Gardener embraces technology for annual tour |

Gardener embraces technology for annual tour

Breeana Laughlin
Garden designer Jon Harrington and homeowner Don Thompson stand near the perennial garden that will be on display during the tour today.
Summit Daily News |

Vibrant flowers of all shapes, colors and sizes flourish in intricately designed spaces alongside water features, between boulders and in shaded areas beneath shrubs and trees during today’s Summit County Garden Tour.

The explosion of color and the sheer variety of flora can leave some who attend the event struggling to recall the details of all the flowers they’ve seen.

“Once you go home it’s hard to remember what you saw,” said local gardener designer John Harrington.

Harrington decided to make it easier for gardeners to take their experience with them after the event. He will be planting about 30 signs at Don and Trinda Thompsons’ garden in Frisco with a QR code that, when scanned with a smart phone, will display pictures, names and details to help gardeners grow their favorite plants.

“I think today most everybody has a smart phone. It’s time gardening catches up with technology,” Harrington said. “Gardeners would rather go outside than get on a computer, and we are just trying to bridge that and make it a little easier.”

Harrington said the virtual plant tour will provide guests with an informative and user friendly opportunity to enjoy the garden.

“I’ve had gardens where you have to put a label on everything and it looks like a chipmunk graveyard,” he said. “I didn’t want to do that.”

Harrington, an experienced landscaper, who once led gardening efforts at the San Antonio River Walk, also designed Don and Trinda Thompson’s flower garden on Mallard Court in Frisco. The Thompsons’ garden will be one of 10 on display on the tour today.

In front of the Thompsons’ house is a spherical panorama of perennial plants. Less than five years ago, the space was literally a hole in the ground.

“I just kept looking at this ugly pit and I said, ‘It could be so beautiful,’” Don Thompson said.

Today, he said he’s happy with the transformation.

“I love pretty things, and flowers are about as pretty as nature can provide,” he said.

Another garden adorns the side of the house. There, a rock pathway meanders between a stretch of wildflowers. It is Trinda Thompson’s favorite part of the garden.

“I think the cultivated flowers are beautiful, but I love the randomness of the wildflowers. It reminds me of walking through a meadow,” she said.

Trinda Thompson said she’s happy living among mountains, sunshine and flowers during the summer.

“There are so many beautiful areas in Summit County, and to think that we can enjoy one at our own home is special,” she said.

Summit County Garden Tour organizer Beverly Breakstone said the event has grown from a small gathering of local gardeners 23 years ago to a full-fledged event with sought-out spaces, a map and tour guidebook that many participants save as a keepsake.

“Whether you love gardening or not it’s just a wonderful experience,” Breakstone said. “You can get so many takeaways from going on a tour like this. It’s a delight to the eyes and it’s a color feast to see all of the different plants.”

Having a spectacular garden at 10,000 feet is no easy feat, she said. “Congrats to them.”

Funds raised from the garden tour go toward a scholarship for a Summit County high school senior interested in the science/botany field. The event also serves as a fundraiser for various garden projects around the county.

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