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Nonie’s Garden

As many may have noticed we did a change-out on the circular bed in front of the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion. This was a bit earlier than usual as we have not had that first frost which is the usual event that requires removal of the tropicals and annuals. There was a very good reason for the early action all the same.

On October 6 it will become a dedicated space known as Nonie’s Garden in honor of Nonie (Eleanor) Krauss, the late wife of John Krauss, Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors for the IMA. Nonie was a life member of the Nature Conservancy, an advisory board member of the Central Indiana Land Trust, and Secretary of the Indianapolis Garden Club. Those of us who have been with IMA a few years also remember her work on The Heartland Garden, a gardening show broadcast on public television in Indiana.  It frequently showcased the horticulture and Horticulturists of the IMA. Nonie’s Garden will be a fitting tribute to a woman who loved nature and gardens.

The generous gift from John along with his and Nonie’s friends and family will allow us to keep a space that used to be mulch half the year fully planted year round.

The plants currently in the garden are for the winter display. Each is chosen for its contribution to brightening the space during our dreary winter period. Not unlike the way Nonie brightened up the lives of those who spent time with her. Some well placed fall annuals will add extra color. 400 Tulips will enhance the spring display. Come May and the warmth of late spring we will remove the winter planting and install the summer display. The summer display will be exuberant, colorful and lush – a planting truly expressing the joy of life that Nonie represented. After frost we will again install a winter garden. Each year major elements of the garden will change, both in winter and summer.

For this winter, in the center is a grouping of Betula populifolia ‘Whitespire’ with palest gray bark that can capture and reflect even the dim sunlight of January. Surrounding it are several blue weeping Alaska cedars (Xanthocyparis/Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Glauca Pendula’). They are also known as Nootka cypress. These graceful evergreens will look especially lovely with snow on them. Also included are several yews for more green in winter. For bright color we included 2 deciduous shrubs. Deciduous hollies (Ilex verticillata ‘Cacapon’ and ‘Red Sprite’) will provide bright red berries that will contrast with the gray bark of the birches and the dark color of the evergreens in early winter. For color all the way to spring we planted a red twig dogwood called ‘Cardinal’ (Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal’). Another very appropriate plant as Nonie was an avid birder with a lifelong list of over 600 birds. The dogwood stems will gradually become deep red as temperatures cool and hold the color until late spring.

Thanks to help from my hardworking colleagues and our volunteers we were able to complete the change-out in four days. It could have been even faster but we had to remove 18 plus inches of horrible wet clay soil. Replacing this soil with a good-draining more friendly mix will insure a beautiful garden. Here’s Chad digging out the bad.

This is how awful it looked after a rather small amount of rain.

In this shot he’s mixing the new soil, blending a purchased general garden mix with a super draining structured soil mix.

We placed the birches before adding all the soil back in.

When I said I had help I meant it. There are almost as many people as plants.

And here is the final planting.

I think you will find that as the weather gets uglier it will get more beautiful. Hope you like it too Nonie.

Filed under: Horticulture

8 Responses to “Nonie’s Garden”

  • avatar
    PQ Says:

    Oh man, how I miss that special super duper draining soil. It looks good. Might have to poke my head tomorrow while I’m down in Indy buying a kayak. Super work, garden dude! 😀

  • avatar
    John Krauss Says:

    My sincere thanks to all the Horticultural Staff at the IMA. You designed and executed a marvelous and beautiful garden in honor of Nonie.

    The plaque is being fabricated and be ready in about 8 weeks. It will read in part:

    “Here marks the passage between art and nature, nature and art, for in reality, they are one.”

    She was a great lady. She loved nature, animals, and life in general. What a nice way to say “Welcome” to all who visit the IMA. I am looking forward to seeing snow fall in winter and color burst from the plantings in the spring.

    John Krauss

  • avatar
    kpeterson Says:

    Really wonderful to read about the project for Nonie’s garden, including the down and dirty work involved in pulling it together. Wouldn’t Nonie be pleased, what an extraordinary birthday gift that perfectly suits the nature lover she always was in her lifetime, now to live on in her absence reminding those of us who knew her of her passions for plants and art intertwined forever. We miss you, Nonie.

  • avatar
    DCollar Says:

    When John told me about how Nonie’s Garden was shaping up he seemed pleased so I stopped out to take a look and I see why. I’m sure Nonie would have been pleased too. I’ll be sure to make a point of visiting her garden often both for the pleasure of the gardens and of her memory. My sincere thanks to all those who joined with John to make this possible. Quite fitting to say the least.

  • avatar
    Anonymous Says:

    Thank you, Irvin, for the description of Nonie’s Garden and its evolution. Thank you, John, for the inspiration and cultivation of this lovely creation. It is a beautiful planting and a living celebration of Nonie and her love for and deep appreciation of nature and art. We do miss you, Nonie. You continue to be a vibrant part of us.

  • avatar
    David Boyce Says:

    Indeed a fitting tribute to Nonie on the occasion of her birthday. And, yes, she would have been very proud and appreciative of the “labor of love” undertaken by John and all those involved at IMA.

    It may take a while but I hope to visit the garden at some point so as to better appreciate its beauty, and to recall the many treasured memories of the person it honors.

    “What thou the radiance which was once so bright, be now forever taken from our sight…” We miss you Nonie!

  • avatar
    irvin Says:

    Thanks for all the positive feedback folks, especially you John as you knew Nonie best.

  • avatar
    Barbara Says:

    …living things of beauty that will flourish and grow…How perfect a tribute for someone whose life was taken way to soon. Thank you John, for such a lovely gift.

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