Westerville's annual garden tour returns this weekend, marking the 27th presentation of WesterFlora.

The free WesterFlora tour runs from 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 22. The tour, with a theme of "Garden Surprises," features 13 private gardens, along with a special display at First Responders Park that honors the city's fallen safety personnel.

Of those 13 gardens, 10 have never been on the tour. That's a feature event organizer and Westerville Garden Club spokeswoman Linda Laine said is one of the best attributes of this year's tour.

"People like to go to something they've never seen before," she said.

David Marsolo's space on Hepplewhite Street isn't one of the new gardens, but might as well be. He and his wife, Pat, haven't participated in the tour for 20 years, and he said he's looking forward to returning.

Marsolo's garden may appear less manicured than others, but it requires just as much care, he said.

He's always experimenting with new plants, fruits and vegetables.

His variety of plants and bugs -- along with his dogs, Jasper and Duke -- create an unusual backyard experience, he said.

"That's the whole point," he said. "You make your own little ecosystem."

Marsolo said he likes to host a stop on the tour to help give people ideas and inspiration for their own gardens. Regardless of visitors' gardening abilities, he said, he enjoys talking to people "who are into gardening," and always tries to convey that they, too, can grow the variety of edible plants that can be found in his yard.

"I try to inspire people to grow some vegetables because it's really easy," he said. "A lot of things fail. It's always what I tell people. They'll have some things fail and get discouraged, but some things just don't work out."

Asparagus, Asian pears, tomatoes, apples, varieties of cacti and even a pawpaw tree can be found in Marsolo's backyard, largely because he loves trying different things. He said he likes to be able to depend on his garden for vegetables between May and October.

"We try to grow as much as we can," he said, "but not a lot of any one thing."

The other gardens on the tour are much different from Marsolo's, and Laine said that's the idea.

"We really have a wide selection of gardens," she said. "They range from very eclectic to little fairy gardens. ... It's a very nice variety, I think."

This year's tour also features the talents of eight artists and 50 musicians performing in 11 venues. The advent of the art and music aspect of the tour has only come in recent years, and Laine said it's become a major draw.

"The musicians are coming to me now," she said. "Most of them have been on tour before, and by word of mouth they talk to each other and then I get calls from people who haven't been. I'll see them perform somewhere ... before they're assigned to a garden."

While a variety of the gardens on tour are meticulously crafted and specifically planned, Marsolo said he hopes to convey that anyone can have a great and interesting garden.

"If things take too much work," he said, "it's just not worth doing it."

For a list of gardens and musicians and more information, visit www.WesterFlora.com.

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