Wednesday, June 06, 2001

Beauty of city revealed

Florence tour of five gardens set for this Sunday

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        FLORENCE - When Larry and Frances Vogelsang want to think about mountains, they look at the hemlock trees near their driveway.

        And when Dr. Brett Koester is a little homesick for his family farm in Iowa, he and wife Karen put that energy into their Shasta daisies and black-eyed Susans.

[photo] Frances Vogelsang weeds the garden she has tended in Florence for more than 50 years.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        The Vogelsangs and Koesters are two of five families on the Florence Beautiful Garden Tour on Sunday. The late Gilby Greene, a former city councilman, started the tour in the 1980s, according to Florence City Clerk Betsy Conrad.

        City staff members drove around town earlier this spring to pick the gardens. Visitors can view any of the five Sunday afternoon, and they can cast ballots for the prettiest.

        When Mrs. Conrad came to the Vogelsang home on New Uri Avenue, Mr. Vogelsang said he'd love to be a garden tour stop. Then he told his wife of nearly 61 years.

        “He didn't call me and ask me,” a smiling Mrs. Vogelsang said Tuesday.

        When people come to the Vogelsangs, they'll see family history as well as blossoms.

        The Vogelsangs moved to Florence in 1950. Mr. Vogelsang, 86, remembered when the 30-foot spruce trees were small enough to be Christmas trees.

        “Back then this was Florence city limits,” said Mrs. Vogelsang, 83. “This was the last house in Florence.”

    • What: City of Florence Garden Tour.
    • When: 2-5 p.m. Sunday.     • Where: Five gardens are featured: Larry and Frances Vogelsang, 25 New Uri Ave.; James and Patti Westerman, 230 Merravay Drive; William and Vicky Sersion, 67 Circle Drive; Marjorie Kuhn, 150 W. Dilcrest; and Dr. Brett and Karen Koester, 8168 N. Dilcrest.
    • Miscellaneous: The tour is free, and visitors may start at any house. In addition, visitors may also vote for the prettiest garden.
        The Vogelsangs have added a lot to the home over the decades, including:

        • Red and yellow blanket flowers along a fence.

        • Boston ivy crawling up the garage from a clipping Mr. Vogelsang brought from a job at Keeneland racetrack in Lexington.

        • The hemlock trees, which Mrs. Vogelsang said remind her of hikes she took at Natural Bridge near Slade in eastern Kentucky.

        “Hemlock grows in the wilderness,” Mrs. Vogelsang said. “Hemlock grows in the mountains in southern Kentucky.”

        For Dr. Koester, a Newport chiropractor, growing flowers takes him away from adjusting spines back to the farm near Fort Dodge in northwest Iowa, where his parents still live.

        “Since I can't farm, I transfer all my energy into my yard,” said Dr. Koester, 37.

        The Koesters may not be raising corn, but they are cultivating much more colorful plants on their 2 acres, including about 150 green hasta plants, white-and-yellow Shasta daisies and black-eyed Susans.

        But Dr. Koester's favorites are the butterfly bushes.

        “I have six different varieties,” he said. “They range from dark purple to light pink.”

        The Vogelsangs and Koesters will keep adding to their gardens after the tour. Mrs. Vogelsang brings wildflowers from the family farm in Owen County, and Dr. Koester tries to add four or five new plants each year.

        And they don't plan to leave.

        “I intend to live here the rest of my life,” Mrs. Vogelsang said.

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