ROBIN BOOKER/BRANDON SUN
Gwen Beam describes some of her plants to Nadean Donald during Brandon’s self-guided Open Garden Tours on Sunday.
The heavy downpour on Sunday morning made the prospects for Brandon in Bloom’s self-guided Open Garden Tours look grim.
But by noon, the rain turned to a light drizzle and the cooler temperature that accompanied the precipitation was a welcome relief for many on the tours.
"I’ll take this weather over a day like yesterday where it was too hot to do just about anything," Joyce Degroot of Sprucewoods said. "We usually go the Sprucewoods Rodeo but decided not to go yesterday because it was just too hot."
There were 12 privately owned yards in this year’s tours. Gwen and Rick Beam’s yard at 555 Sixth St. was among them.
Gwen has been part of Communities in Bloom since it started and has also been part of the Brandon Garden Club, formally the Horticulture Society, for 32 years.
"Container work is my passion — I love to not only show people my yard, but also to teach them how to grow plants in their own yard," said Gwen. "I’m a plant collector, but once you start collecting, you have to have a place to display them, and that’s where container work comes in because I live on a 33-foot lot."
For houses with small yards, container gardening is a good option — Gwen has hundreds of varieties of succulents in her yard.
"The garden here is always open, some people come here and have their lunch and some of the nursing homes bring people through or people from the bank will come have their dinner here," Gwen said.
"Usually there are about 300 to 400 people come by in about four hours during the Open Garden Tours. There are more people in Brandon interested in gardens than you might think and quite often, they don’t just want to look at the plants, they want to learn about gardening.
"Like this year, people are asking what’s eating their plants and because the gardening community shares knowledge, we know what’s doing it — it’s the hanging cutworms and the only way you can deal with them is by going out to the garden at night with a flashlight and pick them off by hand."
The 11th annual Open Garden Tours took place on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 16, 2012