The bulbs planted last year by the Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane are blooming just in time for the opening of the Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens this weekend.
Two dozen volunteers cleaned up the gardens in late April, and now visitors can once again enjoy the beautiful views of downtown Spokane, as perennials, shrubs and trees come back to life after a taxing winter.
“This winter was a rough one for us, too,” said Lynn Mandyke, director of the Corbin Arts Center and the project manager of the Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens restoration project. “But we had a great crew of volunteers here, helping with the cleanup – I was really impressed to see so many people come out to help us.”
Named after U.S. Sen. George Turner and Frank Rockwood-Moore, who was one of the first presidents of Washington Water Power, the gardens were created in the arts and crafts period.
“We are a historic site and we are a former residential garden, that’s what makes us very unique,” Mandyke explained.
In 1896, after Rockwood-Moore’s death, Sen. Turner and his wife, Bertha, purchased Rockwood-Moore’s sprawling 1889 Kirtland Cutter- designed mansion which was surrounded by the gardens.
“This is an excellent example of an arts and crafts garden, from the time period of 1911-1914,” Mandyke said.
The house was demolished in 1940 and the gardens were pretty much forgotten until 1998.
Memorabilia, journals and photos kept by Bertha Turner and donated to Washington State University after her death led to the gardens’ rediscovery when Mandyke went searching for an explanation for the garden walls, stairs and pond located just west of the Corbin Arts Center. Restoration efforts began in 2005 and the gardens opened to the public in 2007.
Since then the Moore-Turner Gardens have won several prestigious awards. The ongoing restoration project has been funded by private donations and grants.
“The features of the garden, like the wonderful pergola, are just outstanding,” Mandyke said. Another favorite is the castle lookout.
During this year’s cleanup, volunteers pulled up hundreds of little maple sprouts that are the bane of many a Spokane yard.
“They are just little twigs with two leaves on them,” Mandyke said. “But if you don’t get them out early, they really dig their roots in and they become so hard to get rid of.”
This summer Mandyke said work will continue on re-establishing some of the native areas of the gardens and the continued removal of invasive plants.
Last year, the Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens had between 40 and 50 visitors a day.
“We certainly didn’t expect that, but it’s exciting,” Mandyke said. “And now we are getting phone calls from people who are coming to Spokane or passing through on their trips, wanting to know when we are open.”
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