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Garden party: Guests view display of flowers

Kelly Kyllonen, owner of Kelly's Cottage Gardens, Park Rapids, inspires attendees with examples as she presents Creative Succulent Gardens during Horticulture Night at the WCROC Display Garden. Nancy Olson/Stevens County Times 1 / 3
Ted and Cathy Albers of Appleton talk about the plants they see July 26 at the annual West Central Research and Outreach Center's Horticulture Night at the garden. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 3
Attendees at the annual WCROC Horticulture Night walk through the garden July 26. Nancy Olson/Stevens County Times3 / 3

Lots of folks at the annual horticulture night at the West Central Research and Outreach Center garden wanted to do more than stop and smell the flowers.

The annual event July 26 featured speakers who shared ideas about container gardening, growing types of flowers and other topics related to gardens. The garden features plants and flowers grown as research for WCROC and for various seed companies that use WCROC's services.

Master gardener Carol Rice of Rockham, South Dakota, was with a tour bus. She came to get ideas for her own garden.

"It's awesome," Rice said.

Viewers didn't need to be a master gardener to get ideas. Nancy Bruce of Tulare, South Dakota, Rice's friend, was on the same bus tour. "This is wonderful. I'm just soaking it all in," Bruce said.

Some event attendees took notes during presentations and as they looked at the plants and flowers. Whether they were in pairs or in groups of three or four, there was also discussion about what they saw, heard or smelled.

Tom Zych of Graceville was taking photos of a type of hollyhock. "I'm sending my sister some stuff," Zych said. His sister, Joyce Wilson of Kimball, also has a garden. Zych and his sister wanted to learn about new varieties of flowers and plants.

"I've never seen anything like this," Zych said of a hollyhock plant with large leaves. "Not with that size of leaf. I first thought 'what kind of squash is that?'' Zych said. But when he read the sign, he learned it was a hollyhock.

All around the garden, viewers were bent to get a closer look at plants or leaned in for a photo.

Charlotte McGee of Danvers and Rosalie McGee of Benson were walking through one section of flowers. "We first discovered it last year," Charlotte McGee said. "They have a lot of nice information. It's fun to see all the beautiful flowers."

The McGees learned about horticulture night from a neighbor. They've been passing along the word about it ever since.

Attendees such as the McGees shared the walking paths with professional growers like Chickie Meyer and Shelley Zenner of Thomsen's Garden Center in St. Joseph.

"We try to come every year to see what's new," Meyer said. Plant sales people will talk about their plants but the WCROC garden is a chance to see the live product, Meyer said.

Like others at the garden that night, Meyer and Zenner moved from one plant to another in the garden.