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Garden tours will excite and inspire

A garden in Jamestown is showing some various elements you may see on the tours. John Zvirovski/The Sun

It is that time of the year again when many communities have their city garden tours. It is a time to get excited about seeing new ideas, talking with fellow gardeners or just plain having a great evening of fun. This year there will be five yards on the tour to generate a wealth of ideas.

What kinds of things should you look for when going through each yard on the tour? Well, we all have our likes in the garden and things that capture our attention. Of course, those are the first things that will appeal to us all. But there are also those elements of surprise you will encounter within each yard to tour.

There will be new design ideas that you have never thought of that work well in the garden. Some of these ideas may answer some questions on what to do with a shady corner, a hot dry spot, a soggy location or a fertile and sunny spot. Other ideas will demonstrate the uses of various pieces of garden art, how to design incredible containers and the placements of several water features.

Not all of these ideas will work in your own design plans, but little bits and pieces from each place will add inspiration and excitement as you continue to plan your next garden adjustments. Pay close attention to all the design elements in each landscape.

The use of plant materials and their placement can make or break a landscape. You will know it when you see it as it just doesn’t work. It is the same way with good placement that will appeal to all your senses. Whether the plant is a blooming plant or just a foliage plant, each has its own unique characteristics that will set it off in the design.

Notice how plants with yellow or variegated leaves stand out among a dark background. Radiant red colors draw one’s attention into these same spots along with orange hues. It is these warm colors that draw you into these darker spots.

Also notice in the warmer and sunnier locations how the colors of white, blue, lavender, pink and purple tend to “cool” the space with the soft colors. Many of these shades get lost in darker locations, but in the sun they show their true colors and exhibit a great effect, which stands out.

Texture is another element that will create a new dynamic to the garden spaces. Check out the laciness of the ferns, astilbe, goat’s beard and sumac bushes in some of the designs or the vertical stands of ornamental grasses and tall, blooming perennials that add height and movement within the space. The effects of ground covers and the short nature that adds mass color to an area would otherwise just show black dirt.

Various forms of hardscaping will also add to the landscaping. Check out the use of paving materials and landscape blocks. Observe the different designs in pathways and retaining walls. Ask the resident any questions you may have about the product and installation, as many would be happy to share their experience with you. Also, notice the statuary or garden art that is being used and see how its placement either adds to the design or distracts.

Another element I always enjoy is the use of lawn and how it accentuates the entire design. Grand swaths of green through the garden setting usually creates a flow and sense of direction for the person walking through. Many of these elements are subtle but very important to the overall design.

Garden tours are definitely the opportunity everyone should take advantage of to see all of the various design ideas that are in the community. I get new ideas for myself each year. Sometimes I even see incredible elements that I would never dream could appeal to me, but they do!

Tickets are $8 for the five yards and are available through the AAUW outlets and the Arts Center. The garden tour will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The locations to tour are Dan and Francoise Buchanan at 216 15th Ave. NE, Delmer and Gloria Davis at 1202 10th Ave. SE, Oren and Connie Krapp at 1001 8th Ave. NW, Tracy and Merrie Deutscher at 714 3rd Ave. NE and Lyle and Evelyn Sjostrom at 707 7th Ave. SW.

Invite a friend or two and enjoy a wonderful night out in the gardens. It is a very relaxing way to enjoy the evening. Bring a camera along to capture some ideas and always have a piece of paper handy to jot information down for a later date. Have a great time on the tours!