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General Information:

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.

**Presale Tickets can be purchased on the home page of our website and at the following locations:


Parkview Nursery      
2 Riverside Locations
3841 Jackson St.
4377 Chicago Ave.

Wild Birds Unlimited
10456 Magnolia Ave.
Riverside (west of Tyler)

Louie’s Nursery
16310 Porter Ave.
(at Van Buren) Woodcrest

Mrs. Tiggy-Winkles
3675 Main St., Riverside


**Tickets can also be purchased on site both days of the event at the Riverside Elks Lodge**

Elks Lodge

6166 Brockton Ave., Riverside


Gardens open 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Sat & Sun, April 27-28.

2024 Garden Previews


The Kallinger’s Southern California Water Wise Wildlife Friendly Garden


       The Kallinger garden began with an indiscrete plan of creating an informal garden with the purpose of attracting wildlife. Sitting at the base of Mt. Rubidoux, the yard originally consisted of a few trees along with ivy covering the front yard. Going through the UCR Master Gardener Program provided the Kallingers with the knowledge to change much of the original ivy front yard of the 1950’s to water wise plants. A beautiful Smoke Tree was planted in the front yard along with various succulents and other drought tolerant shrubs. The backyard hardscape was created using recycled bricks, railroad ties, and natural stone found in the yard. Drip irrigation, flowers, bushes, and art were added to the landscape. 

      One year a storm came through and dropped 5 inches of rain in less than two hours destroying many plants and hardscape in the backyard, thus demonstrating that a garden is ever evolving. Today, the garden continues to adapt and change based on soil, the environment, and new garden ideas. In the backyard you will find a Brazilian Pepper tree along with citrus, and tall cacti providing the background of the landscape. Rose evening primrose, lantana, and galliardia are just a few flowering plants found throughout the garden. Other species to note are a very large Ponytail palm, various agave and aeonium species of plants. There are many sitting areas arranged throughout the backyard garden slope allowing for the visitor to view the garden from varied perspectives. 

       Many birds visit the Kallinger garden such as Hummingbirds, Goldfinches, Robins, Woodpeckers, Red Tail Hawks, Blue Jays, Mockingbirds, Crows and Orioles. In fact, a bird helped plant the Bailey’s Acacia found in the upper part of the garden near the Brazilian Pepper Tree. A couple unusual bird visitors to pass through the garden have been wild Parrot species and Peacocks. The Kallinger’s have achieved their goal of attracting wildlife to their garden, as the landscape is home to a variety of other wildlife species such as squirrels, raccoons, skunks, opossums, lizards, bees, and butterflies. The Kallinger’s hope you will enjoy their colorful garden and strive for progress, not perfection to allow yourself to enjoy creating a garden of your very own.


Milfeld’s Hideaway


       Inspired by his travels in Japan, Nick Milfeld’s original vision for the backyard was of a woodland Japanese garden, full of azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, ferns, wisteria, stone lanterns, and Koi! Beyond that, he wanted a wooded mountain setting. Nick always loved the mountains and would have made his home in them had work permitted (work beyond forest service, firefighting in the mountains or National Guard Service on the fire line).  When work and family dashed that dream, he chose to bring his “mountains‟ to his home. Nurturing the green here heals memories of trees ablaze. 

       The biggest challenge faced by the Milfeld’s was finding a landscape architect who could see what Nick envisioned for the property. Looking at a blank slate – flat ground, DG and clay two-thirds of the way from the house to the back wall, along with a 2:1 slope to the top – three architects shook their heads and walked away. Ultimately, they got to work 35 years ago beginning with the planting of 70 trees. In the backyard were Coast and deciduous Dawn Redwoods, Canary Island and Japanese Black Pines, Blue Atlas Cedars, Gingkoes, and Japanese Maples. Due to various circumstances, many of these trees needed removing or replacing over the years, however some remain. In addition, 100’s of azaleas, camellias and gardenias were planted, along with a few rhododendrons. One gardenia to note is the gardenia thunbergia at the left end of the pond that was a cutting from Eula Moore‟s garden, a well-known Riverside gardener who passed in 2017. Nick has planted hundreds of bulbs over the years, now blooming at different times of the year depending on the weather. In addition, the Milfeld’s have collected bearded Iris, with many surprisingly re-blooming throughout the year. 

