Variety part of this year’s Garden Tour

MARQUETTE – Anyone who goes on this year’s July 24 Garden Tour, put on by the Marquette Beautification & Restoration Committee Inc., will see more than rows of hostas – although huge ones grow at one garden home.

“Well, I just think we have a variety,” said Phyllis James, tour chair. “And I think the thing about the tour is it gives people an idea of things they can do in their own yards. Any of this is doable if you want to work hard enough.”

One of those “doable gardens” is the Mildred Avenue home of Cliff and Eleanor Maier, whose garden that borders a bluff and Badger Creek is on this year’s tour.

“It’s been a long process over the years,” Cliff said. “We moved here in 1973.”

Getting a garden to look like the Maiers’ spread takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

“It’s pleasant to look at once you get it done,” he said.

The couple has a sunny rock garden in the front, but shade dominates much of their back yard. Does that pose a challenge?

“You get the right plants, it’s not too bad,” Eleanor said.

The Maier garden includes massive hostas, annuals, a variety of tree species, perennials and a rock garden. Stairs lead down a wooded, shaded area to the creek, and on another side of their yard is a large vegetable garden full of tomatoes, cucumbers (which will cascade over a stone wall), pole beans, lettuce and other plants.

The fresh food is “really great,” Eleanor said.

“I love it, especially tomatoes,” she said.

James said seven gardens are on the tour – three at residences and the others at Northern Michigan University, the Marquette County Conservation District and the Marquette-Alger Regional Education Service Agency.

The 21st Annual Garden Tour, scheduled to run 1 to 7 p.m. rain or shine, is the committee’s biggest fundraiser, James said, with proceeds going toward its annual Petunia Pandemonium in which flowers are planted along U.S. 41 on the south side of Marquette.

“Besides paying for the flowers for the highway, we also have maintenance, watering,” James said. “We pay a water bill. And we have people who weed and deadhead and keep it looking all nice.”

Tickets are $10 each, with children under 12 admitted free of charge. Tickets are available at Forsberg Flowers, Garden Bouquet and Design, Flower Works, Lutey’s Flower Shop and the Landmark Inn, all in Marquette, and Meister’s Home & Garden Showplace in Harvey. Tickets also are available at the sites the day of the tour.

For more information, contact James at 361-8230 or visit

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.