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Literary Gardener: Gardeners share their inspiration during annual Soroptimist garden tour

“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.”

— Elizabeth Murray, “Cultivating Sacred Space: Gardening for the Soul,” 1998

I agree with Elizabeth Murray that our gardens are special places that become an extension of who we are and our vision of the world we want to live in. When gardeners invite others into their “sacred spaces,” in essence they are saying, “I want to share my inspiration with you,” and through their generosity we come away inspired ourselves.

Don’t miss an opportunity to be inspired by six beautifully designed gardens in Central Point and Jacksonville when the North Valley Soroptimists host their 16th annual self-guided garden tour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 19. Cost of the tour is $20. As the Soroptimists’ main fundraiser, proceeds of the garden tour go toward programs to benefit women and girls of all ages in the Rogue Valley. Participants will receive a map of the tour and a colorful brochure with a description of each garden.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at Judy’s Central Point Florist, Southern Oregon Nursery in Medford, Penny and Lulu in Medford, The Blue Door Garden Store in Jacksonville, and Eufloria in Ashland. Tickets can be purchased the day of the tour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Schoolhaus Brewhaus restaurant in Jacksonville. For more information, email gardentoursinv@gmail.com or call Geni at 541-890-7490. Here’s a taste of the featured gardens on this year’s tour:

1. Hanley Road, Central Point

Visitors are sure to be charmed by 47 years of creative inspiration. The owners make a yearly sojourn to specialty garden shows in the Salem-Portland area, and they have incorporated unique finds into their large acreage. Seven garden areas include a dollhouse, Chinese garden and koi pond.

2. Wisteria Circle, Central Point

This gardening couple has transformed a large lilac-lined, creekside property into a park-like setting. Water-conserving drip systems support labeled plantings of a large variety of shrubs and perennial flowers. Visitors can relax on a deck beside the creek under shady trees.

3. Autumn Lane, Central Point

The owners have crafted a formal garden at their hilltop estate overlooking the valley. Ivy-draped bricks walls highlight the garden’s koi pond, and an inviting wisteria arbor draws visitors in. Dappled willows, evergreen topiaries, a stunning rose garden and towering hydrangeas grace the house.

4. Goldstone Drive, Central Point

Spring and fall colors are highlighted on this six-acre property. Granite boulders and a labyrinth of hillside paths lead visitors to a magnificent view of Mount McLoughlin and the Rogue Valley. Grasses, rock rose, rosemary, lavender, variegated spirea and forsythia are among hundreds of ornamental trees and perennials.

5. North Fifth Street, Jacksonville

A secret garden surrounds a cottage built in 1865, and a cinderblock potting shed attests to a gardening past. Visitors will find many native plantings and a rain garden, and they can take a break on a wooden deck beneath a majestic 150-year-old Sequoia tree.

6. Beverly Way, Jacksonville

This gardening couple’s motto, “paint with plants,” is evident from the rich colors and textures of a variety of evergreen and deciduous plants that fill their compact site. Their garden is packed with deer-resistant perennials and plants that attract 20 bird species and 15 kinds of bees.

Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, teacher and writer. Email her at Rnowak39@gmail.com. For a sneak preview of the gardens on this year’s Soroptimist tour, visit her blog at http://blogs.esouthernoregon.com/theliterarygardener/.