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‘A living canvas’

Artistic landscape transformation a highlight of garden tour

When Tom and Peggy Best bought their South Hill home 20 years ago, their work was cut out for them. Trees had been planted too closely to the house and under the power lines. The yard was uninviting and needed a fresh, new look.

The transformation that has taken place is remarkable. Meandering paths, perennial plantings, garden art, arbors and sitting areas all blend to make the garden welcoming.

You will have the opportunity to see the Bests’ garden, located at 2717 E. 40th Ave., on Saturday during the Spokane in Bloom tour. Hosted by the Inland Empire Gardeners, it takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features six gardens located on Spokane’s South Side.

It’s obvious someone with an eye for design has been at work in the Bests’ garden. That would be Peggy, who is an artist.

“I see the yard as a living canvas,” she said. “I’m looking at fluffy (plants) next to spiky, lime green next to burgundy. Just like you design your house, you need to have a color flow and have things repeated.”

Transforming the yard involved cutting down the offending trees. After removing the front lawn and sidewalk, they put in a combination walkway and patio so they could sit out front and visit with their neighbors. They repurposed the sod by turning it upside-down to create planting islands and used the old sidewalk as edging around them.

In the backyard, they edged pathways with basalt rock from an old fireplace. During Tom’s career at Macy’s, he brought home display department cast-offs to turn them into garden art.

Tom enjoys gardening as an opportunity to see results from one’s efforts.

“At the end of the day, you can see what you’ve accomplished,” he said. “And at the end of the season, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.”

There are plenty of fruits to be had in their “snack bar” garden: berries, grapes, cherries, apples, plums, pears, quince, medlar, hardy kiwis and aronia.

“If you’re going to do all that work, you might as well have something to eat,” Tom said.

“We’re not really fussy gardeners,” Peggy added. “We don’t have delicate things that need a lot of care. Instead, we have beautiful, common things that look good every year with minimal care.”

The following gardens are also on the tour:

• Susan Kirkpatrick, 523 W. 18th Ave. – Kirkpatrick used her skills as a feng shui consultant to design a peaceful, pleasant refuge to enjoy throughout the seasons. The garden features pergolas, espaliered fruit trees, perennials, small evergreens and a Japanese garden.

• Scott Rettenmund, 1028 E. 33rd Ave. – Explore the rock and alpine gardens, sun- and shade-loving perennials, and many uncommon plants. This garden includes native plants and many creative ideas to apply in your own landscape.

• George and Leslie Scott, 1216 E. 54th Ave. – This continually evolving garden is filled with flower beds housing annuals and perennials. The wishing well and pergola-covered deck add balance and interest.

• Doug and Marilyn Lloyd, 3620 E. 35th Ave. – Encompassing five pine-covered lots, there is much to see here. The backyard focal point is a falls with a small pond and the fence showcases cedar-board Gizaun artwork. Shade-loving ornamentals fill an owner-created park and a raised-bed garden includes vegetables grown in containers.

• Whitney Parker, 1110 S. Denny Ct. – This beautiful garden has been a learning experience for someone who never aspired to be a gardener. Over the past 10 years, Parker has created a terraced garden, added rocks for structure and interest, and put in many attractive plants.

• Bonus stop: Tower Perennials, 4010 E. Jamieson Road – The nursery offers hardy perennials, trees, evergreens, grasses, bamboo, herbs and freeze-proof pottery. Enter the drawing for a $100 gift card.

A barbecue lunch buffet will be available at the Bests’ garden for an additional cost.

There will be garden-related vendors and musicians at each stop along the way. Proceeds from the tour will go toward community service programs.

Susan Mulvihill is co-author, with Pat Munts, of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” Email her at inthegarden@live.com, or follow her blog at susans inthegarden.blogspot.com.