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Gardening: Otis Orchards landscape is July Garden of the Month

Dan and Vicky Frickle pose for a photograph in their Otis Orchards garden on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Dan and Vicky Frickle pose for a photograph in their Otis Orchards garden on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Gardens don’t happen overnight. Good ones grow slowly and are filled with great plants and love of the gardeners. Dan and Vicky Frickle have spent 41 years building their Otis Orchards garden into an oasis for their neighbors, their grandchildren and themselves. Their effort won them the July Garden of the Month from the Inland Empire Gardeners.

The Frickles met when they were 16 in Bozeman. Vicky Frickle came from a family of gardeners, and she readily admits she “loved to hate” working in the garden pulling weeds. Dan Frickle’s family had a very small garden which wasn’t enough for him.

After moving around the West for a few years in the 1970s, the Frickles couldn’t refuse Vicky’s father’s offer to build them a house at cost. It was time to start their garden.

The Frickle front yard is cool and shady, filled with lots of hosta and ostrich ferns. The real treat is in the backyard. The sunny borders around the vegetable garden are filled with roses, sunflowers, drifts of zinnias and a few large pots of petunias that add even more color.

The shady borders are filled with more hostas and ferns as well as several thriving hydrangeas.

“They like the extra shade,” Vicky Frickle said.

At the back of the yard, their vegetable garden is full of corn, beans, cabbage, cucumbers and squash. The corn is the featured dish at an annual church corn roast they host every year. The Frickles love to sit under their covered patio on hot evenings and enjoy the view. But there is more.

Several years ago, a neighbor put her 2-acre horse pasture up for sale just over Dan and Vicky’s east fence. They jumped at the chance to buy it and expand their garden.

The new space was much sunnier, so they were able to plant a large orchard and lots of raspberries. They added some raised beds so they could grow carrots for the first time along with other vegetables that needed more space.

Their in-ground garden is classic valley rocky soil. Vicky Frickle turned one corner of the garden over to her granddaughter this spring, and she happily scattered pumpkin seeds in it. A couple of weeks ago they both discovered two pumpkins growing under the leaves.

The Frickles also built a large workshop that includes a retreat space for getting away from the house.

A sandstone sign that said the Frickle Family Farm caught my attention as we were walking around. The Frickles used to carve about 250 pumpkins every year for their family’s, friends’ and neighbors’ enjoyment. Mark Peterson of KXLY got wind of it and for years he would come out and do his morning weather broadcast during the carving season. He would always introduce his location as the “Frickle Family Farm.” At some point on their snowbird adventures in Arizona, Dan Frickle found someone who would carve them a sign in commemoration.

“Mark loved it when I told him about it,” Dan Frickle said.

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