Panorama of Gardens

Visit Eight Wonderful Gardens Featured On This Year's Tour

June 8, 2005

Garden buffs should note their calendars for one of the premiere gardening events in the Gorge - the “Panorama Of Gardens” garden tour offered by OSU Master Gardeners, Columbia Gorge Chapter.

The 17th annual tour will be held on Saturday, June 18 in the Hood River Valley, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour switches between Hood River and Wasco counties each year. This year's tour features eight gardens from Hood River to Parkdale, as well as one demonstration area. All the gardens on the tour are wheelchair-accessible with the exception of the Laurance garden, which has some portions that are not accessible by wheelchair.

“The event this year is sure to please our regular and new attendees because all the gardens are so different and so spectacular,” said organizer Dede Garcia. “We have many different gardening techniques that will be displayed -- everything from small, compact gardens to large and rambling gardens. Garden buffs are sure to get many ideas for their own yards from this tour.”

Also featured will be a number of demonstrations: Everything from composting to container gardening will be demonstrated at some of the gardens, along with the annual plant sale which this year will be held at Mid Columbia Agriculture and Extension Center in Hood River. For the first time, Master Gardeners will be selling used garden tools and garden books at the plant sale as well.

The admission cost for the garden tour is $5 per person and includes a booklet with a map to the gardens and a description of each. Participants may start the tour at any one of the gardens or pick up tickets in advance at the following stores in Hood River or The Dalles: Waucoma Bookstore, Klindt’s Booksellers, Good News Gardening, Produce Kountry and Mt. Hood Country Store.

The eight gardens and one demonstration area featured in the tour this year are listed below; each very unique and featuring different gardening techniques and landscape ideas.

With an Artist’s Eye

Rod and Cheryl Laurance

4845 Culbertson Rd., Parkdale

A weeping China Bell, evergreen clematis, rhododendron, hydrangea and ferns flourish next to the stone steps that lead to the Laurances’ front door, where pots of flowers and bubbling water greet their guests. Rod, Cheryl and their two children moved into this house in 1992. Having outgrown their original home, they needed a larger space. It had to be the same neighborhood to accommodate their orchard business, and this wonderful spot popped up. They immediately began work on the landscaping. Rod installed the sprinkler system and helped with the heavier projects, while Cheryl designed the gardens. The results are beautiful.

A native willow — that was supposed to die — dominates the beds to the west of the house where wild ginger, goat's-beard, lilies of the valley and other woodland flowers blend seamlessly into the surroundings. Wandering along a path, a bronze dancing lady sculpture sways in the breeze.

The path continues through beds filled with flowering cherry, giant rhododendrons, variegated daphne, dogwood and shade-loving perennials. Cheryl has a 15-year-old tree peony that always gives her one huge bloom every year. Her father built the copper tubing and wire mesh trellis that provides support for sweet peas each summer. A weeping beech, miniature lilac, viburnums and more -- always more -- perennials demand attention.

Climbing pink roses and white Iceberg roses grow below the deck with its amazing view of Mount Hood. Chinese wisteria, buddleia, currants and an akebia also love it here. The east side of the house, bordered with junipers the previous owners planted, gives Cheryl “a place to stop.” The gravel path continues through massed plantings that include quaking aspen, a blue juniper topiary, Japanese maples and old-fashioned perennials.

Cheryl uses “scare balloons” to discourage the birds from her blueberries and also grows raspberries, New Zealand blackberries and boysenberries. A large vegetable garden with framed beds overlooks the natural pond below. Rod and Cheryl feed the 20 ducks that call it home.

A brick walkway leads to the upper lawn and gardens. More statuary and garden art are found amongst the lush beds. An Eagle Claw Japanese maple defied the odds and thrives in Cheryl’s Zone 3 garden. White rugosa roses, rhodies, azaleas, oak leaf hydrangeas and viburnums provide the bones for these beds. A weeping Golden Chain tree, large evergreens and birch trees tower over it all. A circular gazebo, ringed with boxwood, has a chandelier Cheryl had crafted at the local NAPA store.

The Laurances spend a lot of time in and near their beautiful home because of the orchard work and are soothed by the beauty of their surroundings. Cheryl is an artist whose paintings reflect the beauty she senses in the wonderful gardens she and Rod have created.

The Art of Simplicity

Brian Smith and

Bonnie LeBreton-Smith

3263 Odell Hwy., Odell

This is the first home together for Brian Smith and Bonnie LeBreton-Smith and it looks nothing like it did when they found it four years ago. Bonnie, who grew up in The Dalles, started gardening after college. Brian’s folks were gardeners in Montana where Brian recalls moving lots of sheep manure to help with the family’s vegetable garden. Their shared passions have totally transformed their home.

