Cloudy conditions on the coast last Saturday didn’t dampen plant enthusiasts who partook in the 2014 annual Garden Tour hosted by the Gold Beach Innominata Garden Club.
According to Garden Club spokesperson Barb Raynes, approximately 70 people made the rounds to six locations that encompassed an area from 2 1/2 miles south of Gold Beach, in town and 7 miles up Jerry’s Flat Road.
The first stop was at the Chuck and Linda Stokes residence on Homestead Way, a quarter mile past Huntley Park on Jerry’s Flat Road.
The Stokes home features a blend of blooming plants, more than 70 varieties in all. Behind an open gate, visitors were welcomed by a hand-carved giant toadstool forest. Plant species at the Stokes home include 12-foot-tall, purple tipped butterfly plants, daisies, and shrubs cut to resemble the Road Runner cartoon character. Sagina (or Scottish Moss as it’s commonly known) offered a velvety green pathway lined with lilies and willows.
Green lawns give way to a cement courtyard highlighted by a large bricked fountain. Nearby, a stone fire pit sits atop a nearby bluff along with a net covered canopy for escaping the noonday sun. There’s a Japanese style pergola, a greenhouse, a pebbled creek bed complete with a lounging frog in a pot.
A mysterious designated flowering space only known as “Area 51” raises a few eyebrows.
“You’d be surprised how many people don’t know about Area 51” Chuck said. Any aliens? “Nope. Just plants, but I just like the name just the same.”
A few miles south at Crabapple Way, Mike Klein’s invitation to step into his backyard comes with a surprise. There, amid a pump-fed fish pond and vegetable garden is a giant Opuntia prickly pear cactus. These cacti are not typically found in the Pacific Northwest, but this well-preserved specimen possesses several fruit on it’s spiny arms.
Klein is also proud of another cactus — his century plant that engulfs the front of his home. It derives its name from the fact it usually only blooms once every hundred years or so. Klein’s side yards contain several brilliant floral species, chief among them are some scarlet red camas.
The next stop on the tour was at the Riley Creek Elementary School garden.
Master Gardener Mary Jacobs has spearheaded the building of raised flower beds. There is a greenhouse that offers hands-on lessons for students to learn about agriculture. The garden has flowering plants but its focus is primarily on raising foodstuff — carrots, squash, beans, cabbage, broccoli and more.
Right around the corner from the school is the home of Kurt and Stephanie Dammal on Riley Creek Way.
The Dammals mix their love of art into their gardens. Colorful glass bottles hung on branches suggest a “bottle tree.” There, amidst the blooming azaleas, ferns, and pine trees are metal fabricated creations ranging from sword-bearing guardians to rainbow colored refurbished saw-blade metal sculptures.
The Dammal home features attractive stony pathways which descend through fuchsias, red leafed maples, and two somewhat tame deer who were munching on lawn grasses this day. Aren’t deer supposed to be the bane of gardeners? According to Stephanie not so much. “No. These two (deer) are kind of our unofficial pets.”
The Dammal home is also the hospitality leg of the tour with lemonade and homemade cookies.
Over at Bethany Lutheran Church on Fifth Street, an array of large blooming dahlias have pushed through the soil.
Bob Chabante is a master when it comes to dahlias and was on hand to share his knowledge on raising the plants. Chabante has organized a dahlia show at the Event Center on the Beach each year with the next one coming in late August. Even though this time of the year is kind of the off season for dahlias, there were blooms ranging from 3 inches to 12 inches in diameter.
The final leg of the Garden Tour is in an area just shy of Cape Sebastian at the home of Cynthia Griffith.
Tourists were greeted by row upon row of hydrangeas. A colorful bricked fire pit area built from a torn-down chimney is the centerpiece. Recycled road department posts are incorporated into stairway pathways. There is a dragon’s lair surrounded by dragon’s blood and sedum. Golden chain, butterfly bushes, magnolia tulip trees, lilacs, dahlias, hellebore, and snowball bushes are among the favorite floral varieties found here.
Cynthia left behind the grind of Orange County in California six years ago to settle down in Curry. She spends five to six hours a day devoted to her passion of flowering things. Griffith points out converted crab pots that now harbor ferry gardens instead of crustaceans.
Around every corner there is more and more vegetation all cared for by Cynthia. Holly is shaped into a tree, there’s astilbe with tall, feathery, pinkish plumes, and fuchsias are evident. There’s an upscale greenhouse and a huge goldfish pond on site as well.