There are nine gardens on the Summit County Garden Tour this year, and each one is different. Each one is its own unique blend of soft and bold colors, planned flowerbeds and lush areas of spontaneous seed spreading. If you’ve seen one, you haven’t seen them all.
WANDER INTO WONDERLAND
The tour, put on annually by the Summit County Garden Club, is self-guided. Participants receive a booklet with descriptions and detailed directions to each garden at the beginning of the day. They can then decide to view the gardens in any order.
Viewing time starts at 9 a.m., so early viewers will be out while the dew still adorns leaves and flower petals. They might see it dripping from the bleeding heart bushes lined up against Patrice Lara’s house near Farmer’s Korner, on the edge of Frisco, or nestled among the crevices of the columbines at Suzie Rawles’ garden in Swan River, between Frisco and Breckenridge.
As the day warms up, so will the activity around the blossoms, as Summit’s bees start seeking their daily quota of pollen. Hummingbirds are also likely to be seen at many gardens, darting between flowers and feeders.
While a few gardens line roadways, the majority of them are only hinted at from the street or the edge of a driveway. Viewers must follow paths leading them in and around to get the full benefit of these alpine gardens. Rawles’ garden, for example, makes use of berms, which effectively hide it from the roadway. When standing in among the flowers, however, it lifts the blossoms to border the lower edge of a stunning view of the Tenmile mountain range.
Rawles, like the other gardeners on the tour, is happy not only to show visitors around but to discuss how she achieved her garden. She can point out areas where she scattered seeds (sometimes with snow still on the ground), hoping something would grow, or places where she allowed eager plants to take over sections of the gravel walkway, because they were just so pretty. As one of the co-founders of the Summit County Garden Club, Rawles has years of knowledge of planting above 9,000 feet.
In addition to offering beautiful scenery, the tour “gives people a lot of ideas for their own garden,” said Beverly Breakstone, tour chairperson.
Jane Hendrix is a gardener used to frequent visitors. Located on the way to Blue River at an elevation above 10,000 feet, Hendrix’s flowers have been featured in several gardening magazines, and received enough word-of-mouth service that Hendrix has posted a $1 donation sign for viewers stopping by at any time.
Hendrix’s garden sits on one and a half acres and features a dazzling array of perennial alpine flowers. She started the garden in 1987, when she wanted to look at flowers out of her office window, and then “we just kept doing it,” Hendrix said with a smile.
“It’s so incredible that it just knocks your socks off,” said Breakstone of Hendrix’s garden. “It’s beyond words.”
Many of the gardens draw in elements like water fountains, walking paths, benches, birdhouses and small, decorative statues to enhance the presence of the flowers. The McShane residence, located above the town of Breckenridge, features a split-stream waterfall cascading down among trees to a pool below.
“We wanted to have a landscape that would make our summer visits very special,” the McShanes wrote for the garden tour booklet.
FLOWERS AND ART
Every year, a painting is chosen to be the garden tour poster. This year, the poster depicts bright red and orange poppies on a green background, and was painted by Silverthorne artist Kevin Reynolds.
“I love poppies,” she said. “I like the vibrancy of the reds and the green leaves and the blue sky and just the beauty of a poppy. … To me, it’s a very pleasing plant.”
Reynolds is a member of the Women of Watercolor (WOW) group, which paint together in Summit County. For eight years she has painted with them, and said she loves the camaraderie of being with fellow artists, and participating in workshops.
In the summertime, Reynolds and the other WOW members often paint outside, en plein air.
“Painting outdoors is a little bit challenging because the light’s constantly changing, but you get a much richer picture when you’re outside,” she said. When it’s cold, she like to paint from photographs which she has taken herself. The poppy painting is an amalgamation of several photos.
Reynold’s painting, along with others from the WOW group and local artists, will be on display at the Frisco community and senior center on Saturday.
“I’m just very happy that it was chosen and hope other people enjoy it and come to the garden tour,” Reynolds said.
SUPPORTING THE FUTURE
Money raised from the garden tour goes to support the Summit County Garden Club projects and programs, such as maintaining gardens around the county (including the Breckenridge Alpine Garden) and a scholarship for a graduating Summit High School senior who is planning to continue his or her education in an area related to plants (botany, agriculture, etc.).
For more information about the garden club, the garden tour or to purchase tickets, visit www.SummitCountyGardenClub.org.