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A day in the gardens

Nestled among Debbie and Patrick Seaver’s spacious garden on Old Stage Road are an amazing array of fanciful blown-glass flowers, spheres, bow-heads and mushrooms in a rainbow of beautiful colors.

The Seavers' garden is one of the stops to be featured Saturday, June 10, on the annual garden tour organized by the Medford chapter of the American Association of University Women.

The glass objets d’art were crafted by Randall Perkins and his “muse” and wife, Barbara Perkins, who use a studio at Gathering Glass in Ashland. The glass art will be for sale at wholesale prices during the garden tour, with 10 percent of proceeds going to the college scholarship fund of AAUW Medford.

“Whimsy and magical, and they can go in any garden, inside or outside of a house," Patrick Seaver says of the art pieces. "They’re not in your face. They meld into any landscape. They stick firmly in the ground and are weather-resistant, so they don’t wear out."

The plants in their garden tend to be perennials — much less work, Seaver says — and the front of the garden is simple and flowery, while the rear holds a circular “fairy garden” with roses surrounded by walking stones and a fountain of concentric circular bowls.

“To excite the imagination,” says Debbie Seaver, it has imaginative butterflies, dragonflies and a little fairy house.

Beside it is a vegetable garden with peppers, tomatoes, kale, lemon cucumbers, zucchini and “a plethora of herbs.”

The side yard features a giant pecan tree surrounded by salvia, stella d’oro lilies, peonies, pink jasmine and clematis. In the center of the spread is a koi pond and the couple’s playfully painted 1890 Victorian mansion.

“It’s a unique tour,” says Gail Etchie, AAUW tour chairwoman. “We drive around looking for the five or six gardens for our tour. They have to be aesthetic, first of all. Water features add to it.”

“We want a ‘wow!’ factor,” says Diane Reiling of AAUW.

Some of the gardens on the tour were designed to be drought-resistant, others to attract butterflies.

Three gardens reflect what can be done with a smaller lot: a tropical oasis, a country garden filled with pollinators, and a whimsical, thoughtful “secret garden,” says the AAUW website. "Then we have a sustainable garden, created by its landscape designer-owner, which is low-maintenance and low-water, and two properties on acreage, where you can meander, contemplate and enjoy.

In addition to the Seaver garden at 2361 Old Stage Road, other stops on the AAUW tour are:

• 520 Valley Oak Blvd., Central Point. Bright and beautiful, this tropical garden oasis includes a palm tree, waterfall and pool, with a profusion of colorful pots and artistic touches.

• 875 Singler Lane, Jacksonville. A country garden atmosphere is achieved by swaths of colorful perennials and massed hanging baskets of bright, shade-loving annuals. The pastoral backyard has a focus on pollinator-friendly plants.

• 770 Laurel Lane, Jacksonville. Compact garden boasts seasonal interest with well chosen plants that add color and texture to each part of the garden.

• 1942 McKenzie Drive, Medford. Owned by a landscape designer, this delightful yard demonstrates the application of sustainability principles to achieve a low-maintenance, low-water usage garden that incorporates food crops.

• 4192 Coleman Creek, Medford. This enchanted estate is home to a magnificent 100-plus-year-old oak, has splendid formal gardens and hosts fanciful creatures and sculptures. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

All proceeds go to college educations for local women and girls. Etchie notes they recently wrote seven checks for $1,500 to women going to Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College.

Tickets cost $20, free for children 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased in advance at any Grange Co-op retail store, at the Blue Door in Jacksonville, at Caprice Vineyards in Central Point, at Penny and Lulu’s Studio Florist in Medford, and at any of the gardens on the day of the tour.

For details, see http://medford-or.aauw.net/garden-tour-2017/

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

Debbie and Patrick Seaver’s garden on Old Stage Road, one of the stops on the annual AAUW Spring Garden Tour June 10, features glass art made by Randall and Barbara Perkins. [Photo by John Darling]