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Madison in Bloom

McKay garden highlighted
with large fish pond, colorful Koi

Six private gardens featured
on annual historical society tour

By Lela Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(May 2009) – During last year’s Madison in Bloom Garden Tour, Chuck and Cindy McKay found that their home became something of an unofficial stop. As visitors were enjoying a neighbor’s garden, they also paused to ask questions about flowers in the McKay’s yard.

Cindy McKay

Photo by Lela Bradshaw

Cindy McKay has
added perennials,
holly trees, Crepe
Myrtle and Prairie Fire
crab apple to her garden.

“They were looking at the fishpond and the Japanese Maple,” recalls homeowner Cindy.
This year, the couple bowed to the friendly pressure of friends, allowing the garden of their downtown home to become one of the many normally hidden treasures featured through Madison in Bloom.
The Madison in Bloom Garden Tour will run the weekends of May 9-10 and May 16-17. Tour headquarters will be located at the Madison Railroad Station, 615 W. First St. There, guests will be able to purchase tickets and pick up a map of the gardens that are part of the event. At the headquarters, visitors inspired by their walks will also have the chance to pick up something special for their own gardens during the Clifty Garden Center plant sale.
This year’s Madison in Bloom will also feature a special evening of music and prose readings beginning at 5 p.m. on May 9. This event, titled, “Happy Hour in the Garden,” will include musical guest Kimm Hollis, a professor from Hanover College, on the the piano, and readings by Thelma Mullett and Margaret Seifert. The program will take place on the grounds of the Jefferson County Historical Society, and community members are invited to bring out their lawn chairs and enjoy. Donations are appreciated, and wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Madison in Bloom has become a spring tradition for many area garden enthusiasts. Joe Carr, director of the Historical Society, reports that the tours have been taking place for about 18 years and “roughly 1,000 people go through the gardens over the two weekends. We never have the same garden two years in a row. We have people working, scouting the gardens around downtown.”
The Madison in Bloom tour offers flower lovers the chance to see gardens not normally open to the public. “It’s neat,” say Cindy, “a lot of them you’re not going to see if you’re just walking down the street.”
Not only does the garden walk offer the chance for the curious to gather ideas for their own gardens and landscaping, but it also serves as an important fundraiser for the Historical Society.

Madison in Bloom Logo

2009 Madison in
Bloom Garden Tour

• Dates: May 9-10; May 16-17 in downtown Madison, Ind.
• Hours: 10-4 Saturdays; noon-4 p.m. Sundays

Stops on the Tour:
• Chuck and Cindy McKay, 808 W. Main St.
• Rella Tower, 518 West St.
• Jerry and Dottie Massie, 413 E Third St.
• Iron Gate Inn (Dee Comstock), 708 E Main St.
• Marlene Green, 418 E. Main St.
• Douglas and Ann Grahn, 218 Walnut St.

• Tickets: $10. Children under 12 free. Group rates available.
• Tour headquarters: Jefferson County Historical Society, 615 W. First St.
• Information: (812) 265-2335

The McKays’ garden contains a blend of the old and new and will inspire guests not only to work with the plants that they have at home, but also to be open to adding new things to an existing layout. “These peonies and iris are probably 40-50 years old,” says Chuck McKay. “They’ve been here a long time.”
This year, the McKays have been busy with new additions as well. “We’re adding some perennials,” Cindy says, “We just added this year the holly trees, the Crepe Myrtle and the Prairie Fire crab apple.”
The centerpiece to the McKays’ garden is a lovely pond, home to seven Koi fish. The couple reports that their seven grandchildren are fascinated by the large, colorful fish and love to see them fed. “If you walk out to the fish pond in the summer, they will feel you through the water and come up to to the top,” Cindy says.
The McKays say they are looking forward to welcoming guests to their garden. “Our daughter is so excited about it. She’s going to make some special flower cookies,” says Cindy. The McKays, together with tour volunteers, will be available to share information about the plants and garden decorations. Cindy points out that the walkway from the house to the shed is made from bricks from the old St. Mary’s School. The couple agrees that some of the best advice they can give aspiring gardeners is, “Don’t take it too seriously.” The couple credits their neighbors, the Hills, with giving them advice on their plants and helping out with the roses.
Chuck adds with a laugh, “A good neighbor – that’s the secret.”

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