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How does your garden grow? Williams property one of four on upcoming tour

BREWSTER -- On the Janna and Kerry Williams farm in rural Brewster, things are beginning to shape up for an influx of visitors. The hollyhocks are reaching for the sky, their bright heads bobbing in the breeze; the coneflower plants are a verdant...

Granary porch
Janna Williams sits in one of the rockers on the porch of the repurposed granary building. (Beth Rickers/Daily Globe)

BREWSTER - On the Janna and Kerry Williams farm in rural Brewster, things are beginning to shape up for an influx of visitors. The hollyhocks are reaching for the sky, their bright heads bobbing in the breeze; the coneflower plants are a verdant green and on the verge of producing blooms; and the goldfish in a small pond are busily gobbling up the day’s ration of food under the watchful eye of one of the resident cats.
All is well in this small patch of paradise, although its resident caretaker is more than a bit nervous about putting the property on display for the upcoming PEO Chapter DW Garden Tour fundraiser. Gardening did not come naturally to Janna - it’s more something she’s grown into, just as the plants and flowers in her landscape have assimilated into the space and come into their own.
“I’m certainly out here doing what I love,” she asserted, “and I have no idea what I’m doing.”
When Janna and Kerry were married 24 years ago and moved onto his family’s home place, Janna’s first inclination was to fill the landscape with grass - and maybe some rocks.
“I covet rocks,” she said, referencing the large boulders dug out of the surrounding farmland that now dot the yard.
But little by little, flowers and plants began to win Janna over, and some of their three children’s 4-H projects also impacted the outdoor environment over the years.
“I’m very much an old soul,” said Janna, walking through the bed that features hollyhocks and other old-fashioned flowers. “I like the farmhouse look.”
Closer to the house, the goldfish are flashes of bright orange flitting  through the pond, and Janna pauses to throw them some food. The small waterfall going into the pond emanates from a piece of driftwood.
“It’s a log I found on the road, and I brought it home. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but one day, I just thought, ‘There’s my fountain.’ Another thing about the pond - it’s where I get the water for my plants.”
The pond has been in place since the Williams children were young. A newer addition to the property is a small granary, which Janna has turned into a cottage or “She Shed” - a female version of a ‘Man Cave’ that has gained popularity through Pinterest postings.
“I had no idea there was such a thing (as a She Shed),” said Janna. “Basically, I wanted a porch. Both my parents are gone, and I seem to covet my childhood again.”
The granary building - which she estimates to be 70 to 80 years old - was moved onto the property and re-outfitted with new windows and shingles, but the rest was in satisfactory shape. With the help of a local carpenter, a wall was lifted up and swung into place to create a loft space, and then Janna began to fill the structure with flea market finds and other treasures.
“It’s all things I love,” she said, pointing out a birdcage on a stand purchased on a trip to Kentucky and a few other choice finds.
Very little planning has gone into creating her sanctuary, Janna stresses. It has just been allowed to evolve over time. She plants what she likes and scatters found objects where she thinks they fit. If a plant doesn’t survive, it gets dug up and replaced with something else.

The Janna and Kerry Williams farm is one of four properties featured on Monday’s garden tour, and it is the stop at which refreshments will be offered. The other locations are the homes of Ellen and David Copperud; Susan and Doug Obermoller; and Janel and Gary Ewert. The tour will run from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday (rain date Wednesday). Tickets are available for a set donation at Hy-Vee, Ax Photo and the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce. Proceeds will go toward a local scholarship.

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