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Learn How Gardeners Beautified Typical Subdivision Lots

Vee Riley of Hailey peers through a honeysuckle trellis near her meditation garden, one of the stops on today’s garden tour. (KAREN BOSSICK • For the Times-News)

HAILEY • Maeme Rasberry grows many of the vegetables she uses for Rasberry’s restaurants in her tidy garden accented by stone antiques.

Julie Fox-Jones maintains one of the oldest still-productive farmsteads in Hailey on her five-acre spread a block away from Wood River High School.

And Jose Herrera built a beautiful waterfall and fountain in his tidy, colorful yard after he retired as custodian of The Community School.

These are among three of the 11 gardens that will be spotlighted on Hailey’s Garden Tour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. The tour, an easy one for bicycling, features properties from Fox Acres Road — east of the north end of Hailey’s airport — south to the Sweetwater development at 821 Countryside Blvd.

There will be entertainment along the way, as well as garden experts stationed at each garden. And Sweetwater development will serve up free brats and hot dogs for tour participants.

“With a couple of notable exceptions, the properties on this year’s tour all began as fairly typical bare lots in typical subdivisions. In a relatively short time span, the owners have transformed these yards into exquisite places, all distinctly different from one another,” said tour chairwoman Gretchen Wagner.

Indeed, Judy Foster found little more than dirt and a few weeds when she moved into her house at 2270 Winterhaven Drive three years ago. So she covered her yard with several layers of cardboard and newspaper — lasagna style — and deposited four inches of bark on top of that.

The yard now sports shrubs and trees to give her privacy; grapes, raspberries, strawberries and even hardy kiwi in her backyard; and vines spreading along the willow branches she collected and wove above her fence to create a visual and sound buffer.

“I’m a former behavior intervention specialist, so it’s been great fun to do something and see the consequences of my intervention,” said Foster, who is learning to garden in a desert climate after living in the Pacific Northwest. “I love not having to worry about watering and mowing and aerating. And leaves become part of the bark, so I don’t have to worry about raking, either. When a weed comes up it’s easy to spot and pull.”

Just down the street from Foster at 1960 Winterhaven Drive, Stephanie Giacobbi nurtures a very different yard — one that is lush and bursting with color from mock orange, high-altitude hydrangea, bleeding heart, delphinium and clematis.

“We pulled out two tons of sagebrush in the back, chaining it to a truck and dragging it out. Then we built three stone terraces. It took a few years but we finally got it done. And my little boy and I love to go back there and pick strawberries,” Giacobbi said.

Like Foster, Vee Riley had to learn to garden when she moved to Hailey from a beach home in California.

She started by placing foot stones across the backyard to a hillside where she built a meditation garden and a zen garden. Then she covered the yard with grass and planted trees honoring each of her children and other relatives. Finally, she planted a cactus garden in the side yard where she can sit and gaze out onto Della Mountain.

“I’ve used my yard to the utmost,” she said. “And it’s not only a place for people. It’s a bird sanctuary, as well.”

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