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Unexpected treasures found on garden club stroll

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Marie Marcinko poses in her garden with her son Andrew after unwrapping her birthday present, a wood-carved hummingbird garden feature. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Marie Marcinko poses in her garden with her son Andrew after unwrapping her birthday present, a wood-carved hummingbird garden feature. SUBMITTED PHOTO

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.” — W.E. Johns

If you’re a fisherman, it’s like finding the honey hole. If you’re a shopper, it’s like finding “the outfit” for 75 percent off. If you’re a 4-H’er, it’s like seeing the purple grand champion ribbon on your project.

The Johnson County Garden Club hosted its annual Stroll through the Neighborhood in Franklin a week ago and certainly discovered some “honey holes.” But what makes a garden tour especially grand are the stories of the gardeners.

Franklin gardener Nancy Lewis’ story includes that she lived on a farm for 47 years, and when she and her husband moved into their home 15 years ago, she “had to have a garden.”

Lewis’ garden is full of the three C’s: color, red cannas and celebrities — celebrity tomatoes are her favorite. She noted that she likes anything that blooms, which, to the delight of many garden enthusiasts, included her grove of white, light pink and fuschia, and five-foot-tall cleomes.

A short stroll from Lewis’ garden brought us to another bright and inviting garden. And another gardener and story burst forth.

Andrew Marcinko’s gardening story began seven years and seven months ago. He knows the exact date — Dec. 8, 2005 — because that was the day he began to get sober.

He candidly laughs that he began gardening during his 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was suggested that he find a hobby, so that whenever he felt compelled to drink, he would substitute the compulsion with his new hobby.

“As you see from my gardens, I had a lot of cravings,” he said.

Adjoining Marcinko and partner Michael Governanti’s home and gardens are his parents’ residence, whom he moved in a few years ago and now has round tables adjoining the two properties, inviting passers-by to stop and rest.

While strolling his gardens and home, we got introduced to the rock water features, an elaborate loft for trained homing pigeons and a once backyard patio with cedar screen that was refashioned as a Martha Stewart-like chicken coop. We were also treated to bamboo starts for our own gardens and multiflavored snow-cones dished up by friend Tim Alford and joined the birthday festivities of Andrew’s mother, Marie Marcinko, who turned 75. After singing “Happy Birthday,” we watched Marie unwrap her birthday “garden gift” — a carved-wood hummingbird.

After another short stroll, we entered another secret garden and were not only greeted with another story but the illustrator of it. Raymond F. and Barbara Turner live in what looks from the outside to be a historic home but was actually designed and built five years ago by Raymond Turner. It is phenomenal inside and out.

Barbara led us on a tour of her home and shared many stories, pointing out one of Raymond’s paintings on the wall that rotates into a flat-screen television. Under Raymond’s oil paintings of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument titled “Sailors Looking South,” I read: “Indiana artist Raymond Turner’s entire life has been devoted to artistic endeavors. Beginning with Saturday afternoon classes at Herron during his childhood ….”

I also read he did a stint of teaching in the drama department at Arsenal Technical High School, before his career as a commercial artist for a Indianapolis design firm and before he later began his own design and historic preservation business. Many of his paintings are city-street and farm scenes from central and southern Indiana.

Pointing to a textured oil painting of sunflowers, Barbara noted that Raymond gave her sunflowers when he asked her to marry him. For their 25th anniversary he asked her what she would like him to paint for her.

“I told him I would like a painting of the flowers he gave me when he proposed,” she smiled. “Here’s the painting, but he didn’t finish it until our 40th anniversary.”

After Barbara shared stories from each room, granddaughter Avery, who has her grandmother’s gift of hospitality, began adding stories. Avery answered that her most beloved thing in the whole house is “my tea sets” and added that of her grandfather’s paintings her favorite is the “Allegory of the Artist’s Life.”

After the garden tour, Joyce Long asked how to join the Johnson County Garden Club, noting, “Who knew a local garden club stroll would also feature great folks, multicolored snow cones and a professional artist?”

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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