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Peeking over the fence 

by Pat Munts

Grab your camera and notebook, fill the gas tank and clear the calendar for July 15 and 22 and August 5. It's touring season in some of Spokane's best gardens.

The Inland Empire

Gardeners Tour

On Sunday, the Inland Empire Gardeners will hold its first public tour, Spokane in Bloom. The tour is featuring four gardens that have won the Garden of the Month award and the garden that served as the inspiration for the story of the "The $100,000 Stray Cat" in the new national bestseller, Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul. The Garden of the Month contest is a collaboration of the TIEG, The Spokesman-Review and Northwest Seed and Pet. Since 1998, one garden each month between May and August is selected each year based on design, maintenance, creativity and heart. Each garden will have a theme.

"This is our first show open to the public," says ViAnn Meyers, president of the TIEG. "We hope to hold it every other year."

In the Harmonic Hosta Garden, visitors will be treated to a display of more than 300 hostas, 25 Japanese maples, ferns, day lilies and astilbes all planted into a steep and well-shaded hillside. Live music and art will add another pleasant dimension to your visit.

The Literary Garden will feature a natural wildlife sanctuary with a cat theme. This garden got its start as a way for Oliver the cat to enjoy the outdoors without disturbing the wildlife. It inspired the story in the new Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul. Several authors of local gardening and history books will be on hand to sign (and sell) their books. The WSU Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions. Several crafts people will be present, and a lunch will be available from Portobello's Restaurant.

In the Plant Connoisseur's Garden, you will find a garden jam-packed with unusual roses, day lilies, hostas and collector plants.

"This is one of Spokane's top five gardens," says Meyers, president of TIEG. This was the first garden awarded the Garden of the Month honor in 1998. On hand will be several artists: Naylor Creek Nursery, the Northwest's premier shade garden nursery from the Olympic Peninsula and the Spokane Hosta Society.

Crafts will be featured in the Crafters' Garden, including owners Lynn and Tim Mair's birdhouses and benches and a quilt and needlework show from Kaleidoscope Quilting. All this in a setting of classic mixed borders for perennials, annuals and roses.

The walk through the Artist's Garden will take you through a wonderful play of texture, form and flow. The garden features woodlands, a bog, tropicals and vegetables arranged as much for their function as their form. This garden won a beautification award from the Gardeners of America. Members of the Spokane Water Colorists Society will be displaying some of their work as will the garden owner, Bob Snider.

Hours of the tour are 10 am to 5 pm, July 15. Tickets are $7 and are available at both Northwest Seed and Pets' locations, 7302 N. Division and 2422 E. Sprague, or Mel's Nursery at 8800 N. Division, or by calling 535-5903.

Inland Empire Water Garden and Koi Society Pond Tour

An old proverb states that a garden without water is like a face without eyes. Water is an oasis, a place of rejuvenation and tranquility. On Sunday, July 22, the Inland Empire Water Garden and Koi Society will bring the proverb to life as they host their 4th annual tour of eight members' ponds and gardens. The ponds on the tour range from simple to complex; large to small -- all are different and represent the owners' joy of water gardening and/or fish keeping.

Each garden will have a different arrangement of water plants, koi and/or goldfish (there is a difference!) and beautiful pond and garden landscaping. Water gardens are possible in even the smallest backyard patio. This will also be an opportunity to learn about building and managing ponds. Resident members of the society will be demonstrating a variety of construction techniques, materials used, filter management, waterfalls and space management. The pond sites have an abundance of lush water lilies, lotus, papyrus and many different kinds of grasses and cattails. Fish are the moving "jewels" of the gardens and add an element of movement in the garden that is entrancing to the visitor.

The pond tour runs from 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday, July 22. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at Koi Gardens, Blue Iris Gardens, Smart Gardens, Post Falls Garden Center and Something Fishy. For more information, please call 466-2082.

The Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane's 16th Annual Garden Tour

On Sunday, August 5, the Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane will host its 16th annual tour of members' gardens. This year's tour will feature gardens on Spokane's north side.

"All of our gardens are the work of the individual gardener," says Norma Gavin, tour chairperson. "Each garden is an expression of the gardeners' passions and expertise rather than work of professional designers and maintenance people."

There are seven gardens on this year's tour that range from small to fairly large and with a wide variety of styles of landscaping. Several of the gardens will feature beautiful arrangements of perennials, hostas and annuals that create a sense of tranquility and peace. Adaptations to site elements will be featured in several of the gardens. Some of these adaptations include dealing with shade, rocks and clay, small spaces and uses such as sports courts. These will be good sources of ideas that can be included in any garden. Several of the gardens will showcase plants chosen for low maintenance or for attracting birds to the garden. Others will show off plants tended as if they were sculptures. Above all else, each garden is an expression of its owners.

The Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane is one of the oldest garden clubs in the region. Formed in 1933 from the Spokane Floral Association and seven other clubs, the association has grown to include 18 clubs with a membership of nearly 400. The association is largely responsible for the development of the promotion of Spokane as the Lilac City.

The show will run from 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday, August 5. Tickets are $5 with children under 12 free. Advanced tickets can be purchased by calling any of the following numbers: 448-1211, 448-6464 or 838-1275.

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