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HBGF Garden Tour

The 2014 HBGF Garden Tour was held on Sunday, June 22 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Eureka area.

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Recap of the 2014 HBG Garden Tour featuring gardens of Eureka, California

The nine gardens featured offer diverse and interesting approaches to landscape design and execution, from simple to formal, do it yourself to more ambitious projects. The following is an overview of the gardens that were featured on the 2014 tour.

Robert & Stephanie McAfee, 580 Valley View Drive

With a magnificent setting overlooking the Eel River Valley, the Robert & Stephanie McAfee garden is an eclectic one with both Asian and Mexican accents. Robert & Stephanie have done all of the design and work themselves since purchasing the property in 1990, retaining only a few of the original foundation plantings: the holly trees that greet us in the front, a dwarf rhododendron and the grand flowering cherry that is one of the gardens focal points. The McAfee’s use mostly hardy plant as the bones of the garden and then fill in with annuals and perennials, using more “green” plants than flowers. Groundcovers are used in most of the beds and the remaining beds are mulched. Over the past few years, the bed space has been enlarged with more and more grass removed each year. To do this, the planting beds around the garden have been made wider and large pavers and stone squares have been added. The McAfee’s travel yearly to Baja and bring back large pots that are set upon the pavers with additional Mexican pots scattered about the garden. Asian items, such as several Buddha’s, including one very large head and a few pagodas are also set in here and there. Their perch over the valley gives them great southern exposure with a sweeping view that includes a field of llamas and sheep immediately behind them and the river and valley below. To keep and maintain this open view that they prefer means choosing plants of medium height rather than taller ones, limiting the use of trees in the garden design. One ginko and two maples have been planted on the west side of the house. Many heathers have been planted in pots and in the ground. One large heather in the front serves as a wind break and provides a bit of surprise as you walk around the house. Several grasses are scattered about the planting beds for their beautiful green in the summer, their seed heads in the fall and their form in winter.

Edie Nelson, 3910 E Street

The garden of Edie Nelson, last on the garden tour in 2005, is about 25 years old. Edie’s garden is a private/hidden one on a large lot, divided into 3 “rooms”. In the front garden room the front lawn has been removed and replaced with a decorative cement area put in by Bass and Guerriaro Concrete. Edie enjoys this as a warm, secluded spot in her yard surrounded by perennials. Connecting the front and middle rooms are plantings of large shrubs and perennials. The middle room is the oldest room and has a more formal, structured feel to it than any other part of the garden. This middle room contains a fish pond with a fountain surrounded by dwarf boxwoods with a sunroom located nearby. Roses are planted in the courtyard as well as some fruit trees. The 3rd room is Edie’s kitchen garden with berries, fruit trees and raised beds for her vegetable garden. Nearby are 4 compost bins which provide her with most of the soil that she uses for the containers placed throughout the garden as well as providing nutrients for her raised beds. Edie has worked on her garden in, as she puts it, bits at a time, always making changes as she finds new plants to add that she likes or as plants outgrow the space allotted to them or their lifespan. Her newest additions to her garden have been a dwarf tricolor butterfly bush, a dwarf peach tree that produces tasty fruit, and growing celery and edamame in her vegetable garden. She has been using more and more vegetables in her containers around the yard as ornamental plantings.

Scott & Marilyn Ostrom, 3474 E Street

Referring to their garden as “The Garden that’s Never Quite Done”, Scott and Marilyn Ostrom have been working for the last 13 years, with the help of family, on their garden in their large back yard. The current configuration has come about after giving up on their original Koi pond because of herons eating all of their fish, not wanting to mow the back yard grass any more, failed plantings and because of a love of Japanese Maples and many other types of plants. Strolling through the Ostroms back yard you see varying types of Japanese Maples with different types of understory plantings offering up a very nice, unexpected setting with their redwood backdrop. When the Ostrom’s planned this newest garden, they decided to divide it into areas with specific purposes. They have a play yard for their grandchildren, a fountain area, a fire pit area with seating, a vegetable garden for Scott to play in and a unique strawberry garden for Marilyn’s sweet tooth, a bird area for enjoyment, a large entertainment deck with tables, chairs, and a hot tub to enjoy looking out over their back garden. Recently they added a trampoline for their grandchildren. Marilyn likes to use plants that are low in maintenance but that are colorful or have an interesting look. She is using more free standing flower pots to add color to her garden and to try to keep the raccoons from digging out her bulbs. Throughout the Ostrom’s garden you will find all different types of frog and cat “stuff” that has been placed here and there to catch your eye or to search for, like a treasure hunt. Art is used as a major element in this lovely garden and a concrete heron and a very large tortoise have lately been added to their collection.

