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We will have 6 beautiful gardens to visit this year, and you may start at any garden you choose. The tour is self guided to allow you to set your own pace and visit all of the gardens throughout the weekend. As with previous years, each of the gardens are unique, while honoring this year's theme! Master gardeners will be on hand should you have any questions at the gardens on the tour.
Price of admission to the Garden Tour is $10.
Children 16 and under are FREE.
Gardens open 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Sat & Sun, April 27-28.
The Fales Garden
Rob and Deanna Fales bought their brand new home in Corona Hills 34 years ago and started their landscaping journey with a completely blank slate. There was nothing included with the house with the exception of some small pine trees and a jacaranda that the developer planted for slope stability. They saw the potential and little by little added a front lawn, a small garden wall, and plants so the house would look “lived in”. The backyard started 6 years later when they realized they could not plant a lawn on solid rock. A perimeter garden wall was built and masonry skills were developed as the entire yard was raised over a foot, with the fill dirt coming from construction of a swimming pool down the street. A playhouse with a sandbox for the kids went up next, and from that a future deck was envisioned. That was realized 10 years later when the deck was started at the top level with the steps and levels down to the other side of the yard added in as time and money permitted.
A koi pond was added in 2010 when they inherited several fish from a family member. A waterfall was put in with plenty of fieldstones and forest wood with the thought to resemble a mountain stream. They joined the Inland Koi Society and learned that their pond needed several changes to work more efficiently and keep healthier fish, so they dug it deeper to 34” and added a filtration system.
A small fruit tree orchard was cut in and during the pandemic they spent time in “Back 40” planting a desert garden, primarily to create drainage and a fire break from the brush behind the house. Most recently a gazebo with a roof was constructed so they could enjoy the deck on rainy days or when it was too hot to be in the direct sun, along with a fire pit for chilly evenings. Through many plantings over the years there are literally hundreds of plants in the yard including shade trees, wildflowers, shrubs, annuals, perennials, and succulents. There are many different locations to sit and enjoy the various views waiting for you at the Fales garden.
Fry-Sinkway Family Home
Donna Sinkway and her husband Stan Fry have a unique perspective to water wise landscaping and yard decorating. They are avid lovers of many varieties of cactus, succulents and other desert climate plants. Aeoniums, aloe, and agave, to name a few, are interspersed throughout the front yard along with native poppies that return every spring. A love of the West, Sci-Fi and other Legends of the Tall Tale, they have added site amenities focusing on historic figures of the west, fantasy and some rather tall tales of people, places and things both of this earth and not. Everywhere you look there are elements of surprise waiting to be discovered. See if you can count the many snakes (props only!), hidden amongst the plants! Do you believe in Bigfoot, or how about aliens? They can be spotted on this property!
The patio at the entry of the home has a variety of potted plants, including wall hangings that thrive in the home provided shade. Traveling to the backyard you will find the eclectic theme continues with a whimsical gnome garden. Birds of paradise and tall cacti are found behind the retaining wall that is a backdrop for their pool and spa. There are also hibiscus shrubs, as well as a towering Norfolk island pine. Large specimen staghorn ferns hang creatively on a handmade wall on their patio. Gravel and stone pathways are utilized instead of a lawn, which also act as a weed barrier.
A bird lover’s paradise and Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, many of the plants serve as nectar sources for hummingbirds. Expect to see many hummingbirds, finches, and doves on your visit, and be sure to keep an eye out for orioles, who have just returned for their spring visit! There is a resident phoebe whom Donna and Stan feed everyday! Stan is an accomplished photographer, and his garden provides a wonderful environment for the love of his hobby. Their fun property and integration of water wise plants and decorations, will bring a smile to the young and old alike. Although the garden has been kid tested, please take great caution as there are plants that have needles that can cause injury. Take care not to touch!
