The 2022 Garden Tour is FREE! No tickets required. We will have 6 gardens, and you may start at any garden you like. Vendors will be located at Sim's Tree Health Specialists property in Riverside, and at K-Mar Farms in Norco. Local gardening groups will have information booths at various gardens. We hope you will join us!
This Year's Gardens open 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM Sat & Sun, April 23-24
Kathy Swanson's Garden
Kathyland, a sprawling National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat, is tucked away in a small valley on the edge of Woodcrest. Its owner, Kathy Swanson has lived here for 34 years transforming a barren piece of land with yuca, oleander and freeway ground cover into a beautiful abode growing her own food.
There’s an aquaponic system with tilapia swimming in the pond. A 400 square foot vegetable garden consists of raised and wicking beds. The garden houses space for compost, vermicompost and soldier fly composting. A shade house for starting seeds is tucked away in a quiet corner. A citrus area with a variety of lemons, limes, and oranges provides a sweet fragrance of citrus blossoms. Adjacent to the citrus grove, you find berry patches, along with fruiting mulberry trees, and a small grape vineyard.
Coop “D” Ville houses chickens, ducks and geese living in harmony with fruit trees and bee hives. Kathy also houses East Friesian sheep, known for their sweet milk and thick wool. Next to the big barn, lies one of Kathy’s passions: horses, and goats. Goats are separated into milkers, gestating mothers, kids, and bucks. In the early mornings and most evenings, Kathy milks her goats in a dedicated milking barn. Inside the milking barn, a hydroponic system grows sprouting grains providing food for the animals to eat. Rabbit hutches house large New Zealand-California crosses for meat, and smaller rabbits for pets. Bunnies are expected very soon!
If this isn’t enough variety, a unique addition to the property not to be missed is the Rainforest garden! The Rainforest is filled with tropical understory plants and is indeed a true rainforest, complete with a rainstorm taking place every 6 hours.
Dave & Shar Kuma Garden
A cactus donated from a friend provided the inspiration for Dave and Shar’s waterwise garden. When Dave moved in 2003, the backyard consisted solely of dirt. Over the years the backyard has been transformed into a beautiful space for relaxation and entertaining guests. Nestled in a quiet cul de sac in Canyon Crest, visitors are taken aback as they enter through the backyard gate leading into a beautiful desert oasis.
Dave and Shar began planting their garden with various cacti and succulents found at nearby nurseries in the area. They personally laid down 4 tons of river rock throughout the property, serving as both groundcover, and to create natural pathways throughout the garden. A variety of low water agave, cacti, palms, and succulents are arranged both in the ground, and in pots of varying sizes. They have been amazed at how quickly their plants have grown from small one gallon containers to large specimen beauties. Although a sparkling in ground pool is centered in the garden space, the real showstopper is a remarkably large tree aloe affectionately named “Hercules.”
Hercules is just one example of a plant that started out just a few feet in size and grew quickly to become a focal point in the garden. Walking along the garden perimeter, other plants you will come across are a tall old man cactus, Mexican fence post, prickly pear, firestick and barrel cacti to name a few. These plants are arranged in varying sizes throughout, from taller and narrow specimens, to shorter and wider specimens, thus creating a natural feel to the space that is pleasing to the eye. Rustic garden art is also found in the garden space providing character to the desert theme.
It is surprising to note that no irrigation is needed for any of the in ground plants, and the potted plants only require watering once a week, or as infrequently as every two weeks, depending on the season and rainfall. Although this extremely low maintenance garden affords for year round beauty, the cacti are coming into bloom and should create a feast for the eye for our garden tour. For those that lack a green thumb, Dave and Shar’s inviting backyard will provide the inspiration you need to create a low maintenance water wise garden of your dreams!
Sheryl Hayes' Garden
Our garden tour wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Riverside’s historic Wood Streets. Sheryl’s garden is the quintessential Southern California garden met with cottage charm. Although drought tolerant, having her lawn removed 5 years ago, she has maintained color in the landscape by selectively choosing plants to create a garden reminiscent of one found in the English countryside. Traditional cottage flowers such as black eyed susans are interspersed with native California poppies and sages. Walking through a flagstone pathway to the home entrance, a variety of flowers, trees, and shrubs harmoniously create a mountainous landscape to the left, and desert landscape to the right.
The pathway leading to the backyard, has a mediterranean feel with large agave and succulents surrounding an impressively large ponytail palm. Moving into her 1939 home approximately 40 years ago, Sheryl’s backyard was practically a blank slate. A master bedroom and deck were built as an addition to the home and a beautiful landscape was created for viewing below.
Walking down the steps of the deck to the left of the garden, you are met with a cascading waterfall and bridge which lead to a Japanese garden. Highlights are the bamboo hedge and a large Japanese Maple. Exiting the Japanese garden and continuing through the courtyard, a scarlet trumpet vine covers a pergola creating a shaded area for entertaining. A robust meyer lemon tree cascades over a unique stone fireplace, the only elements of the original backyard that remain today.
Continuing along the garden path, walking through a red rose arbor you are transported into an English cottage garden. Stone pavers below and interwoven branches above create a quaint seating area where you can enjoy a cup of tea while admiring the bed of roses beyond. Vine covered trellises, arbors and window boxes throughout the garden give the look of English charm.
