Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Mark and Kari Kortz stand at the preamble to their backyard garden ready to welcome guests at their home in Owatonna. They were one of four houses showcasing their garden during the Annual Secret Garden Tour.

Exploring the gardens of Owatonna

On Sunday the Owatonna Arts Center invited local residents to get a peek at some the beautiful gardens of Owatonna during its Annual Secret Garden Tour.

The tour was held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and featured a collection of local gardens. “Our gardeners are real people who do all of the gardening themselves,” Arts Center Director Silven Durben said.

Each year the Arts Center tries to find a fresh group of gardens to feature. “We don’t repeat the same garden unless it’s been awhile and the garden has drastically changed,” Durben explained. The gardens are often chosen by recommendation.

Mark and Kari Kortz were one of the hosts on this year’s tour with their expansive backyard garden. Their garden features a meandering path tucked between colorful flowers, a homemade shed, a vegetable garden, and a dry creek bed.

“My husband built the shed from my grandfather’s old red barn,” Kari Kortz explained of the uniquely utilized shed. “The barn was probably around 120 to 130 years old.”

Kari said that she has been gardening since 2000. “It’s very therapeutic, I love being outside in the sunshine with the birds and I love spending time in our backyard and in nature,” she said.

Both her and her husband Mark enjoy inviting their friends and family over to see the results of their labor and were excited to welcome their guests on the tour. “I think it will be fun to make friends and find other people with similar interests,” she said.

“My favorite part is every spring when everything starts coming up fresh and new,” Kari explained. “We wait all winter long to be able to get outside and see everything grow!”

To Kari gardening is very much an artform, one which she has honed in order to embellish her yard with a little extra flair and an array of colors. “I’m pretty much self-taught,” she said, explaining that there was much to learn at the outset.

The tour was a great chance for local residents to share their passion for gardening and get to take a look at the hidden gardens of Owatonna. “I love to share and give people my plants, it’s fun to go back and forth and trade with other gardeners,” Kari said.

The proceeds from this year’s tour benefit the Owatonna Arts Center.

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