Riverside Corona Resource Conservation District
As southern California has become more and more urbanized, our natural, open space lands have been disappearing. Over the last decade, a new approach to landscaping has been steadily gaining popularity in California. Ecologists, landscapers, and conservation practitioners have all been working to educate people about the benefits of landscaping with native plants.
The Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District (RCRCD) works to sustain natural resources and helps others conserve resources, so that high quality water, land, soil, wildlife, air and plant life will be abundant forever. District programs foster the sustainable use of natural resources for each land use, including native habitats, urban/suburban areas, and agriculture.
The Resource Conservation Center (RCC) is a re-purposed 9-acre campus that is located at the base of Mt. Rubidoux near downtown Riverside. A native plant nursery and a seed bank are used for propagation of local plant species and seed storage. In addition, the RCRCD operates aquatic tanks for rearing threatened fish and amphibians; greenhouses; along with the LandUse Learning Center where you will find a demonstration garden. Each area of the demonstration garden includes labeled plants with accompanying plant lists. The three garden areas demonstrate ways that land management practices, wise land use planning, and retrofits can be used to create urban and agro-ecosystems that function more like healthy natural ecosystems.
The Native Habitat Area demonstrates four important plant communities of inland Southern California: coastal sage scrub (CSS), chaparral, oak woodland and riparian. The coastal sage scrub (CSS) plant community is unique to Mediterranean climates, the kind we have in western Riverside County. You will find a variety of native plant profiles from shrubs, to perennials, and annuals, which will provide you with inspiration for creating a native plant garden of your very own!
The Mayer Garden
A true garden sanctuary has been created in Eva’s garden with the talent and unrelentless labor of her youngest son Eli, whom Eva is forever thankful for. You will notice many personal touches throughout the garden beginning at the entrance with family stepping stones set into pea gravel that you walk along while passing through a passion vine covered arch. Following the brick walkway around the bay window into the backyard, you enter the ironwork gate and arrive at a comfortable seating area beneath a climbing white Lady Banks rose. There is a used brick dining patio featuring a broken concrete and oyster shell barbecue/fireplace made by the grandkids and their friends in the neighborhood. From here you pass through the herb garden to another dining area surrounded by roses and perennials encircled by a boxwood hedge.
Overhead is the first of many rebar projects supporting climbing roses. As you continue on your journey, you’ll find raised vegetable beds backed by espaliered plum and avocado trees. After you pass under a potato vine covered arch, you’ll find a dining area surrounded by four varieties of blackberries, raised beds of raspberries, boysenberries and strawberries, as well as a flowering bed including milkweed for the monarch butterfly. Behind a fence incorporating trimmed branches and driftwood, there is a coop situated between orange and lemon trees, which provide shade for the chickens. A Flow beehive is hidden from sight behind a covered bench. Please note the bees are mellow, unless you get too close to their entrance, therefore take care to keep your distance. A flagstone and used brick patio outside the kitchen is host to potted plants, while two additional French doors from Habitat for Humanity create a sense of enclosure.
As you exit the garden you’ll pass the potting shed built from salvaged doors and windows, as well as used bricks and cobblestones for flooring. Surrounded by roses and flowering perennials, there is a covered bench encasing a large stained glass window that is inscribed with one of Eva’s favorite quotes from Henry David Thoreau, “Heaven is under our feet, as well as over our heads.” Eva hopes you find a bit of inspiration to spark an idea for your own personal Eden, as she has gleaned from the garden tours she has experienced throughout the years.
The Garden of Dave and Sue Struthers
Sue Struthers is a champion of local food, farms and good health for local Riverside residents. She is the founding member of the Riverside Food Coop, and amongst other duties serves as acting Treasurer. Along with her husband Dave, Sue moved into her home in July 1999 and began an overhaul of the landscape. The typical front grass lawn was removed and converted to drought tolerant landscaping. Dave was previously a docent at the Sam Maloof House and Garden, and Beverly Wingate Maloof shared her garden plant list with him, which was used to design the front garden.
