2023 Garden Tour Blooms With A Blend Of Town And Country


Terri and Paul Cornell’s yard on Truman Street has a screened gazebo on the lot next to their house, and a garden shed in back. The toy fire truck and the fire hydrant in the yard are reminiscent of Paul’s career as a fireman. Terri added the other accents, including the ones on the side of the garden shed.
But don’t call it a She Shed.
“I got to decorate the outside, but the inside is his,” Terri said.
The Cornells’ yard is one of seven stops on this year’s Garden Tour on June 17, the weekend of Father’s Day. For $10, you can tour seven gardens, three in town, one on the edge of town, and three in the country. They range from secluded backyard shade gardens in Clinton to large acreages in the country with orchards, vegetable gardens, berries and pumpkin patches.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing plenty of time to cover the tour, plus have a break.
Tickets are available at any of the gardens, along with a brochure with details and directions to the other stops. The tour is organized by the Twilight Garden Club in conjunction with the Designing Gardeners. Tickets are available from members of either group or by calling this year’s tour coordinator, Brenda Roberts, 660-351-5139.
“All the gardens are unique and wonderful,” Brenda said.
The Henry County Garden Tour has been going for about 30 years, Brenda said, and for a comparable ticket price. It’s a chance to tour some beautiful gardens and get ideas to take home, she said, as well as go for a drive in the country and be welcomed into people’ yards.
On the edge of Clinton is Tom and Sandra Spooners’ garden at 607 Booth Rd. The Spooners’ house was originally the barn of a farm where Royal Booth started a chick hatchery in Clinton. The Spooners made the barn into a house, landscaped with borders of roses on trellises, clematis, and other perennials.
Twelve miles north of Clinton, off Hwy. 13 before you get to the Country Store, is Shawnee Mound Orchard. Owned by Debra Dolly and Ron Papsdorf, the orchard, at 85 NW 1150 Rd., Chilhowee, has peach trees, apple trees and blueberry patches.
From Shawnee Mound Orchard, it’s 8.5 miles across to Lee and Lynda McGhee’s property, at 7603 NE Hwy. AC, Calhoun, Mo. The acreage has large vegetable gardens, berry patches and pumpkin patches, all fenced, with irrigation and fertilizing systems, Brenda said. The McGhees grow enough produce to can for their entire family, Brenda said.
“They also have friendly pygmy goats,” she said.
You can follow their drive around a small lake to Hwy. 52E and back to Clinton. There, you might want to tour the gardens in town and take a lunch break. Then head south to Susan Evanoff’s garden, at 747 SW 750 Rd., near Montrose. There will be directional signs put up on the day of the Garden Tour, Brenda said, and maps included with the tour ticket.
Or start with the gardens in town, then head south or north. If it rains hard enough to create soggy ground on the day before or the day of the tour, the tour will be held the following Saturday.
“We don’t want people walking on wet ground and tearing up yards,” Brenda said.
Each club gets the money for the tickets its members sell, Brenda said, plus half of the gate the day of the tour. Funds raised by the Twilight Garden Club provide money for college scholarships to graduating seniors interested in studying horticulture or agriculture.
The Twilight Garden Club also uses the funds for its community projects: planting and maintaining the gardens at the Henry County Museum courtyard, the Dorman House and the Blue Star Memorial at the Benton Civic Center.
Educating residents about what grows well in this area and the importance of growing plants that support bees, butterflies and birds are other goals of the tour, Brenda said.
Twilight Garden Club was organized in 1952, Brenda said, with the membership set at 22 in order to have a hostess and co-hostess for each of the club’s 10 meetings a year.
TGC member Sandy Swanagon, whose garden at 205 Michael Drive is on the tour, made the tropical plant leaves —elephant ears and castor beans — from concrete as part of a garden club project, Brenda said. The Swanagon’s property, off of East Franklin, has a rustic theme carried out by a planter that spouse Richard made from an old door.
South of the Swanagon garden, off South Vansant, is the home of Germaine and Jerry Wilson. The Wilsons created a secluded backyard by planting straight-trunk hornbeam maples around the perimeter of their property, at 1703 M and M Drive. The trees enclose a shade garden with lots of accents, Brenda said.
Terri and Paul Cornell live in town, at 504 Truman, three blocks south of Clinton Technical School. The gazebo on one of their two landscaped lots is Terri’s retreat spot, and has variegated Virginia Creeper growing on it, an unusual type of the plant, Brenda said.
In back is the garden shed, which is reserved for Paul’s mower, Terri said, although she is allowed to store pots there in the winter.