A new fence borders the property on the north. The ground was solid rock and Bonnie used a pick axe in the spots she wanted to plant. Rock accents and perennials now complete the area. Hydrangeas and an evergreen azalea grow next to the house with an orange trumpet vine, astilbe, salal and a camellia in the corner by the back porch.

For a Valentine’s gift two years ago, Brian redid an old building into a potting shed for Bonnie. He also built the new sidewalk that winds from the driveway across the front of the house. Stone accents and perennials, including delphinium, dianthus, penstemon, echinacea, and campanula groundcover fill the beds. English tea roses, a Japanese maple and a weeping cherry add beauty and height.

Formed concrete stepping stones lead around the side of the house with sun-loving plants in the bed. Bonnie leaves her dahlias in the ground and every year they have returned to add bright spots of color. Bonnie favors the cottage look, with native “wild-looking things” in informal settings, while Brian, with an eye for detail and orderliness, helps keep it all in check. Sash weights, from the old windows in the house, surround a bed of Scotch moss.

An iron trellis with a young wisteria clambering up its sides is set over the gate to the back yard. The entire area is fenced, keeping family pets, Gretta and Sophie, safe. A big old black locust fills the air with the perfume from its flowers. Brian loves to “just lay out there and be glad I live here.” A bird condo has been placed beneath the eves of the garage and Russian sage, lilies of the valley and a Ginger Snap rose grow below.

Brian and Bonnie made their patio from bricks they salvaged from the chimney in their house and are building a large raised-bed vegetable garden with rocks they have gathered. Their own compost helps provide fertile ground for the grapes, blueberries and Marionberries they have planted. The couple is growing a five-in-one apple, a three-in-one pear and a three-in-one cherry tree. The tranquility of their space offers reflection and relaxation for Bonnie and Brian, while they discuss their future plans -- a water feature, less grass and more flowers are next.

A Caregiver’s Touch

Pasquale and Jacquie Barone

1730 Orchard Rd., Hood River

The first thing that catches your eye when pulling into the Barones' beautiful home is the massive 100-year-old copper beech. And that’s what happened to Jacquie and Pasquale -- they saw the tree and bought the house. Jacquie says she couldn’t keep a cactus alive when they moved in. Much has changed in the last 16 years.

Early training by her artist mother had taught Jacquie that if a mistake is made when painting, “you just go over it.” That knowledge gave her the courage to begin creating wonderful flowing beds and landscaping. Creativity demanded a large new bed in the front of the house, and is being filled with perennials, a weeping cherry and a plum tree. Pasquale put in a zip line for his daughters, Kesia and Nina, and a play area, built with recycled wood, is tucked in amongst trees and garden beds.

A graveled path winds around a small pond and through lavender, hardy kiwi and roses. Jacquie’s parents brought them a bench from Canada that offers a peaceful view of a germander knot garden and a delightful chicken coop that Pasquale crafted from wood from an old barn on May Street. A fire pit was built with brick from an old well on the place.

The back of the house has a large stained concrete patio filled with delightful planted pots and is surrounded by a rock wall that leads down to the raised beds vegetable garden. Nestled next to a stand of trees, the Barones built a beautiful pond and waterfall last August. A grape arbor and wooden swing beckon you to sit and enjoy the beauty that enfolds you.

Pasquale constructed a charming greenhouse for Jacquie -- again recycling; this time using glass out of old sliding doors from Kreig Millwork. Jacquie winters over orchids, sets out her seedlings and keeps an olive tree and a huge prickly pear cactus; gifts from aunts in Italy. Raspberries, cherries, pears, apricots and plums are scattered over the lawn while espaliered apples edge the property.

A large quince graces a bed in the front of the house. Jacquie received the tree, as a small stick, 12 years ago from Mrs. Crippen who told her it was a Chinese Empress tree. Happy as a quince, it shelters the lush beds below. The beauty of the Barones' gardens is reflected in Jacquie’s philosophy, “you just see it.”

The Learning Garden

Hood River Co. Extension Office

2290 Experiment Station Dr.,

Hood River

Planning for the Learning Garden began in 2002 with OSU Horticulture Agent Steve Castagnoli and Master Gardener Program Assistant Elizabeth Daniel seeking input from OSU Master Gardeners, Columbia Gorge Chapter about the development of a garden that could be used to teach gardening methods to members of the community. A steering committee was formed in 2003, and proposals for garden features to be developed in the garden were requested from Master Gardeners.

