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Annual Art & Garden Tour this weekend

The Albert Lea Art Center’s annual Art & Garden Tour will take place this weekend, highlighting six gardens throughout the area, along with artists at each. 

Jan Sease, who owns one of the gardens that will be on display at 610 Park Ave., said she started working on her gardens in 2017 after she and her husband bought their house in 2015. 

“We were blessed with trees, but that was about it,” she said. 

For the first couple years, Sease said she tried to learn about the sun and where the different light sources were going to be in all of the areas of their yard. They put up a fence for their dog in the backyard and then started working on carving out a curve in the backyard where landscaping would eventually be put in. Little by little, Sease said she transformed the yard into a peaceful oasis, with soft evergreens and muted shades. 

She said she used to work on the gardens on the weekends with some watering throughout the week when she was still working, but now that she is retired, she works on them probably every other day.

A large trellis is a focal part in Jan Sease’s backyard at 610 Park Ave. Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

The gardens, which include everything from salvia and hydrangea, to phlox, baby’s breath, hostas, allium and various others, allow her something to focus her attention and help relieve stress. 

A focal point in the backyard garden is a grapevine trellis, put together with other smaller trellises. The Asian-inspired backyard also includes a fountain that creates a calming sensory sound, as well as several decorative statues and a gazebo, where Sease said she enjoys visiting with friends. 

Sease said she is excited for the opportunity this weekend to not only showcase her work but also to learn tips and knowledge from other gardeners, as well. 

Artist Stephanie Redman, recipient of the Art Center’s 2021 scholarship will showcase her work in Sease’s gardens. The brochure for the tour states Redman loves nature and art and enjoys drawing flowers and birds. Her main mediums are alcohol markers and colored pencils. 

The other gardens and artists are the following:

  • Carol and Ken Bertelson, 2215 Rowe Lane, Albert Lea

At the Bertelsons’ gardens, viewers will see landscaped beds of perennials and potted flowers strikingly arranged in the front, and in the back there is a bird sanctuary with beautiful textures and color nestled in among the trees. It includes many varieties of hosta and perennials, a trickling pond, bird feeders and a fountain. Repurposed solar chandeliers are hung from the trees, and a cozy porch is in the back to better view the visiting birds. 

At this garden will be artists Chuck VanWey on Friday and Ron Hartman on Saturday.

VanWey’s artistic career started after his retirement in 1993 and his cancer diagnosis in 1994. His first project was a bird house for a cancer survivor. He has also created wine cork cabins, dream catchers, whistles and hunting knives. 

Hartman is retired from his business in Wells and now lives on Freeborn Lake. He uses pieces of wood he finds from various surroundings — cedar, basswood and ironwood — and creates wine bottle holders, wooden toys and walking sticks. 

  • Don and Eleanor Sorenson, 72823 330th St., Albert Lea

Drive up to the Sorenson home, and you will notice many levels of perennial plantings, as well as large rocks and lush hosta planted to create interest in color and texture. In the backyard, the Sorensons have the view of a private pond and Lake Chapeau. Their perennial beds are loaded with a variety of color, height and layers. 

At the Sorenson gardens, entrepreneur and jewelry maker Alyse Anderson will showcase her work. Anderson, of rural Alden, started her business in 2019 as a way to make some extra money, but it has turned into an enjoyable hobby. She will showcase her hand-stamped copper, brass and metal earrings, bracelets, rings and bookmarks, which sell under the brand “Always Alice.” 

  • Bob and Joni Rowe, 510 Meadow Lane, Albert Lea

Welcoming plants adorn the Rowes’ front and back gardens, which include a variety of over 30 hydrangeas. Enjoy beautiful blooming ground cover, as well as spectacular large blooms. The backyard overlooks a calm wooded area, where wildlife abounds. Several birdhouses the Rowes created during the pandemic accent the gardens. 

The event brochure said Joni Rowe has a great knowledge about gardening, knows the names of every plant in their landscaping and has a knack for placing plants in the perfect spots. She said she finds gardening to be therapeutic and enjoys being outside working in nature. 

Artist Beth Tostenson, who is the artistic director for the Art Center, will showcase her work, which she says is nature inspired, at the Rowe gardens. Though Tostenson’s first love is watercolor, she is doing more with acrylics and also exploring collage painting. She is also known for her Albert Lea sites that are part of her nostalgia series as well as her commissioned house portraits. 

  • Marilyn Anderson, 121 Fourth St. SE, Glenville

Anderson has a beautifully manicured yard accented with all sorts of interesting pieces, including a little bridge with plantings in the front yard and a tractor seat planted with vines in the back. 

Her she-shed in the back serves as her potting shed, and the backyard terrace is a fun spot to sit and take it all in. Many beautiful plantings border her entire yard, and the red bud and river birch trees are her favorite. 

Work of the Lens & Shutter Club will be on display at Anderson’s gardens. 

The club started in 1988 and is part of the North Central Camera Club Council. There are presently 20 members, who range from professional photographers, individuals who like to take nature photos and others who like to capture family memories. 

  • David and Carrie Paulson, 15667 795th Ave., Glenville

The Paulsons’ property includes endless space with private ponds in the front and back and even a beach. The family enjoys kayaking and canoeing. Over to the side of the home, they are creating an imaginative playground for their grandchildren and have built a beautiful raised bed vegetable garden. The front of the home has an area of plantings that extends around to the back where there is a vined pergola that shades a large deck. 

Remaining chairs from the Art Center’s Funk Chair Affair will be showcased at this site. 

Tickets to the Art & Garden Tour are $15 per person and can be purchased at the Art Center, Addie’s Floral & Gifts and EJ’s Mercantile. They can also be purchased the days of the tour at each of the sites. 

The gardens will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. 

The Art & Garden Tour will be held rain or shine.