Project Green Hosts Open Garden Weekend in Iowa City July 9-10

This peaceful garden retreat encompasses a water feature with shade plants.

“There is no greater expression of art than creating a beautiful garden or more rewarding joy than sharing its delights with others,” Project GREEN cofounder Gretchen Harshbarger once said.

Harshbarger’s philosophy will be on full display when area gardeners share their creations during Open Gardens Weekend 2022 (OGW) on Saturday, July 9, from 4 to 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Project GREEN Gardens are a feature of the seven-acre park at the Ashton House, 820 Park Road, Iowa City. The Ashton House is a community event center that features four annual gardens and numerous perennial gardens. Iowa City Parks & Recreation uses the site as a summer camp location.

OGW creator Beth Cody says 28 private gardens and five public gardens are on the tour. Private gardens include a wide range of styles and sizes. Some have been professionally planned and constructed, but most are lovingly designed and built over time by their owners, who have learned what grows well in our area.

Cindy Parsons has extensive vegetable and flower gardens on her property near Ralston Creek.

“People love the chance to visit beautiful gardens that are the personal expression of the gardener,” says Cody. “And gardeners often enjoy the appreciation expressed by visitors when they share their gardens with others. Importantly, every garden visit is an opportunity for the visitors to learn something and be inspired, but it’s also a chance for the garden owner to see their own garden through the eyes of their visitors. . . .’

Nick Pettifer, Vice President of Public Affairs for Think Iowa City, says OGW has the potential to become a destination weekend for gardeners in the Midwest region. “Gardening grew in popularity during the pandemic and there are no indications of a decline. Gardeners actively seek new ideas and like to explore to see what others have done.”

The Nancy Seiberling Peony Garden in the Project GREEN Gardens at Ashton House, 820 Park Road, Iowa City, was dedicated in 2015. The peonies were from Nancy’s original Fairhill home north of Iowa City.

Business sponsorships support the activity making it a free activity for the public. Pick up a map at any of the sponsoring businesses. Maps will be available by July 2 and can be picked up from the city of Coralville, Forever Green, Green State Credit Union, Hills Bank, Iowa City Landscaping & Garden Center, Rindy Inc., Sanders Creek Nursery Company Nursery and Landscaping, Think Iowa City, and Urban Acres.

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Since Project GREEN (Growing to Reach Environment Excellence Now) was formed in 1968, as a byproduct of an Iowa City subcommittee, Citizens for a Better Iowa City, the all-citizen volunteer nonprofit organization has funded $2.2 million in local beautification projects. Volunteers maintain the Project GREEN Gardens at the Ashton House, 820 Park Road, where 50 trees for 50 years have been planted to recognize its 50th anniversary of service to the community. The Ashton House is a community event center and accommodates up to 100 people for meetings, reunions, parties, weddings, and receptions.