       As the trees grew to towering heights in the backyard, sunny spots disappeared, leaving the front yard for growing vegetables. Cabbage is grown along the curb, backed by marigolds to repel cabbage moths, and scabiosa for the bees and butterflies. These vegetable plots, along with the rose beds are amongst Peggy’s favorite areas of the garden. She notes for all the time Nick spends on his knees, she gets to harvest the fruits of his labor. Cut flowers adorn the inside of the home year round and Peggy loves preparing and serving homegrown food. One vegetable to note in the midst outside the gate is an artichoke of about seven years old that continues to multiply. As you step under the wisteria-covered arbor and enter the Milfeld’s Hideaway, you are invited to enjoy peace, and relaxation. The best part of any garden is the opportunity it presents to pause and ponder the intricacies of the commonest bloom, the stateliness of the tallest tree, and the wonder of the Summer or Winter garden invisible in the Spring. 


A California Gardenscape

       If you’re looking to bring nature home, Karen Fleisher’s garden is sure to provide inspiration! Native shrubs, trees, and wildflowers make up 60% of the landscape creating a pollinator paradise. Karen’s yard, like many others, originally consisted of a lawn with a few shrubs and trees. Fifteen years ago the lawn, and all shrubs were removed and replaced primarily with South African succulents and a few California native plants. All that remained of the landscape were the mature Chinese Elm, Pomegranate, Pecan trees , and a small native Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) that measured just a few feet high. The oak tree has now grown quite large over the past 30 years and is a powerhouse pollinator tree! Later, small areas within the landscape were removed and planted with water efficient plants and a few cactus.

       As time passed on, gleaning from visits to local gardens, namely the UCR Botanic Garden, California Botanic Garden, San Diego Botanic Gardens, along with escaping the urban environment to observe what is growing naturally, the landscape has changed to include more California native plants.  Meandering the pathways of the garden you will find a variety of native plants interspersed throughout the property, such as California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), St. Catherine’s lace (Eriogonum giganteum), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), desert lavender (Condea emoryi), and manzanitas (Arctostaphylos Howard McMinn and John Dourley). Within the backyard courtyard a former in-ground fountain currently plays host to annual California wildflowers that bloom every Spring. Pollinators have evolved with native plants, which are best adapted to the local growing season, climate, and soils. Most pollinators feed on specific plant species, thus the importance of including natives in the garden.

       One may wonder if a garden that consists of native plants can also be aesthetically pleasing. In fact, it is a common misconception that a California native garden consists primarily of succulents and brush with no color. Through careful plant selection, Karen has exceptionally demonstrated that a garden with native plants can indeed be lush and colorful. While visiting Karen’s garden, you will notice how well her gardenscape complements her Spanish style bungalow home, incorporating key elements of a Mediterranean garden. Riverside’s climate is considered Mediterranean, thus our native plants naturally create such a landscape. Potted succulents with unique characteristics and other waterwise plants are found throughout the garden and courtyard, complimenting the native plants. Other characteristics of a Mediterranean garden such as mosaic tiles, and quiet seating areas are also found in the garden. The quiet area under the coast live oak tree, creates shade in the summer and provides the opportunity to observe the many bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinators that visit the garden. Karen’s garden teaches us the importance of incorporating native plants into the landscape in supporting our pollinator friends- the native bees, butterflies & birds.


Nan Simonsen’s Water-Wise Cottage Garden


       Have you ever dreamed of visiting an English cottage garden; but, are unable to make the trek across the pond? You’re in luck because Nan Simonsen has created a cottage garden of her very own here in Riverside! When permits were signed off for the house in November, 1941, it was registered as a '‘vernacular cottage' thus setting the framework for the cottage style design. The many famous gardens in England provided Nan inspiration for her garden, however, she took into account Riverside’s Mediterranean climate, and water restrictions in her garden design. The garden was imagined and installed in 2005, however Nan’s true vision didn’t materialize until several years later. Today, the garden continues to evolve as some plants dominate and others decline, all the while keeping to the original organic design. 

       Unlike manicured contemporary yards with stretches of grass, the cottage garden consists of dense colorful plantings of flowers and shrubs. Planted in the hellstrip, passersby enjoy Spanish and French lavender, Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilica (African Blue Basil) along with California natives: Eriogonum gigantic (Giant buckwheat), and Verbena de lilacina ‘De La Mina. Entering the white picket fence, visitors are met with Lantana sp., Gaura lindheimeri ’Siskiyou’ and Asclepias sp. (milkweed). True to cottage garden design, Nan’s garden is free-willing, and not formal, inviting the visitor to come in, wander, and stay awhile. Although the lot is only 7,500 sq. Ft., the small landscape appears larger due to the many spaces created throughout the garden. Pathways lead the visitor to quiet seating areas created under vine covered arbors and pergolas. Many flowering plants are found overflowing their beds such as nasturtiums, justicia varieties, penstemons, salvias, along with a variety of ferns and succulents. Climbing vines, and trees draw your gaze through the space and establish opportunities to enjoy nature's inherent beauty. Other garden favorites found on the property are roses, alstroemeria, plumeria, and bouganvilla. 

