32nd Annual Junior League Garden Tour benefits Fort Collins women and children

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Photo credit: Hannah Hemperly

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Fort Collins community members weaved through gardens in the City Park neighborhood full of seasonal blossoms, local artwork and music Saturday, June 21.

 The Junior League of Fort Collins chose the theme of “Art in the Garden” at the 32nd Annual Terrace and Garden Tour this year.

“Every year is a little bit different and a little bit better,” said Junior League Vice President Stacy McBride. “This year we are featuring local artists and musicians in the backyards.”

Junior League past President and longtime member Sonia InMasche has seen the Garden Tour come far over the years. In 1982, tickets were sold for only $5 and Junior League raised just over $1,400. This year tickets were $18 each, and with an expected turnout of 18,000, $32,000 was hoped to be raised.

“Junior League and this fundraiser is always reinventing itself, making it better than it was the year before … this year all the houses featured are very close together, making it very accessible,” InMasche said.

This year, the Garden Tour highlighted six outdoor gardens within walking distance from each other and City Park. in previous years, the tour has been more spread out, and the League chose a different approach for ease of attendees.

Each of the homes had a different take on gardening, which were eyeopening for viewers. Individuals saw different landscaping techniques for the plethora of flowers, herbs and grasses on display.

CSU University Honors Program Director Donald Mykles was one homeowner selected for the tour, and beamed as he watched passersby look at his garden.

“I really love bulbs, but I do what is easy and what works well here,” Mykles said.

Located on the corner of Oak Street and Jackson Street, Mykles’ garden gets a lot of shade, but he works with what he’s got, he said. His garden featured lollipop lilies, Lady’s mantle, a variety of iris, along with a Victorian playhouse he hopes one day his grandchildren can play in.

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“The playhouse was made by a carpenter for one of his children in 1920, ”  Mykles said. “The previous owners of this house brought it here in 194. It is very Victorian.”

Merely a block away at House #6, yet another Victorian playhouse attracted attendees, along with their flourishing gardens.

Bluegrass duo Jill Vesty and Mike Moxcey played their Colorado-inspired jams while onlookers got to explore the herb, patio, flower and shade gardens surrounding the Brokish house.

“Our favorite place is our patio garden,” said homeowners Jim and Marica Brokish. “We can see it from the kitchen and we spend a ton of time there. We eat many meals out there.”

Throughout the day, Fort Collins Nursery employees were available to answer questions and given gardening tips to attendees.

“We answer questions about the growing conditions, about the plants themselves, and are here just in general to help,” said Mary Pineda, a Fort Collins Nursery employee. “We are one of the largest sponsors of the event.”

After touring the gardens, visitors could sample the complimentary rhubarb punch, Butter Cream Cupcakery cupcakes and  the Human Bean beverages that were provided in City Park.

The Garden Tour is the biggest fundraiser the Junior League puts on each year and a lot of planning goes into the process said Kari Hogden, League chair member and homeowner of one of the six venues in the tour.

“In order to put on the event, we must select an area to put on the garden walk, make the brochures, find sponsors and advertisers and then figure out the rest of the logistics,” Hodgen said.

According to Vice President Stacy McBride, proceeds from the Garden Tour and other Junior League events benefit women and children in Northern Colorado through the Career Closet and the Poudre District Snack Program.

The snack program provides snacks to elementary schools with students who qualify for free or reduced lunches in the Poudre Valley district. According to McBride, profits from the last Garden Tour enabled the Junior League to give over 16,000 snacks to local elementary schools.

The Career Closet, located at 151 S. College Ave., Unit I,  is one of Junior League’s largest projects, which focuses on supporting the economic stability of women in Northern Colorado. This past they year helped over 300 women become more financially poised.

“The Career Closet is a boutique shop for women to get outfitted with professional clothing they can wear to interviews and at work,” McBride said.

Lisa Wehunt, a new Fort Collins resident, loved the opportunity to give back to the town.

“I’m really enjoying Fort Collins — what a way to support women and the community,” Wehunt said.

Collegian Senior Reporter Josephine Bush can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.