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Garden Clubs’ tour showcases five South Side yards

Tue., July 27, 2010

Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane is reaching a milestone on Sunday with its 25th annual residential yard and garden tour.

Five homes on the South Side have been selected for this year’s tour. If you go, expect to see a lot of color and plant selections. You may get a chance to meet passionate gardeners like Jean LaBauve.

“The garden to me is kind of a picture of the soul,” said LaBauve, whose home garden is on the tour.

Her yard is a colorful mix of perennials and annuals artfully woven around a standard city lot at 1120 E. 38th Ave.

LaBauve has teamed up with her neighbor to the east to create a seamless transition between the two adjoining, well-manicured front yards.

“I like color,” LaBauve said. “Whatever plant calls my name, I buy it and bring it home.”

Be sure to check out her homemade pathway fashioned from bricks and geometric tiles.

The tour, which began in 1986 and draws about 400 visitors, doesn’t just showcase beautiful gardens; its proceeds help beautify Spokane as well.

Proceeds have gone toward the installation of a new welcome sign at the Interstate 90 Division Street exit. A gazebo, stair railing, benches, urn and pool at the Duncan Garden at Manito Park are also among improvements donated by the organization.

This year’s tour also features Fred Carter’s childhood home at 3127 E. 14th Ave.

When he was younger, Carter said, he hated gardening. But after his mother died in 1997, he devoted himself to restoring the garden, a combination of formal and informal design.

“Usually, I’m up by 5 o’clock in the morning” to get a jump on watering an abundance of potted plants, which Carter winters over in a small greenhouse at the back of his 1905 house. Begonias, angel trumpet and Lily-of-the-Nile are among them.

A mixed bed includes showy cleome, which Carter raised from seed. The plant’s leaves resemble marijuana.

Rock work and walkways divide the garden into separate spaces. An old pump house has been converted to an outdoor kitchen. A focal point is a basalt rock overlook accessible from a hand-built rock staircase and railing.

Neighborhood lore has it that Teddy Roosevelt addressed a gathering from the top of the rock in 1911, Carter said.

When he was a kid, the outlook was a draw for children from surrounding homes. “It was quite a privilege to be born and raised here.”

Associated Garden Clubs formed in 1933 as a collaborative effort of several clubs in town, with the goal of making Spokane the Lilac City. In 1938, the organization sponsored a lilac flower show and small parade, which grew into the annual Lilac Festival torchlight parade in Spokane.

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