Outdoor spaces

Next Saturday's Soroptimist Spring Garden Tour includes six gardens that incorporate sculpture, artifacts, water features and stonework
Suzanne Davis stands inside her ivy-covered gazebo in her eclectic garden on Hanley Road. Her yard will be featured during the 12th annual Soroptimist International North Valley Garden Tour, which will take place on Saturday, June 7. Mail Tribune / Julia MooreJulia Moore

A peaceful garden surrounds the home of Suzanne Davis on Hanley Road. A creek runs through it, crossed by bridges. It abounds with roses, daffodils, iris, birch and cedar trees, vegetables and plenty of sheep, chickens, bees and cats.

It's the crown jewel on the Soroptimist International North Valley Garden Tour, a self-guided jaunt through six unique Medford area gardens from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 7. The tour costs $15, and proceeds will support the organization's community-service projects.

If you go

What: 12th annual Soroptimist International North Valley

Garden Tour

When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

on Saturday, June 7

Tickets: $15; available at Central Point Florist, 337 E. Pine St.; The Big House in Central Point, 427 E. Pine St., and Southern Oregon Nursery, 2922 S. Pacific Highway, Medford. Tickets and raffle tickets on the day of the tour are at RoxyAnn Winery, 3285 Hillcrest Road, Medford. Credit cards

are accepted.

In the 15 years since she moved to the 3.75-acre farm, Davis has done all the work herself, using native plants and doing lots of trimming back of plants nourished by her water rights on Jackson Creek.

Over and over, she uses the words "peaceful" and "quiet" to describe the homey spread that surrounds her farmhouse. Even inside (which is not on the tour), you immediately get that homey feel from the cabin-like walls, beams and ceilings of cedar and redwood — the mid-1940s work of the first owner, who worked at a local mill.

A stroll out front takes you to "Camp Hanley," a flagstone dining area under a vast cedar tree with a barbecue, a bear sculpture and several metal tables for summertime dinners. The front is lined with rhodies, Dutch iris, Shasta daisy, ostrich fern, foxglove, redbud, forest pansy and a mulberry tree.

It's quite a mix, and Davis says she's "waiting for something to take over," then she cuts back the rest. Metal accents, fences and sculptures by Ian Davis, the son of Suzanne and her husband, Lynn, and owner of Acme Works, a steel shop, decorate the whole place.

While Davis, who was born here, was an elementary student at nearby West Side School, she used to walk the same creek she now owns, picking and eating blackberries. A hardy bush of them still lines the pleasantly murmuring creek, set between two bridges, among shady trees and a 12-foot high laurel hedge.

The garden keeps her busy most days in nice weather, and she notes her favorite gardening tool is a chain saw.

"I wait to see what grows and cut the rest out," she says with a big smile.

The eclectic garden has a lovely ivy-covered gazebo with a web swing seat tucked inside, a rose-lined arch, cozy benches and lots of hiding places to kick back and relax.

The gardens on this year's 12th annual tour demonstrate how to create peaceful outdoor spaces using sculpture, artifacts, water features and stonework, says organizer Margaret Dials.

You'll find artworks by local artists, a deer-proof garden, one with a Wiffle-ball golf course, a gorgeous restoration of a 1950s landscape, an extensive shade garden, and a bed and breakfast with 3 acres of gardens and ponds.

Other stops feature:

  • A very established garden on a large lot with a nine-hole golf course worked into it — and walkways that double as bike trails.
  • A charming and lovely 3-acre garden with two ponds, perennials, trees and many types of colorful shrubs. Secluded with sweeping vistas and a 1910 home.
  • Deer-proof plantings in a naturalistic setting, with water feature and gazebo.
  • Scenic garden with a koi pond in a perfect backyard retreat; a relaxing haven for perennials, lovely trees and accomplished landscaping.
  • A 1950s home, lovingly restored, comfortable lounging area, covered patio, intriguing metal sculptures, lots of perennial plantings, trees, shrubs, a peaceful outdoor space.

Tickets are available at Central Point Florist, 337 E. Pine St.; The Big House in Central Point, 427 E. Pine St., and Southern Oregon Nursery, 2922 S. Pacific Highway, Medford. Tickets and raffle tickets on the day of the tour are at RoxyAnn Winery, 3285 Hillcrest Road, Medford. Credit cards accepted.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.



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