In October 1995 when Jolene Brubaker moved to Albany, the Meadowlark Loop cul-de-sac was all new construction.
“There was nothing,” she said of her yard. “It was dirt.”
Now her house at the end of the cul-de-sac is covered in plants. All kinds of plants. Though, Brubaker admits, it was hardly by design.
“We just sort of went as we went along,” she said. “It just seemed like that was the right thing to put there. I don’t always know the official name of the plant, I look on the tag."
The front yard, now adorned with a climbing vine over the front door that also covers the majority of the porch, used to be overtaken by geraniums, but that’s changed. Hydrangeas are more Brubaker’s thing these days and Daphne bushes have been pushed out by bleeding heart plants.
“It’s just sort of what looks good,” Brubaker said.
On June 15, plant lovers and gardening enthusiasts will get the chance to weigh in on Brubaker’s garden as part of the Linn County Master Gardeners annual garden tour. The event, which began as a fundraiser, will celebrate its 20thyear by inviting people to peek in on eight Albany gardens.
Master Gardener Nancy Messman said the group assembled a variety of gardens including three smaller gardens within a tightknit area to provide a variety for visitors. Messman said the average distance between the eight featured gardens is approximately 7 miles and gardens will be open to ticket holders from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“You couldn’t buy your tickets at 3 p.m. and get through it,” she said. “People should set aside about two hours.”
It will be Brubaker’s first year as a stop on the tour and the first year her yard will be without its 25-year-old pussy willow tree. The tree came down last year. Brubaker said she's planted a new one but visitors will miss out on seeing the much taller specimen.
It wasn’t the first tree to come down, either. A large trunk spans the yard just beyond the stone steps Brubaker laid instead of sidewalk paths.
“The tree was leaning and it came down,” she said. “We left it, though, because the grandkids climb on it.”
A little closer to the house, Brubaker’s assembled a variety of plants that bloom throughout the year. All in all, there are more than 100 potted plants scattered on the back porch and throughout the yard. It takes Brubaker more than an hour to water them all with a system of labeled hoses.
Brubaker said she may not be able to tell visitors the exact name of all of her plants but Newsman said the Master Gardeners have it covered.
“This year we’re having informational stations at each garden,” she said. In Brubaker’s yard, people can learn about plants that attract bees and subsequently increase pollination.
Tickets are $15 per person and are available at the Albany’s Visitors Center the day of the event. Prior to June 15, tickets can be purchased at Tom’s Garden Center and Nichol’s Nursery. Tickets for children 12 and under are free.
For more information, visit linncountymatergardeners.com.