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Kaleidoscope of color offers reprieve from winter palette

This time of year, Spokane’s landscape usually has turned to shades of tan and brown. Most blooming plants have taken a hiatus with the recent heat and will come back around after it cools off.

Not in Dixie and Allan LeTourneau’s yard, though. You could see the brilliant purple and pink Wave petunias a block away. Didn’t have to go hunting for that house number.

“We like a lot of color,” said Allan. “The winters are so long and dark that we look forward to the color in the summer.” It was easy to see why they won the July Garden of the Month award from The Inland Empire Gardeners.

The LeTourneaus’ garden is located halfway up the Five Mile Bluff with a view of north Spokane. The house was built in the late ’60s and the couple added a three-story addition recently, giving the house a nicely updated look. When the LeTourneaus moved in four years ago, there were very few flat spots in the garden. That was perfect for Allan, who likes to build.

And build he did. He built a wall at the street to level the front yard. Using basalt from the demolition of his old chimney and fireplace, he faced the house foundation and built planting islands in the new, level lawn. They then filled the beds along the wall with pink and purple petunias that drape over the wall. Backing these border plants are low-growing dahlias that were just beginning to put on their late-summer show.

They preserved several old shrubs, including a huge rhododendron from the house’s original landscaping that anchored the new plantings and gave them a more settled look. These older foundation plantings were updated with delphiniums and hydrangea.

The walk to the backyard took us past one of their rose beds. When they moved four years ago, Allan took cuttings of some of his favorites and rooted them. Even with the harsh weather last winter they were beautiful.

While Allan does the construction, Dixie is the weeder and deadheader. “I like coming out and making things look pretty,” she said of her nearly daily walks through the garden. “After the long winter, it is wonderful to get back in the color of the garden.”

In the backyard, the slope is even more pronounced. To tame it, Allan built another wall and a cascading series of waterfalls flanked with perennials and grasses. The rock for the project came from the recent construction of the north-south freeway. He installed a series of colored lights on the waterfalls that they enjoy watching in the evening from the deck.

Edging the wall is a colorful mixture of perennials, roses and annuals. Above the wall at the back of their property, they have a small vegetable garden and several climbing roses. They removed a large maple recently, and to hide the stump, built a planter on top of it out of an old waterbed frame.

“Everything gets reused around here,” Allan said.