In full bloom: Ferrysburg home part of Saturday's 'Garden Magic'

Becky Vargo • Jun 23, 2016 at 10:00 AM

FERRYSBURG — Forty-three years and three daughters after they moved into their Ridge Street home, Charlie and Carol Dewitt have the yard of their dreams.

Their garden, complete with a waterfall cascading down the large hill where their children used to ride their sleds, is one of the featured stops on the Tri-Cities Garden Club’s 22nd annual Garden Walk, with the theme “Garden Magic.”

Seven garden areas, featuring everything from meadows and waterfalls to sculptures and hardscapes, will be open to the public between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at any of the gardens, as well as the Tri-Cities Historical Museum, 200 Washington Ave. in downtown Grand Haven. Children age 12 and younger are free.

A plant sale will be held at the Dewitt’s home, 531 Ridge St. in Ferrysburg; and refreshments will be available at the Smith home, 15160 Kelly St. in Spring Lake Township. Raffle tickets are $2 each and will be available at the Wagenmaker home, 16715 Pond Creek Court in Spring Lake Township.

Other participating gardens on Saturday’s walk are at the following addresses: 18038 Hammond Bay St., 15340 Bayou Meadows and 16151 Harbor View.

The Garden Walk is held rain or shine.

The Dewitts are not garden club members, but they were approached by a club member who saw their waterfall while watching last year’s Fourth of July Parade. Charlie said they had already hosted the church garden club, so they agreed to be part of the tour.

The former cable splicer for Verizon (now Frontier) said he finally had time to putter with plants after retiring in 2007. Carol was a registered nurse at North Ottawa Community Hospital for 35 years.

Once they retired and became empty-nesters, the Dewitts decided they wanted a waterfall on the hill behind their house because they couldn’t make anything grow back there. A couple of oak trees and some branches off other trees were removed to lighten up the area. Then, Grand Haven Garden House built the waterfall in about a week in 2008, Charlie said.

The waterfall cost about $6,000 and there’s probably another $1,000 in plants — widely dispersed on the hill because “the wife, she likes openings between the plants,” Charlie said.

Hostas, ivy, astilbe, wild geranium, bleeding heart and woodland poppy are among the plants that have filled in around the waterfall and pond over the past few years. During that time, a large ash tree and spruce were removed from the front yard.

The Dewitts again used the local garden center to plant other garden areas.

Charlie said he does the weeding and Carol trims the hedges and mows the lawn.

“But I do best to sit on that back porch and watch my pond,” he said.

The back sunroom has comfortable rattan chairs sitting in front of a large picture window, which almost brings the nature display into the house.

Charlie opens a side window so he can hear the waterfall.

“Robins, blue jays and cedar waxwings will splash in that waterfall,” he said. “The grandkids will, too, when they are allowed.”

Woodchip paths arch up around the waterfall, almost meeting at the top. A potted plant sits on the base of an old iron patio table that Charlie found at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. A sculpture of glass lampshades hangs from a tree.

Charlie said he was still trying to decide whether or not he wanted to put plants or something like birdseed in them.

Stones in the walkway came from edging that was around the house when they bought it. Rocks his mother-in-law gathered along Lake Superior border a succulent garden stand on one corner of the house. 

A Japanese maple reaches out from the corner of the house where the spruce tree once stood. Nearby is some larkspur grown from seed acquired at Monticello in 2005. It’s wrapped in a fence to protect it from local wildlife.

“I tell the kids this larkspur is rabbit crack,” Charlie said with a smile.

The Dewitts also perch-potted plants on the ground to simplify their work and add spots of color in areas where the shade makes it hard for things to grow.

See Saturday’s Living Local section for a complete list, map and description of the gardens.

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