see red fox, deer, blue herons."

Sweaney aimed to enhance her garden large patios and flowers but quickly learned that a yard that welcomed wildlife also came with some challenges.

"We learned after the first few years that you don't plant beautiful annuals in the ground here because the wildlife always wins," she said.

Instead, Sweaney has found plants, mainly those with strong scents, that animals tend to shirk, and surrounded her patios with large pots of colorful annuals. She keeps the area surrounding the pond as natural as possible, with native plants and wildflowers.

"I think it's a big challenge when you live in a wildlife habitat to have a garden," Sweaney said. "I think we're better with wildflowers here and what grows naturally to embellish here and there."

Sweaney said her family is happy with the resulting garden and each year they seem to add more patio space to allow more time outdoors enjoying the garden.

"We started with a patio, and every year, we seem to add a little outdoor living space," Sweaney said. "It's kind of an oasis back here."

Garden of gratitude

It could be said that Denise Mundy's garden is almost purely hand-me-down.

"I think my garden is really different from most gardens that you see because it's a 'thank-you' garden. Most of the plants you see were starts people had given me," Mundy said. "It would be very rare that I would buy a plant to fill a need. Most of the plants that are here have found their way to me."

While nearly all of Mundy's yard is covered with some type of planting, it wasn't that way when she and her family moved to the home 12 years ago.

The yard was practically barren, Mundy said, with little grass and a few trees.

As she developed her yard over the years, Mundy avoided grass and areas that needed to be mulched, instead opting for plants that offered extensive ground cover. She added larger plants and flowers around them.

"It just makes a carpet of color," Mundy said of the ground cover. "It's a different look, and most people look at it and at first they can't tell what's different."

Favoring ground cover instead of grass and mulch comes with another advantage: It requires much less maintenance.

"Mulching is very expensive, and most people don't enjoy it," Mundy said. "I actually like to mow grass, but environmentally, if you have a lawn, you're going to have to throw a lot of chemicals on it and water it a lot."

Mundy's garden also features many native species, influenced by her sister, a master gardener who specializes in them.

Mundy said her "thank-you garden" comes with many advantages: It's cheaper than a traditional garden, it comes with less maintenance and the plants are hardier because plants that are passed down are plants that survived and thrived in someone else's garden.

"I think a lot of people don't garden because if you go to the nursery, it is expensive. But it doesn't have to be," she said. "I don't have a lot of money into my garden because of the way it developed. I think anyone can do a garden."

Bird haven

Midge Krause's garden offers a certified wildlife habitat, attracting a variety of birds and a few animals to her feeders, baths and plants.

"I basically sit inside, and the cats and I watch all the birds and (chipmunks)," Krause said.

The garden surrounding her yard didn't come easily, Krause said. The yard was in deplorable shape when she and her husband purchased the home years ago.

"This side was swamp; that side was full of thistles," Krause said.

They started with some new dirt and leveling.

With no finite vision in mind, Krause said she began planting on one side of the yard and just continued around it.

"It's just gradually grown," Krause said.

She has a simple philosophy for her garden: "If I like it and it does well in my yard, it stays."

She does look for red plants, as a personal preference, as well as those that will attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Her simple philosophy has worked well. Krause has amassed enough of a variety of plants that her garden is constantly filled with color and is constantly changing.

"I must have enough variety that something's always blooming," she said. "About every few weeks, it's a different color."

Krause acknowledged that her garden takes work, but she said it comes with a payoff.

"It's so worthwhile when you see something like that," Krause said, pointing to a hummingbird on a nearby bush during a recent tour of her garden. "It's my sanity."