Home & Garden

Tour will offer a peek at showcase gardens

Gardeners, both beginning and accomplished, can get shovelfuls of ideas and inspiration at a tour of some of the best private gardens in Olympia and Lacey this Saturday.

Some of the tour proceeds will benefit a Garden Conservancy project, The Chase Garden in Orting. The 41/2-acre public garden is perched on a bluff overlooking the Puyallup River Valley and features magnificent views of Mount Rainier.

Visitors on The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour can marvel at:

 • A formal Italian garden with a knot garden, columns surrounding a swimming pool and statuary that the owners brought from Italy.

 • An actual baseball diamond and a collection of ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials that, a garden description says, exemplify the passion and 30-year career of owner and horticulturist Joe Blue.

 • The two personalities of Judy Montoure and Dorian Sanchez’s garden: A woodland park-like section with a pond, waterfall, Japanese maples and specialty conifers, and a tropical garden blending hardy bananas, palms, cannas, bamboo, taro, and colorful annual containers.

Saturday’s self-guided tour is a fundraiser for the national, nonprofit Garden Conservancy, an organization that works to preserve and restore American gardens.

The 15-year-old organization sponsors hundreds of similar tours of private gardens throughout the country. Regional volunteers select the gardens based on organization guidelines, said conservancy spokeswoman Stephanie Werskey in New York.

“We think these are some of the best in the area,” Werskey said.

It’s a rare chance to see the gardens, since they’re part of the owners’ homes.

Two were part of a previous tour: the Montoure-Sanchez garden and Joyce Hawkins’ The Koi Garden, where 75 colorful Japanese koi dart through ponds.

Remaining tour stops include a professionally designed and installed Japanese garden, edibles, a dry river bed, views of the Eld Inlet, and a long arbor draped with ornamental grapes. Garden hosts will be on hand at each site to answer questions.

Garden enthusiasts Brent Chapman and Tam Crocker of Olympia chose this year’s Thurston County tour gardens after talking with garden designers and others familiar with home gardens in Olympia.

Crocker said she couldn’t possibly recommend which garden rises above the rest. Any would be worthy of a magazine spread, she added.

“They’re all special, each in their own way.”

Debby Abe: 253-597-8694