Ray & Randi Swedenburg, 2424 B Street

Randi & Ray Swedenburg’s garden is a seasonal wetland, a type of garden that we have never before had on our tour, that also includes edible and cottage style gardens. A relatively young garden (the back was plants 3 years ago and the front only 1.5), this garden is a wonderful example of how to embrace a drainage issue (water from roof flowing under the house) and incorporate it into your landscape. Consulting with Streamline Planning for soil analysis, design ideas and plant lists, the Swedenburg’s began digging the wetland in the fall of 2010 and planting it that December. A large kidney shaped area was dug (a seasonal wetland) about 10 feet away from the house to capture the rain that falls on the roof. The rainwater from the roof empties into the wetland via downspout extensions that are shallowly buried. The seasonal wetland is lined with various sizes of river rock and is permeable so that it fills up in the rains and then drains. The Swedenburg’s wanted the garden to be predominately planted with California native plants. They choose native plants in and around their wetland that can thrive in wet winters and tolerate dry summers. The plants they used are Juncus patens and effuses, ninebark, red twig dogwood, checkerbloom, seep monkeyflower and scarlet monkeyflower, tinkers penny, umbrella plant, Western azalea and Douglas iris. They also wanted to create a habitat for insects, birds and salamanders for Randi & Ray’s observation and enjoyment as well as grow food for themselves and cut flowers for arrangements. The broken concrete from the sidewalk that was removed when they planted trees out front was used to build flowerbeds. They used brick from their fireplace that came down in the earthquake to circle blueberries and the herb garden. They also planted various berries and apple trees for an edible landscape.

Lynda Pozel & Jack Hopkins Garden, 2402 D Street

This Mediterranean style garden, designed by the owners 6 years ago, is located at 2402 D Street. The garden is surrounded by painted, poured concrete walls which are themselves bordered by 100 Lavandula ‘Grosso’. Other varieties of lavender appear in both the front and back garden beds. In the front, poured concrete benches edge the main stamped concrete patio which also serves as access across the garden. The wall’s caps have been designed to match the design of the front porch which is original to the 1924 house. In the back garden a tiled patio surrounded by a poured concrete bench again replicates the design of the walls. Plants include olive and fig trees, several varieties of euphorbias, shaped rosemary and westringia flank the front entrance. A large Leucadendron ‘Winter Red’ provides brilliant winter color. Other times, color is provided by helianthemum, and erysimum.  Located on the corner of D & Buhne.

Zanone Gardens, 1604 G Street

Designed by Sue Natzler, this large three acre parcel, referred to as the Zanone Gardens, is located at the home of Melanie and Ron Kuhnel, 1604 G Street. Sue Natzler was able to give the parcel continuity in her design, including many different types of gardens such as a white garden, railroad garden, vegetable gardens, eclectic gardens, cottage gardens, ponds, natural areas, as well as a fernery. The Kuhnel’s left a large part of the three acres in natural plantings and spend a lot of time removing non-native invasive plants – mostly fennel and blackberries. They originally planted native grasses but most of the grasses they presently have wandered in and grow among the native ones. In the spring they cut paths through them and enjoy walking the grounds. A series of ponds that start in a cistern behind a retaining wall flows through a flume into a large pond with koi and goldfish. Ducks and wild birds use the pond which continues flowing over rocks to another pond which recirculates the water. The water can also flow downstream to a grotto which is surrounded by Humboldt County ferns in a fernery. In the old Pacific Bell Telephone company parking lot, asphalt has been removed and the area has been planted with roses, a hedge, dahlias, and day lilies. An extensive vegetable garden is also planted in this area. The Brick and Fire Bistro Restaurant grows vegetables there as well. The main house has a white garden to the North which is anchored by dogwoods and a beautiful Japanese snowbell tree. Eclectic gardens surround the house. A railroad garden with many varieties of heather is behind the small house to the north of the main house. The small house to the south has a cottage garden with roses (developed by Ron) and various other plantings including a knot garden. A walkway connects the two houses to the west of the large lawn which is framed by 125 year old cypress trees. The walkway is lined with perennials and ends at the driveway in a rose arbor.

Annie B. Ryan Garden, 949 E Street

This garden, located at 949 E Street, is part of an historic restoration project for the Annie B. Ryan House and Garden. The house is being restored by College of the Redwoods students and the gardens located behind the house are a continuation of an effort begun by Carol Green to showcase antique gardens and educate students in the history and nature of Humboldt County. The rose garden is in the footprint of the Pierce Ryan house. Pierce was the brother of James Talbot Ryan who was on the second boat into Humboldt Bay in 1850 and named the town Eureka. Pierce was Annie’s husband and an important early businessman and legislator. A lovely cottage garden filled with roses, and perennials is found on the south of the rose garden. Sweet peas grow along the fence. Native plants line both north and south sides of the area. A medicine wheel is planned for the area between the beautiful holly trees. Behind the house are kitchen gardens of potatoes, herbs, vegetables, perennials, dye plants and fruit trees. The gardens are for the enjoyment, education and beautification of the neighborhood and city of Eureka. There is a picnic table for casual visitors and various gardening workshops are planned.

