Gardens galore: Dubuque’s annual tour takes place June 22

Touring Kris and Scott Kelly’s garden is like entering their living room.

“We kind of live out there,” Kris said of their garden at 984 Patricia Ann Drive. “We don’t have a living room or dining room. Our business is in our home and the house is small. So we spend a lot of time outside.”

Three private gardens, a public one and two inside Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens are on this year’s Dubuque Tour of Gardens Saturday, June 22. There also are four workshops interspersed throughout the day. They will run

from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Kellys are empty nesters, and they own a photography business. So, when there’s down time, they’re outside.

“We’ve chosen the garden to be our life,” Kris said. “And we like hanging around our chickens.”

It’s just one of six intriguing stops on a tour that has been around for about 20 years.

“I always say this, but I think this is going to be the best one yet,” said Diane Weigman, co-coordinator of the tour with Rhonda Hudgins. “It’s such a diverse tour. And with the four workshops, it’s going to be so educational. There will be something for everyone.”

1. Pat and Patty Barry, 8785 Havenwood Heights

A cascading creek, sunken patio,

16-foot picnic/game table, a mile of winding trails on top of “Mia’s Mountain,” and a myriad of flowers and shrubs surround this relaxing haven with a beautiful view.

The eight-plus acres have plenty of room for this gardener to realize her creativity.

Directions: Take U.S. 61 south, merging onto U.S. 151 toward Cedar Rapids. Take the first right onto Havenwood Heights.

2. Steve and Connie Hardie, 62 Fremont Ave.

This idyllic garden includes protective earthen berms, a coniferous grove, lush ground covers, perennial shade gardens, vases of annuals, a limestone waterfall, stream and pond, a vintage playhouse and the vine-trellised classic bocce court.

The couple put up the berms and bocce court back in the late 1990s after the completion of the U.S. 20 project.

“It was a way to help mitigate the noise, emissions and headlights,” Connie said. “The sound of the waterfall, stream and pond helps, too.”

A variety of trees and bushes provide year-round shelter and food for birds, butterflies and bees at the home. They also hope to have another popular item up by the time the tour takes place — a colorfully painted dead tree.

“One of the things we’ve had the most comments on, whenever we lose a tree, if it’s a particularly great shape, we would paint it and put it out on the front berm,” Connie said, noting they’ve had a pear tree and weeping mulberry among those in the past. “We’re scouting for one right now.”

Workshop: Master Gardeners 101 (who, what and why) 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Directions: Return to U.S. 151, turning left and merge onto U.S. 61 north. Before entering Dubuque, take the South Grandview exit, then turn left. Cross the U.S. 20 overpass and turn left at stop light before George Washington Middle School. Turn left onto Fremont Avenue.

3. Kris and Scott Kelly, 984 Patricia Ann DriveThe backyard doubles as a peaceful retreat and entertainment area. Pet chickens contribute to breakfast and compost materials.

A pergola, dry creek, butterfly garden, dozens of flowers, and raised bed gardens provide beauty and interest at every turn.

“My husband has started a Japanese garden and we have some beautiful bonzai plants,” Kris said. “And hopefully the weather cooperates because we have some nice cone flowers.”

Directions: Continue on Fremont Avenue veering right at stop sign near Wartburg Theological Seminary. Turn left at Kelly Lane. Turn right onto Geraldine Drive and immediately turn left onto Patricia Ann.

4. Washington Neighborhood Community Garden, 1836 Washington St.

Nestled in the heart of the Washington Neighborhood, this community garden provides neighbors and organizations a space to build relationships around food and gardening. It was started in 2012, and in 2018 produced more than 1,000 pounds of produce. With no water or electricity, this garden relies on sustainable practices.

Workshop: Community Garden Logistics, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Directions: Via Kelly Lane and Fremont Avenue, turn right onto U.S. 20 east at stop light. Prepare to turn left on Locust Street, then right onto Iowa 946. Use middle lane to turn left onto U.S. 61/151. Merge onto White Street/Port of Dubuque exit. Turn right on 18th Street. Turn left onto Washington Street. The Community Garden is on your right.

5. Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 3800 Arboretum Drive.

Designed and established in 2017, this garden demonstrates that we can incorporate perennials and produce in one garden. The garden will boast color and food for three seasons as it grows. This garden is both edible and beautiful.

Workshop: Talk with Ray Kruse (Iowa State Extension horticulturist and master gardener coordinator) 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Directions: Continue on Washington Street and turn left onto 20th Street. Turn right onto White Street proceeding in the left lane toward Hwy. 52 North. Turn left at 32nd Street. Travel 2-3 miles and after you pass under the NW Arterial overpass, turn right onto Arboretum Drive. Follow it into the gardens. Proceed to the Visitor Center and Gift Shop. The gardens are adjacent to the parking lot. There will be signage.

6. Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 3800 Arboretum Drive.

There are four designated areas planted to increase the butterfly population, with an emphasis on Monarchs. Learn about the life stages of butterflies, the plants to feed and grow the population, and their “job” pollinating the crops of the Garden of Eat’n.

The Arboretum was designated a Monarch Waystation in June 2017.

Workshop: Growing the Extra Mile for Monarchs noon and 2 p.m.

For more information, go to

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