To some, it may seem that inclusion in a city's garden tour would require the homeowner to be entrenched in the community and a longtime local gardener.
But Rose Kepler and her husband, Keith, are showing that even newcomers are welcome in Westerville's annual WesterFlora Garden Tour.
The couple moved all the way from Houston to Westerville just over two years ago when Keith transferred jobs. Rose said the move was perfect to allow the kind of gardening she only dreamed about in Texas.
"When we first came to Westerville ... we really wanted to be able to garden, which wasn't really possible in Houston," she said. "It's very tropical there, and very hard to keep anything growing. I even resorted to silk flowers in my front yard at one point."
Now, the Keplers have a lush backyard that sits adjacent to Millstone Creek Park, and their backyard ends at a large pond that contains wildlife ranging from blue heron to a family of muskrats.
"It's delightful," Rose said. "After 14 years in Houston staring at a 6-foot privacy fence, this is just magical."
The Keplers' home at 802 Centerpark Drive was nominated for the tour by a neighbor, and Rose said she had no idea that the tour would even have been a possibility for her.
"We're just kind of going along for the ride," she laughed. "We hadn't intended on being on the tour because we're so new here. We've never even really attended the WesterFlora before, so we're just kind of open to it and going with it.
"It'll be fun, I think, for people to come see our pretty backyard and the pond and the fun that we have with the hatchlings in the spring."
When they were selected for the tour, WesterFlora organizers suggested that the Keplers should register their property as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. The Keplers took their advice, and registered online in a simple process, giving them another niche to fill in the tour.
"We try to mix things up and if we can add a certified habitat, which is very nice, then we love that," said Linda Laine, publicity chairwoman and one-third of the 2014 tour's selection committee.
Just days before the event, Rose is trying to avoid pre-tour stress, and says she and her husband hope to keep the tone of their garden similar to how they feel about it.
"We're trying to avoid the intimidation part," she said. "Each day we're just saying to each other, 'It is what it is.' ... Our garden to us is not a point of stress. It's something that we just do.
"We like and enjoy it and relax in it, and I hope other folks will, too," she said.
The free 2014 WesterFlora Garden Tour runs from 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 20.
Musicians and artists will be set up at many of the stops, to perform as visitors tour the gardens.
The tour is self-guided, so residents can visit a few, all or just one, as they choose.
Musicians and artists will be set up in each of the gardens on the tour this year.
Stops on the 23rd annual tour and musical entertainment at the residences are as follows:
170 Granby Place W. -- Tara Fast, violin, 2-3 p.m.
696 Winmar Place E. -- Dan Epley, guitar, 1-2 p.m.
129 Crowles Ave. -- Ian Zachary, guitar, 3-4 p.m.
228 Huber Village Blvd. -- Janis Dugle, guitar and banjo, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
121 Spring Valley Road -- Ian Zachary, guitar, 1:30-2:30. Ron Fisher, saxophone, 5-6 p.m.
160 W. Main St. -- Dan Epley, guitar, 3-4 p.m.
802 Centerpark Drive -- Just For Fun vocal quartet, 3:15-4 p.m.
719 W. Main St. -- Horns of Distinction, 2-3 p.m.
200 Huber Village Blvd. -- Janis Dugle & Ann Morahan, easy listening folk music, 3-4 p.m.
124 S. Knox St. -- Bob Villwock, keyboard, 1-2 p.m.
7636 Lanetta Lane -- Just For Fun vocal quartet, 2-2:45 p.m.
1022 Denman Court -- Ron Fisher, saxophone, 3-4. Genene Blackwell, piano, 5-6 p.m.
4606 Lakes Club Drive -- Encore, vocal quartet, 4-5 p.m.
141 Sandstone Loop E. -- Brookstone Chamber Players: Jack and Jody Sjogren & Sue Rudibaugh, piano, cello and violin, 1:30-2:30, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
112 S. Knox St. -- The Jazz Men Trio, 3-4 p.m.