Be awed by beauty and creativity on Soroptimist Garden Tour |

Be awed by beauty and creativity on Soroptimist Garden Tour

Know and Go:

What: 26th annual Soroptimist International of the Sierra Foothills Garden Tour

When: Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Where: Six locations throughout Western Nevada County

Tickets and Info: call 530-273-7989 or visit

Step into a world of beauty and wonder at the 26th annual Soroptimist International of the Sierra Foothills Garden Tour Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This popular event allows the public into some of our community’s most beautiful and elaborate private gardens, and the homeowners who have created them are on hand to answer questions and welcome you into their world.

This year, six diverse gardens from South County to Nevada City will be featured on the tour, giving attendees a glimpse of the secret worlds of residents at different elevations and climates.  Each garden is uniquely special, and has been chosen for the meticulous love and care that is taken to keep each one well maintained year round.

#1 Japanese Garden and Tea House

Enter into the far East in South Nevada County

Steve and Nancy Murphy have brought the Far East to South Nevada County with their majestic Japanese Garden.  You are greeted by a large weeping Tolleson’s Blue Weeping Juniper and a stone water basin which is called a tsukubai, signifying the Zen saying “be satisfied with what you have.”  Traverse through a passageway of elegant gardens dotted with stone statuary and beautiful flowers and trees. Emerge to an arbor covered with blooming wisteria and gaze upon a view of the distant horizon incorporated into the landscape composition. In Japanese, this is called Shakkei, meaning “captured alive.”  Wind through Japanese maple trees and azaleas to the highlight of the garden, the Tea House.  If you time it just right, you may be treated to a traditional tea ceremony.  Steve will be wandering about the garden dressed in traditional dress and available to answer questions, and he and Nancy invite you to step into another culture while enjoying the tranquility of their gardens.

#2 A Long Term Relationship with a Garden at Busted Boot Ranch

See what a three decade long labor of love looks like at Busted Boot Ranch

Susan and Michael Street welcome you to their sprawling 21 acre three-decade labor of love.  Meander through a riot of flowers, trees, and unique combinations of flora that are as beautiful as they are eclectic.  There are so many fun flourishes in this garden.  You’ll see the bathtub bed which contains a clawfoot tub with a novel fountain.  Vegetables, a vast array of trees, and a thirty year old artichoke plant are mixed in this eccentric and charming locale.  The Streets have done all the work themselves.  Michael has done all the hardscaping, mostly rock work.  Susan runs the irrigation, mostly by sprinklers, on an as needed basis. She says that she has been observing and nurturing this garden for so long that she knows every plant, and has watched how they migrate around the planting beds.

#3 Wildlife Wonders

See if you can spot some wildlife at the pond.

Bev Giovanetti invites you to come and enjoy their labor of love that has blossomed into a paradise for both people and wildlife.  Bev and her husband have enjoyed lots of wildlife on their waterfront such as geese, mallards, and wood ducks.  There is a nesting pair of geese that returns to their barn rooftop each year.  Bev has maintained wooden nesting boxes for the wood ducks, and says that the pond is also home to beavers and fish.  In fact, the fauna have made themselves right at home so much that the property has been registered with the state to provide information for wildlife monitoring.  Beyond the pond teeming with friendly critters, the yard and garden surrounding it are beautiful.   There is a bocce court and she shed among the flowering trees, vegetable garden, and green “country” lawn.  It’s easy to see why so many creatures have decided to make this their home.

#4 A Complete Makeover

Check out the adorable she shed at this stop on the tour

See a true work in progress at the one acre garden of Brian Spencer & Teresa Trimble, who recently purchased property that was overgrown with trees and brush.  After clearing the excess trees and brush the couple has been working with local architect Keith Brown and landscape designer Cathy D’s to create their own personal paradise.  Teresa’s one request was to have something colorful at every time of the year.   The front area is planted with azaleas, a few winter-blooming camellias, spireas, barberry, redbud, dogwood, Japanese maples, lavender, and salvias, so Teresa should get her wish for year-round color shows.  The front also has redwood trees, Deodar cedars, and soon a blue spruce or two.  They are in the process of building a deluxe outdoor living area complete with a new covered patio with ceiling fans, an outdoor pavilion, and much more.  Come see this paradise in progress and don’t miss the luxury “she shed” while you’re there!

#5 A Forest of Flowers

Find secret nooks and crannies as you meander through the forest of flowers

Jay, Chad, and their mother, Jean invite you to explore their garden which surrounds their family compound.  Wander through the vegetable and fruit garden and rest in the shade of the many fruit trees. Behind the residences is a fragrant garden area with beds of roses and an herb garden.  Stroll along a nice path through a forest of mature azaleas, most forming hedges, large rhododendrons, with dogwoods and camellias dotted throughout.  You will arrive at the pond, complete with a new dock perfect for summer tranquility.  Or you may get sidetracked and wander around on lesser paths and find the tiny “secret garden,” as the visiting children of the family love to do.  Don’t worry, all paths lead to the pond.  The original creator of this garden had it in one of the first garden tours 25 years ago.  Come see how the garden has grown and meet the enthusiastic new owners who want to improve it and keep it at its best.

#6 A Garden for Splendid Entertaining

This one will give you garden envy!

Marcia Accola has created a backyard landscape that is absolutely stunning for entertaining.  Interested in trying some landscape design, she took courses from Robert Littlepage of the former California School of Landscape Design in Auburn.  A big takeaway for her was the idea of breaking a large area down into little vignettes.  She has designed her own back landscape to include beautiful paths and little patios for sitting areas that wind through the trees. She created a dining area near a beautiful fountain, a gorgeous outdoor kitchen in the round made of flagstone, and a nice cozy flagstone sitting bench that wraps around a fire pit.  This entertaining spot is complete with gentle lighting and outdoor speakers.  The flagstone in the construction is also used for the paths that connect the whole place together.  Pass through a gate to enter a cutting garden with lilacs, black-eyed Susans, the fall-blooming Japanese anemones, and giant dinner-plate dahlias – reaching upwards of 6 ft. tall; it’s like walking through the Alice in Wonderland garden.  You will find many stops to sit and rest along the way around the garden and even a bed perfect for a summer nap in the shade.

Don’t miss this wonderful glimpse into the secret gardens of Nevada County. The cost to attend the Soroptimist Garden Tour is $25 in advance, and $30 at the garden gates.  For more information or to purchase tickets, call 530-273-7989 or visit

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