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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Couple’s garden featured in 2016 Spokane in Bloom tour

Mike and Chantel Dibiase relax in their Spokane Valley garden. The garden will be featured on the 2016 Spokane in Bloom tour.
Mike and Chantel Dibiase relax in their Spokane Valley garden. The garden will be featured on the 2016 Spokane in Bloom tour.

Those of us who garden know the joy and peace of being in the garden after a long day. There is nothing like plunging your hands into warm earth, picking a ripe tomato or listening to the birds squabble over their seed even if it is only for a few short minutes.

For Mike and Chantel Dibiase of Spokane Valley, it’s that and more. Not only do the Dibiases love the joy of being in the garden, they also love playing with the plants as they blend hundreds of flowering perennials, shrubs and annuals together into a season-long kaleidoscope of color. The Dibiases’ efforts won them the August Garden of the Month Award from the Inland Empire Gardeners and a place on next year’s Spokane in Bloom tour.

When the Dibiases moved into their home five years ago, their oversized lot had a few trees and lots of lawn. The form was there but there was no substance to the gardens. They dove into creating a cottage garden that would change colors with shifts in the season. Mike’s gardening experience was helping his father raise a vegetable garden in California while Chantel, a native of Guangzhou, China, had grown up in an apartment. None of that stopped them. “There is no such thing as a green thumb,” Mike said. “You can learn to do it through applied knowledge.”

Their love of gardening is the first thing you see at their house. You are greeted by exuberant beds planted with dozens of different perennials. The front yard was just a teaser for the magnificent backyard: a series of enormous borders filled with late summer blooming perennials framed a manicured lawn big enough to host a soccer team. At the west end of the yard, the Dibiases built a white pergola and outfitted it with comfortable chairs where they can spend summer evenings. “This is our favorite place in the garden,” Mike said. Behind this pergola is kind of a secret sitting garden hidden among giant clumps of ornamental grass, quaking aspen and perennials. Bird feeders nearby draw in a host of birds looking for a snack. A second pergola stands in the center of the lawn surrounded by blooming dahlias.

Around the outside edge of the yard the wide border is anchored by small evergreens that give the garden year-round structure and interest. Here the Dibiases have planted dozens of tea, shrub and floribunda roses – their favorite flower – that were coming back into bloom after the hot summer. All these are interplanted with more perennials.

“Right now, the color palette changes every two to three weeks,” Mike said. “I want to coordinate the plantings so that not only do the colors change through the summer, but get the color palette to harmonize as well.”

Do you want to see the Dibiases’ garden yourself?

Mark your calendars for the annual Spokane in Bloom tour June 18.

Their garden will host the catered lunch during the tour.

Pat Munts is co-author, with Susan Mulvihill, of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” Munts can be reached at pat@inlandnw gardening.com.

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