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Welcome to paradise in Cedar Rapids: Garden walk highlights hidden backyard oasis

A recently added garden sits in the corner of the backyard garden of Kayleen and Bob Schultze. BELOW LEFT: A decorative bird is displayed in a gazebo. BELOW RIGHT: A small raised container is growing a variety of herbs in the garden.
A recently added garden sits in the corner of the backyard garden of Kayleen and Bob Schultze. BELOW LEFT: A decorative bird is displayed in a gazebo. BELOW RIGHT: A small raised container is growing a variety of herbs in the garden.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Kayleen Schultze’s garden has been a labor of love two decades in the making.

The front of her house, tucked on the end of a cul-de-sac on the northwest side, hides an extensive backyard bordering the Ellis Golf Course. A gate into the backyard beckons guests in with a “Welcome to paradise” sign.

“We moved here about 20 years ago, and it looked nothing like this,” she said. “When I moved here, I decided I was going to plant flowers so I could have my own bouquets.”

She takes them to her work as a hairdresser at Moxie Salon & Spa in Cedar Rapids. When she’s not cutting hair, she devotes herself to gardening. Around three years ago she because a Master Gardener, and this year her garden is one of five on the annual Linn County Master Gardener Garden Walk.

The theme for this year’s walk is “Spreading the seeds of kindness,” with giveaways at each garden, including bags of compost, pollinator-friendly seed packets, dandelion cookies, lily greeting cards and a garden bench giveaway.

Each garden on the walk is meant to illustrate a different style and size of garden, garden walk co-chair Sarah Neff said.

“We want to share the pleasure of all different sizes of gardens,” she said. “I think people should realize it doesn’t matter what size, what location you have, you can always enjoy gardening.”

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“I absolutely love spending time outside. It’s so rewarding, mentally and physically, and I love sharing it with people,” Schultze said.

Schultze’s husband, Bob, helps her execute her landscaping plans. They’ve added a patio, complete with tiki bar and fountain surrounded by begonias, along with several garden beds throughout the yard.

A stream runs up along one side of the property. Between flooding from the stream and the surrounding topography, the back half of the yard often floods.

“It’s like a raging river runs through the middle of the yard,” Schultze said. “Thankfully, it’s never gotten into the house.”

Because of the water, they’ve been forced to remove three Colorado blue spruce trees which didn’t deal well with the moisture, dying from the bottom up after developing fungus. In their place, Schultze installed garden beds along her back fence.

In them she’s tried to plant things that like water, such as a small corkscrew willow tree.

Near the house, a vegetable patch is interspersed with more flowers, along with potted plants they move inside in the winter. Those include a bougainvillea and a Key lime tree, which produces limes year-round. It needs a specific fertilizer and sometimes must be hand pollinated to keep making the fruit. They also grow tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and herbs.

All the garden beds are full of small touches with stories of their own, like a planter made from the heart of a box elder tree they had to remove. A circular trellis in one of the garden beds by her fence was a gift from a fellow Master Gardener who was moving and couldn’t keep it. A twining mandevilla vine with pink flowers grows up the sides, and a parrot sculpture on a perch hangs from the top, a reminder of vacations to Mexico.

She also plants a huge assortment of flowers in all her beds — babies breath, hydrangeas, dahlias, daisies, dianthus, bee balm and alliums, among others.

“I love to try new things and plant things I’ve never tried before,” she said.

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This year, that has meant gazanias, a bright variety of African daisies. She spends time each spring filling her garden beds in with annuals, rather than relying on perennial plants.

“I love annuals. If you’re going to have an addiction, I guess there are worse ones,” she said. “It’s the colors. I love the colors. They make me happy. Sometimes, in winter, if I’m feeling blue, I go to Flowerama and smell the flowers.”

Want to go?

• What: 2018 Linn County Master Gardener Garden Walk

• When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

• Cost: $5

• Details: Register and start at any garden on the walk.

• Where: Friedman Garden, 401 Wolfe Lane, Mount Vernon; Havlik Garden, 1850 Hudson St. SW, Cedar Rapids; Lunn Garden, 526 Bezdek Dr. NW, Cedar Rapids; Schultze Garden, 2501 Paulyn Court NW, Cedar Rapids; Usher Garden, 188 17th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids

l Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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