Come rain or shine, the Albert Lea Art Center’s annual Art & Garden Tour will take place July 22-23.
Beth Tostenson and Joyce Purdy will co-chair the event, a community staple for over 30 years.
“[People] enjoyed it, and that’s why we continue and continue to do so,” Tostenson said. “They start asking early on, ‘Are you going to do the Art & Garden Tour again this year?’ And they look forward to it and reserve time to go.
Posters were put up and announcements were posted on social media.
“Every year is like a challenge in some way,” Purdy said. “It’s not the same gardens being promoted or anything over the years. It’s just different things.
She said the creation of the tour was always a surprise and that was part of the fun of doing these tours.
“When we go out, because we see the gardens early, and so what we see early, and then what we see that changed everything during that time, it’s just amazing to be able to see what’s still growing and things like this,” she said.
The challenge this year was to manage the cooler than average spring temperatures.
This year’s tour includes gardens at 409 Lakeview Boulevard; 31679 640th Ave, Hartland; 610 William Street, Hartland; 200 First Ave. SW, Clarks Grove; and 85365 263rd St., Hollandale.
“You have to take a drive and you’re going to explore Freeborn County Gardens,” Purdy said. “Not just those here at Albert Lea.”
With some of the gardens out of town, she hopes this year’s itinerary will be easy to follow.
Tostenson said she wanted to branch out because of the unique gardens in the outlying region.
“Some of them are on the Garden Exchange, and that’s how we found out they were there,” she said.
She described the Garden Club as people who are passionate about their gardens and willing to exchange ideas in addition to seeds and plants.
According to Tostenson, each garden will also include artwork.
“We have people who paint, and they can bring their paintings, or we have people who do pottery,” she said.
There will also be a garden with sculptures made of shovels and gears.
“Definitely worth the trip,” Purdy said. “Just the variety that exists.
“This year too, it’s not like the traditional one we would do.”
Tostenson said a garden had a 10-foot water feature with flowers. And it wasn’t the one with a car.
“One of them has a van, and they have a waterfall coming out of the van into a pond,” Tostenson said. “And then there are flowers all around.”
Tickets, $15/person, are available at Whimzy, Addie’s Floral & Gifts and the Art Center. They will also be sold at each of the gardens.
“If someone lived in Hartland, say, they could go to the two gardens there and buy their tickets there and then drive,” Tostenson said.
Another interesting aspect of this year: the demographic evolution of the participants.
“Some of them were, mostly women who were probably dating and that, but we’ve really seen a change in that regard,” Purdy said. “It was the couples who came out. In fact, a friend of mine, it’s their 50th wedding anniversary, and… they went on the She Shed Tour.
The Art & Garden Tour will be open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 22 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 23.
Terry Fox and Dennis Johnson, 409 Lakeview Boulevard (park on Lakeview Boulevard); artist Carolyn Reeder. Reeder is a watercolor artist who incorporates rural settings and is always trying to put a new spin on her paintings and will try new methods whenever an idea comes to her mind.
Hunnicut Hallows Garden, 31679 640th Ave., Hartland (go west from Hartland on Hwy 33, which turns north on 6. The gardens will be on the left side of the road); artists Judy Tweeten (Friday) and Sue Drayyer (Saturday). Tweeten uses oil, acrylic and watercolor to paint traditional landscapes, portraits and flowers. Draayer, from MnM Creations, uses scrap metal to create unique items that anyone can enjoy, especially in a backyard
Deb Flatness, 610 William St., Hartland (turn near the school and look for the corner of Willow and William); artist Maureen LaCore. LaCore, who started painting about 3 and a half years ago, is a self-taught artist who enjoys experimenting with different styles and subjects.
Michelle and Mike Peterson, 200 First Ave. SW, Clarks Grove. Along with a local garden center, the Petersons have a small succulent planting project that anyone can participate in. There will also be refreshments.
Hillbilly Heaven, 85365 263rd St., Hollandale (at Maple Island turn south on Hwy 30, at 260th Street turn left then turn left on 263rd Street); artist Adam Wilkie of KC Pottery. A 2006 graduate of Albert Lea High School, Wilkie worked in floral design in Denver for eight years before returning to Minnesota to join his father, Bill. Together, the two create a full line of dinnerware as well as complimentary serving and baking dishes.