Inspired by the Pollinator Fest at RCRCD, Sue started a pollinator garden with a simple planting of milkweed and scattering of wildflowers seeds that came from the UCR Botanic Garden. As a result, Monarch butterflies soon found her yard, prompting Sue to begin her efforts to ensure the survival of this threatened species. The wildflowers continue to reseed every year. In fact, the landscape mostly consists of a naturalized garden to serve this purpose. You may ask what is a naturalized garden? A naturalized garden refers to a garden which is allowed to reproduce a population of flowers through natural regeneration. Therefore, as flowers go to seed, the spent flowers are not removed, and the seeds are not collected, but are allowed to fall of their own accord for self reseeding. Many edible plants and flowers are also naturalized within the garden including nasturtium and arugula.
The garden is also home to a variety of fruit trees including a fuyu persimmon, necta-plum, snow queen nectarine, meyer lemon, espaliered anna apple, and 3 peach trees of which bloom early, mid, and late season. You will also find Japanese maple, kumquat and pomegranate trees thriving in pots, as well as grapevines. There are homemade raised vegetable beds which grow a variety depending on the season. In the fall and winter, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, leaf lettuces, garlic, arugula, spinach, brussels sprouts and English peas are grown. Spring and Summer bring heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, chives, padron peppers, and sometimes tomatillos, eggplant, zucchini, fennel,and dill. Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are grown year round. If you have thought about starting a pollinator garden or simply want a “superbloom photo-op", Sue’s garden is not to be missed!
Irene Liebenberg's Garden
There is a saying, “a garden is never finished,” and as we evolve and our aesthetics change, our garden and gardening style evolves as well. Irene’s garden is a perfect representation of this sentiment. Gardener Marc Chacon has been working on a revamp of the front yard to create a garden that is easier to maintain. Low maintenance plants such as compact honeysuckle, lantana, geraniums, western sword fern, and bird of paradise flank established mature trees. One such tree, a towering Liquid Amber, was won at a library event many years ago, and believe it or not, was just a foot tall when planted! Dropped leaf litter creates an environment for mycorrhizae to thrive, serving as a self fertilizer for the plants, thus eliminating another task for the gardener. The leaf litter also helps to serve as a natural weed barrier. Naturalized poppies flank the newly established flagstone pathway and they’re putting on a great show this year!
Upon entering the backyard, a towering Prickly pear cactus catches the eye. Crape myrtle trees have been planted to serve as a back hedge. Several citrus are found, including a cocktail citrus producing both tangelos and lemons. A forest pansy tree creates a canopy for shade along the patio. Other trees to note are a cherry tree, as well as espaliered pear and fuji apple trees. Vegetable garden beds are also found growing a variety of veggies.
Tucked away in the back corner of the garden is an Asian inspired gardenscape. This garden has all of the important elements of an Asian garden, such as plants, water, rocks, and ornament. It is important to note that the entry to this garden reflects the pear shaped bell of an English horn (al alto oboe), honoring the instrument Irene plays. The pathway that is created in this design represents balance, and symbolism; important design principles of a Japanese garden. Plants surrounding and within the gardenscape include a variety of succulents, an apricot tree, pineapple guava, and camellias, to name a few. In Chinese culture the color red is associated with happiness, and good luck. A newly painted red pergola is placed in this gardenscape to complement the garden theme. If you’re considering a transition to a low maintenance garden, Irene's garden is sure to spark inspiration.
Gary and Marianne Wagner's Garden
For the rose lovers out there, Gary and Marianne’s garden is the garden for you! There are over 200 roses that Gary tends to on his property. Gary created his landscape with no professional design, and began drawing out plans in the dirt. You will find every rose variety incorporated into the landscape from hybrid teas to floribundas, to miniatures…you name it he's got it! Gary’s hobby soon became an obsession, and he quickly learned how to propagate via observation. His rose collection quickly grew, and believe it or not Gary continues to add more roses to his collection every year!