  • Native plant garden by Monty Caid of Lost Foods Native Plant Nursery
  • Cottage garden by Claire Perricelli and Pam Stronks
  • Antique rose garden designed by Cindy Graebner of Fickle Hill Old Rose Nursery , developed and maintained by Melanie Kuhnel and Pam Stronks
  • Vegetable gardens and family orchard by Claire Perricelli
  • Herb and dye gardens by Bernadette Clueit
  • Perennial border by Carol Green

Victoria Onstine & Jayne McNeilly Garden, 2405 Togo Street

Located at 2405 Togo Street, the Secret Garden of Victoria Onstine and Jayne McNeilly sits on a double parcel lot next to the main residence. Victoria and Jayne had dreamed of developing a “Secret Garden” where you might find a fairy peaking around a bush or a dragon napping in the shade for several years. In 2005 the opportunity to fence off the lot from the street presented itself, and the time was right to make the dreams come true. The garden was designed in March 2006 from the dreams and ideas of the owners and put to plans by Mary Gearhart. It utilizes wandering paths, foliage and arbors separating the “mini-gardens” and fountains that match the different themes. Rhododendrons and azaleas selected for complementary colors and different flowering times are featured in over half the garden. Clumping Bamboo separates the Asian garden and tea house area and provides a visual boundary from the neighbor’s property. A “hedge” of lilacs grown from Victoria’s mother’s starts border one back edge from the wilder area of the property. A row of blueberry bushes lines the fence bordering the street. Plants were selected to be low maintenance whenever possible with drip irrigation throughout the large garden. The plans were brought to life by Ernie Gruetzmacher Jr., owner of Kiona Landscaping. Almost every element Victoria and Jayne wanted was incorporated into the landscape, including the foundations, steps and retaining walls of the original home. As the garden materialized, he was able to design sloping paths with hand rails, ramps and seating areas that make this garden accessible for visitors with walkers, wheelchairs and scooters. The garden is used for quiet enjoyment as well as entertaining. The tea house is perfect for enjoying those misty or wet Humboldt County days through the windows. There is a gravel fire pit area for entertaining, sitting with hot cocoa, or roasting marshmallows. Sitting around the formal fountain looking over the garden is a great place for morning coffee. This garden is still in development, with areas waiting to be filled when the right idea presents itself. Parking: Please park in the parking lot of North Coast Surgical Specialists, 2321 Harrison Ave. Volunteers will be on hand to direct you to the garden, a short walk away. If you must park closer, there is very limited parking available by the garden on Togo Street. Please leave the parking on Togo Street for those with limited mobility. Togo Street is located off of Buhne between Renfrew and Roane Streets.

Ron & Ruth’s Forested Hilltop Garden, 70 Gregory Lane

Recently added to the 2014 HBGF Garden Tour, making a total of 9 garden on this year’s tour, the garden of Ron Buckland and Ruth Dullanty is located in a secluded spot amid a forested backdrop. Recognizing the potential of the site in 2006, they purchased the home when the only landscaping was a forlorn lawn with serious drainage issues. After years of hard work and research the garden today has a large water feature as its focus surrounded by various maples, rhododendrons, conifers and other plantings that caught the photographer’s eye of Ron (who spent many years in the profession), giving special priority to deer resistant varieties. Along the way there was the installation of extensive French Drains to direct water away from the house, load after dump truck load of fill and top soil to create and raise the beds above the clay soil, hand digging of the water feature, installation of plumbing, years of gathering rock for the water feature, addition of path borders and gravel walks and the planting and replanting as the garden matured. All this work was done by hand by Ron and Ruth and they are happy to share the expertise they have gained over the years and their before and after pictures that document the transformation. There is also a small kitchen garden and an elaborate hen house and run hand built by Ron who builds with reused or recycled material when he can. Come see what is possible for a homeowner on a budget to accomplish with a lot of hard work and time. Driving Directions: From Eureka take Myrtle Avenue/Old Arcata Road towards Arcata. Turn right on Mitchell Road. Continue on lower Mitchell to the end of the valley where the road begins to climb up hill at a sharp right. Continue uphill about 1/4 mile to Gregory Lane on the right and follow signs for parking. Ticket prices are $20 are HBGF members, $25 for non-members and are available at participating garden centers.

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Slideshow images of HBGF Garden Tour 2012