FAFF features fabulous festival for flower fanatics

<I>Anita Raistakka photo</I><BR>Abigayle Eaton, grandaughter of Shirley and Roy Herrold, in the middle of a group of gnarly old trees in the back yard of the Herrolds' home. The object in the background is an old skiff which is being developed into a "boys only" tree house for the Herrolds male grandsons. This was one of the scenes that participants saw on the Naselle FAFF Garden Tour on Sunday.

NASELLE - The first Naselle Finnish-American Folk Festival garden tour attracted flower fans and fanatics alike, from far and near last Sunday afternoon.

The Naselle FAFF's first garden tour featured the gardens and yards of six local homeowners who each opened their gardens to flower lovers from as far away as Vancouver, the Long Beach Peninsula, the Willapa Harbor area, and the Astoria area, as well as to local residents. Several dozen participants took part in the four hour tour.

Traveling from the west to the east on State Route 4, the featured yards included those of: Shirley and Roy Herrold, Mitzi Hunter, Louise and Peter Hunter, Annette and Bob Bowker, Carol and Bert Haven, and Gayle and Steve Gacke, up the Salmon Creek Valley. Each of the featured gardens had highlights unique to the owners of the particular yards being visited.

Shirley and Roy Herrold are continuing to carve their yard and garden out of land which includes some which has just been cleared of old growth trees as well as some areas which have been long established as gardens at their pioneer-era home. The new areas are being developed and expanded to place emphasis on plants and structures for the Herrolds' grandkids where female and male playhouses are focal points of that area of the yard.

What makes the playhouses unique is the fact that the "girls only" playhouse is built on top of a huge old growth spruce stump with the steps carved out of one of the large spruce roots. The "boys only" tree house is being developed out of an an old skiff which is placed several feet up in the bowels of a group of gnarly old trees which were left intact as the Herrolds opened up new areas of their yard.

The yard of Carol and Bert Haven is also "a work in progress." Their Upper Naselle Road home is surrounded by flower beds and displays among the remaining alders and the shrubs which the Havens have planted. Carol has hopes of developing even more flower beds in the back yard of their property.

Many of the remaining tree stumps, which remained after clearing more land, have been hollowed out by Bert with a chain saw so Carol can use the stumps as planters for her large variety of flowers and shrubs. In fact, Carol prepared a list of the flowers which tour participants would see while touring her garden. That list included over 60 different types of flowers and plants, ranging from Astilbe to Wisteria.

The yard of Gayle and Steve Gacke, in the sheltered nook of the upper Salmon Creek Valley, places emphasis on the park-like setting and the wildlife of the area. Pathways lead from the yard to several areas where ponds, trees, and animals can be viewed in their natural setting. The Gackes have developed viewing sites where one can see wild geese in one area, wild turkeys raised by Steve in another, while still remaining in a garden-yard like setting. If one desires, there is even a "formal dining room" where one can be seated for dinner outdoors while watching chipmunks eating from cups and saucers on posts.

The participants, garden hosts and FAFF members, alike, were unanimous in their enthusiasm for the success of the initial Naselle FAFF garden tour. Plans are to make the tour a regular feature of the Naselle FAFF calendar, with the tour being held on odd-numbered years when the FAFF is not held. All proceeds realized from this garden tour will be used to support the July 2004 Naselle Finnish-American Folk Festival.

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