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Whitings’ yard promises to shine during garden tour

The beautiful home that sits at 803 E. Highland View Court on Spokane’s South Side has a secret. A big secret.

Sure, the well-manicured front yard has many attractive, colorful plantings but it’s the 1-acre backyard that continually surprises first-time visitors.

Garden enthusiasts will have the opportunity to explore this garden and six others Saturday during the Spokane in Bloom Garden Tour. All of the gardens are located on the South Side and they have been carefully selected for this event by The Inland Empire Gardeners. Refer to the information box for tour details.

Craig and LeAnn Whiting have lived at their home on Highland View Court for 11 years. Craig is CEO of Rockwood Clinic and LeAnn is an artist.

While LeAnn jokes that she advises and directs more than she gardens, Craig recognizes the importance of her input.

“She’s a critical part of the garden process,” he said. “Her artist’s eye makes a big difference.”

When they bought their home, the large yard was very appealing to him. “Growing up on a ranch, I knew I didn’t want to farm a thousand acres so I took that experience and put it into a 1-acre experience where I could develop it just the way I wanted,” he explained.

Visitors will be enthralled by the scope of their garden. There are paths that meander along beds filled with hostas, bleeding hearts, coral bells and columbines.

“I’m the color person here,” LeAnn said. “I try to plant things that bloom at different times so we always have something appealing to look at. With hostas, for example, you can get so much variety in terms of leaf color and texture.”

From each garden path, there is an interesting view of the garden.

“With a yard this size, you’ll feel like you’re on a hike so you want to have rest areas,” Craig said.

There is a large, cascading waterfall, stone bridge, fire pit and patio to enjoy in different areas of the garden. But the backbone of the garden is certainly the huge rocks that Rock Placing Co. delivered and landscaper Harold Zeutschel arranged.

The Whitings’ biggest challenge has been the microclimate that their garden is located in.

“We’re in a bit of a cold pocket here so we learned through the school of hard knocks that some things won’t grow here,” LeAnn said. “But that’s what’s great about gardening: If you try something and it doesn’t work, it gives you the opportunity to do something different.”

“For me,” Craig added, “gardening is one of those very relaxing things where I can forget about the pressures of being a surgeon and a CEO and just worry about pulling weeds. When you’re gardening, you have a sense of accomplishment because you can see it progress no matter what you’re doing.”

The following gardens are also a part of the tour:

Marianna Rieg, 3157 E. 35th Ave. – This garden was designed using the Chinese art and science of feng shui to foster harmony and good health. Learn about the design principles while checking out the flowers, trees, shrubs, vegetables and fruits.

Maralee and John Karwoski, 6303 S. Summerwood St. – These gardeners were not daunted by their steep lot or wildlife challenges. Enjoy the Mediterranean-style garden, woodland garden, creative container plantings, whimsical bottle tree and wealth of unusual plants.

Carol and Terry Newcomb, Northland Rosarium, 9405 S. Williams Lane – The owners of Northland Rosarium – a nursery featuring winter-hardy, nongrafted roses – will be sharing their display gardens of more than 1,000 roses interplanted with attractive perennials, vines, trees and shrubs.

Nancy and Patric Sazama, 2404 W. Taylor Road – Explore a cottage garden bursting with colorful perennials and shrubs, a huge vegetable garden, orchard and productive blueberry patch, all in a relaxed rural setting.

Cathi Lamoreux and Dave Lipton, 3311 E. 65th Ave. – This 15-year-old garden is divided into garden rooms containing perennials, ornamental grasses, vegetables, water features, garden art and more. There are many places to sit and enjoy this delightful setting.

MaryJo Buckingham and Paul Fitzpatrick, 2328 S. Pittsburg St. – This Japanese garden incorporates natural basalt rock formations, stone lanterns and carefully framed views to enhance the peaceful surroundings.

Susan Mulvihill can be reached via email at Visit her blog at for more gardening information, tips and events.

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