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Hall County's greenest thumbs show off yards
Master Gardeners shared how to create backyard retreats
Sharon Gaston, left, and Suzie Russum look over part of the garden Saturday at the home of Diane Korzeniewski. The garden was one of six gardens on the “In Our Back Yards” garden tour presented by the Hall County Master Gardeners. - photo by Tom Reed

Hall County Master Gardeners

Want to join? Call the Hall County Extension office at 770-535-8293 or visit

Hall County Master Gardeners hosted "In Our Own Back Yards" garden tour Saturday, a fundraiser for the volunteer program aimed at educating the community in horticultural practices.

Homeowners allowed curious tourists to walk through their private gardens and ask Master Gardeners for tips on how to create their own backyard retreats.

"We all love to garden and are glad to share our gardens with members of the community," said Mindy Wade, president of the Master Gardeners.

Planting fragrant herbs and colorful perennials is a passion of homeowner Diane Korzeniewski. She began gardening 25 years ago and is keeping a family tradition alive.

"I like to grow things you eat as well," Korzeniewski said. "My grandmother always had a nice garden so I have memories of that."

Her home is a certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat and a Pollinator Garden. Her yard provides a safe place for wildlife to live and have offspring.

She also keeps worms to make compost, which she uses to feed her roses and herbs.

"It's an extra way to make some fertilizer, and it doesn't take any space," Korzeniewski said. "It's a good way to use something you'd be throwing out."

Homeowner Becky Mensinger uses the principles of feng shui to design her whimsical gardens. She displays her artistic abilities by decorating her gardens with painted gourds and sculptures she makes from everyday items. She discussed the many details of her plants with the crowd and explained the artistic process.

"It's going to be prettier in about two weeks, there is so much that is about the pop," Mensinger said. "It gives a color echo and just helps pull you through the garden."

Mensinger grows many of her plants from seeds and calls herself a "plant nerd." She enthusiastically discussed the plants in each of her gardens, even picking off seeds and offering them to her guests.

Mia Simmons, 6, of West Hall enjoyed looking at the scary troll and painted gourds in Mensinger's children's garden. Her mother appreciated the time such a garden must take to grow.

"I think it's gorgeous, definitely a lot of work," said Emily Simmons.

The garden walk inspires many people by showing them native plant options and offering specific suggestions for any gardening problem.

"We like going around and seeing the names of the different plants that we don't have knowledge of," said Renate Howard of Oakwood. "And getting some ideas to improve our little yard."

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