       The garden was also designed as a Wildlife Habitat, certified by the National Wildlife Federation, therefore, appealing to wildlife as well as people. Not only is the garden beautiful, but it also serves as a resting place for wildlife. Birdbaths and fountains provide water for visiting birds to drink and cool off in the summer heat. A variety of mature trees provide shade and nesting areas. The pollinator plants provide food for pollinators. Visitors will be treated to the sound of bird song, as well as the sights of butterflies fluttering amongst the flowers. Nan enjoys eating lunch daily on one of the tables in the backyard, enjoying the birds, butterflies, bees, squirrels, and other wildlife that passes by.


Elsie’s Wonderland


       When Tim and his family purchased their home they were drawn to the meandering pathways that invite visitors to wander about the garden. The wide open spaces provide ample room for their daughter Elsie to explore and the various textures throughout the landscape help to spark a curiosity for nature. The garden was landscaped between 2011 and 2013, and approximately 6 years later most of the trees and shrubs reached maturity. The property is home to over 100 species of plants, trees, and shrubs, the majority of which are water-wise. The property evokes an air of sophistication with the intricate stone work and greco-roman statues. This home is on a quiet cul-de-sac in the Overlook area of Alessandro Heights and boasts beautiful scenic views. 

       As you walk toward the home entrance, iceberg roses line the pathway along with potted succulents leading to a small courtyard with a large fountain. Following the path to the entrance of the backyard, the visitor encounters familiar plants such as birds of paradise, pink hibiscus, and purple statice. Throughout the landscape, native museum palo verde trees are planted, which are a magnet for bees and other pollinator insects. The understories of the trees are planted with aeonium, and kalanchoes, of which their tubular flowers are a favorite amongst hummingbirds. Within the landscape there are multiple entertaining areas including three covered patios, a stone fire-pit, and a unique square shaped pebble tech pool with mosaic tile details and fountain sprays. For quiet reflection, multiple stone benches are placed in shaded areas and various fountains provide soothing water sounds that invite birds to bathe and enjoy a drink. 

      Various agave, aloe, yucca, jade, and century plants are interspersed throughout the landscape. In contrast, a large variety of trees are found such as orange, lemon, pomegranate, peach, and plum to name a few.  Tim hopes that as you make your way throughout the yard, you will stop and enjoy the various views each area presents. He especially loves the swing in the garden as it gives a great view of most of the landscape. It is important to note, the plants are relatively low-maintenance and have low water requirements. Tim describes his garden as having no theme whereas his goal is to “try not to kill anything.” If you claim you don’t have a green thumb, perhaps you will discover some easy to care for plants to inspire your garden!


Connie Ransom’s Garden


       Nestled in a quiet neighborhood that backs up to Sycamore Canyon Park, nature abounds in Connie Ransom’s Garden. The front lawn has been replaced with drought tolerant landscaping consisting of aloes, agave and cacti. Landscape rock, acting as a weed barrier rests between the plants and gives a hint as to what is to discover in the backyard. The shaded entryway of the home is flanked with green aeonium, various other succulents, and mature Japanese maple trees. 

       The distinguishing feature of this landscape is the topography found in the backyard. Following the flagstone pathway into the back of the house leads to a unique view of Sycamore Canyon. Large house-high boulders are nestled within the landscape throughout the perimeter of the backyard. A natural stream runs below the property, which is accessible along with the park via a trail that leads down from the back property (not for the purpose of our tour). Nestled between boulders are black aeonium, kalanchoe, haworthia, crown of thorns, and other drought tolerant plants. Western Fence lizards are found scurrying amongst the rocks. Mature trees such as Chinese Elm and Brazilian Pepper trees provide shade, privacy, and a resting place for the wildlife that visit the garden. 

       Utilizing the small garden space, various potted plants are placed around the flagstone patio. Quirky, colorful garden art and pottery is interspersed throughout the landscape, adding an element of whimsy. A stone water feature invites wildlife in for a drink. A small citrus orchard and vegetable garden is also found nestled in one corner of the garden. Towering Ocotillo, native to California and the Southwest, are another unique feature of the landscape. Ocotillo prefers a habitat that is open, very rocky, and where the soil is well drained, thus this home garden provides the perfect environment for this plant to thrive. Hummingbirds are attracted to the dense clusters of  tubular flowers that grow from the end of the stems from March through June. Hummingbirds are just one bird species that visit the garden. Finches and sparrows visit bird feeders, Orioles return every year in the Spring, and hawks soar overhead. This one of a kind property will appeal to nature lovers and to those who enjoy sitting back and taking in a spectacular view. 

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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.

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