Metro-East Living

These local gardens are sure to catch your eye

Collinsville Garden Tour features must-see yards

See the beautiful backyard of Eric McConachie and his wife Heather Stolte-McConachie.
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See the beautiful backyard of Eric McConachie and his wife Heather Stolte-McConachie.

It took 43 doors, 54 bags of mulch and uncountable trips to the local plant nurseries, but the McConachie garden is ready for the third annual garden tour in Collinsville.

The McConachie home is one of eight on the self-guided tour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Advance tickets are $12, day of tour tickets are $15 and available at Creekside Nursery, The Flower Basket, the Collinsville Chamber of Commerce office and Collinsville City Hall. Proceeds to go to renovating welcome signs for the city.

One of the eye-catching features of the McConachie garden is the background, at least once visitors notice it. Heather McConachie said they’ve had friends over who didn’t notice the fence was made of white-painted doors.

“Sometimes it takes people a little while to notice,” she said.

It was Heather’s idea to use solid wood doors painted white to fence in their in-ground pool, said her husband, Eric, but he was happy to participate.

Our yard is cool, but I didn’t know it was garden-tour worthy.

Heather McConachie

She said the idea probably came from Pinterest — “a husband’s worst nightmare,” Eric interjects — but she quickly decided the doors needed a unifying color.

“The colors stand off better” as well, Eric said, against the white background. They also put a string of LED lights at the top of the doors.

“It kind of gives it a skyline look” at night, Eric said.

“Our yard is cool, but I didn’t know it was garden-tour worthy,” Heather said.

Organizers disagreed, as did the Collinsville Community Appearance Board when the home took Yard of the Month honors a couple years ago.

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Planters and interesting combinations of foliage and flowers — showing a variety of textures and colors — in the backyard of Eric McConachie and Heather Stolte-McConachie of Collinsville. Tim Vizer tvizer@bnd.com

The McConachies’ small front yard has perennials flanking the porch, with bright annuals featured in the middle. The front and back yards are dotted with flowering perennials of lilies, coneflowers, hydrangea and phlox. Pots of SunPatiens spilling over the lip are next to large containers filled with herbs like parsley and thyme.

“I like things with constant color,” Heather said, in explanation of the abundance of SunPatiens and other annuals. Many of the flowers are pink or shades that compliment the shade, “which is kind of my favorite color.”

“We get nothing but sun,” Heather said, and they each spend at least 30 minutes a day watering and dead-heading the flowers.

Eric notes that he gets the much larger backyard to water, but that’s also where his raised vegetable beds are tucked away. The tomatoes, peppers and lettuces are not immediately seen from the door to the garden, and the plants are already bearing fruit.

The couple has lived in the home for more than 10 years. Many perennials were already established when they moved in, but they removed grass from the backyard and transplanted some of the flowering plants. They aren’t done yet, either.

“My vision is a covered over area with the grill and television,” Eric said.

Collinsville Garden Tour

  • What: Self-guided tour of eight gardens in Collinsville
  • When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
  • Tickets: Advance tickets are $12, day of tour tickets are $15 and available at Creekside Nursery, The Flower Basket, the Collinsville Chamber of Commerce office and Collinsville City Hall.
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