In the Fall of 2003, workshops on site-surveying and soils were held at the Learning Garden. The steering committee also visited OSU Master Gardeners in Washington and Marion counties to solicit ideas from other demonstration gardens.

The “hell strip” (parking strip -- the area between the parking lot and sidewalk in front of the Extension Office) was the first feature developed in the Fall of 2003. The soil was amended using the layering of organic materials - called lasagna gardening technique -- and was planted with tulip, daffodil, and crocus donated by Marcie Short of Cascade Valley Farms. A layer of rock mulch was used on the top of this bed. This project is still being designed and planted with drought-tolerant natives and perennials.

The working compost demonstration area was developed next with donations from Waste Connections, Inc. and Hood River County. Paths and compost bins were constructed. Many different composting methods including worm composting and lasagna gardening (layering of organic materials) are demonstrated. In September 2004 the first public workshop was held at the completed compost site. In 2005 the site was used for a Master Gardener class and public workshop. Chery Sullivan from Waste Connections, Inc. will be available and have composting information available during the garden tour.

Work began on a formal herb garden in the Fall of 2004. Pine and juniper vegetation in front of the Extension office meeting room was removed, and a source for used brick was found at the tumbled-down brick schoolhouse in Klondike. Frank Welk, owner of the property in Klondike, donated the brick for use in the herb garden because he thought it was appropriate that the brick from the schoolhouse be used in an educational garden. This spring the paths have been built, and the planting of herbs is beginning. You can view the herb garden and get information on herbs during the garden tour.

A grant from Oregon Master Gardener Association and donations from local businesses and Hood River County were obtained to build a storage shed for the garden. This shed is nearing completion.

Additional garden features planned for the future include raised beds, eco-lawn/turf comparison, and an orchard-friendly fruit garden. Displays for the garden tour also include:

Solar sterilization display - See how you can use clear or black plastic to kill weeds and sterilize the soil; and

Tomato variety display - Several varieties of tomato plants will be planted for you to notice the differences in the size of the plants and variations in the leaves.

The Learning Garden will also host the plant/used tool/used book/rabbit manure/pot sale this year, with all proceeds going directly to development of the Learning Garden.

The Columbia Gorge Master Gardeners Association looks forward to partnering with individuals and businesses to make the Learning Garden an ongoing educational opportunity for the community. Information regarding opportunities for ways you can get involved and support the garden will be available during the Garden Tour.

A Gardener’s Legacy

Fred and Patricia Paige

6750 Hess Rd., Mt. Hood

Approaching the Paiges' home you’ll be greeted by their adorable dog Lucy, and an overwhelming sense of the majesty that the upper valley gives to all who visit. Fred and Patricia bought the property in 1987, shortly after getting married. They found it by mistake after making a wrong turn onto Highway 26 after visiting Central Oregon. Work on the house, built entirely by Fred and Patricia, began in 1991. Illness slowed the process but they started again in 1993.

A dry creek bed next to Hess Road sets the scene for a weeping birch, bridal wreath spirea, weigela and a miniature double lilac. Ash trees, peonies, delphiniums and fall crocus grow in an adjacent bed with basalt rock accents. A bed of daisies wave gaily and a flowering plum and dark leaf weigela add interest. A large new bed features Japanese maples, rhododendrons and viburnum. Next to it, a native stand of trees provides a bird sanctuary where the Paiges feed many varieties that seek the shelter. Always — the pond and the view — you can’t escape their presence. Fred and Patricia built the pond in 1990 and it has been home to migrating ducks and geese ever since.

Master Gardeners since 1995, the Paiges have incorporated their knowledge and passion to build outstanding presentations of the right way to garden and both are well-regarded for their skills. Patricia, fondly known as George, specializes in lasagna gardening, and Fred is THE compost guru. Needless to say, all plants thrive under their care.

A fenced vegetable garden with terraced raised beds sits right off the kitchen, filled to overflowing with favorite veggies and herbs. A water feature splashes to the small pond below. Red, golden and black raspberries bear abundantly, planted near Fred’s composting. On a Keifer pear tree the Paiges have grafted three varieties of Asian pears. George built the new fence near the compost area while Fred received two new knees this spring.

The cobbled patio in the front of the house is bordered by a myriad of shrubs, trees and perennials. A new bed, terraced to the lawn below, has four types of oregano, strawberries, a weeping cherry and a variegated Hiruko willow at its base. Fred built the arbor on the east side of the patio and summer finds it covered by a single-blooming, beautiful red rose.

An island bed in the driveway was mounded and draws its interest from a burning bush, bird's-nest spruce, native Oregon Sunshine, perennials and stone steps. Ornamental grasses, euonymus, spirea, lupines, hostas, columbine, roses and lilies all grow in lush abundance in the gardens that Fred and George Paige have passionately and painstakingly created.

