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June 6, 2013
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Tour of Dixonville gardens to showcase horticulture and personalities

DIXONVILLE — When a plucky volunteer pansy poked through the grass of Judy Waller’s backyard months ago, it pleased her, for whatever reason. So she started mowing around it. Today, one yellow flower stands out in an otherwise green expanse behind her house.

That lone pansy would look out of place on land tended by a more exacting horticulturalist than Judy Waller.

“It’s kind of wild, but that’s just me,” Waller said while elbows-deep in a tangle of vivid deutzia and clematis. “I kind of let things go natural.”

By her own admission, Waller, 68, is a “permissive” gardener. To the retired illustrator who’s made the three acres outside her Dixonville home her palette, “whatever grows grows.” But that’s not to say she’s indifferent. She’s out there hours a days, diligent with weeds and attentive to color and texture coordination.

“I control what grows here,” she said.

On Saturday, June 15, she and her husband, John, along with five other Dixonville-area householders, will open their deer-proof gates and show off their lovingly cultivated spaces.

The polished tracts on display will range from the natural to the practical to the conspicuously ornamental. Each will reflect months of hard labor and — whether intentionally or not — the gardener’s personality.

It will be the second year the League of Women Voters of the Umpqua Valley has hosted a such a tour to raise money.

Each stop on the way will feature live music and a visual artist at work. Some households will offer refreshments. At the Wallers’, guitarist Dan Bedford will perform in the morning. Rebecca Moore, on the flute, will play in the afternoon. Weather permitting, John and Judy will hang their paintings in the trees.

Also on this year’s tour will be Audubon Society-guided bird walks at Sunshine Park.

The June 15 date was chosen for its neutral proximity to the spring showers and the heavy, midsummer sun, said co-organizer Nancy Farris. Hoping to build on last year’s successful tour (more than 130 bought tickets), the league is advertising and selling tickets in the Eugene area.

“I think it’s going to work even better this time around,” Farris said.

The gardens at the C.H. Bailey House are more functional than others visited on a tour preview this week.

The Bailey House, built in 1909, is a full-service bed and breakfast run by Sherry and Jay Couron, fresh off their busiest winter ever, according to the couple’s female half.

They bought the pioneer home of Clarence “Doc” Bailey 16 years ago with an eye toward converting it into a B and B. They knew it was an ambitious project at the start, Sherry said, but they weren’t aware just how much work it would be. Fortunately for them, the land has given back abundantly, she said.

Vegetables and fruits they serve guests grow in beds in the back. A cutting garden near the patio supplies the house with fresh arrangements year-round. But a vase isn’t necessary to appreciate the velour of white calla lilies.

“I love it when the sun goes down and the light passes through them,” Sherry Couron said.

A landscaped garden out front brims with indigenous plants surrounding a century-old English walnut tree that still gives its dry fruit. Guests like to sit in its shade or mill around it with their morning coffee, Sherry said.

The home of Steve and Lisa Hall can be seen from the front yard of the Bailey House. A wrap-around garden containing rhodies and azaleas encircles the main Hall house.

Retired master gardener Sheila Lund lives not far away on Kester Road. With welded ironwork, frontier memorabilia and wheelbarrows as beds, a farm theme isn’t hard to detect.

A mile away, down Melton Road, is an elegant, picket-fenced Dutch Colonial homestead belonging to Joe and Andrea Verberkmoes. The property once occupied by Billy and Ada Melton is intersected by bubbling Melton Creek. Ada’s original fire pit and goldfish pond are still intact near meticulously tended rose plantings.

For Andrea Verberkmoes, if she can’t spend all day in her kaleidoscopic gardens, she tries to spend at least three hours.

She was amused by the suggestion that’s a lot of time to spend in the dirt.

“That doesn’t seem like very much to me,” she said.

• You can reach reporter Garrett Andrews at 541-957-4218 or by email at gandrews@nrtoday.com.


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The News-Review Updated Jun 12, 2013 04:17PM Published Jun 11, 2013 12:18PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.