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Garden a go-go

Fri., June 20, 2008, midnight

Seeing the vivid blooms, birds and greenery in Nancy Santschi-Apodaca’s mature South Hill garden, it’s hard to believe she had to lug old tires and debris from the place before turning the first spade of dirt.

Formerly rental property, the cedar rancher and its sloped backyard had been neglected for 16 years before she purchased them, the Spokane native said.

Now, her lawn and gardens are a microcosm of the Inland Northwest. Immense Ponderosa pines. Flowing streams. A life-size horse sculpture. And blooming red, white, pink and purple perennials fill every inch of the front, side and back yards.

“I buy things that I like and stick them here and stick them there. There’s no real plan,” Santschi-Apodaca said of her landscape restoration efforts.

Saturday, her outdoor retreat will be among seven gardens showcased in the 2008 Spokane in Bloom garden tour.

ViAnn Meyer is president of the Inland Empire Garden Club, the event’s sponsor.

“We look for gardens that will inspire others and give the public ideas, whether it’s cool plantings, great entertaining areas, creative container gardens or exceptional use of art in the garden,” Meyer said.

Each stop features a “gardener’s garden” lovingly created by homeowners who do most of the yard work themselves, she added.

Santschi-Apodaca, for instance, didn’t want the headache of a large lawn. So she ripped out half the grass and planted oodles of ground cover in its place. The prolific creepers thrive in partial shade and require less water than a big lawn, she said.

Peonies, variegated Dutch iris, ornamental shrubs and rare flowers break up the greenery. Containers of brightly colored geraniums and petunias swing from trellises and trees.

Santschi-Apodaca also incorporated native basalt, wildflowers and bird houses throughout the landscape, a favorite haven for deer and herons, she said. Unlike a formal garden, which can be viewed and absorbed at one glance, her garden is more random and natural, she said, so one must stroll the grounds and study the landscape to see it all.

She’s added rugged stone benches and furniture from which to soak it all up.

Adding to the tour’s celebratory atmosphere will be musicians, garden artists, crafters and plant and gardening supply vendors, Meyer said.

“Is there anything more fun to do at the start of summer than to stroll some beautiful gardens, listen to live music, see local fine artists, view garden related vendors, buy neat plants and … enjoy a gourmet lunch in a garden setting?” Meyer asked.

Tour proceeds support the club’s community service programs, most of which feed the hungry and assist struggling women and children, according to a garden club press release.


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