Gardens & Art: More than 200 people tour 7 local gardens

By Bill Schlichting, Pilot staff writer August 23, 2011 09:00 pm

Tom Moody paints pictures in the garden of Joyce Webbeking. The garden features nearly 100 varieties of plants. The PIlot/Bill Schlichting
Garden and art lovers were abuzz like bees flitting among blossoms at seven gardens during the fifth annual Coastal Garden and Art Tour Saturday.

The number of tickets sold to the event had not been tallied as of Tuesday but, according to Babette Rose, event co-chair with Bobbie Gross, one garden had 210 guests.

The event was a coordinated effort of the Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener Program, Brookings-Harbor Garden Club and Pelican Bay Arts Association.

At each garden, 18 artists demonstrated their talents while spectators enjoyed the gardens. Gardens ranged from sophisticated labors of love to those that are beautiful, but low maintenance.

Tony and Judy Benson on Seventh Street shared a garden around their home that began as a fixer-upper surrounded by standing water. The grounds were transformed into garden ponds, rock gardens and succulents in every space imaginable. Visitors were guided around the house by docents who told the stories of how the buildings and gardens came to be.

Bob and Brenda Stafford were on hand to share their art. Bob displayed his handmade lighthouses while Brenda showed works in watercolor and her wind bells. Claudia Mach showed watercolors and pastels. As an added bonus, the Benson’s young son was busy painting with watercolors.

Ruth Wilson’s ocean view home featured low-maintenance gardens on the bluff below the decks overlooking Chetco Cove. In the front of the house facing Tanbark Road, a pond and mature redwoods adorned the yard that was also planted with annuals. Sara Broderick was busy creating a watercolor painting from two photographs while Jim McCarten worked in oils.

However, the gardens that were the talk of the tour belonged to Joyce Webbeking and Betty and Richard Sine.

At first glance, Webbeking’s doublewide manufactured home on Marks Lane looks like she planted a row of flowers along the driveway and edge of the house – typical of what may be found in a mobile home park garden. But a walk around the garage to the backyard and spectators found a whole different world. Very little space was not used for garden plants. People were amazed at how much of a labor of love 80-year-old Webbeking put into the garden.

Even a Himalaya blackberry was growing neatly in its spot. The vine had an abundance of berries with more blossoms being pollinated by mason bees that made their shelter in a homemade wooden nest only a few feet away.

Allowed to grow more out of control was a concord grape. One vine made its way into a greenhouse and began producing fruit.

The garden contained nearly 100 different kinds of plants, each numbered to correspond with a list given to each guest.

Tom Moody painted with acrylics while people were treated to punch and cookies.

Acres of gardens on a terraced hillside were visited by guests at the Sines home on Museum Road. Garden plants cover nearly every possible space. Gardens included shade-loving plants in the forest backyard and sun-loving plants on the south-facing hillside, which provided visitors plenty of exercise walking the steep grades.

Jean Johnston showed her jewelry while Maryjane Carlson  displayed her pottery.

Emerald Coast Estates showed its semipublic gardens, which included a vegetable garden next to the clubhouse. In another section of the gated community, a recirculating stream that flows into a fish-stocked pond is surrounded by low-maintenance garden plants.

Kathy Huxley and Karen Berry worked in oils painting pictures of the surrounding houses while Rob Decker used acrylics to paint a waterfall scene.

A garden that is open to the public year round is the Botanical Garden at Chetco Avenue and North Bank Chetco River Road. After the intersection was rebuilt and some of the garden lost, the Brookings-Harbor Garden Club has been building new gardens on what once were truck weigh station grounds and the area between the former scales and a stream. A footbridge has been built across the stream with a short trail following on the other side.

People were able to see the gardens as a work-in-progress and see artists Christina Olsen, Dale Wells and Jane Opiat create works in mixed media, watercolor and weaving, respectively.

At Kalmiopsis Elementary School, people were able to see the Little Bear Patch vegetable garden as well as take part in worm composting workshops taught by Master Gardener Julie Campbell, bring their plants and have gardening questions answered at a Master Gardener’s plant clinic, and feast on barbecued tri-tip sandwiches, which sold out. According to organizer Rose, 90 lunches were sold.