Hamburg Community Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour features fruits, vegetables, pollinator and native plants

Cindy & Steve Blefgen property during the Hamburg Garden Tour on June 9.
Cindy & Steve Blefgen property during the Hamburg Garden Tour on June 9. Submitted photo - Sheryle Delewski
Monarch waystation and pollinator garden at the Joshua Butz property during the Hamburg Garden Tour on June 9.
Monarch waystation and pollinator garden at the Joshua Butz property during the Hamburg Garden Tour on June 9.

The Hamburg Community Wildlife Habitat Committee’s held its 7th annual Garden Tour was held on June 9, which began at the Hamburg Park. The various gardens reflected, fruits and vegetables, pollinator and native plants, fountains, and sculptures.

Visitors to the gardens received an information booklet with photos providing information pertaining to the photos as well as other informational handouts. Throughout the tour visitors were given personal information from each gardener featured on the tour.

The Leon and Chris Blatt and their family live on a lot slightly less than one acre in Tilden Township. It is amazing how many different things they have growing on their property. They provided visitors with a map of their property reflecting all the plants and offered their knowledge on growing strawberries, cherry and apple trees, and elderberry, blueberry, raspberry and current bushes, as well as various vegetables. In addition, Leon explained the benefits of using compost bins. Did you know that chickens begin to lay eggs when they are 20 weeks old and that they only lay a certain number of eggs in their lifetime? And, did you know that skunks will not hurt chickens but will suck out the contents of the eggs? Leon shared many interesting facts about raising chickens and working with the various plants. Their son, Eli, even has his own special garden with lettuce and cabbage specifically for feeding the chickens and guided visitors around their property.

Joshua Butz, a certified master gardener living in West Hamburg, shared his knowledge of native plants as well as growing vegetables in a raised garden area and in containers. Josh said, “I have three compost piles that I rotate through and rabbits and chickens that help fill them! Seriously though the chickens are kind of the cornerstone of my garden now that I think about it. All of our table scraps, weeds, etc. go to the chickens. We also allow them the last hour of the day to pick through the garden. They eat bugs, pull weeds, and aerate the soil for us...we LOVE our chickens!” Josh is using the chickens to extend his garden along the side of his house. He kept the chickens in their pen, along with a small pile of turned over soil and mulch so that he could show people first-hand how he used the chickens for this purpose. He also gave a native plant plug to those who visited his garden.


Those who were interested in early spring bloomers and a cactus garden got their fill at Jeanette Heckman’s gardens in Hamburg. Recycling an old tractor tire makes a great raised bed for Jeanette’s cactus and yucca plants. Unfortunately most of her plants were no longer blooming for the tour; however, Jeanette was able to share information on these plants.

Speaking of recycled materials, Bill Rhodes, a repeat participant on the tour and also a resident of Hamburg, has added new sculptures, some of which are very large. You may remember from last year that Bill makes his own sculptures from recycled materials and has a colorful garden which evolves each year. He dedicated his garden to his partner, Jan, who passed away this past year. Since last year’s tour Bill also added more plants in recycled containers and new large sculptures. Bill said that he is in the process of making a large dinosaur in hopes of attracting children to his garden. Bill’s smaller sculptures are available for purchase to those visiting his garden. Bill also indicated that his garden is always open to visitors who may walk around his property at their leisure.

Cindy and Steve Blefgen live in Windsor Township at the base of the mountain where their home lies on a bed of shale. Tiered gardens along the side of the mountain are filled with a variety of plants. At the entrance to their driveway are hosta plants and annual plants where an ornament made many years ago by the above mentioned Bill Rhodes is displayed. There is also an area with a fountain and plants on the top level near their home. One visitor was lucky enough to even see a deer munching on their hosta plants. Cindy indicated that they are still working on adding native plants that are resistant to the deer.

Another certified master gardener and resident of Hamburg, Claudia Eberly, was also a prior participant in the tour. Claudia has a beautifully landscaped yard with many native plants. She is always willing to share her knowledge of the various plants and give suggestions to those on the tour.

For details on how to obtain Natural Wildlife Federation certification for your garden property, visit or call 1-800-822-9919. To submit a garden for consideration in next year’s event, contact Kay Greenawalt at 610-562-4329.