The Voorheis home in Pine Cove, also known as Pine Cove Gardens, is a cottage-style “certified wildlife habitat.” Photo courtesy of Harold Voorheis

Discover Idyllwild’s botanical wonderlands, a treasure of delightful gardens normally hidden from view. They are all yours during this year’s Idyllwild Mountain Garden Tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 22. On this self-guided tour, learn how mountain gardeners planted attractive native plants with popular garden varieties for year-round flowering and gorgeous foliage. Walk through a unique variety of gardens you can only find in mountain settings like Idyllwild.

The Voorheis home garden also is known as Pine Cove Gardens. A natural canopy of incense cedars, pines and oaks allow rhododendrons and camellias to flourish, complemented by native plants and ferns. The current owner — himself a horticulturist — turned a once-barren hillside into a verdant garden of meandering paths and water features with color for every season.

Continuing on this year’s tour is the Levitski house, found only through a secluded drive into their private estate. A sensual feast awaits you in seeing a variety of gardens, both shady and sunny, caringly planted amid backdrops of natural rock, boulders and breathtaking vistas. Enjoy this enchanting combination of native and non-native plants in a fabulous display of perennial gardening.

The Warwick house offers beautiful hillside gardens transformed by gorgeous stonework terracing, using the “old-school” style of no-mortar construction — an approach offering the feeling of being in a well-established vintage garden. Peonies, Japanese maples and a woodland garden create such tranquility.

Bold and striking water features abound at the Gioeli home. Passing through enormous closed gates, senses come alive at the dazzling vision of cascading water just outside the Craftsman guesthouse. Artfully sculpted Japanese maples create dappled areas of calm as you follow stone paths among evergreens and native perennials.

At the Brown house, enter a beautiful example of shade gardening. A quiet and restful retreat awaits you under tall native trees. Sweet woodruff lushly covers the grounds. Winding garden paths take you past these fragrant spring blooms to a sunny spot where roses and perennials flourish. See how trellising with vining clematis creates a perfect background for raising the eye and creating garden magic.

Spirit Mountain has offered Idyllwild a graceful garden in which to hold retreats and workshops for many years. To the delight of everyone who enters are extensive stonework paths and bridges over a seasonal stream that lead you through this flowering woodland forest.

The Idyllwild Area Historical Society Museum and Gardens is a glorious and on-going specimen garden of native flowering plants, which the Idyllwild Garden Club designed and maintained in partnership with the museum. Immediately in front of the museum, you will find a unique, hand-selected heirloom rose garden. These roses were specifically chosen for Idyllwild’s altitude and climate.

These seven gardens showcase inventive successes in dealing with challenges like drought, hillsides, rocks and shade. By using plants native to our mountains and to California — that also happen to be admirably resistant to pests and critters — you can follow the example of these Idyllwild gardeners and create your own small wonderland with year-round color, texture and habitat for birds.

The Idyllwild Garden Tour, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 22, costs $5 for a Garden Club members; $15 for a non-member; and $25 for two people ages 12 and over with any number of children under age 12. Before June 22, buy tickets at the Idyllwild Pharmacy in Strawberry Village Center or online at On June 22, buy tickets from 8:30 a.m. to noon near the “Harmony” tree monument on Village Center Drive.

Once you have your ticket with map and directions, you may visit the gardens in any order preferred. Docents are at each location.