A tour through the gardens

Published 10:46 am Monday, June 24, 2013

Spruce Up Austin hosts annual fundraiser, tour

For Rick Matter and Jim Churchill, Saturday was another day at the koi pond. For the Austin residents participating in this year’s Spruce Up Austin Yard and Garden Tour, it was a chance to see interesting outdoor setups at local homes.

Matter’s and Churchill’s home was one of five on display for this year’s fundraiser, which took place this past weekend.

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“Every community should have something like this,” said Penny Bartesch, Spruce Up Austin committee member. At $10 a ticket to see all five homes, Bartesch said the annual yard and garden tour was one of the biggest fundraisers for Spruce Up Austin.

Residents came out in droves to see intriguing yard setups, whether to get new ideas for their own yards or admire the beauty of a neighbor’s hard work.

“It gives you some good ideas,” said Diane Wacholz, one of several visitors to Matter’s and Churchill’s home Saturday morning.

Wacholz and her friends had plenty to admire, as Matter and Churchill decorated their yard with trellises, a garden footpath, and other lawn accents.

The focal point of their backyard is unquestionably the large koi pond they installed, with more than a dozen koi fish on display.

“I keep experimenting until I get what I like,” Matter said.

Matter and Churchill had installed a pond at their previous home to house goldfish, but the pair decided to buy koi fish, which are hardier and can survive in ponds through the winter.

They decided to build another koi once they bought their new home at the 900 block of 10th Street Northwest. They’ve only lived there for a few years, but they transformed their yard from a few patches of grass when they bought the place.

“This was all done by us,” Churchill said.

This was the second time Matter and Churchill have participated in the Spruce Up Austin tour, as they allowed residents to tour their previous home’s yard several years ago. They will also be on the fall home tour for the Mower County chapter of the American Association of University Women.