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Some incredible stops along this year’s Spokane in Bloom tour

We are now embarking upon the season when generous gardeners open their beautiful gardens to the public. The Spokane in Bloom garden tour on Saturday is first up, showcasing six wonderful gardens on the North Side and four bonus stops along the way.

Those visiting Ann and Bruce Dentler’s garden will have a hard time deciding which part is their favorite. Located at 7711 N. Panorama Drive, they’ve done an excellent job laying out it out on their double lot.

While they’ve lived there since 1976, the garden really began taking shape in 1997 when they hired a landscape architect to design the paths, sprinkler system and raised beds.

“Growing vegetables in Spokane can be challenging but raised beds work well because they are warmer and drain better,” Bruce Dentler said.

In addition to the vegetable garden, there is a pond with a waterfall, a caboose playhouse for their grandchildren, more than 150 containers planted with colorful annuals, a swale filled with drought-tolerant plants and a three-tiered garden railroad.

“I really wanted a railroad to add interest and whimsy,” Bruce Dentler said. “The garden was my primary focus but the railroad is an accent.”

Pathways lead to many garden rooms planted with irises, hostas, daylilies, roses, peonies and flowering shrubs. Trellises are covered with clematis vines. A lattice-covered pergola provides a shady spot to sit and enjoy the garden.

A physician who cares for people in nursing homes, Dentler has found gardening to be therapeutic.

“I have a job that’s stressful and emotional and clean,” he said. “I like having a hobby that is a salve for relaxing and getting my hands dirty.”

Ann Dentler has particularly enjoyed watching her grandchildren in the garden. “They are learning about gardening, they take an interest in planting and knowing the plant names and types of birds. It’s fun seeing it through the eyes of a child,” she said.

They both hope visitors will get some ideas from their garden. “It can be intimidating for people to see a garden like this, but it didn’t start out this way,” Bruce Dentler said. “We’ve learned a lot from other gardens, reading books, going to garden shows and just trying new things.”

The following gardens are also a part of the tour:

Julie and Bill Nesbitt, 3002 W. Trinity Ave. – Visitors will enjoy exploring this certified wildlife habitat with its shade garden filled with hostas, ferns and hydrangeas, and a rock garden planted with mosses, irises and succulents. Large deck planters are brimming with perennials, as are six raised beds.

Kelly and Penny Achten, 3104 W. Trinity Ave. – This garden is graced by a water feature, sunflowers, garden art, perennial beds and a vegetable garden.

Mary Ann and Ken Corman, 7602 N. Audubon – The Cormans have designed their 10-year-old garden as an imaginative play space for their grandchildren and a haven for wild birds. Enjoy the water features, the many paths and colorful annuals that brighten the garden.

Joyce and Doug Rosenoff, 3001 W. Mark Court – In 2000, the Rosenoffs transformed their garden by excavating and leveling the area, and moving 500-pound boulders. Visitors will get to see the results, which include a delightful flower garden.

Liz and Curt Nelson, 3503 W. Horizon Ave. – With a panoramic view of Spokane as the centerpiece of this garden, the owners designed a scaled-down English garden that is low-maintenance and environmentally friendly. A deck garden for growing vegetables and many roses, peonies and hydrangeas are just a sampling of the features here.

Bonus attractions on the tour:

• New Horizons Church Garden of Eatin’ community garden, 3122 W. Lincoln Road.

• Five Mile Prairie Schoolhouse, 8621 N. Five Mile Road.

• Gerry’s Trees and Landscaping, 2220 W. Strong Road. Enter to win a $100 gift certificate.

• Judy’s Enchanted Garden, 2628 W. Northwest Blvd. Enter to win a $100 gift certificate.

In addition to music, art and garden-related vendors at each of the stops, a lunch will be available for purchase at the Corman garden. Proceeds from this tour will go toward community service programs.

Susan Mulvihill can be reached via email at

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