The East Campus Community Organization (ECCO) neighborhood association will host its annual Spring Garden Tour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 15.

Five homeowners will open their gardens to share their green respite and demonstrate the functionality of landscaping – beauty, shade, water control structure, outdoor living rooms and homegrown vegetables. Everyone is also welcome to visit the Perennial Garden south of UNL's Varner Hall.

ECCO anticipates the loss of many ash trees in coming years. Proceeds from the garden tour will help fund the purchase of replacement trees for ECCO property owners. Maintaining this beautiful canopy of trees in ECCO is paramount to its historic character; residents hope to replace many trees in advance of the loss of larger trees to mitigate the effect on the neighborhood. 

Marilyn Schuler – 1111 N. 40th St.

As you stroll through her charming cottage garden, local artist Marilyn Schuler’s creative magic and personality will be on full display. She transforms “ordinary” items and redefines “garden art” with her unique creations. Her favorite components are the unique china and glassware art pieces she has created, the gravel pathways that meander through the garden and the overall atmosphere and experience she has worked to create. Marilyn’s garden is scaled to accentuate her cottage home and creates a tranquil retreat.

Roy Maurer and Denny Macomber – “Reborn & Redefined” – 1444 N. 37th St.

Following an unfortunate sewer leak and subsequent garden destruction four years ago, ECCO residents Roy and Denny created an entirely new space that includes a greenhouse, tiered garden walls, raised beds fashioned from horse tanks and a grape arbor. This year, bees have been added to the mix in their walled garden, which features an outdoor kitchen, fireplace, water feature, renovated veranda and stone pathways. They combine a lush array of perennials with a multitude of ornamental pots of tropicals and annuals, along with well-placed statuary.

Robert Bienhoff – 'Calling All Butterflies' – 1354 N. 39th St.

Robert has been an ECCO denizen since 1974 and has spent years helping others maintain their lawns and gardens in the neighborhood. Over the years, he developed an interest in building his own garden and began adding plants and trying DIY gardening ideas. As with many neighborhood gardens, Robert started with plant gifts from others – a rich tradition in ECCO. He especially loves butterfly bushes, which form the foundation for his developing garden. He is always the first to see Monarch butterflies return. His garden includes lilies, iris and sweet peas – he loves “old-fashioned” plants that add color and attract butterflies.

Paul and Sherri Johnson – the Johnson Guest House, 4027 Holdrege St.

This house, built in 1918, was destined for the wrecking ball when purchased by Paul and Sherri in 2009. The next two years they spent renovating the property, restoring its charm and saving a classic East Campus Neighborhood home. It is now the Johnson Guest House, a fully-furnished, extended stay home-away-from-home for Lincoln visitors.

Landscaping was included in the renovation project. The front garden area incorporates a rain garden. Underground drainage tubes divert water from roof downspouts into the garden. The landscape design emphasizes low-maintenance native grasses and drought-tolerant plants. Landscape boulders that were unearthed from previous owners’ landscaping are re-purposed as borders.

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Alan and Mary Belka – “Always Changing” – 1420 N. 37th St.

Built in 1918, this “Professors’ Row” prairie style arts and crafts home was occupied by William Dunman, UNL horticulturist from England, and his family from 1928 to 1960, when it was purchased by Mary’s parents (her father was an agronomist). The garden includes original, old-fashioned flowers and shrubs from Dunman’s time as its steward. Designs submitted by UNL Landscape Architecture students led by Dr. Richard Sutton provided the foundation for the garden, including paver and flagstone patio areas, pathways and pergola. The Belkas have worked to recapture the feel of the old garden, paying homage to the former owners and creating a fresh, usable space.

Learn from Master Gardeners - 1420 N. 37th St.

Take a break from the tour to learn from Master Gardeners Denny Macomber and Linda Krutz in their four mini-classes about container gardening (9:30 a.m.), perennials (10:30 a.m.), soils and fertilizer (11:30 a.m.) and bees (12:30 p.m.). Classes will take place in the driveway of the Belkas' home at 1420 N. 37th St.

Also learn from a City of Lincoln groundwater educator who will present “Fun with Rain Barrels” at the Johnson Guest House, 4027 Holdrege St.

Visit EastCampus.org for more details and a map.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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