Richard Nelson always enjoyed puttering around in the yard, but it was his wife, Karen, who was the avid gardener in the family.
But when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 27 years ago and could no longer tend to her flowers, Richard Nelson took over. ”She was pretty much immobile,” Nelson said about his wife, who passed away last year. "I kept up the garden so that she would have something to view.”
In terms of a garden style, Nelson said there’s really no rhyme or pattern to his garden period.
”If I see a pretty plant I just buy it,” said Nelson, who also transformed an old hot tub into a lovely fountain. “There is no theme to it. It’s just putting flowers together and making something beautiful.”
When asked about the flowers he’s chosen for the garden, Nelson mentions abundances of wild daisies and buttercups, saw grass with blue morning blooms, roses and iris.
“I have some beautiful pink flowers, but I don’t know what they are,” he said.
Nelson turns 78 on June 24. That’s the second day of the 11th annual Munster Garden Walk, where his garden as well as eight others will be open to visitors on both June 23 and the 24.
“It’ll be a celebration,” he said.
“Karen loved flowers so much that Nelson would go out and plants flowers just so she would have something beautiful to look at,” says Connie Eden, chairperson of the Munster Garden Walk. “He’s a lovely man and that’s a wonderful story.”
Interestingly, the garden belonging to Nelson’s next-door neighbors, Dodi and John Vukovich, both 90, are also on this year’s walk.
“They have beautiful gardens much more formal then mine,” Nelson said. “They’re amazing.”
When Francine Korous moved into her home in 1975 there was nothing in the yard but two trees.
“And one of them fell down,” said Korous, who with Joann Chapman have turned the landscape into a gloriuous yard filled with peonies, iris, roses and a host of other blooms. “We mostly plant perennials, but I do stick a few annuals in here and there. We also had a pond, but the raccoons destroyed it so we put in a fountain instead.”
Their garden art includes Winnie the Pooh and frog figurines.
“This year we will also be featuring the Franciscan Alliance's newly installed Blessed Mother Theresia Bonzel Healing Garden and the Zeck garden looks like a set from a movie this year,” Eden said. “He’s added a train this year, too. Then there’s the garden created by Dean Savarino, who owns Dean’s Lawn and Landscape in Schererville.”
The latter, Eden said, is not just a typical nursery/landscape company layout.
“It is absolutely stunning with a stream running through his professionally landscaped property, a patio with a fire pit, beautiful brick and stone hardscapes,” she said. “The garden also has a pizza oven with a full kitchen, which is part of an outside area that’s perfect for entertaining. We’ll be using it to make hors d'oeuvres and pizza on Friday evening of the event, weather permitting. We have a great lineup of gardens, and I think everyone will have a good time.”