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Garden Ramble in its 22nd year
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By JENNIFER BROWN, For the JG/T-C | Posted: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 3:00 am | (0) Comments

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CHARLESTON — The Garden Ramble on Dr. Wesley’s Whiteside’s farm is in its 22nd consecutive year, sponsored by the Coles County Historical Society and garnering $1-per-person donations as guests arrived on Memorial Day weekend. Whiteside, a retired botany professor of Eastern Illinois University, has been gardening since 1962. He bought the expansive acreage and has groomed it to include thousands of plants and flowers over the years. “I started planting in the spring of 1962 and I lost everything to a brush fire,” Whiteside said. “In the process of planting, I emphasized native plants.”
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The history of the Garden Ramble dates back to 1987 when Whiteside was getting ready to retire from the university. He was appointed to the Coles County Historical Society by Bob Hennings, and a

field trip to see wildflowers was suggested. “It was Millie Havacker’s idea to call it a Garden Ramble,” Whiteside said. At the first ramble, the group only expected 15 visitors. With each year, the number of guests has increased and donations to the historical society have been sufficient. In the beginning, Whiteside would give tours to his guests. In recent years, he has let the guests come to the ramble and take self-guided tours of his property. The water gardens are a special part of Whiteside’s garden. “I’ve had the water lilies for years and years,” Whiteside said. “Water lilies rarely die in the water.” The water gardens on Whiteside’s property are made from the same material used to manufacture swimming pools. The gardens are made of plastic and lined with rubber on the inside. “Lilies should be divided in the spring or they get little and dinky,” Whiteside said. This summer, Whiteside has taken in an intern from EIU, Bradley Daugherty, a senior environmental major. Daugherty has worked alongside Whiteside the past few weeks preparing for the Garden Ramble. “I help to weed and maintenance the plants,” Daugherty said. “I plan to get more involved as time goes on.” Generally, Whiteside goes without any help on his property. “I think there are thousands of plants, and that’s just an estimate,” Daugherty said. He heard about Whiteside’s garden from his professors at EIU and decided to document it this summer. “Things that were in bloom last year are now gone,” Whiteside said. “Things are unusually early this year.” Whiteside said the trees and shrubbery stand more stable than the flowers in the garden. When a water district moved east of Charleston, Whiteside requested the contractors install hydrants onto his land. “I asked if I could have a line sent under the creek,” Whiteside said. “My plants are large and they bloom a lot.” The deer on Whiteside’s property are the largest predator against his blooming flowers. T conquer this o problem, he has put together a soapy formula to keep the deer away. “If I see evidence of damage, I use Irish Spring soap in three to four gallons of water,” Whiteside said.

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“If I see evidence of damage, I use Irish Spring soap in three to four gallons of water,” Whiteside said. He has sprayed the tulips and daylilies, which are often targets for the deer in the woods. Whiteside’s flowers and plants are generally from what he began to plant in the spring of 1963. Groups do come to look at his flowers and anyone is welcome to look at his display of wildflowers, he said.

Contact Jennifer Brown at jebrown2@eiu.edu.
Copyright 2011 JG-TC.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Local, News on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 3:00 am Updated: 12:12 pm.

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