An artful garden tour

Published 9:45 am Saturday, July 14, 2012

Graphic by Kathy Johnson/Albert Lea Tribune

Artistry and gardening meet this Friday and Saturday during the Albert Lea Art Center’s annual Art & Garden Tour.

Six gardens in Albert Lea will be open to the public, and each will feature an artist and their work on display.

“A lot of people just like a day to wander gardens to get ideas and enjoy other people’s artistry,” tour coordinator Donna Widenhoefer said.

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People can purchase tickets for the tour at the art center, Addie’s Floral & Gifts, Ben’s Floral & Frame and the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m not an artist, but I love the artistry of design and gardening, to me that’s just another dimension,” Widenhoefer said.

The following is a brief description of each of the gardens on the tour, along with the artists who will show their work at each home:


Hazel Senske

One scene from Hazel Senske’s garden. Her garden is distinct in that it has 10 species of trees as well as a wide variety of plants. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

1011 Rosehill Drive

Senske is an artist in every respect with her design, color and use of plant materials. The visitor is welcomed to the backyard through an arbor leading to a garden feast. Using annuals for special effects, varieties of perennials and greenery abound and raised beds showcase Senske’s efforts. Fencing surrounding two sides of the garden provides a backdrop for plants and 20 species of clematis. An ample deck and two sitting areas provide spaces for the weary gardener or peaceful contemplation.

The artist featured at this garden will be Judy Gordon. Arts were always in the family. Her uncle, Lloyd Herfindahl, and her father were inspirations for her early interest, but she began seriously painting with watercolors about 2005. Gordon has taken lessons from Bonnie Broitzman both in Albert Lea and in Europe while traveling together. Her work can be seen at Lakeside Cafe.


Carol and John Lang

Carol Lang’s garden has multiple seating areas as well as a brand new cutting garden.

806 Lincoln Ave.

Serendipity Gardens — a magical place that is designed to provide a respite from the hectic pace of life — is a garden retreat where the sights, sounds and smells allow one to relax and forget all cares and worries. As one enters, a Victorian gazebo surrounded by a cutting garden creates a stunning centerpiece. This garden is a visual treat with many trees, shrubs, perennials and self-seeding annuals tucked around garden structures. Cottage gardens provide food, water and shelter for the birds and butterflies. Lang’s favorite saying for the garden is, “Come walk with me and you will see a little bit of heaven made by thee.”

The artists featured at this garden will be Julia OIson and Jamie Rogness. Olson and Rogness are a popular duo who often display their artistic talents together in festivals and events in surrounding areas. Olson has shown her wonderful jewelry in Art on Broadway at the Art Center for a number of years. Rogness creates many attractive and unusual pieces of garden art.


Carol Lang’s garden features areas to sit and relax, including this shaded area.

Dorothy and Paul Pierson

1501 Sunset St.

Chartreuse, purple and a lemonade stand invite you into the front yard for a neighborly chat and the answer to your question, “Where is the grass?” Then wander around to the gate in the privacy fence. Your curiosity is satisfied when a stroll inside discovers a bubbling pond, a picnic area and many, many flowers, shrubs, vines and an assortment of garden sculptures. The Pierson yard is a delightful bit of Arizona landscape on Minnesota soil.

The artists featured at this garden will be Sara Aeikens. Aeikens is a well-known, friendly face with a camera close at hand. Aeikens, as a world traveler, always has interesting subjects for her art. Her eye catches the unusual and the beautiful wherever she finds it. Her love of nature is obvious, but also of Albert Lea and the beauty it has to offer in unexpected places.


Bob and Joni Rowe
510 Meadow Lane

Prepare yourself for a wonderful combination of city and country garden. Beginning six years ago, the Rowes planted a third of an acre in prairie grasses like little bluestem, big bluestem, side oats, gamma and switchgrass that attract wildlife. An arbor with a climbing rose and clematis provides a beautiful entrance to the prairie garden. You will see Joni’s love of all flowers, but especially hydrangeas. Don’t miss the new succulent rock garden.

The artist featured at this garden will be Beth Tostenson. Tostenson is a well-known watercolor artist in southern Minnesota and was a featured artist at the 2010 Wedgewood Cove Celebrating Art & Artists event. She enjoys capturing the beauty of florals and garden art through her painting and has expanded her repertoire through winter visits to Mexico. Over the years, Tostenson has taken many classes and also teaches watercolor classes locally.


Darlene Park
1306 Marie Ave.

There is a magical garden on Marie! The inviting front entry of the home includes a lovely fountain surrounded by hostas, mandevilla, begonias and other shade loving plants. There is a seating area accented by interesting plant holders. Strolling to the south you will discover nearly wild shrub roses, clematis, masses of petunias, ground cover and hydrangeas. The rear garden features a pond with a waterfall plus two additional fountains, adding to the soothing atmosphere of plants. Be sure to observe the triple decks decorated with more colorful pots.

The artist featured at this garden will be CeCe Brekke. Many will recognize Brekke as a familiar face from her work in the Art Center art shop. Now retired, Brekke concentrates on her love of quilting. She will display table runners, slippers, potholders, aprons, purses and more. You will see her artistry in the use of repurposing fabric, especially jeans. Brekke has taken many classes in quilting and machine embroidery.


Leslie and Stephanie Harmon
1405 E. Main St.

Note: Enter on Columbus Avenue or St. Peter Avenue from Ramsey Street. No parking on Main Street.

The Harmons’ garden is a hidden treasure. Many drivers have seen the lions guarding the entrance but looked no farther. Largely abandoned for years, the Harmons bought the property and began restoration about 1 1/2 years ago. Much of the garden is partly shaded and utterly charming, complete with a potter’s shed in the back.

The artist featured at this garden will be Jane Spaulding. Spaulding believes art is as old and beautiful and enduring as life itself. She also believes that it is a natural way to express values, meaning and beauty in a purely visual way without words or sound. It is her aim to do that, and do it beautifully. Art has great meaning to Spaulding, ever since her childhood. As an art teacher, she shared its values, as well as, techniques with students. In addition to teaching, Spaulding has been a practicing artist through the years, has a master’s degree in painting and continues to study art today.