“A treasure of delightful gardens that are normally secluded from view are all yours during this year’s Idyllwild Mountain Garden Tour,” said Harold Voorheis, coordinator of this year’s tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 7.
The annual Idyllwild Garden Club Tour is a self-guided event. This year, in addition to six individual home gardens, the tour will include the mountain’s art sculpture garden. Also new this year is a collaboration with the Art Alliance of Idyllwild. Plein air artists will be painting at each garden.
Mountain gardeners have planted attractive native plants with popular garden varieties for year-round flowering and gorgeous foliage.
Near Idyllwild’s noted Inspiration Point is a view of the Lilieholm garden. This garden explores and enhances the nature of what was already here on site. With strategic extraction of oak brush, the introduction of local mountain natives first, then more broadly many California species, this garden reveals the unique climate and the challenging rocky ridgeline site through varied expressions of adapted plants. Also, note the rooftop “troughs” for deer-, snake- and gopher-free, organic vegetable gardening.
The Kelley garden, a natural, rugged chaparral landscape of rocks and magnificent boulders, is also near Inspiration Point. Primarily a front garden, the adjacent hillside and two borders along a circular driveway demonstrate the interplay of a large host of tough, drought-tolerant native flowering plants that play in and between the boulders and rocky outcroppings. Included are firecracker and rocky mountain penstemons, white sage and apricot mallow, to name just a few. The native flora provides food and shelter for butterflies and birds, minimizes irrigation, and adds color, fragrance and seasonal interest.
The Sobel garden, just a very short drive to Mountain Center, is an “all-white, flowering” garden. Here is a very personal garden that invites repose and reflection on this 5-acre mountain hillside property. It is a mix of the classical, structured Italian- or Spanish-style “villa” gardens with a definite relaxed California-style influence. The garden is a series of “outdoor rooms” with white-flowering perennials, shrubs and small trees woven together in a soft background tapestry of green and silver foliage. In spring, a massive canopy of white wisteria covers a long entry walk of the home. Garden sculpture throughout the garden provides keen visual interest and accents the plantings. This garden was featured several years ago, but now offers visitors many new additions.
A bonus for the trip to Mountain Center, is the addition of Dore’s Mountain Art Garden. The sculpture gardens and two small galleries are located on a beautiful, rolling multi-acre site with many native shrubs and trees. Here may be seen the creative works of an artist that allows him to bend, twist and push molten metal into unique visions of outdoor art. The garden includes the work of both owners, metal sculpture by Dore Capitani and environmental photography by Trish Tuley.
In Idyllwild, the tour offers the Hopper garden. The first striking feature of this landscape garden is a long-entry drive flanked by American Quaking Aspens (Populus tremuloides) more than 30 years old. The front garden is a natural and uncomplicated mix of pink mountain currents; native, scalet bugler penstemon; manzanita and mahonia (grape holly); coral bells; Ponderosa pine; black oak; and several old, mature tea roses. In the backyard, one can see a magnificent “wall” of climbing roses that offers a sweet flowering scent for much of the summer.
Nearby is the new Miller garden, which was inspired and originated from a design on the 2011 Tour. Dennis Cavanaugh designed and installed the garden, which uses a series of wood and lattice shade structures with whimsical hanging elements that mimic a wall with a window while dried manzanita and cedar branches interlace the lattice sides and cover. The garden is composed of a series of colorful native and compatible perennial beds accented by numerous larger shrubs, and unusual hybrid evergreen ornamentals of cypress, juniper, cedar and spruce, many with an Asian flair.
A charming vintage home surrounded by a mature and restful landscape is the setting for the Jones/Hiemenz garden in the Fern Valley neighborhood. Surrounding the home is a decade-long work-in-progress developing a native garden that greets visitors with a diverse selection of partial sun and shade plants that flourish in the mountain climate. Designed and planted by Bronwyn Jones, native plant enthusiast and also an owner of Lily Rock Native Garden Nursery in Idyllwild, one may see a choice blend of flowering shrubs and perennial-like salvias, penstemons, columbine and bush anemone, along with lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia), English hollies, flowering currents and manzanitas. Mature black oaks, Ponderosa pines and incense cedars form the garden canopy while a white dogwood and redbud accent.
The Idyllwild Area Historical Society Museum and Gardens, a cooperative venture of the Idyllwild Garden Club and the museum, showcases a demonstration garden of plants, shrubs and trees that grow well in the Southern California mountains. There is an emphasis on utilizing California and other western U.S. native flora; however, compatible species from other regions (especially the Mediterranean) have been inter-planted. This stop includes refreshments, a separate sale of home-style baked goods and several local artists featuring mountain creations for the patio and garden.
Ticket prices for the tour are $15 per person or $25 for two people. Before June 7, tickets are available at the Idyllwild Pharmacy in Strawberry Creek Square, Lily Rock Native Garden Nursery on North Circle Drive and online at www.idyllwildgardenclub.net.
From 8:30 a.m. to noon the day of the tour, tickets may be purchased at 54385 North Circle Dr., Idyllwild, in front of Lily Rock Native Garden Nursery (across from “Mountain Mike’s). After 11 a.m., they may also be purchased at the Idyllwild Area Historical Society Museum, 54470 North Circle Dr.