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In the Garden: CdA tour lets visitors explore others’ labors

Sun., July 7, 2013

One of the high points of summer is the Coeur d’Alene Garden Club’s annual garden tour. It will feature five gardens in Coeur d’Alene, Dalton Gardens and Hayden, and is scheduled for next Sunday. There will also be a surprise sixth garden included in the tour.

For someone who didn’t want to grow any flowers or pull any weeds, Claudia Lowry has an amazing garden to share. She and friend Bob Bloem have spent the past 10 years creating a fantastic landscape that everyone will enjoy exploring.

“I’d never gardened before,” Lowry said. “My plan was to take care of the inside of my house and Bob would take care of the outside. But I soon discovered gardening is very therapeutic.”

Located at 8538 N. Lochwood Court, in Hayden, this garden was built on a slope right next to the forest. Visitors will enjoy following the curving walkways that lead to attractive vistas and splashing water features.

There are many whimsical elements to see: the Hobbit house built from remnants of an old cherry tree, the castle wall that includes a curved bench, and the duck garden, so-named “because you have to duck to get into it,” Lowry joked.

They’ve used the varying shades of green and gold hostas, mosses, shrubs and trees to create a serene backdrop to the garden. “The light changes throughout the day to give the garden a different look,” Bloem said.

Blooming annuals and perennials like peonies, columbines and salvias provide color throughout the garden. Roses and clematis spill over the arbors, and there is a lush fern garden. All of the plant material was chosen to provide colors that change through the seasons.

Bloem has built the pergola, porch swing, Hobbit table and benches, and many structures by recycling materials from the house and garden. He also built rock walls to line the pathways.

This year, they have incorporated vegetable plants into different areas of the landscape. Tomatoes grow in planter boxes with a lattice trellis. Carrots, strawberries and blueberries have been planted for the Hobbits to snack on, Lowry said with a smile.

“The neat thing about a garden is there are no mistakes,” Bloem said. “If you do something wrong, you can do it over. We had to learn and figure everything out, but this is something we’ve really enjoyed doing.”

The following gardens are also a part of the tour:

Dan Dolezal and Vern Harvey, 4405 Vista Loop, Coeur d’Alene – This secluded garden was featured in the 2005 and 2009 tours, but don’t let that stop you from taking a look. It is surrounded by a grapevine-covered deer fence to protect the diverse plantings. The garden is situated on multiple levels, each with attractive views, and features Roman-style fountains, raised-bed garden, fruit orchard, and exotic chickens and emus.

Greg Guillet and Shari Sugimura, 901 Pine Ave., Coeur d’Alene – Visitors are sure to leave this whimsical garden with plenty of ideas. The owners have recycled and repurposed found materials to create garden art and an eye-catching fence. Native plants, plant gifts from neighbors and many rescues from local nurseries all come together to form an appealing garden.

Patti Larson, 924 Front Ave., Coeur d’Alene – The white picket fence is just a hint of what’s inside: perennials, roses, colorful annuals, water features, garden sculptures and plenty of birdhouses. There’s also a wheelchair-accessible raised-bed vegetable garden and painted tires filled with trailing, blooming plants hanging on the side of the barn.

Henry and Debby Lane, 5815 N. Colfax, Dalton Gardens – This 1-acre garden is filled with pots overflowing with blooms and hanging baskets, along with a low-maintenance lawn and a fire pit. Visitors will particularly enjoy the tree house with spiral staircase, a golf fairway, the Bonnie and Clyde bullet-riddled car/water feature and the many antique cars and trucks on display.

Proceeds from the tour will benefit North Idaho College scholarships and local charities.

Susan Mulvihill can be reached via email at

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