Going for green

Horticulturists open gardens to support charitable causes
Friday, June 18, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:49 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

A flower corresponds to each letter of the alphabet in a section of Barb and Dan Devine’s garden designed especially for children.

‘A’ is for aster, ‘B’ is for Barbara’s buttons, and ‘C’ is for clematis.

“When kids come down here, they just naturally go to it,” master gardener Barb Devine says. “They know it’s their garden.”

In the past seven years, the large space behind their home has allowed the Devines to develop a series of outdoor “rooms” that also includes a memory garden and feng shui garden.

Their ¾ -acre creation on Pine Drive is one of seven gardens that will be featured Saturday during the Tiger Pilot Club’s second annual Blooms and Benevolence Garden tour. Proceeds from the tour will benefit numerous Columbia groups, including people with brain-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s, a scholarship fund for people practicing in brain-related areas and Brain Minders, a preventative education program for young children.

“We’ve kind of bit off more than I want to chew right now, but you know when you have the tours come, it’s worth it,” Barb Devine says.

The feng shui garden is an example of one of Barb Devine’s favorite aspects of gardening — balance. Instead of flowers, this garden is created from plants that are varying shades of green. It is designed to be relaxing, with the fountains representing water and the stones representing mountains.

“I’m not really an expert, but I believe in the balance,” she says.

Their memory garden is dedicated to loved ones who have died. Mizzou memorabilia honors Dan Devine’s father, former MU football coach Dan Devine.

“It’s not supposed to be a place of sadness, just a place to go and reflect on the memories,” Barb Devine says.

Variety differentiates the seven gardens on the upcoming tour and master gardeners will also be available at each site to answer questions.

A 12-foot waterfall is the main attraction at Allan and Vivian Purdy’s garden. About 20 years ago, Vivian decided she wanted a waterfall spilling over the limestone bluff next to their house.

“I had always said, ‘You know, Allan, that ought to have a waterfall on it, and when he retired he said, ‘We’ll get you your waterfall,’” Vivian Purdy says.

The pump that powers the waterfall is hidden so well that people have told the Purdys how lucky they are to have that “natural spring” falling so perfectly.

They have lived in their house for more than 50 years and have six acres of land in Columbia on Green Valley Drive.

“I’ll try a lot of things that I know will grow and some things that probably won’t, but it results in a very lively place for us,” Vivian Purdy says. “I don’t have enough sun to make for good rose blooms and good bushes, but I like roses so I’ll put up with what I can get.”

Since the Purdy’s lot doesn’t get much sun, they specialize in plants that thrive in the shade. “We have developed it using the natural setting and she probably has as many different kinds of shrubs and landscape features as anybody in town,” Allan Purdy says.

Although Vivian Purdy mentions that shade gardens are at their prime in the spring, they also planted an unusual shrub for something that would look unique year round. “The contorted hazelnut is planted here specifically for winter interest and you can imagine how spectacular it can be against the snow,” she says.

One of the Purdy’s most exotic tropical plants, the night blooming cirrus, has blooms that last for one night only and are shriveled the next morning.

“It is a big white bloom with a vanilla perfume that starts opening around 7 p.m. and by 11 p.m., it is just gorgeous,” Vivian Purdy says.

“We had people come to see it in housecoats and some brought snacks and we sat there and nibbled and told stories near the waterfall,” she says.

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