The cottage garden is flanked on either side by an extensive collection of orchids, arguably the highlight of this garden! A member of the Riverside-San Bernardino County Orchid Society, Sheryl’s orchid collection consists of between 400 and 500 orchids. Not to be missed, the orchids reside either indoors in a large climate controlled greenhouse or underneath shade cloth outdoors. If you are interested in growing orchids or need help growing orchids of your own, members of the Orchid society will be on site to answer all of your questions!
Before exiting the garden tucked away in a quiet corner is a small Chinese garden. True to the elements of the classical Chinese garden, a white wall creates a stark color contrast while setting a backdrop for the flowering plants. Green foliage and red mandevilla stand out beautifully against the white setting. With so many different garden themes seamlessly incorporated throughout the landscape, this home garden is not to be missed!
Sim's Tree Health Specialists
Nestled across the Santa Ana Riverbed, just alongside busy Limonite Avenue, is a 6-acre hidden gem known as Sims Tree Health Specialists (STHS). Upon arrival, you’ll drive down the ¼ mile dirt road wondering if you’re in the right place; but rest assured, you are! Once parked in front of a large metal building, you’ll begin your tour of what started as an outlet for natural research and education, a passion of STHS’s creators, Gary and Susan Sims. Today, the Sims family passion’s have matured into beautiful garden collections, becoming a staple in the nature education world hosting events for various garden clubs, educational classes, and workshops.
With every turn, you’re greeted with a beautiful display of trees and botanicals. You'll find yourself getting lost in the wonder of the Palm Garden, one of the IE’s largest collections of palms. Filled with over 100 different species of palms, the Palm Garden showcases these beautiful varieties of trees collected from all over the world.
Continuing on in your tour, you’ll come across the Conservatory. Housing about 1600 SF of tropical paradise, this collection includes gorgeous greenery, pops of vibrant colors, and a gorgeous pond as a center focal point. Next you're transported from your tropical getaway to a desert oasis that is the Joe Casey Memorial Cactus and Succulent Garden. This collection is a celebration of the life of the Sims’ dear family friend, Joe Casey. Visitors leave gaining a new appreciation for Cactus and Succulents.
Other features of Sims STHS include a fruit orchard, beautiful ponds, and a 4,000 square foot museum showcasing antiques, tools, insect collections, and biological collections. With so much passion, history, and education around, it will be hard to make multiple visits to Sims STHS and leave without learning something new.
Cindy Gerhart's Garden
Over the past 30 years Cindy has cultivated her ¾ acre garden where she has raised her children. Today her garden serves as a beautiful oasis that she continues to enjoy not only with her adult children; but, now along with her grandchildren. The property is divided into several unique garden spaces, while also including an area for her horse and two ponies.
As you wander from garden to garden, you are met with whimsical pieces of yard art incorporated throughout the garden spaces. Walking through an amazing archway of lantana, you leave the backyard, and are transported into a secret garden. Quaint sitting areas situated throughout the garden offer shady spots to enjoy a morning cup of coffee all the while watching birds bathe in the many bird baths. A variety of unique potted plants are incorporated throughout, from hanging baskets to topsy turvy potted towers, to a flower potted wheelbarrow. Cindy has fully utilized texture in her garden with plantings of various perennials, ferns and succulents.
The garden also serves as a Permaculture Food Forest where a diverse planting of edible plants mimics the ecosystems and patterns found in nature. Several unique rare fruit trees provide an environment for epiphyllums to thrive above, along with edible nasturtium flowers below. The garden spaces have been redefined in a way that is different from a typical garden of raised beds. Cindy’s garden offers the gardener beauty, and function as well as a bit of whimsy!
A true delight for the young and old alike, there is something for everyone to love, at Kmar Farms! Fast growing drought tolerant Peruvian pepper trees were planted by Kevin 28 years ago, and now provide welcomed shade throughout the garden. When you first walk through the garden gate, you have the feeling of being transported into an English cottage garden with geraniums and nasturtiums providing beautiful color to the landscape. Garden gnomes and fairies greet you throughout the garden path leading into the farm. Margaret has truly utilized the garden space interspersing flower and vegetable beds between chicken coops and livestock pens. She has an affinity for rescuing not only animals, but also plants others have donated or given up on.
A variety of common vegetables are grown in the garden including tomatoes, zucchini, and artichoke, along with uncommon plantings such as the fava bean. Kale and cabbage create attractive borders for both vegetable and flower beds, while sweet pea vines create an attractive walk through tunnel leading from one garden area to the next. A lover of sunflowers, Margaret has planted these iconic flowers throughout the garden not only for their beauty, but also to serve as food for the wild birds. Other areas of interest on the farm include a vintage trailer, boutique filled barn, functional outhouse, and an old boat to name a few.
Kmar farms demonstrates that you can plant a garden no matter how small the size, with herbs and flowers growing in small to medium sized pots. On a larger scale, vegetables and strawberries are grown in galvanized tubs. Her potted herb garden serves as just one of the many instructional tools for children during field trip visits. In addition to hosting school field trips, Margaret also hosts educational luncheons in the Spring along with a Fall Festival.
The farm houses a variety of animals which include chickens, quail, ducks, turkeys, sheep, goats, pigs and more! A pond is provided for the ducks, geese, and resident swan complete with an organic pump, which only requires cleaning once monthly. Baby animals currently on the farm include bunnies as well as twin lambs, and if we're lucky chicks may hatch just in time for the tour! Bring your kids along to see the animals and feed the ducks for a unique learning experience!
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.