Over the years Gary has been involved in 3 Rose Societies, has served as a judge for our very own Riverside Community Flower Show, and currently serves as President of the Raincross Rose Society. With the help of his young son, who had the task of labeling the rose varieties, Gary entered his roses at the Redlands Flower and Horticulture Society, winning numerous ribbons. Now an adult, his son brings their grandson to their home where they delight in picking broccoli to cook for him, thus sparking the love for gardening in the next generation.
Although roses are the key feature of the landscape, there are a variety of other flowers to be appreciated, as well as vegetables and fruit trees. Gary and wife Marianne love color, and you will find color throughout the landscape both in flower variety and garden art. A large specimen lilac puts on a beautiful display of lavender flowers every spring. A repurposed bench spills over with cosmos, candytuft, dianthus, and lobelia. Gary now takes delight in watching Youtube garden tours, and garden channels to learn more about what would work best in his landscape, and has added a variety of flowering shrubs in shaded areas of the garden. While Gary tends to the roses and larger areas of the landscape, Marianne has the important task of weeding a small garden area. Gary notes that although the area she tends is small, Marianne is very thorough with her job! A lover of garden art, the colorful benches and other whimsical features in the garden are of Marianne’s design. Be sure to notice the intricate rose pattern painted along the garden pathway, as Marianne hand painted the roses herself! We dare you to leave this garden without wanting to start a rose garden of your very own!
Frank and Lucy Heyming: Grand Arbor and UCCE Master Garden Grow Lab
Lucy Heyming describes her garden as a “garden of all seasons”, and she has outdone herself creating Grand Arbor. Greco-roman female statues are placed within each of the gardenscapes depicting each of the seasons represented. Your journey begins in the Summer garden where you find a turtle pond flanked by a towering weeping willow and bordering calla lilies. Walking along the statice, iris, and poppy bordered stream, you cross over a wooden footbridge to the left to enter the Fall garden. The garden is filled with flowers in rich colors to represent the change in season, such as yellow nasturtium, and alstroemeria in shades of oranges and reds. Large blooming aloes and baja fairy duster provide more fall color to the landscape. Continuing along the pathway you pass the cactus garden containing a variety of specimens of different heights and textures.
Leaving the cactus garden, you find yourself in the Winter garden. Here you find flowers in shades of white continuing with the theme, such as white valerian, santa barbara daisy, and a crape myrtle tree hedgerow. Just as the seasons change from winter to spring, continuing along the garden path, you now enter the garden of Spring. Here you find a waterfall that you discover flows into the stream along the pathway and into the Summer garden pond, where your journey in the garden began. A variety of flowers bloom in the Spring garden such as a large angel trumpet, columbine, and tree marigolds.
Exiting the seasonal garden, you continue on through the UCCE Master Gardener Grow Lab. The Grow Lab provides a hands-on laboratory for Master Gardener Trainees and a venue for all Master Gardeners to educate the public on innovative University-based vegetable gardening techniques. Raised beds are currently overflowing with many herbs and vegetables. Following along the path you enter the orchard which houses a variety of fruit trees from various citrus to stone fruit. The journey continues through the California themed garden where you find a massive Oak tree and various drought tolerant and California native plants, such as California lilacs, sage varieties, goldenrod, monkeyflower, mahonia, and a “superbloom” of poppies. Frank Heyming is a well renowned sculpturist, and you will find his sculpture art throughout the landscape. Also be sure to notice as you’re walking along the path, the imprints of flowers Lucy created while the pathways were being paved. Your journey ends with the heavenly scent of jasmine draping over the fence line as you pass through an arch of wisteria and shading pepper trees, leaving you with a sense of calm for the rest of the day's end.
Do you have a beautiful garden you might be willing to share? We are always looking for interesting gardens to have on our garden tour. Contact us to discuss your garden with a committee member.