Among the nine gardens participants in the 11th annual Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club garden tour could visit Saturday was the backyard oasis of Steve and Melanie Fortney.
With much shade, a canopy and three fountains, it also has something unusual that many people ask the Fortneys about.
"They often ask what that tree is," Steve Fortney said as he pointed to it. "It's a weeping mulberry."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Steve Fortney moves a rock out of the way from a fountain in his backyard Saturday morning during the 11th annual Fort Dodge Federal Garden Club garden tour. Fortney said that one of the local squirrels moves the rocks when he frolics in the water.
He has a nickname for it.
"It's a 'Cousin It.'" he said.
The pair are a bit beyond just avid gardeners.
"We are literally gardenaholics," she joked.
The pair spend much time in the yard enjoying their work - but they differ slightly on who inspired what.
"It's mostly mine," he said, while glancing carefully at his wife.
"I think it's both of us," she replied.
Plans include putting in a small pond and letting one of the grandchildren help again.
"I've got one grandchild that likes to pick flowers," he said.
Fortney will still have to cope with the antics of a squirrel he refers to as his pet. The red critter likes to splash in one of the fountains several times as day which often results in a rock or two over the water inlet.
"He'll lay there and move the rocks around," he said.
Another garden on the tour belongs to Marvin and Sharon Berg; their yard ends in woods. Sharon Berg said that once in awhile, nature from there comes to visit them.
"We've had a baby deer born in our yard," she said.
Visitors were also enjoying the peace and serenity. Carrol Moulds, of Webster City, closed her eyes at the boundary between the woods and the yard. She smiled and let out a quiet sigh.
While she doesn't garden at home, she said she appreciates the effort of those who make it their hobby.
"The work that goes into it," she said. "They have to be working 24-7."
For Karen Johnson, whose yard began the tour, the steady stream of visitors meant a steady stream of questions, mostly about what the many different plants in her yard are.
Her daughter, Kristina Johnson, of Minneapolis, was also on hand. She had created much of the art on display among the plants.
She like the venue for her work.
"It's really nice," she said. "I like her idea to put them outside."
The art includes some Tomte figures - mythical humanoid creatures who are known to create mischief.
Apparently, at least on Saturday, they were being good.
"The Tomte have been quite well behaved," she said.