In Praise of Tradition

Alan and Bobbie Solle

3324 Ehrck Hill Rd., Odell

Alan has lived in his home for 30 years and used to raise strawberries. He later put in an orchard, and 17 years ago, brought his wife Bobbie to this remarkable place. Bobbie had lived in the city and did some container gardening -- nothing like what awaited her in her new home. Alan has long been a gardener and together, he and Bobbie have created an expansive and beautiful landscape.

Much-loved family pets, Caesar and Bandit, are kept secure behind a new fence. Wire columns, filled with small river rock, hold the wooden rails in place. Passing beneath an arbor, guests stroll along a new concrete and brick walkway, bordered by juniper topiaries, which welcomes them to the back porch entry. Large hydrangeas, hostas, hellebores and rhododendrons thrive next to the porch.

Alan laid the brick for their large circular patio. Cherry trees were replaced with grapes and a sweeping vista of the east side of the Hood River Valley now offers a Tuscan repose. Wally, an African Senegal, also enjoys the view in summer. Bobbie gardens for the soothing therapeutic gifts her gardens offer and admits she has become addicted. A planned brick water feature next to the side of the house will fit into massed perennial and rose beds.

An island bed features a clematis-covered arbor and small pond with water lilies. Daylilies, Siberian iris, daisies and hollyhocks clamber throughout. Bobbie mentions that her favorite plants are lilies and she loves Casablanca, because of their beauty and that they require little care. An old child’s bed is filled with petunias each summer. A surprise to find is a windmill palm, native to the mountains of China.

A magnificent tulip tree shelters the lush gardens beneath. A huge tree, its identity a mystery, stands sentinel. A large center bed, ringed with boxwood, holds astilbes, tree peonies, Japanese maple, spiraea and more. Garden ornaments are everywhere, as are birdhouses, often found nestled amongst old rhododendrons. Lush plantings of bulbs abound in spring.

Birch trees and a weeping Norway spruce offer structure to a perennial-filled bed next to the drive. Two years ago, Alan lined the drive with Italian cypress, lending another European feel to their home. Yellow and orange azaleas, trumpet vines, more Japanese maples and dogwood grace the beds next to the house. Birdbaths and benches offer comfort to all. The Solles share their love of home and gardens with chickens, horses, goats and cows, cats Fluffy and Slyvester, and of course, Bandit and Caesar.

A Gracious Way

Inn at the Gorge

Marilyn Fox and John Johnson

1113 Eugene St., Hood River

Living in Colorado at 9000 feet offered only a 28-day growing season. The Columbia River Gorge offered windsurfing, and so they came. John and Marilyn had managed a bed and breakfast and found it to their liking, so six years ago when they learned the inn on Eugene St. was for sale, they decided to settle in Hood River. John says there was no plan and has no idea why they’re here, just that they love it. Marilyn marvels that she can dig and not run into rocks and that “things just grow here.”

There were some roses and shrubs around the 1908 home when John and Marilyn bought it. They have added beautiful rockwork and created new gardens. Hidden from a busy street, a lovely bricked eating area off the kitchen is surrounded by a rock wall with white Simplicity roses and trailing lobelia. A young wisteria winds it way up the kitchen wall and pots of annuals and rose of Sharon sit about. Dogwoods, daylilies and an old wild rose grow in back of the lawn. A small rose garden is home to roses from the gardens of Joannie Elmgren.

Laurels and cedars, with underplantings of myrtle, lead to the vegetable garden. A composting area is tucked into the corner, assisting with the vigorous growth of the herbs, veggies, raspberries, plum and cherry trees that are cultivated. The rock walled garden also has lilies, dahlias, kiwi and a summer cutting garden.

John has built a beautiful new wood fence near the driveway. The bed next to it has yellow and orange climbing roses, delphiniums, clematis and burning bush filling it lushly with color in the summer, while daffodils and grape hyacinths welcome spring. A gorgeous Japanese maple, white roses, Nelly Moser clematis and sweet William fill the beds on the upper east side and weigela, peonies and climbing roses thrive next to the house.

John also laid the brick walkways that lead to the front yard and porch. Large rhododendrons flank each side of the steps leading to the large covered porch. John is responsible for the beautiful hanging baskets the Inn is famous for. The gardens in front of the house are filled with calla lilies, cranesbill geraniums, peonies and iris. Honeysuckle and a climbing rose reach up to the porch, while boxwoods follow the steps to the sidewalk.

