About 100 people gathered to celebrate the dedication of Nonie’s Garden at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on Sunday.
The garden is named for Nonie Krauss, an avid gardener, birder and lover of all things in nature. She was struck by a car and killed Sept. 30, 2007, while standing in her driveway with her dog, Cubby. I was privileged to work with Nonie in 2001 on The Heartland Garden, a weekly program on WFYI-TV, Channel 20 and other Indiana public television stations. She was the executive producer and I was her assistant. We’d stayed in touch and I’d just had lunch with her a few weeks before she was killed.
The television program celebrated gardening in the heartland with the same passion and gusto that Nonie lived her life. She was a generous spirit who embraced nature and learning.
In honor of that spirit, her husband, John L. Krauss, spearheaded an effort to create a space at the IMA, where he serves as vice chairman of the board of governors. After months of work, funds were raised, a site selected and purpose or mission of Nonie’s Garden was set in place.
“He wished for something elegant, graceful, and lively, to reflect her style and enthusiasm,” said Mark Zelonis, the Ruth Lilly Deputy Director of Environmental & Historic Preservation at the IMA.
Horticulture Manager Chad Franer and Horticulture Display Coordinator Irvin Etienne developed a design that met the goal of “a vibrant and elegant look; to give this difficult site some stature, texture, variety and drama,” Zelonis said during the dedication Sunday.
The first planting was last September with evergreens, white-bark birches and red-stem dogwoods. Draped in snow and ice the plants brightened the winter landscape and right at the entrance. “Comments from visitors and staff alike verified its success,” he said.
As planned, the addition of tulips and bleeding hearts brought a cheery dose of spring color, he said. The garden will have a change of scene at least three times a year.
The garden reflects a cherished attribute of his late wife — that she always made people feel welcome, said Krauss at the ceremony on Sunday. Later, he said, “It was a nice day this afternoon. Nonie would have been pleased.”
Zelonis said the next planting would be “exuberant, colorful and lush, expressing joy and life. We hope this garden will be a ‘perennial’ expression of Nonie’s love and appreciation for the beauty she saw in nature, and a fitting tribute to a woman who loved nature and gardens.”