Gully Six Years Ago, Wins Over 500 Plots Through Greater Cleveland.

Shaker Heights Beauty Spot Is Second; Five Tied for Third.

Cleveland Plain Dealer 9-16-1928

The prettiest amateur home flower garden in Greater Cleveland has been found. It is in Lakewood. Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Geist built it at 1652 Lewis Drive. All Greater Cleveland is invited to visit it today.

The Geist garden wins first award in the Plain Dealer-Your Garden Magazine garden campaign. It leads nearly 500 gardens that strove through a withering summer in the $1,000 prize contest. It survived the scrutiny of ten judges to win a final rating of 89 per cent, and a prize of $100.

Mrs. F.C. Manak, 2838 Eaton Road, Shaker Heights, has the second best garden. Her score was 85, her prize $50.

Five gardens, scattered clear across Greater Cleveland, tied for third honors. All scored 84. No two were similar, so the judges totaled the third, fourth and fifth sweepstakes, $105 in all, and have divided it equally among the five. Each award will be $21.

These five are:

Mrs. E.R. Aufderheide, 3940 W. 34th Street.

Henry Kuhoff, 19328 South Lake Shore Boulevard, Euclid Village.

Mrs. M.J. Herbert, 14532 Terrace Road, East Cleveland.

Mrs. S.J. Sorenson, 1332 E. 117th Street.

Mrs. Veronica Schmidt, 1630 Winton Avenue, Lakewood.

These five, like the first two, are open to the public today.

So are the ten whose gardens just missed sweepstakes honors, but stand out in their ten respective districts. Their owners open them to the public enjoyment and instruction, hoping that Greater Clevelanders may see what delightful spots home amateur gardens may be. The 51 district prize winners are listed below.

The board of five final judges that made these selections included Robert P. Brydon, president of the Cleveland Florist Club; Mrs. Jacques Lillie Mook, superintendent of the William G. Mather estate on Lake Shore Boulevard, Bratenahl, and said to be the only woman in such a position in the country; Mrs. Anna A. Todd, member of the Community Garden Club of North Olmsted; C.E. Kendel, retired seedsman, and J.A. Crawford of the Plain Dealer staff. They represent a variety of viewpoints and they found a variety of garden art among the sweepstakes winners.

The Geist lot is an ordinary 40 by 140-foot section. Six years ago the Geists found it a sour, rubbish-filled gully, occasionally flooded. Geist has brought a milk can full of blood from the W. 65th Street packing houses each spring to pour into crowbar holes around the tree roots.

Together Mr. and Mrs. Geist brought in hazel nut bushes and ferns from the woods, dug three feet in that Lakewood clay for rose beds while there was evening light, and gleaned the landscaping art from library books and catalogs after the sun went down.

The vista now is past a rockery to a bird path circled by roses, and thence to a rambler pergola at the rear. Phlox, larkspur and bright fall flowers cover the foot of curving and stepped-up borders of shrubs. The lawn is a deep green velvet carpet. Back at the end, out of sight is a cut flower patch where Mrs. Geist raises flowers for the cemetery.

"I was orphaned when I was eight," she said, when told of the judge's award, "and when I had to leave our house I resolved I would try to have as beautiful a home as my parents gave me. I'm glad you think I have."

The Manak garden in Shaker Heights is four in one. It flies in the face of many a landscaping convention. A rose garden admits the visitor and leads him to a formal garden in lavender colors. Next comes an informal garden with a pool whose goldfush follow around the rim, and in the far corner of the triangle, under the spread of a great gray beech tree, is a wild flower garden, rough, rooty, low and moist in spots like the woods, with a rich earthy aroma.

"I planned this a year before the house was built," she said. "The north ell of the house comes to a peak to let all the sun into the north garden. The lot was all shell holes and hummocks at first, so I used them. The pool is one, the rockery with the tricking thread of water was the other." I rearrange and set plants each year."

Yesterday she tucked in a hairbell her son brought from Indiana.

Spiders spin their webs in the garden. A bumble bee and a black spider fought to the death on one web Tuesday. Both were on the walk beneath. Four snakes abide in peace. One black spotted little streak, who prefers the kitchen steps, is even friends with the postman.

The bullfrog in the pond, croaks low monotonously at times, and a scamp of a bunny nibbles at occasional stalks and sprawls in the sun among the iris. But the bluebirds nest there each year, she said. The goldfish number 30 now instead of four, everything grows and friends like to drop in and chat.

Over on the rim of Brookside Park, the Aufderheide garden was like so many golf bunkers down your house roof. Yet the grass was cut as if by the barber's electric clippers and a spring was serving its purpose. When the very bottom of the hillside slid out from under a year ago, they set beams, on end into the landslide to keep their garden up behind the house. Gardening under difficulties? It can be done.

The Kuhloff garden is all roses. A naked little boy blows a fountain stream skyward in the middle of a rectangular pool and laughs at all the other little boys of the neighborhood because they go clothed. The reserve of this layout is in its freedom from crowdedness. High over the two-car garage roof, Kuhloff has built a greenhouse. There he roots cuttings to maintain rugged stock.

"From early June to November," Mrs. Kuhloff said, "the great variety of roses bloom."

Where East Cleveland suddenly shoots into the air, a block south of Euclid Avenue and up the hill, Mrs. Herbert decided to plant the whole slope, roof steep as it was. The back yard went right up. They built their garage into the slope, terraced the other half, laid in stone steps, and the ascent is now a great robe of red, orange and yellow fall flowers as if spread for the feet of the giant trees at the top of the slope.

Mrs. Sorenson and Mrs. Schmidt might match years. Both are past 70. Mrs. Sorenson's is a specimen collection, the acme of meticulous care and the source of her health incidentally. Her beds are fringed like fur cuffs on a coat. Clippings are kept for new shoots. Not an inch is unplanted except the walks.

"I won a prize in a Plain Dealer contest in 1915. I took the garden magazine and learned something. Maybe now I can learn some more," the little 75-year old lady declared.

Mrs. Schmidt's garden is a year and half old. It is also a shrine. One son died in France ten years ago. Back among the shrubs on a white pedestal is a miniature clock tower that he once brought home. She keeps it because of him. Perhaps the garden, too. Garages flank it on three sides, but she has screened them out.

Thirty-seven years she has been in this country, but she still has plants from her old home in Hungary, uncommon species that forced the judges to their encyclopedias.