Another beautiful Japanese maple leads the way around the west side of the house, an area Marilyn and John found dark and foreboding. They tackled the large cedar trees, limbing them up and allowing for more light to enter the space. Rhododendrons and ferns are the beginnings of a shade garden that has brought new life to the area.

Ever-gracious hosts, John and Marilyn love sharing their home with the bed and breakfast's many guests. They agree that “if you have to work, this is great,” adding that the best people stay in B and B’s. Their lovely gardens help make it extra special for those who come.

A Well-Chosen Path

Walter and Connie Rugh

3801 Straight Hill Rd., Hood River

Having raised their two daughters in California, Walt and Connie Rugh were seeking a life change. One of their daughters’ friends told them about Hood River and they came to see the area. While staying at York Hill House, they were told about ‘this place.’ First glance told them “this feels like home” and views of both mounts Adams and Hood clinched it. Returning home, they packed up, even flying Sam the cat to his new home. They’ve been here for 16 years now.

The front yard is home to the largest weeping birch tree nurseryman Steve Richter says he has ever seen. Its estimated age is 80 years. Mixed perennial beds cover the front of the house with a bench tucked in for reflecting. A huge wisteria grows across the old garage that Walter rebuilt.

The Rughs now have an established bed and breakfast in their home and provide fairy-tale settings for weddings. More wisteria covers the north-facing porch arbor and fuchsia baskets hang overhead. The gardens below are a favorite for weddings, with Mount Adams looking over the valley. David Austin roses Othello, Mary Rose and Bonita soften the view. An arbor, covered with roses Cecil Brunner and New Dawn, and a purple clematis woven throughout, arches over a pathway leading into the garden.

Connie’s passion for gardening began early. Both her grandmother and her mother were avid gardeners and Connie worked at their sides, learning to appreciate and love growing things. She learned flower arranging and loves container planting. Walt says he is a country boy at heart and learned by necessity after moving here. Connie and Walt plan and work together, with Connie envisioning and Walt doing. It all works well -- the couple celebrated 45 years of marriage on May l of this year!

Walter has built a wooden bridge that crosses a small water feature and has plans for its continuation into a pond. Old oaks and lilacs shelter a gravel path that meanders through peonies, Siberian iris, rhododendrons, and Bergenia that came from Connie’s mother’s garden. Walt's wonderful rockwork is everywhere and large flowering shrubs and perennials fill every gap.

Magnificent cedars, rhododendrons and dogwoods grow on the east side of Connie and Walter’s home, with old-fashioned perennials thriving in the shade below. Four years ago they put in a new bed by the driveway, planting cedar of Lebanon, red twig dogwood, a weeping cherry and Iceberg roses that now help greet those who come to visit.

A Process of Selection

Hood River Lavender

Joel and Diane Orcutt

3801 Straight Hill Rd., Hood River

Three years ago, while living in Beaverton and wanting to return to Hood River, Joel and Diane Orcutt had a vision. They wanted to utilize the land around established orchards and they wanted to grow organic lavender. Walt Rugh offered to lease them two acres and they also found two-and-a-half acres in the Oak Grove area. The farm in Oak Grove is a wholesale production, providing essential oils, bath and beauty products, and fresh and dried bouquets.

Joel propagates all their plants. Hood River Lavender now has 21 varieties of lavender and, when fully planted, there will be 42. Gross Bleu, Hidcote Giant, Grosso and Seal are a few of the purple species, with Alba and Melissa providing white flowers.

A new 12 x16 foot cottage will house retail sales. French doors, salvaged from a 1920 local house, open to a patio. Customers and visitors can sit and enjoy the surroundings, have a picnic or rent the facility for weddings and teas. The farm is listed as a tour attraction with tour groups; one where you can cut bundles of lavender all day long, basking in the scents and beauty of the plants.

Diane finds it peaceful to work outside, and senses the calming and healing that lavender provides. Joel has always been involved in gardens and refers to himself as a backyard chemist. He was a manager for the garden centers for Home Depot and designed the layout used in their stores on the West Coast.

Diane and Joel have made their venture wheelchair accessible and welcome all to come, even if just to visit. Open to the public from 10-5 daily, May 27-October 31 this year, the Orcutts’ motto says it all, “When life gets to you, get to the lavender.”

The Annual Garden Tour is the biggest fund-raiser of the year for the Columbia Gorge Master Gardener Association, which helps support and promote the Oregon State University Master Gardener Program. The Master Gardener Program is made up of community volunteers who provide gardening advice to home gardeners through a number of community events and services. For more information about the Panorama of Gardens Tour, contact the Hood River County Extension Office at (541) 386-3433 or the Wasco County/OSU Extension Office at (541) 296-5494.

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