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story.lead_photo.caption Gerry Tritz/News Tribune From right, homeowners Alan Wheat (with hat) and Chase Batye chat with Joanie and Ken Brown, from left, during the Bittersweet Garden Clubs 21st annual garden tour Sunday. Many people on the tour asked the homeowners about the purple-and-pink mountain hydrangeas between the couples.

The house at 1212 Moreau Drive was built in 1917, toward the end of World War I. But the current owners, Alan Wheat and Chase Batye, didn't start working on the outside garden until 2018, more than 100 years later.

Despite the garden being a new addition to the home, hundreds of people flocked to see it during Sunday's 21st annual garden tour held by the Bittersweet Garden Club.

The five-garden tour typically draws around 400 people and raises up to $5,000 for the club, which uses the money for, among other things, college scholarships for people entering the fields of horticulture or agriculture.

The club described the garden as having a "majestic fountain, trademark planters that brim with variety and limestone pavers from Jefferson City's original Capitol." The sloped backyard contains layers of trees, shrubbery and perennials.

Many people stopped Wheat and Batye to ask them about their purple-and-pink mountain hydrangeas.

"It was always about wanting our home to look nice and inviting, to beautify the neighborhood," Wheat said. "We enjoy making things look better and improving our property. We enjoy people coming to see our home."

He said they chose mostly perennial garden beds that will come back year after year and plants that bloom at different times of the season.

He said they work in their gardens year-round, weather permitting.

"This is gorgeous, guys. Gorgeous," Joanie Brown said to Wheat and Batye.

"I just think this is an amazing transformation," she said shortly later. Brown, who lives in the neighborhood, said visitors get a different perspective when they enter the backyards of homes.

Ronda Thompson and Linda Block, co-chairwomen for the event, said the tour was canceled last year due to the pandemic, but the same five gardens planned for last year's tour were on the tour this year. Plus, all of the homeowners used the extra year to beautify their gardens even more than they were, Thompson said.

"I think that was a positive for being stuck at home in 2020," Block said.

She said tickets to the event sold well, although final numbers weren't available. The warm-but-breezy day escaped an earlier threat of rain, and attendance was great, Block and Thompson said.

"We know women, and we know women like to get out," Block said. "We were all confined for all those months. So these people who love gardens, I think this is a great opportunity for them to finally get together in a car and go and do the things they like to do."

"And I see a lot of men here too, which says a lot about the interest of gardening," Thompson added.

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