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In the Garden: Spokane in Bloom tour features north side gardens

Going on a garden tour is such an enjoyable activity. It’s a unique opportunity to share the joy of gardening with other like-minded folks while taking home ideas to use in our own gardens.

Garden tour season begins June 16 with Spokane in Bloom, hosted by the Inland Empire Gardeners. Featuring seven gardens in the Nine Mile Falls area, it runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It’s pretty hard to top the beautiful view of Lake Spokane behind Anita and Gary Skinner’s home, located at 13315 W. Meadowview Lane. The sparkling water and towering pines provide a lovely backdrop to the garden Anita Skinner has been creating over the past two decades.

It got off to a rocky start, however.

“I thought I was a terrible gardener but it turned out I’d purchased soil that had been contaminated (with herbicides) so nothing would grow,” she admitted. “I started over with new soil and then began to make progress.”

Eager to learn how to be a successful gardener, Skinner joined the Inland Empire Gardeners and has read many garden books to get ideas.

“I had a plan, more or less, in my head,” she said. “I would sit and plan during the winter, deciding what I was going to do next. Of course, things don’t always turn out the way you’d planned.”

Her first project was the creation of a large island bed that is filled with lush plantings of perennials and shrubs. Then she started tackling the areas on either side of their long driveway.

“I like to choose flowers that either have a long season of bloom or are beneficial to bees and butterflies,” she explained. “I learned a lot about color when I did Japanese needlework and that carries over to my garden.

“I especially like to incorporate chartreuse in the garden because it’s very dramatic, especially where there’s a lot of shade,” she continued. “It’s like adding a bit of sunshine.”

Skinner chose Revelation and Golden Rocket barberry, Lemon Lace elderberry (Sambucus), Golden Spirit smoke bush (Cotinus), Ogon spirea and golden hops vine. They contrast beautifully with the many peonies, lavender, iris, clematis vines and catmint (Nepeta).

Birds are attracted to berry-producing shrubs as well as birdhouses located throughout the garden.

“Gardening brings me a lot of peace and I like using my creative abilities,” Skinner said, “but the best thing about gardening is that it makes me feel closer to God.”

The following gardens are also on the tour:

Annie and Rick Nunes, 6178 Moriah Drive – Home of Lavender Lady Farm, the owners have over 1,300 lavender plants, a Victorian rose garden, lilac hedge, extensive herb garden, and colorful flower beds.

Gabrielle and Ron Tilley, 17310 N. West Shore Road – This collector’s garden features a wide variety of plants the owner couldn’t pass up at local plant sales, along with garden art, a raised bed garden, drought-tolerant plantings, and creatively repurposed materials.

Carol Holter and Larry Vail, 17420 N. West Shore Road – Enhanced by a view of Lake Spokane, the bountifully-planted island beds and secret garden will appeal to visitors. Attractive sitting areas to make this an enjoyable garden to relax in.

Diane and Del Morissette, 12405 N. Nine Mile Road – With the Spokane River bordering this property, the owners enjoy watching wildlife such as waterfowl, moose, eagles and ospreys. Their garden is planted with shrubs, perennials and annuals.

Betsy Jewett and Rick Gill, 12205 N. Nine Mile Rd. – Also located along the banks of the Spokane River, this 4-acre property features 200 apple trees, terraced beds containing flowering trees and perennials, a secret garden area with two playhouses, and vegetable and berry gardens.

Ginger and Dave Blaisdell, 8625 N. Seigle Court – Visitors will enjoy the two water features, deer- and moose-resistant landscaping, old growth pines and many interesting plant features.

Tour-goers can enter to win a $100 gift card at Judy’s Enchanted Garden, 2628 W. Northwest Blvd.

Susan Mulvihill is co-author, with Pat Munts, of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” Contact her at Susan@susansinthegarden.com Watch this week’s “Everyone Can Grow a Garden” video at youtube.com/c/susansinthegarden.